Sunday, March 4, 2012

Review: Jone's Soda Root Beer

Background: I bought this from the Starbuck's at my school for $1.39. Jone's Soda is not hard to come by at all, this is probably the most mainstream soda I have reviewed with the possible exception of the Izze I did a few weeks back. I have Jones before and I have a good opinion of it. Even back in middle school when I had this my friends advertised that it had real sugar and said that it really tasted better because of that. At least back when I had it then I liked it quite a bit.

I despise this marketing. They are selling this stuff as hipster juice. I mean really, check out the text that they use as their marketing blurb.

Hipster Rhetoric! Yay!
Text from the bottle:
"Independent since '96
If you're like us, you think for yourself. Come they really believe we'll fall for flashy ad campaigns that cost more than a solid fold private jet? Don't expect to find any of that here - we let what we do speak for itself. At Jones we';re just regular people who make good soda. While we can't promise you more popularity or better hair, if we like your photo, we'll put it on a bottle. Jones Soda, independent since 1996. Your photo. Your soda. Your brand."

"If you're like us, you think for yourself." I just really hate that line and how they are implying that they are somehow not a corporation. The fact of the matter is that the Jones Soda Company had $17.625 million in revenue in 2010. That is serious money. Perhaps they are not making solid gold jets but to try to look down on other soda companies for having money is just plain stupid. Compared to something like Boylan's which only makes about $5 million in revenue they are massive.

Inverted Cane Sugar - sorry for picture quality
Okay, so complaining aside there is a whole ton that is right about this bottling. The font of the logo is fantastic. Bold and readable, sticks out and is not annoying to read at all. The photos on the bottle are indeed made by fans.  That's pretty cool, you can even see the name of the person who submitted the photo and where they are from. The main qualm I have with doing that though is that it lends itself to just completely random and off topic things as the main focus of the label. This bottle in particular has two people holding hands. What this has to do with root beer is beyond me. It is a nice picture but it just feels very out of context to me.
I really like this bottle because of an extreme subtlety that really makes the bottle unique and good. The neck is actually very very slightly bulged. This makes it so that your fingers wrap around the area right above the main body of the bottle perfectly. It's like there is a very subtle lip there that holds the bottle ever so slightly on your finger. They did something very similar with the strong curve which transitions from the body of the bottle to the neck. It bulges out slightly from the body so that when you hold the bottle from the body. I actually checked my other bottles and I noticed that this bulge is present in every bottle. I suspect it is an artifact from the bottle making process. I will definitely look in to this more and do an article on it soon. I'm really interested in why that bulge occurs.

Overall, the bottling is a bit boring. I like that the coloring of the label is custom to each flavor so that it matches the color of the liquid inside. Just a good little touch.


Open opening there are the perfect amount of bubbles. Just like 3 layers find their way up to the neck as the great little "pssh" sound escapes in to the air. I absolutely love that the cap is resealable. The cap also off perfectly easily. I usually don't notice this too much but this is definitely a beautifully done cap. There is a message under every cap. Mine was "turn off your cell phone." That's actually a really really cool thing to put. First off, we are way too connected to our phones lately and second off it really just says "sit down for a moment and enjoy this soda, forget about anything else like your emails or your texts." I'll follow the direction! Bottle holds fantastically, it has a perfect weighting distribution to have presence in your hand but not be too awkward. Sometimes a bottle will be too awkward and it will feel too heavy in the hand or be too slender and you can barely feel anything because the weight is so distributed.
First sip, it has a nice somewhat mild root beer flavor. The after taste is almost stronger than when it goes down. I notice this for a lot of root beers and sodas in general. I could be that once it gets aerated it hits the nose and the taste is stronger then. I really love the carbonation levels. It has a full body when its in your mouth, giving nice good burps that aren't total belches. If I chugged they would be though! Flavor is a bit mild but I burnt my tongue pretty recently so that might be it. That actually has me very worried. I think I might not be giving the flavor of this soda justice because of my tongue. Darn. Chugging really fills the belly quickly but then the burps didn't come, wuh oh. Not recommended. This just leaves me feeling bloated and the flavor isn't much stronger when I chug. Some sodas are really powerful when chugged but this one not so much. Now I'm slowly burping it up so it's not as bad but still, sip this one down.
It doesn't have HFCS which makes it naturally quite a bit thinner than something which does have the syrup. The cane sugar doesn't have the body that syrup does. To make up for this lack of body they put in more carbonation which I think is really brilliant. I often find that the sodas that lack HFCS also lack body in general. This doesn't have the "hit you in the face" total full body that a Boylan's has but it is still pretty good.
The only failing of this I think is the somewhat weak flavor. Carbonation really pulls this together and makes it a good soda, but without that carbonation it would be pretty weak because the flavor isn't great. I've just had root beers that are so much stronger than this, and they didn't have to go for the HFCS either.
Overall, I think that the marketing is terrible, the flavor is not as strong or as complex as it could be but the brilliant carbonation and overal goodness of everything else ties it together and makes it a good soda.

Same soda, different environment!


The cap goes on nice and tight which is fantastic for my collection purposes. I've been keeping the empties of every bottled soda I drink as of late. Most of the caps for these sodas go back on but loosely at best. I like having the cap because then I keep the logo that they use for the cap, which tend to be a nicely made and simple logo. Overall, I would recommend this not as a party soda, this is a soda either to be drank on its own or to wash down a good American meal. Burger, fries, and a Jone's Root Beer sounds like a damned good time. Bottling leaves a bit to be desired but it has the best carbonation and cap of any soda I have encountered.

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