Someone sent me a photo of Fest’s Praline Root Beer while they were traveling in New Orleans. It was new to them so they checked to see if I had reviewed it yet. Nope! I immediately reached out to Fest in the off chance that they’d be willing to send me a couple bottles to help me highlight their company on the blog. Well…thanks Fest!
Fest stays true to their roots by using Louisiana cane sugar coupled with New Orleans inspired flavors and names. The branding is sharp and I was excited to crack open these bottles.
Papa Joe is a pecan root beer. I’d never considered that combination before, but it made a lot of sense the more I thought about it. Pecans…sugar…praline? Sounds great. This was always going to be sweet, but Fest leaned into it to truly deliver something interesting (and decadent?). There’s a bit of sarsaparilla earthiness but the drink is carried by the buttery sweetness of the pecans. It tastes like a rich and nuanced caramel.
Lulu is a cream soda, but not just a cream soda. It’s a bourbon cream soda. Time to tell the truth, I have no clue what bourbon is supposed to taste like. Regardless of my ignorance, this was pretty great. Sweet like the root beer, if not more, but the flavor was a layered vanilla with an oak like finish. That must be the bourbon. It’s not light on the palate so you’ll want to be careful if you’re enjoying it with a meal. Would be a great casual drink, though.
Blaze is a ginger ale flavored with peach (southern peach, to be specific). This one was polarizing in my household. I enjoyed it, my wife did not. I found the peach and ginger flavors to be subtle and balanced, but the peach reminded her of that overripe tone that I usually associate with papaya (reminiscent of bile). Objectively, I thought that the ginger and/or sugar could have come through a bit more forward, but I appreciated that they kept the sugar content a bit lower than their other sodas. My biggest issue was that the carbonation was a bit too mild. Had there been more carbonation maybe the other flavors would have had more bite.
Flambeaux was the most puzzling of the four that I tried. It’s a satsuma mint soda which immediately made me think of combining orange juice and toothpaste. Keep in mind that that was before I tried it. The satsuma flavor was actually super crisp, clean, and bright. One of the better “orange” sodas that I’ve had. While the citrus is still playing on your tongue the mint comes in and mutes the whole thing. It’s more of a palate cleansing effect than a toothpaste bomb, but it made me miss the satsuma. My theory is that I enjoy mint and similar accent flavors when they’re freshly incorporated into a mocktail, but not when they’re bottled or canned. This soda also felt just a little bit flat.
Overall, I really enjoyed the brand and am very appreciative of Fest’s generosity in sending me some product to review. After sampling all four I’d say that I prefer the root beer and cream soda even though they have the most sugar. The satsuma may have been right up there had it not been for the mint. As a collection, I’d give these sodas an 8.4 out of 10 on my rating scale. You can round down for the ones I didn’t love and round up for the ones that I did. Worth noting, they had an almond cola which was recently retired and unavailable for review.
Sampled in March 2019