Most sodas are notoriously full of processed sugar and artificial ingredients. Their contents lists can resemble the handbook that comes with a chemistry set.
The founders of the Veri Soda Co. have an option, a low-calorie (60) organic soda in four flavors. Their tastes are derived in part from “organic juice concentrates and organic plant extracts, plus organic cane sugar and organic stevia.”
Stevia was first marketed as an herbal supplement in the U.S. and has had some controversy attached to it, but stevia-based sweeteners have been FDA-approved.
Some things Veri sodas don’t have are additives, preservatives, artificial colorings or flavorings. Another thing they don’t have is intense taste, which seems to be the tradeoff.
Our panel of tasters sipped the Veri flavors — ginger ale, lemon-lime, orange and cola ($4.50- $5 for a four-pack) — and had this to say:
Taster No. 1
Ginger ale: My favorite of the lot. Very gingery scent and initial taste, but did have a little metallic aftertaste, probably due to the stevia. Not very sweet. Very big bubbles gave it a nice fizziness.
Lemon-lime: Almost no lemon, and just a squeeze of lime. Very dry and not very sweet. Fine pinpoint bubbles gave it a very light quality. Tasted similar to lime sparkling water, but with 60 calories.
Orange: A very odd orange drink. It reminded me a lot of lightly carbonated Tang. The color looked natural orange (not neon), but the taste seemed like it was out of a mix or powdered orange drink. (Would Buzz Aldrin drink this?)
Cola: The least cola-like cola I’ve tasted in a long time. Very light iced-tea color and taste, more like sarsaparilla than cola. Not very sweet; it seemed really flat. It did have a lemon flavor that would have been better in the lemon-lime.
Taster No. 2
Ginger ale: Light appearance, bubbly. Just the right amount of ginger to be noticed, but not bitter.
Lemon-lime: Flat. This reminded me of flavor-water but with less effervescence.
Orange: Unlike any orange soda I’ve tasted, although orange sodas don’t remind me at all of the flavor of orange. This had a vague similarity to an actual orange. Extremely light.
Cola: Startling flavor because it didn’t resemble cola to me at all. I’m not sure what flavor I was tasting up front, but it reminded me more of root beer than cola. Extremely light in color too, again not like most colas.
Overall: If a host/hostess served this to me, I would politely drink it (and there are some beverages I would not drink), but I don’t see myself seeking out this brand. I don’t drink enough sodas to feel I need to find a substitute — organic or not.
Taster No. 3
Ginger ale: Uninspiring. Taste is understated, which is not something I want in a ginger ale. Not enough carbonation, pasty aftertaste.
Lemon-lime: “Best” of the bunch, but that’s not saying much. Like the others, too flat, and taste is too understated.
Orange: Also missing the punch of being a carbonated soda. I might as well mix some OJ and water for a better-sting drink.
Cola: The hint of sarsaparilla did not bother me, but the meager carbonation did. Too flat.
Overall: Despite being organic and lower in calories than other sodas, to some degree they all tasted like artificially flavored diet drinks.
Taster No. 4
Ginger ale: Best of what I would call a “very” mediocre beverage selection. Would be OK with saltines if you have an upset tummy.
Lemon-lime: 7-Up has nothing to worry about.
Orange: Tang gone bad.
Cola: Not even Captain Morgan’s could help this weirdo knockoff.
Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.