Saturday, December 10, 2011

Izze Sparkling Clementine Review

Excuse the photo quality, I had to use my phone
Izze is a soda that I have been drinking for years, most notably their Pomegranate soda. I remember early on that was one of my first "weird" sodas that I tried out. This particular soda was bought by me from the Starbucks at my college. I got to use my monopoly money to buy it too so it was basically free!

Bottling is utterly boring. There is a minor bulging from where it transitions from being a perfect cylinder for labeling and the neck. Neck is fairly broad and very straight. Very sharp turn on the neck implies that it is trying to be a straightforward soda. Not a thin tall neck for something fancy and not a broad neck for something bold like a strong root beer. Just in between. It appeals to mass market well (this is Izze after all) but I don’t like it too much to be honest.

Labeling is of course amazing. Their logo is simply, colorful and invokes the idea of fruitiness well. They have a whole marketing term and graphic artists and stuff to figure this all out so I’m not surprised at all. The coloring is absolutely perfect too. This is awesome but I am not surprised again, this is a well-funded soda, not some tiny indie thing. The red and orange perfectly complements the coloring of the soda itself and the white border gives a nice clean look to the overall logo. For a fruit soda this is great, very clean, very colorful, invokes the idea of the soda perfectly.
Simply and cute logo

Apple and White grape juice come out above Clementine on the ingredients. This is actually a really geat idea and something I have seen before. Apple juice is so mild and cheap that it adds a nice little sweet flavor while being filler. White grape juice is similar, it is a nice and simple flavor that won’t get in the way of the clementine and should accentuate it in all reality. Sparkling water is fourth on the list, which is really cool; this is going to taste much more like a sparkling fruit juice than a fruity flavored soda. That was also the point of the apple and grape juices make it a juice instead of just a sugary soda. Really a great recipe, this strays far away from something like a Faygo grape soda, which I love.

Again, sorry if you can't read it
Their little marketing blurb backs up all what I wrote. “We stay true to the fruit. Izze is all natural. No refined sugars. No caffeine. No preservatives. It’s 70% pure fruit juice. With a splash of sparkling water.”

After seeing the ingredients I believe it too, very cool to see this in the world of HFCS taking over.

Strong marketing because this is from
a major company
Sugar count is really low as one would expect, only 27g. It is common to see upwards of 40g in something like a faygo soda of comparable size. Calories are on par with what I expect at 120. Somewhat low, but because the sugar is so low it makes sense. This is certainly going to be a much more healthy alternative to a standard sort of ultra sugary soda.

Twist off of course, I like that they label it so I know. With things like the Jarrito’s I had I expect a twist off and was wrong which was sort of frustrating but also I enjoyed it. I do prefer twist off to pop off. Nice simply pop and the scent is wafting, very very strong smell on this I love it. Not much carbonation on opening, as expected. This is a juice, not as much a soda.

That flavor is fantastic and reminds me thoroughly of the Cas Cal. It is much more citrusy than the Cas Cal but that sort of mixture of fruit juices with apple juice as a base all has a fairly similar flavor. Carbonation is fairly non-existent. I don’t even notice it chugging and putting the bottle on the table fairly hard really results in not much more than a small flurry of bubbles popping up to the surface.
Lack of HFCS is perfect. I wouldn’t want this sticking in my mouth and it lends a very clean flavor that washes down nicely. The very slight bite of the citrus acid is fantastic to remind you of the soda without being over bearing. It is a little bit thinner than I would like. It doesn’t have HFCS to thicken it and since they are essentially watering down juice it comes out a bit more thin than a fruit juice would. This gives it very little presence as it is in your mouth and as it goes down. I think this might be a situational soda.

The flavor is so good. This really is a soda that is done very very right. The only complaint I could think is that I wish it did have more presence. However I feel like that might be more of a stylistic choice than anything else. The fact that it is thinner than say a bold root beer or a pure fruit juice makes it so that it is absolutely perfect for washing down food. I imagine this soda is intended to go with meals and for that purpose it is absolutely perfect. My recommendation then would be to not have this soda on its own, the flavor is good but I got used to it quickly. With some sodas like the Jarrito’s or the Cas Cal the flavor was subtle enough and washed out of my mouth quickly enough that I kept wanting to drink more to get a handle on what the flavor actually was like. This has less of that since I know what it tastes like pretty much after the first 2 or 3 gulps. Fantastic soda nonetheless, my hat goes off to Izze. They have chosen to use their money and success well to create a better product rather than just copping out and going for a HFCS lame fruity soda. I am going to look into the history of the company a bit as well. I imagine they started out as a small independent bottling company and their initial ideas behind the soda were held true even through the company’s massive success. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New posts soon!

Hey there, I'm still at college. It has been a damned fun time and I can comfortably say that I am making the most of it in my first term. My winter break starts fairly soon so I will obviously be doing reviews when I am back home but I have even better news. I expected there to be no good soda but I was totally wrong. At the book store I was able to get some Jone's soda and at the Starbucks I picked up some Izze. The Izze Clementine soda review is done at the moment, just needs to be prettied up a bit. My friend who is from Schenectady also said that there is a store I could go to that has all sorts of great sodas so hopefully I will be able to stop by there sometime.

There is also the matter of some old notes I have that never got finalized. For 2-3 sodas I drank them, wrote up notes and saved them as a draft on the blog but never put the actual post together. I have stuff going all the way back to January that I totally forgot about! So I'm going to finalize those posts and get them up, they will be light on pictures though because I don't have the bottling on me(they are at home in my empty bottle collection).

So that's some good news, I'm really glad that I get to keep writing from school!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cas Cal All Natural Soda Review

Sell by July 11 2011... oops.
 This is an old soda. I mean like I bought this back when I bought the Sidral Mundet that I did for my first review. Proof is that way -->
Oh well, soda doesn't really go bad if it was bottled properly. For whatever reason getting this review out has been a huge problem for me. I have had it sitting on my desk for about a week waiting to get opened but whenever I had the freetime to do it I would always find myself straying to Reddit and wasting time there which I heavily regret. I wish I had been able to do more reviews while I still had so much time, but here we are. I'm also going to be trying a bit of a different review style to bear with me and if possible leave a comment letting me know what you think. I got this for $1.79 from World Market.

Particulate matter. Too. Freaking. Cool.
Okay with that out of the way let me say that I am absolutely pumped to drink this soda. It is such a completely different direction that I have not seen at all so I know it is going to be a very unique experience. What that picture to the left looks like is an embryo in an egg. However it is actually the pulp of the soda. Yes, you heard me right, this soda has solid particle matter in it. How freaking cool is that! I had to shake it up a bit and it makes the soda foggy which is pretty cool, although I'm not a bit afraid to open it.

Fermented? Oooooo
"Serve chilled in good company"
The other huge thing that I noticed immediately is that the writing on it is really out of the ordinary. Here's some picture to show what I mean. It says it has Black currant, Cherry and Mirabelle which is nothing I have ever tasted before. It is only 60 calories. 60 calories! That is insane, even for a juice that is low. It makes me fear that it might be lacking in flavor but we'll find out soon enough. The logo is absolutely brilliantly done, it is very simple and classy and it fits the color scheme of the soda which I absolutely love to see. The color of the soda is also brilliant, it is a nice healthy red that is clearly not dyed that way at all. It just looks natural in it's color and I love that. The font is custom and fits in beautifully with the design of the logo which I adore.

100% refreshing!
This is the strangest nutrition facts I have ever seen on a bottle. No seriously, this is unlike anything I've ever seen on any bottle of soda or anything else. It is high(ish) in carbs because of the fruit but it has basically no calories and the ingredients list doesn't include a "natural flavorings" or "artificial flavorings" or and food coloring at all. That alone has gotten me really excited for this soda because it really looks like it is indeed mature. This is a soda for classy people to enjoy, not to be guzzled because you are thirsty. They did a great job on the labels too, they used paper instead of plastic which gives a better feel while you hold it especially for a glass bottle. They also got it on extremely evenly, often when there is not a wrap around design to the label it has a tendency to have edges that don't quite get glued on or that come off because they are a bit weaker on there but this is very solidly on. Even after over 3/4 of a year in storage there is nothing more than a few knicks on the paper.

The bottle is genius. I can't say I've seen masterful bottle design in many places besides root beers but this really nails it. It bulges out slightly in the bottom. It just feels so appropriate to not have an absolutely insane bottle but just this very minor customization that makes it different and makes it sit a little bit better. It has a very short neck as well which I really like. I have seen long necks that work very well like what Boylan's does but this just drives home the concept of simplicity. This is a light soda, as they say on the text on the neck. It doesn't need extravagance, it needs a normal bottle with just a hint of class added. The bottle cap says "Cheers! Salut!" which is perhaps a bit odd. Salut in French is the less formal way of saying hi, I mean I suppose it's sort of appropriate but it feels more like they were just adding random French to try to class it up some more. Random French for classing things up a bit is not a bad thing, messing up a translation is!

Oh my, it's a pop-top not a twist off! Didn't see that one coming, pop-tops are a more or less dead breed. I suppose I don't have terribly strong opinions but I prefer twist off, they both keep the soda vacuum fresh and twist off is more convenient. I do like the old-time feel and the more interactivity of a pop-top. I think if any soda should have it it's this one. Anyways I'll go get my bottle opener!

Okay opened up and popping the top was admittedly quite fun. The pfft wasn't as good as a twist off but what can you expect. It looks to be very carbonated. First drink now! Oh my god this is really great. Wow, it's very much different from what I have had before. I really like the Black Currant flavoring, it gives a great after taste. The carbonation is super appropriate, it is definitely strong and there but the bubbles are fine, not over bearing at all. This soda really has found what it wanted to do and delivered. I got some mild burps which were fun but like everything else they weren't over powering. This is just exactly the sort of soda I would have with a salad for lunch, it's so legitimately fruity without tasting like juice. It tastes like it uses apple juice as a core liquid and then had the other flavors stacked on top of it. I find I'm not writing too much because I just want to drink the stuff! I am having some trouble tasting the cherry, if anything at times I feel the Black Currant is a bit too strong that it doesn't let the other flavors blend with it. It has a definite bite to it as well. That is the fermentation which I really quite like. It again gives it a mature flavor. Just burped straight into my nose, burned sort of but not nearly anything like a Vernon's nose burn. When I let the flavor sit in my mouth for a while without taking another sip it starts to have a bit of a nasty feeling, I definitely didn't have the cleanest mouth going into this but the fruits have amplified that. The only criticism I could think of is if I was looking for something different. If I was trying to quench a thirst and expected to do that with this like it were a Sprite I would be let down. If I were looking for a soda that I could drink on it's own and have it have a lot of sweetness I would have been let down. But I went into it with thinking that this was a light, classy soda that wasn't going to ball me over with sweetness. It really does do a great job of delivering on flavor. I like to feel that the nutrition facts that a soda chooses to use are setting its limitations. For example, if I decide to make a soda and I figure I can have 50 grams of sugar per serving then it will be very easy for me to make a very flavorful and sweet soda. What Cas Cal has done magnificently is deliver a unique, interesting and powerful flavor with nothing but some fruit juices (not even any added sugar which kind of blows me away), 60 calories  and 7 grams of sugar. This really is the healthiest soda that you will find and if you put it in the right context it will serve you amazingly well.

This is not a soda for kids, this is not a soda for a party, this is a soda for you to enjoy when the weather is nice out and you want a drink to go with a nice meal. This is a soda which you would enjoy with friends outside. This is just a classy soda that could enhance and offset other flavors marvelously while still being it's own thing. It's not a fun soda, it's not a HFCS sweet to the max soda, it's an artisan soda. This is very much a crafted soda and you can tell from all the little details that were done so amazingly right.

I also was doing a bit of research on this soda and stumbled upon this review which hated the soda. I don't want to make any commentary because you should decide for yourself. I just thought another opinion might be interesting for all of you.

I liked that format for reviewing quite a bit better, it made me feel I was rambling less (my bubble pop review felt really rambly) so I think I will stick with it.

I also very much regret to say that this blog will not be doing reviews for the next 10 weeks because I'm going to college! All of my fancy sodas for review are being left at home so I won't have any material. Hopefully while I'm there I can stop by some stores and get a collection going. I'm attending Union College in Schenectady New York and I'll be studying Computer Science. I will try to keep this blog going because it is quite a bit of fun to do but if I don't have any material there's no way to get reviews done. Sad sad stuff but I'm excited to go anyhow.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sodamancy - another blog about soda creation

I sort of regret not posting this sooner because to be perfectly blunt I haven't been keeping up with the comments section on this site. I really didn't know anybody at all went here until I checked my Google Analytics a few days ago. One fellow by the name of Ricky posted on my Open Cola post discussing how much soda it made and he referenced his own blog. I was shocked to find an absolutely fantastic blog on brewing all sorts of your own soda. I'll definitely be frequenting there and trying out some of the recipes around Thanksgiving (college soon, won't be able to get any resources).

Thanks Ricky for the comment, here's the link to the blog

Thursday, August 18, 2011 - for those interested in soda creation

I was thinking about doing another article on Open Cola since it seems that there is some interest in it based on my traffic figures and I happened upon a site all about making your own soda. It has the Open Cola recipes but what is even cooler it is has lists of equipment, videos and even a recipes page. It is unfortunately pretty dead and it doesn't look like it has really been updated since 2009 but still, very cool to look through. All of it is very straightforward and easy to browse. The person who made the site also is very dedicated to his soda, he made a number of soda dispenser rigs the most recent one being this:
I thought it was pretty cool to check out just the once and maybe if I do decide to make my own soda I'll use it as a reference but the fact that it has died means I probably won't be stopping by there very often at all. So without further ado, here is the link.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Science of Soda!

I'll be perfectly honest, I was going to write a very in depth text explanation of the science of carbonation and how it works but as I was doing research I happened upon a video that completely summed up everything I was going to say and even had very fancy animations. I might go back and write up what I know but for now you can just enjoy this video, I find it very interesting!

Fullscreen recommended so you can read the text.

Marble Pop Original Flavor Review

I actually have a bit of a history with Marble Pop. When I was in middle school there was a spot downtown called Digital Ops and I would go there with friends all the time to play games on their computers. Naturally we would want food and drink and there was an Anime store next to it that sold all sorts of Japanese stuff like Marble Pop and Pocky. I would get Marble Pops and play games a lot so it has some fond memories for me.
Marble Pop is also the Americanized version, this was originally a Japanese treat by the name of Ramune. Ramune was introduced back in 1876 and has had many different versions. In modern times Ramune is seen as a symbol of summer time and is a popular drink. Here's the full Wikipedia article if you are interested. I can't remember where I bought this but my dad bought me a bag of 4 or 5 various flavored Marble Pops so plan to see some more of those fairly soon!
Here's a short video explaining why Marble Pop is so unique:
You push down on this bit
I really do like the mechanism a whole lot. Of course it is a gimmick but it is a really cool one and something that is completely unseen in other sodas. I like it as it adds a certain level of interactivity with what you are drinking. It really does take a lot of effort to pop the marble in, much more than I expected which is why I needed a second take when making the video above.
It is very pretty!
I absolutely adore the bottle design. It is called a "Codd-Neck" bottle because it was named after the inventor Hiram Codd. It was designed for the specific purpose of holding a marble and rubber top. Interestingly enough they don't have to use any machine to force the marble into the cap, the bottles are filled upside down and then the pressure of the gas forces the marble into the cap, making a tight seal. The bottle design is also strangely humanoid, it has 2 indentations that look sort of like eyes and I like it, it's so different.
The labeling is interesting from a marketing standpoint. It uses a robot which is sort of rounded and bubbly looking which is obviously trying to emphasize that this is futuristic in the way it does bubbles. There are also some bubbles come off of him and an eye in the O of Pop. I quite like the lettering on Pop but all the other typography is pretty dull, then again what can you really ask for?

All the frilly bits of this soda are very good, but unfortunately it falls very flat when it comes to the actual soda inside of the bottle. Upon first tasting it I could not place the flavor at all, it honestly just tasted sort of sugary and then the after taste was somewhat like Cotton Candy. I really like Cotton Candy but it is not what I was expecting. It's definitely very sweet and I think that the HFCS is well placed because otherwise this would taste so bland. At the moment the flavor is sort of not there besides just sweetness. It also isn't very thick which makes me want to drink it quickly and also indicates there isn't much flavorings in it. I also really don't like that the top is plastic. When you are drinking from a glass bottle it feels weird to have this plasticy feeling against your lips. Glass bottles just have much more of a presence than this did. Also the opening was strangely placed. I didn't know whether to put my lips all the way around or drink it like a normal soda with more of a waterfalling action.
The carbonation is lackluster. It is a cool gimmicky way to deliver the carbonation but it ends up being pretty weak overall. It had me burping at the start but that was at it's peak and now that I am halfway down it really has almost no carbonation at all. The thing is it gets bubbly as it washed over the marble and the marble just simply can't do all that much. It has carbonation in it but it just simply doesn't get bubbly.
It is only 90 calories unsurprisingly, it also only has 19g of sugar so my ideas are confirmed. This is just a weak soda. There's some Iron in there as well which is sort of perplexing. I hate that they can list "Artificial Flavorings" as an ingredient, I understand that they have to keep their recipe secret but it still sucks from a reviewer and consumer standpoint. There is no artificial coloring at all which I quite like, I am scared of a lot of those extremely vibrant sodas. There is also very little liquid in the bottle. I was drinking away while I was thinking of what to type next and I ended up downing half the bottle. It has only 6.76 fluid ounces which is significantly less than the typical 12 ounce soda can. I suppose this is just meant to be a quick treat and not a drink, which I quite honestly became the norm for sodas.
I also took the time to chill this one more, I usually drink it at the temperature of my basement which is pretty cool. I figure that soda is usually drunk colder so I tried this out, it ended up not really making a huge difference so I'm going to ignore it for now.

Overall, I fell like it's underwhelming as far as a soda go, the bottling is cool, the gimmick is really really awesome but the actual soda is so meh. This is a great soda to show your friends because of the way that the marble works out but if you are just alone and want a solid soda I'd pass. I think just having it once to try out the gimmick and have some fun is great but I would not recommend this as a drink with a meal or to buy like it were other sodas. This really is a candy treat much more than any other soda I have encountered, which I really like conceptually it's just that the flavor isn't enough like candy to justify it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Open Cola

No review this time, I've got to mix it up every once and a while! In the software world there is a term called "Open Source Software". The idea is that instead of just getting a little program that gets sent out by the software company they also give out the source code which is basically the guts of the program. The opposite side of the coin is closed source or proprietary software like Windows, where nobody but the company has the guts available to them.

So the idea behind open cola is that when you buy a coca cola the ingredients are listed as "natural and artificial flavorings" which means only the Coca Cola company knows the guts and the recipe. Open Cola is a recipe to make your own cola, that anyone can use.

It's interesting in that for one thing it's a straight forward recipe to good soda that you can make yourself. It also means that you can tweak it. Ever wanted to taste orange coke? Lemon Lime coke? No problem, just change the recipe and double your orange or lemon and lime or whatever extracts, suddenly you have a whole knew and uniquely delicious flavor!

I definitely have interest in producing this. I'm thinking I'll probably make the investment over the summer. I'll make a review then and also keep you all up to date on what I'm up to. I think that it the recipe online makes gallons and gallons, so it's definitely advised to have some way of selling the product rather than just drink it all on your own. If you make it you will also come to the unfortunate conclusion that soda is basically just as much sugar as you can possibly dissolve into water with some flavoring.

It was produced but not very widely available. Only 150,000 cans were ever sold of the original recipe, however who knows how much was actually made.

Here's the wikipedia article for further information.

Review: Date and Coconut Juice

Okay, so it's not soda! Wow! I was in Lansing for a little vacation with my family over winter break . While there we stopped in an arab restaurant that had all sorts of odd drinks. Amongst them were date juice and coconut juice. I was a little bit skeptical but I'm an adventurous guy. I decided to get the coconut and my sister got the date juice.
What ensued was not a fun time.

I tried the date juice first actually because it had an easier to open top. The coconute juice had this weird thing on it:
Its like cat food!

I didn't get any pictures of the date juice. I guess I'll start off with that since it was the first I drank.
Date Juice:
It had real sugar in it which was nice and maybe a little surprising I expected something like this that doesn't really take pride in itself or so I'd assume. The bottling was absolutely boring, just like any old glass jar style bottle you'd get juice in. It tasted pretty good when it was in the mouth. I expected it to be much too thick but it actually drank quite nicely. It left a coating on the mouth though. I really didn't like the taste of it going down too much. The after taste also was not to be desired. I was polite though, didn't go all soda nazi on my family. I can see why they didn't used High Fructose Corn Syrup though, if they had it would be super thick and syrupy and just completely stick to your mouth. Very gross. However, I think the sugar worked nicely. It's basically what one would expect from date juice.

Then there was the coconut juice. Oh, the coconut juice.
Its difficult to describe the sort of visceral reaction one has to drinking this drink so let me try to paint a picture with words and images. First off you are shown this:
You think to yourself, "oh what a nice little bottle! It gets creative with the topping and makes it easier to open. Oh my is that chunks?" Being a suave soda afficiando like me you even notice that it has very promising ingredient. 90% juice? Real sugar? Only 5 ingredient?! This is the stuff that dreams are made of in the soda world! Then the lady at the cash register assures you that they are indeed fresh coconut chunks. What a treat! Then you get it back to the table and really look at it and see this:
What have I done.

Then you decide, "well I'm not going to be mean or weird. I'll drink this since I bought it. Sure it looks mildly reminiscent of some terrible mistake in ninth grade biology, but what's the worst it could be?"

Then you open it, like I showed above it had that weird top that is shockingly hard to get off. I really had to wrench at it. If only it had held strong, maybe I'd never had the drink. This is a good moment to say that I hate the texture of coconut but like the taste pretty well. I really expected to like this because of that fact, I ever got excited. Then that first fateful sip. Oh boy, how it is subtle and deadly. I was trying so hard to like it. But then you realize. It's basically watery coconut juice with chunks floating in it. Then the chunks don't go down so easy. You want to chew them but you can't. They sit in the back of your throat and this combination of a mild taste and chunks in the back of my throat reminds me more strongly of vomiting than anything else ever has. I quite sincerely feel a little unwell writing this. I actually wasn't hit by it until maybe the second sip. By then I had passed it onto my mother as well. She was the one who compared it to vomit. Oh how she was right. My sister told me she really likes coconut so I passed it over to her. She started drinking it happily while my mom and I were cringing.
I quickly went over to the register and bought a Stewart's Root Beer. I drank it quickly and I very honestly still felt nauseas whenever I looked over to the bottle of coconut juice. It was awful.

As an added bonus, I even took some notes immediately after drinking the coconut juice! So here are my thoughts while I was shell shocked. You can pretty clearly read the disgust in my head:
"I don't like coconut. Its subtle but I don't like it. I don't like coconut flavor so this was probably a bad idea. My mom was horrified. Its not good, my sister likes it. Its good to try new things but this was bad. Made me and my mom feel sick, akin to vomit due to the chunks."

It was an adventure and I guess I'm glad I tried it. But nonetheless. It was horrific.