The Wit Beverage Company has a strong history in Chicago. I love Chicago, so I was thrilled to come across a root beer advertising itself as “Chicago Style”. I didn’t know what that meant…so I asked. The owner and I spoke for about an hour about his company and the beverage industry in general. I still don’t know what “Chicago Style” is. More importantly, he offered to send me some samples of their main product line in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve rated the six different sodas he sent me below in order of most to least preferred:
WBC Root Beer
Possibly one of the best pizza shop root beers that I’ve had. If that’s what Chicago Style means, then I get it. It would almost make sitting down with a deep dish pizza palatable. Just kidding! I’ve had deep dish that I like (Windy City Pie in Seattle is my current favorite), but a lot of it tastes like a casserole dressing up like a pizza for Halloween. There’s a deep root body, a warm vanilla finish, and a hint of wintergreen. An 8 out of 10 might actually be a touch low.
I liked this so much that I wrote a jingle in its honor.:
I really liked this stuff. I could see it falling into a regular rotation (especially with pizza).
WBC Concord Grape
This was a welcome surprise. I am not a grape soda guy, so expectations were low. I thought this was for sure going to be another grape kool-aid syrup explosion but it turned out to be a sophisticated take on a classic flavor. I’d put the taste parallel to a high quality grape juice. That grape flavor is somewhat diluted by the addition of carbonated water and cane sugar, but I didn’t think it was too sweet. There’s an initial ping of bitterness then the soda finishes smooth and easy. I loved it. Not enough to write its own jingle, but quite a bit. This is another 8 out of 10, but probably a freckle lower than the root beer.
WBC Orange Cream
Orange Cream was another highlight of the testing. While it’s not a unique flavor, WBC does a terrific job of dialing in a sophisticated interpretation of a classic. It’s reminiscent of an orange creamsicle, but the sweetness if restrained (a bit), and there’s a floral element of orange zest that comes through the bubbles. The vanilla is strong and a welcome pair to the prominent tartness of the orange. While the color isn’t the most natural thing you’re going to see today, it’s kind of fun. The clean Valencia orange flavor elevates this soda to a 7.6 out of 10.
WBC Vanilla Cream
This is one of the better vanilla creams I’ve had. The vanilla is aggressive. Very aggressive. However, an aggressive vanilla flavor is akin to the chess club captain talking trash before a big game. Like I said, it was good, but at the end of the day it’s vanilla without much nuance. If you tripled the vanilla extract in some sugar cookies you might have a good pairing. I’d wager that vanilla cream lovers will love it, and vanilla cream haters will hate it. To each their own. I rate it high, but not sky high. A 7.5 out of 10 is pretty good.
WBC Black Cherry
Cough syrup ruined cherries for me. I’d choose almost any other fruit over cherries because…they taste like cough syrup. I know that that’s backwards but there must be enough actual cherry flavor in children’s medicine to trigger a negative reaction whenever I encounter the real thing.
This isn’t a bad soda, and I gave it a strong rating, but regardless of the quality it’s a flavor I associate with unpleasantness. The cherry flavor is natural and smooth, the soda overall is refreshing, I just didn’t want anymore. A 7 out of 10 is probably fair.
This is a flavor I know! Green Jell-O, for sure. Green River is an old soda brand currently made by the fine folks at WBC. They’re probably the most qualified because the city of Chicago colors the river downtown green every year for St. Patrick’s Day. There’s a Green River in Washington as well but it’s more associated with a serial killer than a craft soda.
In both color and flavor this soda is extremely saturated. I didn’t mind drinking it but it’s not something I could consume regularly. I’ll probably pick some up for green themed events but not as a daily drinker. 6 out of 10.
Thanks again to the Wit Beverage Company for sending me the sodas. I look forward to reviewing more of their sodas in the very near future. You can find these beverages around the greater Chicago area and randomly at your local TJ Maxx around the country.