Thursday, July 26, 2012

Quick Review: Fentiman's Curiosty Cola

If you are interested in a more thorough review you can check out the in-depth review of this soda which is available here.

Fentimans Curiosity Cola at first sounds like it will be nothing more than a strange novelty. However, it is much much more than that. Boasting the most unique bottling I have ever seen and with a delicious flavor to match Fentiman's Curiosity Cola is a must have soda. I adored every moment I had with it, from first looking at the bottling to the last drop I desperately shook in to my mouth, praying for more. I highly recommend it both as a soda to be enjoyed on your own and as a soda to be shared at a party. Friends would enjoy the new, gingery twist on the classic Cola. The flavor is the best Cola you have ever had, with a new layer of ginger added in. The ginger is present but not overpowering at all and adds immensely to the overall experience.

Fantastic soda, do try it if you get the chance. It is available for purchase in World Market stores across the US and online at various retailers.

Review: Fentimans Curiosity Cola

If you want to read a shorter review of this soda, you can check out the Quick Review of it here.
Before Drinking
Background: This is one that I am quite excited about, I have heard good things about it online and I have had it sitting in my collection for about a year now! Perhaps it will have a nice aged flavor to it. I got it at World Market for $1.79. I highly recommend stopping by World Market if you want some nice bottled sodas. 5 or 6 of the sodas in my collection are from there.
The bubbling is more apparent live

Very unique neck shaping!

Most unique bottling I have seen, bar none. The neck has a really interesting shape to it and the bottom is flat with a slight bubble going around it. Very interesting, I don't see it as really conveying any particular image. With a Boylan's bottle it is obvious that they are trying to have a strong, bold feel to their soda. Fentimans seems to go for the "Curiosity" part of their name, just making their bottle a little bit strange. It doesn't feel heavy or slender or average, it's just different. Very unique and really drives the branding.

Captures the early 1900s well
The logo is nice, the illustration of the dog has a very old-timey feel to it. I adore the font, totally feels like the old sodas of the past. The font makes it seem like the sort of soda that you would pick up from the apothecary for a nickel. It also boasts about being "Botanically Brewed" which is probably more a marketing term than anything else. All that seems to mean is that they include ginger and herbs in the soda. I am quite looking forward to that, very strange combination of cola, herbs and ginger that I haven't seen before. The cap is also completely blank of any ink. I sort of like that, a nice simple look though it isn't anything terribly special.

It is also a bit darker of a cola than most. Even a bright light only shines through the neck of the bottle, the body is all pure dark.

Very dark coloring
Amount of sugar and calories are perfectly average. The ingredients are definitely odd though, the first ingredient is water followed by carbonated water. Every other soda I have ever had was carbonated water only as the top ingredient. This means that it will probably not be as bubbly as most sodas I am used to. It also lists ginger and caffeine as ingredients. I am really interested to see what ginger in cola tastes like, never had that before. I am also very glad that they included caffeine on their list of ingredients. Very often a soda will have caffeine in it but not list it anywhere on the can. When I was a kid this annoyed me greatly because I wasn't allowed to have soda with caffeine in it. It is also made with real sugar, but that is completely unsurprising. Basically par for the course with sodas I am interested in.

During Drinking
Twist top which I am glad for, makes a nice "pop!" when I take the cap off. The ginger is really quite apparent and lends an extremely unique flavor. The bottle is also not as filled as most are so it takes longer than expected to get the first taste. The lip is wider than usual as well which gives a very different feel to is. The glass is also quite thin right at the lip, which I enjoy. It matches the character of the soda.

Water, Carbonated Water. How curious!
Very good level of carbonation, exactly on par with what it should be. I would say it is a little bit heavier on the carbonation than a Coca Cola but a bit lighter than a Henry Weinhard Root Beer.

As far as flavor goes I would describe it as nothing more than the best cola flavor you've ever had, with ginger mixed in to it. When I had my first taste the ginger was quite powerful, the most noticeable part of the soda but now that I am about a quarter done it is much more mild and nothing more than a wonderful hint layered on top of an amazing cola flavor.

I am having trouble picking out the other herbs used. I suspect there is a bit of vanilla extract, because the soda is quite smooth.

Getting lots of good burps out of it too. The carbonation isn't too much that it feels uncomfortable in the stomach but there is enough of it that it leads to good quality burps.

Tongue goes a bit numb from the ginger, a little bit of a weird feeling but totally to be expected.

After Drinking
This soda is just flat out really good. I initially thought that it would be a novelty but it is just simply a new flavor that hasn't been done before but which is really quite amazing. The ginger doesn't take anything away from the Cola flavor, it merely adds on a new layer of complexity that is very yummy. I think this is one of the few sodas I have had where I want to get a 6-pack of it. This is the sort of soda that if you served it at a party you would want to point out the uniqueness of it to guests and everyone would appreciate it. Everyone loves Cola, everyone has had a Coca Cola and this would be a cool way to introduce them to something new, unique and utterly delicious.

I'm not sure I would like having this with a meal though. It is a complex enough flavor on its own that I think it would distract from a meal rather than add to it. Unless you considered it as being a side-dish to the meal instead of just a liquid to wash the meal down with.

Overall, I highly recommend it to anyone who likes soda at all. It is a new twist on a classic flavor that is completely unique to anything I have had before and it tastes amazing.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: Blenheim Ginger Ale

Sorry for my absence, school takes precedence over this. I'm out of school now though so it's time for a lovely summer of soda! I'm excited to do plenty of reviews in these coming 2 months.

Before Drinking
Background: This soda is quite dear to my heart. Over this previous Winter Break I picked up a seasonal job at a mail order company. The company was really super awesome and when I went in to pick up my last pay check, there was a $25 gift card to a local restaurant. I didn't get to use the coupon because I had to go back to school, but when my parents used it they picked up this soda for me. I've never heard of Blenheim so this is quite exciting for me to get a really nice soda for free out of the blue! This is also the only Ginger Ale I have ever had besides Vernor's. I'm looking forward to seeing what a true Ginger Ale is like and seeing if it has that same nose-burning quality that Vernor's has.
Red bottle cap, this means business
I did some research on Bleinheim and they pride themselves on being old fashioned. The bottling company was founded in 1903, so this seems totally legitimate. They also say they bottle in 3 "flavors", they indicate these flavors only by the color of the cap which is pretty cool. Red means strong, Gold means mild and White means diet. I got Red, which I quite like as it will be a true Ginger Ale!

Bottling is really quite standard. It sort of reminds me of a Boylan's but not as thick and strong. It has a somewhat slender feeling overall which is pretty appropriate for a Ginger Ale. I suppose I have trouble placing exactly what a Ginger Ale bottle should look like. For a Root Beer it makes total sense to be all dense and heavy, for Cas Cal it made perfect sense to be all whispy and elegant. Ginger Ale doesn't have a specific "feel" to it though, so I suppose that is why they went for generic.
No refills!

Very nifty logo
The logo is super cool but also quite confusing. It has the same patriotic bird that appears on the seal of the United States. It has the arrows in one talon and ivy in the other. Instead of having E. Pluribus Unum though it has "Original Ginger Ale". Very odd, but I like it just for the design, ignoring all the other connotations. I quite like the font, it is clearly indicating that the soda is pretty old and venerable which makes sense from their other marketing. The "G" of Ginger Ale is pretty hard to read so that should probably be changed, but besides that the typography is nice. I really like how "from pure water" is hollow lettering, it really lends a pure feeling to the text. It also says "No Refills" which I find pretty cute, like a little throw back to the days of old when you could go to the pharmacy and get one bottle refilled.

Nutrition Facts
Ingredients are totally what one would expect. Not too many of them, but probably all the interesting bits are hidden in whatever "Natural Flavorings" is. Nutrition facts are also as expected. 170 calories, 41 grams of sugar. Maybe a little bit sugar heavy, but not ridiculous by any means.

Sediment! True brewed!
Lastly, we have sediment! Yes, the one true mark of a genuine soda that is legitimately not just syrup+carbonated water. This is almost certainly a byproduct of their old fashioned creation process. The only other time I have had this was the Cas Cal and that did not disappoint.

During Drinking
Pop top! I've said it in the past but I think these are pretty unneeded. They don't keep a better seal and they are just inconvenient since you need a tool to get the top off. Nice little psssssst as it came off, not much of a pop.

First sip and I liked it at first but after a bit it becomes so strong! I still have a burn in my mouth. This stuff is not messing around at all. I really can't emphasize enough that this is overpowering. Hopefully by the bottom I'll be more used to it and more able to judge the flavor. Took a much smaller sip and it was a lot better. Unless you are a ginger fanatic and love the punch to the face you should take this slowly. Tons of carbonation makes me feel it in my nose. It seems Ginger Ales really like to have a lot of carbonation. Just had a really super long and drawn out burp, that was awesome.

Okay I am quite a bit more used to it, that initial "punch you straight in the mouth and throat" feeling is mostly gone. I am really conflicted on this soda. I must admit that I flat out don't like it but that is not at all because it is a bad soda or because it is poorly made, it is entirely my own preferences. I just simply don't like ginger enough to want to drink what is basically liquefied ginger.

The soda leaves a persisting burn in your throat. It's not terrible, just kind of uncomfortable.
Okay now that it has thoroughly burned my taste buds off it is pretty sweet. I'm about 1/3 of the way through and it now is tasting much more like just a soda with a ginger flavor. Now the only part I don't like are the burps, they burn pretty badly.

Just gave a sip of it to my sister after warning her it was strong, she made a funny face and then put it quite well "That was weird and really strong but I think I might want more. It's sort of like eating spicy food, when you have it you're like 'waaah' but then you kind of want to keep going." I really do think that puts it perfectly, it's super overpowering at first but as you get used to it you can actually get the flavor and it's really nice. I just don't like ginger that much and she does so she was more interested in drinking more than me.
Usually with every tasting of a soda I always do a chug of it where I'll take 2-3 gulps in a row, but with this I think I will pass. It would just burn too much.

As I go through the remainder it is more of the same. The flavor is just a very strong ginger flavor with a lot of initial sweetness. When you first introduce it in to your mouth it is always sweet then the ginger punches you immediately after that.

After Drinking
This is bar-none the most interesting soda I have ever had. It has me more conflicted than anything. First off, this is not a party soda at all, this is a soda that you would get as a single and drink as a novelty, sharing it with others so they can see how weird it is. I would never get a 6 pack of these and then drink it with a meal.
This is quite simply a soda made for the curious and made for the ginger lovers of the world. If you have had ginger ale in the past and really loved it, this would be super awesome to try out and it would give you a whole new perspective. If you just want a weird soda to show off and maybe share around with people, this is awesome for that as well. This really, really does not fit in with the categories of any soda I have ever had before. I am really glad I got to try this, as it truly is a new discovery for me and that is a cool thing to have.

Overall, buy a single, try it out, share it with others just for the experience. This isn't a soda to drink, this is a soda to experience.

I also gave it to my parents, my dad who usually does really well with strong flavors took a sip, made a face and started fanning his tongue. My mom had a similar reaction to my sister, didn't say much then flatly said "It's hot, but I like it. You could add club soda!" Definitely a great novelty for sharing!