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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ironbeer Soft Drink

I think it would be fun to do a series of reviews of sodas representing different political alignments. I'm not sure what you would use--perhaps Green River (for the Green party) and OpenCola (for the libertarians or techno-anarchists)? Heck, we could go further; I'll bet someone could find something suitable for all the parties, including Peace and Freedom, American Independent, Reform, etc...not to mention the Republicans and Democrats (which I can just hear my mother and brother (both Libertarians) suggesting being represented by Coke and Pepsi--people argue vigorously over their relative merits, and claim huge differences between them, yet they are virtually indistinguishable, ubiquitous, and control a huge percentage of the market).
But I digress. Let's start it off with tonight's Weird Soda: Ironbeer Soft Drink. What political ideology does it represent, you ask? Well, allow me to quote from the can:
"On a Summer's afternoon, in 1917, a mule-drawn, wooden wagon arrived at a popular cafeteria in Havana, Cuba. It delivered the first four cases of a new soft drink that would soon be called, 'The National Beverage'. Now, more than 80 years later, IRONBEER is still enjoyed for its refreshing flavor with just a hint of island spices. A lot can change over the years - but not the original flavor of IRONBEER!"
Now, I know very little history, so I had to brush up on the history of Cuba. Apparently, it only became communist in the 1940s, and prior to that (and during 1917) was effectively a client state
of the USA. Thus, while it is tempting to brand a Cuban-oriented Weird Soda as something like "Commie Cola", it would be inaccurate to do so. The Ironbeer Can-ifesto from which I quoted above seems to specifically deny Cuba's current regime, and hearken back to the idyllic days in which it was a beloved, closely-watched niece of the late-WWI United States.
The Kibbitzer-in-Chief is analyzing the artistic representations on the can. At first glance, she says the can (red with yellow graphics depicting a shirtless, heavily-muscled man flexing his bicep) is reminiscent of the socialist "Achievement of the Five-Year-Plan" posters, featuring strapping farmers and such. However, she feels that closer examination suggests that the heavy musculature of the figure suggests a very different imagery.
K-i-C: "This man's body is not covered. He is not serving his role, as represented by his clothing--he is serving himself. He's celebrating his own power, as expressed in the glorification of his own body. He is a superman, and while Superman in the 1930s is nowhere near as conservative as he would later become, he was never a socialist."

The K-i-C is capable of delivering a well-reasoned and insightful analysis of soda can imagery at the drop of a hat. I am capable of making occasional snarky comments and bad puns.

I further note that Ironbeer is currently bottled in Miami. I suspect this is more of an "Anti-Commie Cola", actually. Let's open it up and enjoy the Invisible Hand of Ironbeer!

Where and when: purchased April 2009 at Galco's, Los Angeles, CA
Color: very dark brown, darker than typical cola.
Scent: Hmm, interesting. Cola-ish, but with strong citrus. Sort of like Coke-Sprite mixture, but with a fruity tone, as if there were strawberry Starbursts in there too. Very fruit-juicy.
Taste: Oh, neat. It's cola-based, I think, but with a very strong fruit juice kick. Not all that acidic; the acid is relatively mellow and non-biting. I can't quite decide what fruit that is. It's not lemon or orange, nor passion fruit, nor grapefruit, nor apple nor grape. It's some sort of somewhat tart berry--I think strawberry or raspberry is close. I suppose it could be acai berry, or something exotic of that sort. In any case, it's good. Very good, even.
According to the label, the main sweetener (the only one listed) is fructose. Not high-fructose corn syrup--just fructose. Interesting.

Quaff rating: 4. Very nice. The whole lab staff likes this one.
Cough rating: 0.5. Maybe ever-so-slightly too sweet, but nothing else objectionable.

12 comments:

  1. I Like the premise upon which you built this article. (psst: Cuba>Communist[after a fasion] in 1959- the revolution that brought Castro to power and threw out Batista [a very bad guy, but he was OUR very bad guy]).
    There was a dollar store in Southern Arizona where I first found it. We became fans and too, tried to describe the flavor. We thought Plum juice was one fruit ingredient (thus, the inevitable comparison w/ Dr. Pepper). Never got to Acai berry, but all agreed that there was also a subtle undertone of something between sasparilla and vanilla creme soda.

    I haven't been able to find any since I returned to (Inland Empire) Southern CA.

    Kombucha is by the way; supposed to be particularly good for you (from fermented mushrooms is a sause they regenerate into the tea. Nobody said it was supposed to please the pallet.

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  2. Most supermarkets in Miami have a small section full of Hispanic sodas. Almost in all of those supermarkets I have been to they have Materva, Ironbeer, Jupina, and a few other sodas of which I forgot the names of. Ironbeer is pretty good, it's like cream soda mixed with Dr.Pepper.

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  3. I grew up in california born in cuba and I've been drinking ironbeer all my life you can find this sodas in cuban markets such as liborio or latimex market even cardenas have them sometimes

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  4. Moved to Ohio and can't find it here.

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  5. Yummy soda--the fruit flavor is really great. A bit too syrupy-sweet at the end.

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  6. When I was a kid in the 1960's my father took me into many taverns and VFW posts in his hometown of Duryea PA. I would sit at the bar next to him, he, drinking Stegmier's beer and me, drinking Iron Beer! Back then, I remember it in clear glass bottles with a brownish colored cap. This was before I ever had Dr. Pepper, which makes me think back to those days. I don't know if it was from a local bottler--I can't see a tiny little town, so small it's called a borough (smaller than a 'village") getting something from Cuba, so maybe other companies had a similar version? I don't know...

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  7. I just tried some, and I think I identified the frutiness.
    It is very much orange, but instead of being real juice fresh from an orange, it's a crossover between "orange soda flavor" and "orange creamsicle."
    I think it leans a bit more toward "orange creamsicle" since there is a definite vanilla flavor.
    I don't know where you were picking up on any berry-ness, but this is just what I got.

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    Replies
    1. I agree, I can for sure catch the flavor and smell of orange peel Lime peel along with vanilla maybe a touch of guava in there.

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  8. Cuba was not communist in the 1940's, it happended a year or so after Castro in 1959

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  9. Absolutely my favorite soda (great enough to bust my life-long CocaCola addiction)! Odd fact: If you fail to finish a can and it sits out overnight, CocaCola is abominable, while and "overnighted" IronBeer still tastes good. Definitely "citrusy" strong note is incredible.

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  10. Dude. Ironbeer tastes like St. Joseph's Children's Aspirin, but in a good way. It's awesome.

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  11. Ironbeer is awesome. Probably weird to you but you probably don't get out much that you have to make this series. Travel and learn. Stop being ignorant. PS: Communist happen in 1959 in Cuba. Not 40's. Get your facts straight.

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