Yes, as sure as the sun rises in the East and bears break into houses to secretly poop in the toilets, so too does another trend rise amongst beers. First it was craft, then wheat beers for a while, and now soda beers are continuing to take the world by storm. And let me say this: I love both of those things deeply. Soda and beer getting married is, for me, like mixing cake and pizza. Two things I enjoy, suddenly becoming one. Well, that’s how it would work in theory, anyway. If my restraining order from the Pizza Hut by a bakery near my old apartment teaches us anything, it’s that sometimes those things you love weren’t meant to be combined. As we saw in the last entry, there were good and bad options to be had out there, and now that there are more varieties popping up some are downright absurd.
That’s why I tried three more, so you wouldn’t have to!
Not Your Father’s Vanilla Cream Ale
Fuck this drink. I know, I know, I’m supposed to build suspense and draw you in before revealing how I felt about the beer, but I can’t even bring myself to pretend there’s a chance of redeeming this one. And it pissed me off all the more, because I adore a good Vanilla Cream Soda. A cold VCS on a hot summer day is delicious. This, on the other hand, was just awful. And to be clear, this is not like with the Ginger Ale from last time. I had others try it too, and the overall consensus was sour expressions and polite refusals to sip any more.
It’s weird, I like Not Your Father’s root beer so much, yet nothing else I’ve had from them has been even halfway decent. I wonder if they stole the recipe for the root beer from some family member and then had to start throwing bullshit in bottles once the market exploded with other booze root beer options. Whatever is going on over there, they need to implement a QA department, or just someone with a tongue, to tell them when to throw things back to the R&D phase.
Rating: 1 drunk who won’t shut the fuck up about his home-brew out of 5.
Henry’s Hard Grape Soda
Full disclosure, I actually had this one more by circumstance than intent. One of my friends loves, loves, grape soda and everything that tastes like it, to the point where she mixes grape vodka and Welch’s grape soda. I have friends with unique tastes. Anyway, she had a pack of these and allowed me to try one. Since the Orange Soda took some time to grow on me during that first review, I made a pact with myself that I would finish this one no matter what and took a tentative sip.
Good news and bad news: The good news is that this one doesn’t really require much drinking to get used to. It tastes like grape soda with a slight kick, and whether it’s your first sip or your fifteenth that holds true. It’s decent, assuming you like grape soda of course, but to be honest it didn’t rise quite as high in my esteem as the orange soda had by the end. That’s the bad news; it hits a ceiling early on that it never quite gets past. Then again, as a casual grape fan I might not be the target audience, I’ve seen several friends go through a few of them no problem. At the end of the day, this is one that lives up to the taste of the soda its mimicking almost perfectly, so use your own opinions on grape to decide if it’s worth trying.
Rating: 3 minutes of convincing the bartender you’re totally still good to be served despite the pile of vomit in the corner out of 5.
Mike Hard Black Cherry Lemonade
Listen, before anyone goes to the comments to get pedantic about what is and isn’t an actual soda beer 1) Chill the fuck out and 2) I saw like three soda-beer brands, including NYF, pitching some kind of lemonade, and I like black cherry a lot, so I decided to count this. If you think this fails to live up to the rigor of my proposed experiment, then you take comedy blogs way too seriously.
Much like with the Vanilla Cream Ale, I’ve got no desire to bury the lead here: the BCL (Black Cherry Lemonade) is fucking delicious. No, really. Yes, I have a sweet tooth that might color my opinion; however it’s not even all that sweet. There’s some bitter in there to balance things out, and… I don’t know how else to put it, this drink is one of my favorites. I’ve got a case of it sitting in the fridge by my desk right now. If you even like black cherry the slightest amount, pick one of these up and give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.
I’d also like to add an addendum for this drink: I’ve been doing this tasting spread out through a few weeks, so some have been in my life than longer than others, and this one goes back the longest. Long enough for me and my friends to have discovered that it is amazing for hangover drinking. Usually the hair of the dog turns stomachs, but all of us can put one of these down without batting an eye. No matter how crappy you feel, these seem to go down smooth, so that means even if you’re not a fan in general it’s still worth having for when the morning after a fun night demands your suffering as payment.
Rating: 5 bags of random shit from Taco Bell when you’re drunk at midnight out of 5.