Apparently, there has been some mistake. When I stripped off the bubble wrap from the next randomly-selected bottle sent by Mike and Esteban at Oogave, the label read "Esteban's Cola".
Truly, when I accepted their offer to send me samples, I didn't expect their own personal bottles of soda. Plus, ewww, backwash.
However, I was reassured when, upon closer inspection, the bottle was sealed and still full. I am forced to conclude that this is not, in fact, Esteban's personal bottle of soda, but is instead made from a formula which is the possession of Esteban.
Okay, I feel less guilty now.
There are many colas out there, even aside from the occasionally-seen Coke and Pepsi. I still intend to have a Normal Soda Review day, when such things are quaffed and subjected to the same scrutiny as the Weird stuff. But not today--today, we sample Esteban's Cola. The label does not specify the source of the cola, only listing "natural flavors", "caramel for color", "citric acid" and "natural caffeine" in addition to the usual water and agave sweetener.
Come to think of it, "caramel for color" is interesting. Does this actually have caramel in it? That would be Weird indeed.
The label also bears a sigil which proclaims this soda to have "Esteban's Seal of Approval", and bears a picture of a man giving a thumbs-up. Well, I would hope he approves of his own cola. I'm looking forward to sodas from other bottlers having Esteban's Seal of Approval.
Actually, I'm looking forward to soda bottles having a WSR badge of some sort. Maybe the "WSR What The Heck Is This?" seal of approval. Anyone want to propose a design?
Let's see how Esteban's Cola stacks up against all other colas.
Where and when: sent by Oogave Soda, September 2009
Color: A medium-dark brown, but still transparent. Lighter than most colas. Sort of like a red ale.
Scent: Intriguing. Actually, it smells a little like chocolate or caramel. The Kibbitzer-in-Chief says it smells like hazelnut. Maybe we can compromise and call it Nutella-scented. It's pleasant, a bit spicy.
Taste: Unexpected. There's actually not very much initial taste. The first impression is mild acid, slightly nutty/spicy (cinnamon or nutmeg, maybe). Then the citric acid comes in, along with more of the spice. It's a little like spiced cider, which is intriguing in a cola. The flavor is not overwhelming. A bigger swig gives more of the caramel flavor, but still with plenty of spice, in an overall mild impression. It's cola, but a spicy mild cola, rather than a whomp-you-on-the-head cola.
Punctilius: "Somewhere between root beer and cream soda. Does it have ginger in it? It's nuanced, and I'm trying to pick up the...hmm...leaves a bubbly bite on your tongue."
K-i-C: "It doesn't taste like cola. The aftertaste is kind of bitter."
Punctilius: "No it isn't. It just feels prickly. I kind of like it. I guess I...I like it."
I see what they're saying. This doesn't taste much like Coke and Pepsi, but it is reminiscent of some of the Weird colas. It's subtle...
Whoa. There's the bitter. A very delayed aftertaste, reminiscent of nut rinds or some spices. I think that's alkaloid? It's not strong or off-putting, but it's interesting.
K-i-C: "You know, carnitas will take care of that."
A very interesting soda. The flavor is more subtle than most, very complex. I like that, but it's a risk. I'm not sure if I'd call it enthusiatically enjoyable, because it's not a simple pleasure, but it's worth the effort.
Quaff rating: 3.5. Pretty nice, complicated, interesting, but challenging.
Cough rating: 1.0. While it doesn't bother me much, some of the flavors are surprising.
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