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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sodas of Self-Aggrandizement: "Spiffy" Cola and "Dang! That's Good" Butterscotch Root Beer


Date: August 3, 2014
Where bought: North Topeka Arts Walk, Topeka, KS, from Soda Works

There comes a time in the life of every Quaffmaster when he or she* must, like a spawning salmon, return to the waters of his or her** birth***. Feeling this soul-deep summons, I persuaded the Lab staff that it was time for us to make a journey from Vista, California to Topeka, Kansas. And what better way to cross the great American southwest desert in late July/early August than by driving across it?

Having agreed that this was the best plan of all possible plans which have ever been planned, we rented a car*****, loaded up a lot of stuff, and set course for the town where I spent the first eighteen years of my life.
By a somewhat indirect route, of course. Why take a road trip if you're not going to see some stuff? In this case, "some stuff" included Las Vegas, chicken fried steak, unexpected summer desert rainstorms, the Great Salt Lake, the Temple Square, our life flashing before our eyes on a Utah interstate merging, Dinosaur National Monument, a vague view of I-70 through a curtain of rain and mist as we skidded down the Vail Pass in a driving rainstorm, giant voyeuristic bears, warm greetings and yummy food from dear family, another friend who I had only ever spoken to online, several hours' worth of the inside of a tire repair shop in Estes Park, unexpected waterfalls, wrong turns, wind farms, Kanorado, giant stone phalluses, decadently huge sandwiches, sphinxes, and (most recently) dominoes.

And, not entirely unexpectedly given who I am, Weird soda.

As we strolled through the North Topeka First Friday Art Walk, a bag containing a highly artistic wire sculpture of an octopus swinging merrily from my arm, my eyes chanced across a street cart at which beverages were being vended. The cart bore the logo of SodaWorks, a Topeka company I had only heard of, which sold Weird sodas. This meeting was clearly destined, and so I strode boldly forth to peruse their wares.

Magnificence.

Not only did they have wit as sparkling as their beverages, they had two I had never even heard of before. Obviously, I had to purchase these and report on them for you, my readers******. So with my hat off to SodaWorks, let's get to the quaffing.



Spiffy: A Swell Cola Drink

Where and When: Purchased August 1, 2014 from SodaWorks at the North Topeka Arts Walk, Topeka, KS
Appearance: We should start with the bottle.

It rests upon the table where I ate dinner in my childhood. I think I kind of looked like that at the time, too.


This one is from Orca Beverage Soda Works, which I note is based in Mukilteo, Washington. Any town which combines the concepts of "mucus" and "kilt" in its name has got to be some place special.
The person depicted on the bottle is cherubic and partially bald. What hair he (I am presuming "he") has is swept dramatically back from the widow's peak on his forehead. His tongue, protruding tentatively from his lips, suggests that he is either licking his lips in anticipation of the drink or giving a raspberry to the year 1934. My father (who shall be known as Cliffhanger) was born in 1933, so I am presuming that Mr. Spiffy, here on the bottle, is expressing his disdain for any year following the year of Cliffhanger's birth. "Baloney, you chizz!", says Mr. Spiffy, "No gin-fizz or giggle juice can eighty-six the macher which is Cliffhanger! Why, I'm starry-eyed at his moxie! But I'm just bumping gums here, cat. Abyssinia!"

Now, the appearance of the soda itself.

Appears to be a dark caramel-colored cola, similar to any number of others. Aside from the smooth Joe on the label, it doesn't seem too unusual.

Scent: Fairly sharp cola, citrusy undertones. Maybe some vanilla. A nice smell.
Taste: First attack is sweeter than some colas, with little of the aggressive bite that you get in more common sodas. Followed quickly by a very sharp tartness, "orange-ish or slight lemon" in Nazgul's opinion which dissolves into a pleasant series of aftertastes. The aftertaste has a lot of root beer-like notes, cinnamon and vanilla.
Cliffhanger: "Characteristic cola taste at the beginning, with a citric highlight in the aftertaste."

Of course, Cliffhanger can actually distinguish between wines, so his palate is more trustworthy than mine. The fact that we broadly agree makes me think I might have some hope for myself. Or that I should have more wine.

Colas aren't my favorite sodas, although I can enjoy them when they are what's at hand. This is an unusually nice cola; smooth, without a lot of bite, and with some complexity. Nazgul is also fond of the not-quite-as-carbonated quality, which probably helps with the smoothness.

Quaff rating: 3.5. Good stuff.
Cough rating: 0.5. Other than the very powerful citrus attack in the mid-taste, no objections from me!



After that pleasant surprise, I'm a little apprehensive about moving on to the next one. It's a bit more unusual...more daring, even. But what are we, if not courageous?*******



Dang! That's Good Butterscotch Root Beer

This is made by Imperial Flavors Beverage Company, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I can only assume that the marketing dialogue went something like this:

Executive: "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new soda to sell. What do we call it?"
Marketing Person: "We're not sure yet. We're looking for ideas."
Underling: "Let me try some. We can base the name on the flavor."
Executive: "Very well. Stormtroopers! Get this underling a bottle of the latest brew!"
Underling: "HOLY %#@!*& THAT IS THE BEST %$#*ING SODA I HAVE EVER HAD"
Executive: "Genius! Let's go with that!"
Lawyer: "Errrr..."

I must admit that the original title is better, but one must make allowances for the desire to not be arrested.


Where and When: Purchased August 1, 2014 from SodaWorks at the North Topeka Arts Walk, Topeka, KS 
Appearance: A slightly lighter caramel than the Spiffy, but still pretty much brown.

This is the table where I ate family meals for most of my pre-adult life. Coming back and doing Weird soda reviews on it feels a bit weird.
 

Scent: Interesting. The butterscotch is right on top, masking most of the root beer smell. It's a bit darker than, say, butterscotch chips or those hard yellow butterscotch candies, but it's pretty clear.

Taste: This is an interesting combination. The butterscotch isn't as strong in the taste as in the smell. It's balanced almost perfectly with the root beer, and the balance is nice. The butterscotch has an ever-so-slightly burned note, as if aged in oak barrels which, just prior to being breached, were shipped to a dungeon room in which a party of eighth-level adventurers encountered an adult red dragon********.
On the other hand, the good part of root beer is in the complexity of the mid- and aftertaste, and that is completely lost here. The butterscotch masks it completely, fading out slowly, without ever letting it get through. It's either a very poor root beer, or it's lost in the butterscotch; either way, I am sad.

Oh, wait. About ten seconds after quaffing, there's a bit of mild ickiness. A slight bitter-metallic aftertaste, and a feeling of light coating on the roof of the mouth which persists. Unpleasant.

Overall, while the butterscotch is fun (and I admire the balance with the basic root beer flavor), this is disappointing.


Quaff rating: 2.5. Meh. Good but not really good.
Cough rating: 1.0. There is noticeable aversive stuff in the aftermath.


Our work here is done. Time to leave Topeka, and journey back to the Lab. Abyssinia!



* In this case, "he".
** In this case, "his".
*** My mother, Rotalmomska, did not save any of the amniotic fluid in which I gestated****, so this should be taken metaphorically.
**** please God please God please God
***** Had we not done this, our choices from the Lab auto pool would have been a 1994 Ford Aspire (no power steering, effectively no air conditioning, and a vestigial back seat) or a 1998 Toyota Sienna minivan (on which I have been practicing effectively nonexistent automotive maintenance skills, and also lacking effective air conditioning). There is no price that the rental car company could have charged us which would not have been worth it.
****** I am told that the chance of any given person reading this blog is nonzero. Since nonzero is infinitely greater than zero (I know this is mathematically unsound), I conclude that not only is it certain that every single person on Earth is a reader of this blog, but also that the existence of information describing this blog has reached Alpha Centauri by now, and so all sentient beings there are also readers. As Earth's ambassador to alien species, I offer my sincerest apologies for Abali Yogurt Soda.
******* Actually, I can think of any number of other descriptors. You probably can, too, but I doubt I want to hear them.
******** While "800 XP" is not specifically listed in the ingredients, I think I can taste it.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Avery's Kitty Piddle and Dog Drool

Okay, so I wasn't quite right about being "done". I forgot that a very good friend of mine had sent me some interesting sodas from Los Gatos, and I would be a pretty cruddy friend not to review tham after that, wouldn't I?*

I don't actually have a good alias for this fine man, but I'm guessing he wouldn't mind if I referred to him as "Bryozoan". That combined with the fact that he was my freshman-year roommate at UC Santa Cruz should make it easy for him to identify himself**, and to know that it's him I'm thanking right now.

He sent me a couple of sodas I truly hadn't seen before, and which fall without question into the "Weird" category.
I'm glad they put the intended flavor in the upper left side of the label.
There was a time when one of my readers suggested that he would find me a camel pee soda. I never saw that--I'm choosing to believe it doesn't exist, because if it did and someone sent it to me, I would be obliged to actually try it--but this seems like a spiritual attempt at the same thing.

I don't think I'm familiar with "Avery's", but they seem to be bottled in Connecticut***, so at least they're far from the Lab. I feel safer now.

First, we'll try Kitty Piddle. An interesting observation: this is the only bottled soda I've ever had which was filled to the very top of the bottle (you can see this in the photo). I know I'm not supposed to eat food from swollen cans lest I ingest botulinium toxin and die****, but the same thing shouldn't happen here. I can only imagine that, when it was being bottled, some kind soul didn't want me to miss out on that last swallow of kitty piddle.

Where and when: Purchased sometime in spring 2012 at Powell's Sweet Shoppe, Los Gatos, CA
Color: Translucent straw yellow. The bottom of the bottle has a bit of precipitated whitish stuff.
Scent: Sharp, tart. I'm quite familiar with the scents of human and dog urine*****, but not cat, so I suppose this could smell like kitty piddle.
Taste: Kind of reminiscent of Orangina, but with a bit of added mellowness. This is consistent with the label's proclamation of "Pineapple Orange". Pleasant, except that my mind (being the suggestible thing that it is) keeps trying to imagine cat pee. If I manage to ignore that, it's actually decent. Not a lot of aftertaste.

Quaff rating: 3.5. Surprisingly good.
Cough rating: 1.0. I can't quite shake the mental image.


Okay, on to the Dog Drool.

Where and when: Purchased sometime in spring 2012 at Powell's Sweet Shoppe, Los Gatos, CA
Color: Pale pink. Perhaps not too far from the color of living brain tissue.
Scent: Different. Tart, with a slight bitter undertone. Grape?
Nazgul: "Cherryish, with a little bit of watermelon".
Well, that's pretty different from mine. However, given that Nazgul did twice as well as I did on the Coke/Pepsi identification test, I really should give his opinion some weight.
Taste: Okay, I have to make a confession here. I'm more afraid to try this than most of them. And I can tell you exactly why--it's because of a joke RoTalMomska told me when I was a kid. It was triggered by the "drool" in the soda name. I'll include the joke at the end of this review...but consider yourself fairly warned by the fact that I still bear the scars of it more than twenty years later.

But I am--at least for this moment--still the Quaffmaster, and I cannot shirk my duty.

*not thinking of the joke* Not too bad. Pretty nice, actually. *not thinking of the joke* Grape-ish, with a substantial citrus, but more like lime. *not thinking of the joke* The label says "Orange Lemon", but I'd call it "grape lime." *not thinking of the joke* I think I like the Kitty Piddle a bit more, but I'd happily have this too, as long as I can avoid *thinking of the joke*.

Oh, crud. Now I may actually be sick. But it's not the soda's fault. It's RoTalMomska's.

Quaff rating: 3.0. Pleasantly mellow.
Cough rating: For the soda itself, probably 0.5. With the joke, 2.5.



* The review being 13 months late only makes me a somewhat cruddy friend.
** Unless my housekeeping habits that year have caused him to attempt to expunge me from his memory, for which I really couldn't blame him.
*** State motto: "Secretiones animalis esse bonos potiones"
**** But without *any* facial wrinkles
***** Flitwick, the Lab's Amazing Obnoxo-Dog, responds to the presence****** of most material objects by peeing on them, or the nearest convenient alternative object.
****** Or absence.




Oh, you want to hear the joke? Okay.

A guy walks into a saloon in the old west. He's obviously drunk, and the bartender doesn't want any trouble, so when he asks for a whiskey, the bartender refuses him.
Swaying, he addresses the bartender: "If you don' give me a whiskey, I'm a-gonna go get that thar spittoon and drink it instead."
The bartender doesn't believe that for a second. "Well, you just go ahead then, partner," he says.
The drunk man stumbles over and seizes the spittoon. He lifts it to his lips and tilts it up. The bartender is shocked and horrified to see his Adam's apple moving up and down.
"Okay, okay. I'm convinced. Come have yer whiskey," he says.
The man doesn't stop. He just keeps swallowing.
"Stop! I'll give you a whiskey, just stop!" the bartender cries, sickened.
The man doesn't stop. He keeps swallowing.
"STOP! Please, stop! I can't stand seeing this!" the bartender shouts.

The man puts down the spittoon and stumbles back to the bar. The bartender, awed and disgusted, brings out a shot glass and pours the man a shot.

"Mister, that's gotta be one of the worst things I ever saw. Why didn't you stop when I first asked you to?"
The drunk man looks blearily at the bartender and says...

"Well, I tried to, but I couldn't; it was all in one string."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Completely Normal Soda Review, and a Goodbye Song

It's been rather quiet in the lab. I think...we may have accomplished much of our mission. We have quaffed--if not all that is quaffable, then at least a whole variety of things. There's been joy. There's been pain. And I might--just might--be ready to go back to finding and actually drinking Weird sodas for a while.

When I started this journey, I had one thing I knew I had to do before it was done. I had to come full circle. Return to my roots. Come back and rejoin the masses. Yes...we must now review some completely normal sodas.

But being who we are here at the Lab, we'll do it with proper respect for science. Surely somewhere Galileo Galilei, Albert Einstein, Rosalind Franklin, Marie Curie, and Aristotle P. Mitzenheimer* will raise a glass of carbonated ambrosia** to us as we hold fast to our integrity, even now.

I've recruited the Kibbitzer-in-Chief to prepare a sample of four sodas:
Regular Coca-Cola Classic from a plastic bottle
Regular Pepsi from a plastic bottle
Mexican Coca-Cola from a glass bottle
Mexican Pepsi from a glass bottle

Each will be poured into a numbered cup, and she will keep the record of which is which. She will lay them out for me, and then ignore me entirely so she can't influence my judgment (it's the closest I can get to a double blind). I'll sample and review each, and try to identify them.

Soda Number One
Color: Brown, with a slightly yellow-green tint. Not promising.
Scent: Sharp, with a bit of chocolate and citrus.
Taste: Kind of thin, actually. A cool beginning without a great deal of flavor. Then a fairly sharp bite, followed by a moderately sour aftereffect. Just a bit of bitter in the aftertaste. Not especially sweet. Note of coffee?
(Later comments from Nazgul and Olorin)
Nazgul: Sweet, kind of creamy. It doesn't taste like Coca-Cola.
Olorin:Tastes smoother than a lot of sodas.

Soda Number Two
Color: Slightly lighter brown, same yellowish tint, maybe a touch less green.
Scent: Distinctly sweet, a bit sharp, smell of orange blossoms.
Taste: A bit more flavorful than #1. Similar cool bland beginning, but a sweeter and more mellow aftereffect with less tartness. Similar bitter tone at the upper back.
Nazgul: This one is more like Pepsi. More citrusy.
Olorin: It's colder than #1. It's more smooth than #1.

Soda Number Three 
Color: Almost identical to #1. Brown, slight yellow-green tint.
Scent: Cool, sweet, not so much floral. More like #1 than #2. Icy?
Taste: relatively quick impact of an orangey flavor, with cola tones. Aftertaste mild, not much bitter. Slightly sticky feel, lingers.
Nazgul: This one could quite possibly be Coca-Cola. Cherry-ish!
Olorin: Tastes a little bit more root-beery.

Soda Number Four 
Color: Same as the others. I think these guys all use the same tailor.
Scent: Fairly sharp, slightly acrid, very cool. Mintier.
Taste: Relatively quick attack with cool, slightly minty and bitter, but quite sweet. Moves fairly quickly to a moderately strong bittersweet high in the back of the mouth. Feels volatile.
Nazgul: Probably the most bubbles.
Olorin: Smooth and bubbly. Oh my. Bubblier than #1, but smoother as well. My favorite.


Honestly, all of these taste pretty similar. I don't have a lot of confidence, but here's my guess:

1. Mexican Pepsi
2. Mexican Coca-Cola
3. Regular Coca-Cola
4. Regular Pepsi

Nazgul's guess:
1. Mexican Coca-Cola
2. Mexican Pepsi
3. Regular Coca-Cola
4. Regular Pepsi

Olorin's guess:
1. Mexican Coca-Cola
2. Regular Coca-Cola
3. Regular Pepsi
4. Mexican Pepsi

 And here's what they really were:

1. Regular Coca-Cola
2. Mexican Pepsi
3. Mexican Coca-Cola
4. Regular Pepsi

Wow. Olorin gets a 0%, I get a 25%, and Nazgul gets 50%. In my defense, I will say that #4 was the one I was most sure of.

From this, I can reach several possible conclusions:
1. It is possible that I suck at this.
2. It is possible that there is actually very little difference between them
3. Pepsi seems to be easier to identify than Coca-Cola.

We all know plenty of people who swear upon anything they hold dear that they have a strong preference for one over the other. When I have run similar experiences with my science students, most of them assure me that they can easily tell the difference...and most of them are wrong.

I don't think I'd give any of them a quaff rating above 2.5 or a cough rating above 0.5. From that, I can conclude that this odyssey has allowed me to experience a fantastic variety of sodas which rise to greater heights (and fall to deeper depths) than those we usually quaff.

As I encounter more wonderful or terrible things, I will be sure to share them with you. Until then, I remain your Quaffmaster, forever willing to quaff it so you don't have to.


"Back to the Lab"
*to the tune of "Into the West", from the Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack*

Lay down your sweet and bubbly drink
Night is falling, you can step back from the brink
Rest now, and dream of beverages of yore
They are waiting, just inside the fridge's door

Why do you weep? Is that Abali in your mug?
No wonder then. That stuff would choke a slug!
Try this cream soda. It's quite appealing.

What can you see, within the bottle?
Why do you cringe in fear?
If it's got chunks, or smells like offal
Quaffmaster's come to quaff it right here.

And as he turns a shade of puce
You can hear him whisper "Get this juice
Back to the lab!"


* All the others had two names.
** "A bit glutinous, but with a nice cherry-pear balance and a bit of divine wrath."

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Joia Lime, Hibiscus, and Clove

There are many examples of excellent three-flavor combinations. Bacon, eggs, and orange juice. Brown sugar, vanilla, and lemon. Pineapple, orange, and guava. Garlic, mushrooms, and butter. Larry, Moe, and Curly. Barbecue sauce, chicken, and red onion.

It may be worth noting that none of these would make good Weird sodas. Whether this is due to some inherent mathematical incompatibility between Weird soda and the three-ness of such flavor combinations is unclear. Pairs of flavors seem to work well; Weird soda is inherently quadratic, rather than cubic?

Those people with normal senses of aesthetics learn to pay attention to such laws. Indeed, a sense of aethetics might be argued to be inherently dependent on their observance--or carefully balanced violation. But the world of Weirdness must not be held back by such constraints. It must stride boldly forward, unhesitatingly violating such quaint concepts as balance, proportion, and good taste. And that brings us to tonight's review: Joia Lime, Hibiscus, and Clove soda.

There are, as we have discussed before, multiple schools of Weirdness. When I can, I prefer to dip my toes in the sweet streams of fruit and cream sodas. However, a growing subsector seems to consist of sodas whose sole purpose in existence is to combine odd fruit, herbal, and other flavors* in novel and ill-advised combinations. Usually in threes.

Where and when: Purchased April 2013 at Frazier Farms, Vista, CA
Color: Transparent, ever so slightly yellowish-greenish. The color of pale, sun-dried hay.
Scent: Faint, cool, a bit of citrus, and a hint of floor cleaner. I'm not sure what that last is; volatile and spicy.
Nazgul: "I know I've smelled it before." Given the state of the Lab floors, this is unlikely.
Taste: Hmmm...mmm...blech. Let's see--the first taste is citrus, strong and a bit lemony. The hibiscus comes through clearly. However, what happens next is less than ideal.
My mouth becomes slightly dry, and an odd taste spreads through it--a bit like alcohol, a bit spicy. Maybe a bit reminiscent of dry champagne. Not good.

Kibbitzer in Chief: "Nice. It's clean, bright, and textured."

I swear that this woman and I have a great deal in common.

K-i-C: "It tastes like it should be alcoholic, though."
Nazgul: "Very sour, but with a weird sweetness, too."

So the Kibbitzer-in-Chief, whose aesthetic sense is generally considered a squillion times better than my own, likes this one. Let's consult Olorin; he also has a finely developed sense of balance, proportion, and beauty in all things.

Olorin: "Mmmmm! That's really good!"

Well, crud. Okay, I'm a buffoon.

Quaff rating: I must be true to myself. 2.5.
Cough rating: 1. The floor-cleaner part is icky.

*The term is loosely defined here; it's only a matter of time before Weird sodas come in "coal", "breath-of-a-mermaid", and "esprit de corps" varieties.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

DRY Soda: Wild Lime and Cucumber

That's not "Wild Lime and Cucumber", by the way...it's two sodas, "Wild Lime" and "Cucumber". Although Wild Lime and Cucumber would probably be pretty good.

Hello, all. We've been gone for some time. There are a variety of reasons, involving switching domain registrars, defending the Lab from alien attack, and the Great Soda Kablooie of 2013*.

But we're back! I don't know how much longer the Lab will be in business, but for now we're still going. And a good thing too, because we recently found some new offerings from DRY soda company which simply must be quaffed, and without delay. Specifically, we'll be reviewing their Wild Lime flavor, followed by Cucumber.

We've reviewed several DRY Soda flavors in the past, including Kumquat, Juniper Berry, Rhubarb, Vanilla Bean, Lemongrass, and Lavender. They've been intriguing, and sometimes good. Vanilla Bean and Kumquat both made our "Quaffiest" list. Interestingly, so did Mr. Q Cumber, which might indicate that tonight's flavor convergence will produce a mutant beverage of unspeakable savoriness.

We'll start with Wild Lime.

DRY tends to go for "just barely sweet", unusual flavors. Lime isn't particularly unusual, but "Wild Lime" is an unknown quantity. What, we wonder, makes it Wild? Will we be treated to "Fruits Gone Wild 3: Tropical Titillation"?*** Or is this the unknown character from Maurice Sendak's lesser-known sequel book "Where the Wild Things Are Making Pies"?

There's only one way to find out.

Where and when: Purchased at Frazier Farms, Vista, CA, in April 2013.
Color: Clear, no color at all. Well, Nazgul and Olorin both assure me it's faintly green, but they're nuts.
Scent: Distinctly lime, not a lot of sweetness, but some. A little reminiscent of lime jelly candy, but less sweet.
Nazgul: "Smells like the lime juice you put on Dutch babies."****
Taste: Wet. The company name is still misleading.
Olorin: "Kind of like Sprite, but less sweet. Maybe." Olorin is as decisive in his commentary as usual.
It's kind of reminiscent of the unsweetened but citrus-oil-infused sparkling waters you can get. Just a bit sweeter than that. Pleasant.
Olorin: "I like it. It tastes like kryptonite."
Nazgul: "[It] doesn't really taste like much."

I can imagine this being sipped leisurely on a shady porch on a hot day, but "wild" it is not.

Quaff rating: 4. Pretty nice, actually.
Cough rating: 0. Nothing offensive here.


Okay, so that was...pretty good actually. I have high hopes for the Cucumber.
Where and when: Purchased at Frazier Farms, Vista, CA, in April 2013.
Color: Also clear. No obvious color. Nazgul agrees in this case.
Olorin: "It's practically completely opaque!"

This is worth a moment of explanation. Olorin feels it to be his sacred duty to disagree with Nazgul at every conceivable opportunity, even if such disagreement flies in the face of obvious evidence, logic, or physical laws. I envision future conversations along these lines:

Nazgul: "Hey, look. I had one orange, and Granny gave me another orange. I have two oranges."
Olorin: "No you don't. You have forty-eight pineapples."

Olorin has actually invented--on the fly--alternative and clearly incorrect mathematical systems for the sole purpose of annoying Nazgul (and, not coincidentally, me) by claiming to have proven assertions like the one above.

Scent:Hmm. That's really odd. I guess it does kind of smell like cucumber. Vegetal, a bit sweet. Kind of fascinating, actually. Ever so slightly peppery in the top of the nose.

Nazgul: "I've never liked cucumber."
Olorin: "It smells like platypus bladder."
Nazgul: *gives him an incredulous look*
Olorin: "What? You don't know what platypus bladder smells like?"
Nazgul: *continues incredulous look*
Olorin: *smacks Nazgul on the head*

Taste:I have to hand it to DRY Soda--that actually tastes a lot like cucumber. Remarkably accurate--just the tiniest bit sweeter, but barely perceptibly so.

Olorin: "It tastes like WOOOOOOOO cucumber! Kind of like with a cross with centipede Bertie Botts."
Kibbitzer: "Tastes like cucumber, but not in that good farmer's-market-cucumber-agua-fresca way. You know how when you buy cucumber seeds, you can buy burpless cucumber seeds? That's not this."

Honestly, I enjoyed the lime more, although this has to get points for accuracy. Whether that's a good thing, I don't know, but it's Weird, so yay!

Quaff rating: 2.5. Drinking a liquidated carbonated cucumber is not entirely a good thing.
Cough rating: 0.5. While it's not actually offensive, any vegetable-flavored soda has to get something here.

* One of these is, in technical terms, strictly speaking, not entirely true.**
** This statement is a slight understatement.
*** No comment.
**** For those who don't know, and are thus preparing to report us to the authorities: a Dutch baby is a sort of popover, yummy with powdered sugar and citrus juice.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Scotty's Butterscotch Soda

The second soda in today's dual review (following Sweet Corn) is Scotty's Butterscotch Soda.

This time it's the one on the right. Well, the soda's left. I mean, the left from the perspective of the soda, not "The Soda Has Left". It does have a left, of course, but there's nothing there. Except that there is something to the left of the soda, if by left I mean your left, and by soda I mean the one on the right. Your right. There's nothing on the right of the soda on the left, if by right I mean its right and by left I mean your left. Right?


Now, while we have established (in the Sweet Corn review) that this is probably not Scotsman-flavored; it seems more likely that this is a butterscotch soda, perhaps similar to the other such one we've tried. However, there are a few noteworthy things about this soda's label. First, it features two pictures: a bagpipe-playing kilt-clad man (presumably Scotty, although he is not claiming that "the bottle cannae take much more!") and a stick of butter. Just under the butter is a label, claiming that it is "Pure Cane Sugar".

The kilt-clad man, unfortunately, bears no such helpful label. Although I suppose it would probably read "Timing Belt".

I sincerely hope that the makers of this beverage do not believe that the pictured substance is, in fact, sugar; if that is the case, this will probably taste nothing at all like I expect.

Second, it claims to be "From the King's Castle". Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, Scotland does not have a king at the moment (and according to Wikipedia, what it does have is a "devolved government within a monarchy". Whether the Scots have devolved is a question I'd better not try to address.) They haven't had a king since 1952. So this is old soda. Oh boy.

Where and when: Purchased from Rocket Fizz in Vista, CA.

Color: Slightly orange, mostly yellow, a tiny bit cloudy. Disturbingly urineish.

Scent: Butterscotch, strong vanilla notes, a drone of sugar.

Taste: Hmm. Not bad at all. Clearly butterscotch, with a lot of vanilla and caramel, and (to my surprise) a pleasant toasty flavor. Almost like a toasted marshmallow, which goes perfectly with the butter and caramel. Aftertaste is mildly acidic, but not very strongly, and fades relatively quickly. Quite a pleasant surprise.

I would happily have more of this.

Quaff rating: 3.5. Pretty tasty, surprisingly complex. Love the toasty flavor.
Cough rating: 0. Really, nothing to object to.

Lester's Fixings Sweet Corn

Kibbitzer-in-Chief: "If you drink them together, do you get kettle corn?"

I think it could be argued that, for any combination of sodas, if such a question can be asked in a sensible way, you can assume that they're BOTH weird.

The Kibbitzer has been suggesting* that I do some more reviews, and as it turns out, I do have a couple of good ones. We'll deal with them in two separate reviews, I think. The first is another from Lester's Fixings, the source of a whole variety of things which should not be soda flavors. Today's is Sweet Corn.

This review is about the one on the left. Well, your left. I mean, when you're looking at the picture. If you were in the picture, it'd be on your right. So your left, but only where you are now. Unless you're behind the screen--then it's the one on your right.


There's a part of me which thinks that Lester's Fixings is cheating--that they are making sodas like this just to bait me. I mean, who in their right minds thinks that corn** would make a good soda flavor?

But then, I think of Hello Kitty Ramune, and realize that unless there is a vast international conspiracy (headquartered in Japan) to make bizarre soda flavors solely to keep blogs like this going, I must conclude that--in fact--Lester's Fixings is crewed by some sort of demented gnomes who (amid chortlings and cacklings and chants) come up with Sodas Which Seem Like A Good Idea At The Time.

In which case, I suppose they could be worse. Wasabi Lubricant Soda, for example.

Where and when: purchased at Rocket Fizz, Vista, CA
Color: Really incredibly yellow.
Scent: K-i-C: "Oh my God. Is it buttered?"
That's remarkable. It smells almost exactly like a freshly opened can of sweet kernel maize***. Which is a smell I like when opening such a can. Here, I'm not so sure.
K-i-C (sitting 5 feet away): "It reeks. From here."

Taste: Well, there's something you don't taste every day. Okay, let's see...it's sweet. Very sweet. Slightly buttery. And maize-ish. It's not bulgur wheat, or soybean, or even sorghum. This is a reasonably accurate creamed corn flavor.
I really have to hand it to the cackling gnomes at Lester's Fixings. They manage accuracy, God help us all. I can't even honestly say I dislike it.

Me: "Hey, guys! There's a Weird Soda here for you to try!"
*sounds of Nazgul and Olorin desperately trying to hide, or dig under the fence to freedom*

I managed to get them to try it.
Nazgul: *grimacing in despair* "Oh...no."
Olorin: "Actually, I kind of like it. Can I have the rest of this cup?"

I see a great future for you, Olorin. How's your cackle?

Quaff rating: 3. It's really not bad, and certainly interesting. Bonus points for accuracy.
Cough rating: 1.5. It's corn, for the love of all that's holy.

* She would like to have some of the space in the kitchen back, I guess.

** Pedantry: Apparently, the term "corn" does not actually necessarily refer to the grain we in the States usually mean. The term can refer to whatever grain is most commonly used as a feed grain in a given region. What we in the states call "corn" is more accurately referred to as "maize". Now, it might be reasonable to assume that by "Sweet Corn", this soda means maize, an assumption supported further by the substantial picture of maize kernels on the label. However, keep in mind the logical consequences of such a supposition; today's other soda features only a picture of a kilt-clad man playing bagpipes, and is labeled "Scotty's". Given the same logic which leads us to believe that this must be a maize-based soda, we are forced to assume that the other soda today is Scotsman-flavored. And that, my friends, is a sanity-shaking possibility I am not prepared to contemplate for even a moment, given that I plan to drink it.

I think it's safer for us to assume that this soda might just as easily be barley, wheat, or amaranth-flavored.

See how logical and scientific we are here at the Lab?

*** Accuracy, my friends. Accuracy above all!
 
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