Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Boylan's Cane Cola

I have been very very impressed with Boylan's Root Beer and Red Birch Beer, so it wasn't a hard to convince myself to try their Natural Cane Cola. I had already had Boylan BottleWorks Cane Cola once before, so I figured I'd try the Natural line version of it. Now, the Bottleworks version of Cane Cola should by all rights be called Cinnamon Cola since that is the dominant flavour in that version. The Natural version is a totally different Soda with a distinctive taste that is all its own.

The Natural Cane Cola has a nice and easily identifiable cola aroma, something too few "cola's" actually have. The carbonation is soft and doesn't add a lot to the equation. The taste is...interesting. It tastes like a cola with lemon or lime added to it, (something I have liked since I was a kid overseas, experiencing Coke with lemon added). The one drawback to adding real citrus, (as Boylan's does) is that it gives the Soda a "flat" quality, despite the carbonation. The citrus element also detracts from the cane aspect, in fact it covers any cane flavour that might be present.

The cinnamon is almost nonexistent compared to the BottleWorks version...and that's a good thing, in my opinion, I didn't care much for that version of the Cane Cola. I enjoyed Boylan's Natural Cane Cola, altho I feel the name is misleading. It really should be called Cola with Limon, or something. If you are looking for a good alternative to the mass produced Cola with Lemon or Lime that is oddly popular now, then you should try Boylan's instead. They do it much better than the "Big Boys" in the Soda community!

The only problem I have with this Cane Cola is...where's the Cane, guys? I can't taste the cane in this one. Other than that, it's a good cola!

Carbonated Water
Cane Sugar
Pure Essential Oils of Lemon, Lime and Cinnamon
Extracts of Bourbon Vanilla and Cola Nut
Caramel Color (From Cane Sugar)
Other Natural Flavors and Spices
Phosphoric Acid
Caffeine (From Coffee)

Calories:160 per bottle

The folks at Boylan's did a good job on this Natural line product!

Boylan's Natural Cane Cola scores a 6.5/10

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Thumbs Down To Thums Up

I am always willing to try something new and that's exactly what I did with Thums Up, a product of Coca-Cola India. First off, let me state for the record that Thums Up is apparently hugely popular in India...good for them! Now, let me state, again for the record, that this drink will never catch on in the US. It is...well...I guess it is an "acquired" taste and I will never manage to like this Soda. I should have known I was in trouble when there were no ingredients listed on the bottle. I figured it was from the Coke Company so how bad could it be, right?

"Sweetened Carbonated Beverage. Contains Permitted Natural Colour & Added Flavours. Contains No Fruit. Contains Caffeine. Quantity Of Sugar Added 9.9g/100g"

Well, when you open the nice, heavy glass do need a church are graced with a nice carbonation hiss. The aroma...well, the aroma is not at all what you would expect from a Soda. I had to rummage around in my spice cabinet and I still couldn't find anything that smelled exactly like it. I guess I would have to say it smelled of cardamom, fenugreek or sandalwood. It tastes just like it smells. Wikipedia says that it is "reminiscent of betel nut", I cannot say, tho as I have never to my knowledge tasted betel nut and my email to the folks at Coca-Cola India, requesting clarification has gone unanswered. All I can say is that Thums Up is bad. It sucks. It puts the "uck" in suck, (apologies to all you Thums fans out there).

I like a wide variety of drinks. Some sweet, some savory, some bitter, some sour and so on, but Thums Up is never, ever going to be on my list of likeable drinks. Not to offend the good folks of the Sub-Continent in any way but this is just not my cuppa Soda and I don't care what the Bollywood endorsers contend, this Soda is just not good. It doesn't matter that they use real sugar in it if I cannot get past the lingering taste and aftertaste of this...product. Thank goodness the world is like 7-Eleven and there's "Freedom of Choice".

Thums Up get a Thumbs Down and a 1/10

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

What's A Fan To Do?

It seems as if someone is always trying to suck all the joy and livability out of life and the things we love and today is no different, my friends. Many of you may have already seen the headlines in numerous news outlets concerning the presence of benzene in Soft Drinks. As usual there will be many different versions of the tale, as the spinmeisters and their news organisations take the information and rewrite it to suit their particular agenda.

So, what is a fan of Root Beer and Soda to do? Well, first things first....

That's the key now, isn't it? That and wait for some seriously solid numbers and data, which are sorely lacking in this matter. The Environmental Working Group, the folks who are doing the loudest yelling on this issue have some data available that tends to support their claim that benzene could form in drinks under certain conditions. They cite studies from the UK that tend to point towards the formation of benzene in some drinks towards the end of shelf life. Without seeing the data from which they drew their numbers I am unwilling to say whether they have a case or not.

Here's what I do know from reading up on this matter. Benzene may form in some drinks under certain conditions. If a drink contains ascorbic acid and a benzoate (Sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate) and is stored at warm temperatures for long periods of time then benzene MAY form due to the combination of chemicals, time and heat. I also know that this story is being spun. The headlines from all over are saying the benzene is to be found in "soft drinks" and, judging from what I have managed to read on this, the drinks with the highest levels appear to be Juice Drinks, not Sodas and the like.

After taking a look through my treasure trove of Sodas and Root Beers, I can rest easy. Most contain a benzoate, but none contained ascorbic acid. Do not confuse citric acid and phosphoric acid for ascorbic acid...they are different and there is no evidence that either of those two acids add any risk for benzene formation. It's all good!

The British have managed to do as they often do and they gave in to panic and yanked products from store shelves. I would say you should take note of their list of items removed. See a commonality amongst them? Yep. They are, by and large drinks containing ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), mostly in the form of juices. Not Sodas, folks...Fruit Juices and Fruit based drinks. Once again we are seeing panic mongering, agenda driven people maligning Sodas. All I can see from this is that Fruit Drinks may well be hazardous to your health, (I never did trust that Sunny-D stuff).

The industry went out of their way years ago and did a good deal of reformulation to specifically address this issue when it first reared its ugly head in the early 90's. While I have little trust in the FDA and question their motives on almost any given issue this is one time when I will look at the available data and lean towards trusting them and the beverage companies.

So, don't run out and throw your Root Beers, Sodas and the like in the garbage. Refrigerate them, keep them from prolonged exposure to heat and enjoy them at the peak of freshness. Oh, and avoid Fruit Juices....they're apparently really bad for you according to these folks. I think I need a Root Beer and maybe a Soda, too.

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