Not only has craft soda influenced the idea of brewing unique batches of soda, but it appears the craft soda trend is influencing the giants of the coffee world. What else is there to know about the craft soda trend in 2016? Here are three things to sip on…
1. Craft Soda is Not Exclusive to Independent Brands
Craft, by definition, refers to an activity involving skill in making things by hand. So in the case of craft soda, there isn’t a governing presence that formally defines the trend. Craft beer for example, has the Brewers Association, which has criteria including batch quantity to give definition to the industry. What that means for craft soda is that it’s up for interpretation. Defining craft in soda making is defined as products that are:
- Higher quality
- Differentiated experience
- Premium priced
Many bottlers adhere to a small batch mentality, creating a unique recipe with intentional ingredients, flavor profiles, and packaging. And it’s not just the small, independent brands like Virgil's or Bruce Cost Ginger Ale adding to the ever-increasing selections of craft soda in the marketplace, but national giants like Pepsi have introduced their own lines of specialty sodas. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. PepsiCo started selling bottles of Caleb’s Kola this fall, as well as Dewshine from Mtn. Dew, a clear version of its popular namesake. While both of those flavor profiles favor the brand’s already established and bestselling soda recipes, the company is releasing a line of craft soda called Stubborn Soda in flavors like black cherry with tarragon, orange hibiscus, pineapple cream, and agave vanilla cream.
2. Craft Soda isn’t a New Concept
People have been enjoying Pepsi Cola since the late 19th century. Peruse the shelves of any antique store or flea market and you’ll find decades worth of soda nostalgia. Before prohibition, nearly every single town and city despite population had its own brewery or bottling works operation. Back then, it was cheaper to build a local facility than it was to obtain distribution from outsiders. And in order to maximize the productivity of the facility’s operation, most bottlers added soda to their production. So for many fans of craft soda, the trend is nostalgic to them.
Traditional flavors like ginger ale, root beer, sarsaparilla or cream soda, and orange continue to do well in the market place likely due to that sentiment. Another reason the craft soda trend continues to represent its piece of the $77 billion-per-year soda market is due in part to what’s on the label – rather, what’s not on the label, like artificial colors or high fructose corn syrup. The transparency of brands helps demystify what’s in soda, encouraging people to enjoy their selections with the abandon of their ancestors decades ago.
3. Craft Soda is an Experience, not a Habit
Jonathan Texeira, co-owner of the Batch Craft Soda brand said, “People like soda. Occasionally, they’re gonna want a root beer, say, once or twice a week, and when they do, they would like to have a really good root beer.” This mentality falls in line with what craft beer has done for the beer industry – proved that consumers demand an overall better drinking experience. Because soda (like beer) isn’t always an every day phenomenon for many people, the products have to emulate that almost destination-like experience for drinking.
Take Stubborn Soda as it prepares to launch in 2016. The brand is “stubborn for good reason,” citing this mission statement:
Sometimes you have to be a pain in the ass to make something really good.
We make soda the way it should be made and we don’t compromise when it comes to ingredients and flavors.
We do it for ourselves, pouring our heart and soul into making the best thing we know how.
It’s a good time to be a soda drinker … the industry keeps proving that.