All right, I have a problem. The Weird Soda storage facility at the Lab is approaching full capacity. There's too much Weirdness stuffed into this lab.
...well, all right, there's really always been too much Weirdness in the Lab. What I mean is that the carbonoisolation cryosuspension chamber* is almost full.
What's that? You want to know what would happen if it ever reached full capacity?
Do you remember that scene in Ghostbusters, when Peck has the gentleman from the utility company shut down the containment field on the ghost suspension facility, and there is a catastrophic explosion in which all manner of otherworldly badness is released, causing havoc all over the city?
Kind of like that, except fizzier.
Anyway, there's really only one release valve for the pressure buildup in the Lab, and that's to get quaffing. Today, we'll be reviewing something which isn't from a bottler I know. Carousel Black Cherry Gourmet Soda is bottled by Carousel Beverages, in Arlington Heights, IL. Or so says the label.
A brief internet search reveals that, as far as I can tell, there *is* no such beverage bottler in Arlington Heights. There is a Carousel Beverages in New York, which seems to supply (but not bottle) beer and soda. A Google search for "Carousel gourmet soda" returns several returns for places where it can be bought, but nothing on the bottler.
Perhaps we need a new category for "Orphaned Sodas", cases in which there appears to be no bottling agency extant.
This also produces an interesting feeling, knowing that I'm going to quaff something of no parentage, whose origins are unknown and unknowable. It is an isolated soda, adrift in time, without context. Whence came this bottle? From what nighted gulfs did it arise? What dark factory produced this container of dark red, bubbly fluid, sitting on my tabletop in a hideous mockery of normality? What unspeakable secrets might be unearthed if its TRUE origins were ever revealed? What daemoniacal, cyclopean horrors would we witness of its true provenance, its nameless and blasphemous source, were ever revealed? Could this soda be the offspring of the whispered Abhoth, the Fount of Uncleanness, who bubbles and oozes in his lightless caverns and whose existence is only known through half-crazed, suppressed scribblings of the madmen who have returned, broken and maimed, from the curiously carven balcony which overlooks the nethermost pit?
Never before has the lack of a website held such eldritch significance.
Another point of note: the ingredients list is unsettlingly vague. The second ingredient is "sugar and/or corn sweetener". Er...they weren't sure? Was it a situation where they decided it wasn't sweet enough and just decided to pour in some of Vat #2? ("It's sweet, right?" "Yeah." "Then dump it in!" "What is it?" "Who cares?")
Where found: I think I found this one at BevMo.
Color: A deep red, slightly orange-y, very transparent.
Scent: Very candy-ish cherry. Similar to the smell of cherry syrup or Grenadine, reminds me of Jujyfruits. Pleasant, but worrisome.
Taste: Amazingly, a little less sweet than I would have guessed. The taste is pure black cherry syrup--not the bright red cherry of cherry Popsicles (*sigh*), but rather the slightly darker, more berry-ish black cherry taste of Baskin-Robbins Cherries Jubilee ice cream.
That pleasant initial taste fades surprisingly quickly, with the familiar acid aftertaste drifting in. For something which smells as strongly sweet as this, the taste is surprisingly weak.
The taste is quite similar to the cherry-flavored jelly candies you can sometimes find around Valentine's Day.
Not so bad--the cherry flavor is actually surprisingly pleasant. The aftertaste, though, is oddly similar to slightly burned Doritos. That' not such a good thing, even though it reminds me of nachos. Which are good.
Quaff rating: 3.0. The cherry flavor is one of the nicer ones, at first. It's a bit quick-fading, though, and replaced by...
Cough rating: 1.0. ...burned cornmeal and then silence.
* Under the bench in the kitchen