Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Thursday, June 28, 2018

5 world class adult beverages in your local supermarket

America's largest independent soda bottler
has had a polar bear as its mascot since
the early 20th century.

Ever since I stopped drinking alcoholic beverages over twenty years ago, I have been on a hunt for a really tasty non-alcoholic adult beverage substitute.

For years I drank Diet Pepsi (even Diet Coke was cloyingly sweet tasting  to me).

After a while, I tired of cola and started drinking seltzer.

Now seltzer is nice (who actually drinks New Jersey tap water?) but after a while it gets boring.

I tried fruit-flavored seltzers, fruit-flavored waters, but none seemed truly flavorful and interesting.

Then one day at Stop & Shop all the seltzer was mysteriously cleaned out -- except for a brand I had noticed but never tried before -- Polar.

(Who are these people? Turns out it is a 4th-generation, family owned business based in Worcester, Mass., and is the largest independent soda bottler in the country.)

I took some home. It was fine, but it was still just seltzer.

Suddenly last week there was a whole display of fruit flavored sodas from Polar, in regular and diet versions.

I loaded up and took samples of each offering's diet version home to chill.

The verdict?

Five of these are (imho) outstanding, world-class adult beverages --
  • Pomegranate Dry
  • Pink Grapefruit Dry
  • Orange Dry
  • Raspberry Lime
  • Black Cherry
Each of these has a hearty flavor, and crisp non-cloying taste. I assume the "dry" appellation means less sweet, which suits me fine.

In addition, there are three others that are quite drinkable, though I found them a little wan-tasting --
  • Ginger Ale
  • Root Beer
  • Birch Beer
Root Beer especially I measure against my memories of Dad's Root Beer, which was the only brand available where I grew up. Polar just is not intense enough.

One flavor I had no interest in even trying -- Cream Soda. I just have never been able to even understand the concept. It holds no interest for me, though I do understand it is an essential part of some people's beverage landscape. You're on your own if Cream Soda is your thing.

Lastly, there was one flavor I looked forward to but found disappointingly faint -- Grape.

Now you have to know I grew up in Concord grape country and it wasn't until I got to college that I even knew there was any other kind of grape.

Concord -- which all grape sodas and drinks are based on -- is not a shy grape. It is truly robust. The only problem is that most bottlers kill it with sweetness. That is why I expected Polar's version to be robust but dry (that is, not so sweet). Unfortunately, it just didn't have that pep I was looking for. Sort of like a third carbon copy (for those who remember carbon paper).

However, Polar's offerings are truly worthwhile and I encourage anyone looking for a flavorful diet soda to try the Polar brand.

You may want to hurry as I have no idea if the shelf section is permanent. It appeared as if by magic. The 1-liter bottles are currently priced at 99¢ each which is a sweet spot price-wise.

For more information about Polar, its history and its products, visit their website here.

NOTE: This is an unsolicited personal homage to the beverages.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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