We're off to Round 4 of the Soda Series! This time I went for a blend of seemingly more conventional sodas and a few odd novelty flavors. While I'm all for trying something new, it's probably best to iterate on traditional flavor profiles rather than going completely off the track.
"A swell cola" describes this drink fairly accurately. It had all the hallmarks of a generic cola drink. It tasted a bit more acidic and less sweet than Coca-Cola. Other than the retro bottle, Spiffy lacked much of its own unique identity. I couldn't pick Spiffy out of a lineup, nor would I ever care to.
Up until now, I've generally been avoiding the more niche flavors that rely more on shock than actual appeal, e.g. buffalo wing soda. However, I actually like the grass flavored jellybeans in the Harry Potter branded Bertie Botts jellybeans so I thought that grass soda would be delightful as well. Yet when I tried it, I honestly couldn't describe the flavor to you besides it was somewhat herbal with an odd aftertaste. It wasn't a huge departure from normal soda flavors. While not terribly off-putting, I felt no compelling need to revisit this flavor in the future.
Rosa's Arroz con Leche
High hopes accompanied this soda. I'm a big fan of horchata and hoped that the arroz con leche would be similar. What I hoped would be a carbonated horchata was just extremely bland rice water and not much more. There was no creaminess of an horchata. What I, and perhaps most ambitious owners of Soda Streams, failed to realize was that adding carbonation also adds acidity, which throw off the flavors of the liquid. The result is sour rice water, a description you can probably imagine pretty easily and just as easily dismiss.
I was drawn to the Soviet-sounding name and label design reminiscent of propaganda posters. Unlike Spiffy, this cola was much more layered in flavors than a generic cola. It was certainly spicier, with hints of coriander, cinnamon and bitter orange, but not so much like the flavors of a root or birch beer. I would gladly buy Nichol Kola again when I'm looking for a complex cola, as this is one of the better colas I've tried.
Hank's Vanilla Cream
One of my favorite bottles due to the vintage embossed label and contoured glass molding, the vanilla cream soda was also quite enjoyable. It was bright, almost fruity, in its sweetness, though not as creamy as some of the cream sodas I've sampled. I'm eager to try Hank's root and birch beers as well. The company has only been around since 1996 though, so they are not be as vintage as the label suggests. Still, I appreciate when soda makers take new ingredients and techniques and apply them backwards looking at some classic flavors.
Johnnie Ryan Birch Beer
Hits all the flavors of birch beer but a bit too sweet. It wouldn't be my first choice for a birch beer, but I'd be perfectly content with a six-pack from Johnnie Ryan. If you're going for a birch beer, you might as well go for one with stronger herbal flavors like Reading Draft's or Foxon Park's White Birch.