Saturday, 11 June 2016

Roots Soda So. Superposition in KeyKeg.

Last week we launched our newest soda; Superposition. Like our other recent flavours, it has a lot less sugar than most mass produced and premium sodas. We’ve also dry hopped it.

Earlier this year we launched I Need My Girl, which has 69% less sugar in like for like servings than most mass produced and traditional sodas. At the time of its launch, we thought it might be a little too soon for this soda, after all, we’re all more familiar with seven or eight teaspoons of sugar in our soda, not two.

We want to change the landscape of fizzy pop. To do that, we make sodas from real ingredients, and we now add much, much less sugar. We’d like to help get folks off the high sugar artificial pop, but low sugar sodas are a different experience.

At Roots HQ, we came to realise that the dominant flavour driving most fizzy drinks was sugar. It seems daft to say that given sugar is the main ingredient in industrial pop. But, with so much sugar in mass produced food and drink in general, I know that I had become desensitised to it.

Now when I buy an industrial cola, I find it very difficult to taste the common ingredients which (more or less) should be there; orange, lemon, lime, kola nut, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, cloves, lavender. I’ve come to realise that the real thing doesn’t really taste of anything real at all, except for sugar.

Superposition, like I Need My Girl, has had a lot of sugar removed. However, this time we’ve left just a little bit more behind. It’s there to balance the bitterness from the grapefruit and the hops. We’ve also pushed the herbs and spices back in the mix, which allows the natural sweetness from the orange, apple and grapefruit to come through. It makes this low sugar soda a lot more accessible we think.

I became interested in hops as an ingredient in soda shortly after starting the company. Back then craft beer was a brand new experience for me. I loved tasting flavours such as mango and kiwi in the beers and I soon learnt that those tropical fruit flavours were coming from the hops. It wasn’t long before I came across Mikkeller’s single hop series and I did my best to sample them all. What I really loved though, was just sitting my face over the glass and breathing in those hop aromas. I loved the entire experience and I wanted to try and get that kind of a nose into our sodas too.

I experimented with hopped sodas, and told the guys at The Hanging Bat about them. We started to work on a collaboration together, but it soon became impossible for me to dedicate any time to the project and it went on the back burner.

Shaun joined Roots at the start of the year. As a brewer, he obviously knew his hops. With a bigger team we completed the long lost collaboration at the end of last year. We weren’t quite finished with the hopped sodas at Roots though, and we started to work on some entirely new hopped soda flavours.

Orange, apple and grapefruit, form the central flavour profile in this soda. With the hops, basil, cloves and hibiscus adding a layer of complexity. We wanted to retain as much of the aromatic oils in the hops as possible. Similar to adding finishing hops to a beer, we bring a pan of water to the boil and then add our hops to it at knockout (when the heat is turned off) so that less of the oils are lost to evaporation. By not boiling them for a prolonged period, we don’t extract as much of the hops bitter compounds either.

Superposition sits for four days in a brewery conditioning tank where we carbonate and dry hop it. Dry hopping imparts more hop aroma and we’ve also found that it rounds out the soda’s flavour and gives it a little bit more body.

I’m not sure yet if we’ve found the right name in Superposition, though it has began to grow on me. If I’m being honest I’d prefer if it had a bit more of a romantic quality to it. However, superposition is the ability of a quantum system to be in multiple states at the same time. The hops give this soda the ability to have many different flavours which sometimes exist all at the same time. When drinking it, aside from the orange, apple and grapefruit, I sometimes taste kiwi, sometimes apricot, and sometimes both. Down at Roots HQ, we found two or more people drinking it at the same time could all taste something different too. And that’s what I love about hops, that and the incredible aroma. And that’s why we always had to make a soda with them.

Look out for Superposition on tap and in bottles very soon.

Peace be with you brothers and sisters

Superposition in glass.

Superposition poured into a glass.

Shaun adding hops.

Shaun adding hops.


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