Pocket Pooj precipitously ponders persistence.
(Spireworks, December 2016)
If we are to believe the marketing campaign, Stubborn Soda will apply the same hipster treatment to soft drinks that hipsters have already applied to beer and coffee. Depending on your view of hipster beer/coffee, this could either mean a healthy dose of care and craft or an unhealthy dose of lumberjack beards and pretension. We, of course, are not here to judge the merits of the marketing (or beards, lumberjack or otherwise); only the relative merits of root beer. Even so, the Stubborn Soda website’s boasting of special glasses they created to highlight the soda’s carbonation and a special tap to decant the soda from a fountain (though I’m not sure what the tap adds to the experience) should give us some pause (source). Un-pause then, if you will, and you’ll notice that Stubborn Soda’s parent company, The Concentrate Manufacturing Company of Ireland, is actually a subsidiary of Pepsi, which perhaps indicates that Stubborn Soda is taking the Goose Island/InBev route of craft beverages, at least more so than being an Irish craft product.
The tapped version (alas, decanted into a cheap paper cup instead of the fancy snifter) produces a good head of foam (which may be the purpose of the special tap) that’s almost red in color and stays for a decent while. Despite this, the carbonation in the beverage actually fades quickly. It has a fruity birch flavor that’s otherwise pleasantly not too sweet, even though it finishes with a very sweet, slightly menthol aftertaste. Were I more poetic, more cynical even, of Stubborn’s marketing, I might regard this little package of paradoxes intentionally ironic.
According to website data, the tap version is sugar-sweetened*, whereas the bottled version adds Stevia. I do have a bottle in my possession, but have not yet tried it, so it might be worth a side-by-side comparison at some point (though I’m not sure how I would get a sufficiently cooled bottle into a restaurant with a tap yet, since I’ve only seen it at one restaurant so far). Stay tuned, I guess. In the meanwhile, the tapped version of Stubborn Root Beer gets a 3.
*Did anyone else hear this NPR interview with John Nese of Galco’s? Anyone want to comment on the veracity of his statements about “real” sugar versus “cane” sugar?