Thirsty Thursday #3

May 17, 2012

Oh…I bet you thought I would forget about this one…but I slipped it in here just in time to still keep it a Thursday…

So, what am I reviewing today?

Something different. Something usually neglected in the whole field of gourmet sodas.

Ginger ale.

Now you may not consider ginger ale the redheaded stepchild of the soda family, but it really does have a lot to offer. Like, you know, subtle ginger flavoring with lots of carbonated water. Not really a sweet flavor but more of a tingly sensation.

Okay…maybe you’re right…it usually is pretty plain. So I decided to go after the nicest ginger ale I have heard of.

Ale 8 One.

Now that looks like a formidable soda…huh?

And it was actually quite wonderful. Plenty of bubbles, a fine light taste, and not too strong on the gingery side.

I actually ingested this drink with a hearty meal consisting of jalapeno peppers, fried okra, and french fries. With all these flavors trying very hard to fight the Ale 8 One it still seems to come out on top.

This is probably its best quality. It can handle competition between your taste buds. That’s saying something considering we’re talking about one of the plainest sodas you can consume.

No, you’re not doing to lose any sock or see any fireworks while you’re drinking the stuff, but at least it will be cold and bubbly. Hey, it even sort of reminds you of

Among my friends, Ale 8 One stands as almost a legend. It’s like a mythical creature that always seems to slip past our grasp. That’s right, Ale 8 One is the unicorn of gourmet sodas. Why? Because here in Florida it’s pretty hard to come by. This delightful brew was invented and distributed mainly in the state of Kentucky. They have spread to a few other counties outside of Eastern Kentucky (mostly parts of Ohio and Indiana) but Florida is well beyond their normal distribution region.

I was lucky to find it on sale in the restaurant I had ventured to one day. (They actually had an entire wall filled with other gourmet sodas, some of which I will be reviewing in the coming weeks.)

So I give a review of it today so I can officially scratch it off my list of sodas to drink. While it may not be my favorite soda…it could likely win the honor of being my favorite ginger ale…which is kind of like being the world’s greatest assistant janitor. At least it’s the king of something.

They do have an interesting history as well. If you feel interested you can check out their website here. (Tours of the factory on Fridays as well…if I’m ever in Kentucky…)

D.A.

Thirsty Thursday #1

May 3, 2012

There’s nothing much more American that sitting around with your buds having a beer. It’s almost like a male ritual. The hiss and pop of the can or the crack of the bottle cap is known as a peaceful gesture. Just look at men’s behavior next time they get alcohol in their hands. Their body language changes. They relax. They feel comfortable. Every once in a while they take a nice swig of their brew and let the day’s troubles flow away.

I love this concept. To walk up to a group of friends and say “beer me”, and to have it recipocated, would be a real pleasure. It let’s you feel like you’re a part of the group. You belong here.

Some guys like the popular big name beers. Other’s prefer to go with the lesser known beers. Even fewer have found locally created micro-brews to sip on. Everybody has a preference.

I’m telling you all this because I want this but I can’t have it.

There is one little hang-up.

I don’t drink.

It’s not because I’m a recovering alcoholic. It’s not because I have an allergy. And it’s not because I think I’m above people who drink.

Nope. It’s just … icky. In more ways than one. (Mostly because any alcohol tastes mysteriously like urine.)

So, since I’ll never enjoy the feeling of having an ice-cold brewski in my hand, I should at least make the attempt to find something that can come close to being a slightly cool alternative. Something that can let me feel like I’m a part of the group when my buddies are standing around the grill having a beer.

So I’m going to pick gourmet soda.

Okay, maybe it’s not that manly of a substitue, but it’s something. It will also look a lot better than standing there with a virgin daiquiri in my hands.

Actually for the past few weeks I’ve been picking up a few of these sodas and have been pleasantly surprised. So surprised that I feel like you should hear/see the benefits of my non-beer drink search.

What follows is the first of a multi-part series that will feature yours truly tasting the finest and most delectable gourmet sodas from around the world. (While that sounds all nice and organized, it really isn’t. Actually, it’s more like I’m just going to try to talk about a soda I found at the store that also manages to have the words “gourmet” written on them.)

So, just like a warm RC cola…you may not totally enjoy it, but it’s better than nothing.

THIRSTY THURSDAY #1

Today’s selection: Virgil’s Cream Soda

Virgil’s Cream Soda is probably not the first soda I should have picked for my weekly segment. You want to know why? Because they’re probably isn’t going to be another cream soda that can beat it. Honestly, I have had a lot of cream soda in my life and this pretty much beats them all. It beats them in the way a 1980’s Mike Tyson would beat up my grandmother in a fistfight. (Don’t worry too much, granny survived giving birth to 5 boys and would get in a few good shots with her left hook.)

Number one: the packaging is incredible. I don’t know much about the history or background of the company, but let’s be honest, there isn’t anything more manly than featuring a burly and bushy bearded male wearing an apron and green flannel. The apron tells me that he is a professional in making tasty fizzy drinks. The flannel tells me he probably does this as a hobby because his other job is chopping down endangered redwood forests with an axe. Even his powerful stare would supress the growls of an angry grizzly bear into the equivalent of  a sneezing squirrel.

The color of the soda is perfect. An amber glow is the only way I could describe it. Why is this important? Because most cream sodas have a clear or urinish sheen to them. This looks like a hearty ale. It doesn’t only look inviting but it practically lulls you into pouring it’s sweet goodness inside your belly.

What waits inside is one of the clearest and most refreshing vanilla aromas that could fill your nostrils.

The taste is remarkable.

The first sensation to cross your taste buds leaves you surprised by how light the drink is. It’s not overpowering. A good balance. It is a carbonated drink but it’s not too sharp on the tongue. It gives a slight sizzle and calms down nicely. This means you don’t have to worry about the “bite” that is usually found in more artificial drinks.

This lack of a bite and full aroma that swirls around your sinuses allows you to appreceiate every drop. And trust me, I did. The bottle in the photo above lasted less than two minutes. And I think that was the second bottle of the day.

The second sensation is the aftertaste. It’s pleasant. It’s does stick around for a little bit, but that’s okay. If you’re not used to drinking a soda then you may even say it’s a little sweeter after it leaves the mouth. If you’re a seasoned veteran of the soda taste (I’m calling myself a vet now) then you’ll find it soothing.

Let’s put it this way, if sodas were hats, Virgil’s would be sitting on top of the Pope’s head.

Overall rating: excellent. If you can find this in a store, it’s well worth the money. There are only four bottles per pack but you won’t regret your decision. Just make sure they’re cold and you’ve got the grill on because there couldn’t be anything much better than that.

(If you’re really interesting in learning more about the company/drink…I’ve provided you with the link to their heavenly creations: Virgil’s Root Beer/Cream Soda)

D.A.