By Shane Sanderson
HERMANN, Mo. — Skip the grocery aisle and head out to Missouri wine country to find craft sodas to whet your whistle. Here are my two favorites found in the shadows of grape trellises—
Black cherry Wurst Soda from Hermann Wurst Haus, Hermann
The walls of the Hermann Wurst Haus are lined by awards owner Mike Sloan has won over the years for his bratwurst. Sausage, bacon and numerous flavors of brats pack meat coolers. Make sure you don’t overlook the sodas.
The brat-shop stocks five in-house flavors of soda, all made with cane sugar—black cherry, root beer, orange, cream and grape–no cola on the menu. I went for the black cherry option, which the house advertises as “reminiscent of fresh picked cherries.”
The taste has almost none of the bite I typically associate with a black cherry soda. The mouthfeel is light, moderately carbonated, accentuated by a subdued sweetness. The color is rich, dark ruby.
The flavor doesn’t quite touch the experience of eating cherries by the side of the road in front of an Ontario, Canada, cherry farm, but it comes as close as a soda can.
You can find the full line of sodas at Hermann Wurst Haus on 234 E. First St. in Hermann, or you can order it online.
Country Folk Cream Soda from Crown Valley Winery, Ste Genevieve
Intricate wood carvings on the bar stand in striking contrast to the cutting-edge stainless refrigeration systems poking out over the catwalk from the lower floor of Crown Valley’s massive wine operation. Try sipping cream soda in the midst of the fermented products next visit, not wine.
Crown Valley stocks nine in-house flavors: eight “Country Folk” options—black cherry, root beer, grape, orange, cream, diet root beer, two colas, and Fizzy Izzy root beer. After resisting the temptation to try Kickin’ Cola, I grabbed a cream soda.
The rich amber color of the soda sparkled in the light. After cracking the twist top, I was blown away by the crisp cream flavor. There is no mistaking this cream soda for anything but. On the back of the sip, however, surprisingly nuanced flavors of pear and spice come through the soda’s mellow sweetness. Mild carbonation keeps the drink refreshing, not heavy.
You can find the sodas online, or at Crown Valley’s winery or distillery, both in the hills outside Ste Genevieve.