BevReview at the 2011 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago

Just as we did a year ago, last month I attended the National Restaurant Association show here in Chicago, held from May 21-24, to check out what was on display in the world of beverages.

BevReview at the NRA Show

Since we focus on photography quite a bit at BevReview, including all those shots of “beverages next to a tree,” we brought along an iPhone and were posting live photo updates during the event using the creative photo filters provided by Instagram.

Steve Tanner
Your host, Steve Tanner

In the coming months we’ll be talking about some of the things in those photos and hope you discover something new. While the “Big 3″ were in attendance (The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Dr Pepper Snapple Group), it often was the smaller brands that had the most interesting products and stories.

For those not familiar with the NRA show (not to be confused with that “other NRA“), it is primarily focused on the foodservice industry, restaurants, and hotels/motels, so when it comes to the beverage side of things, everything is filtered through that perspective.

As we gear up to write about many of these beverages, here’s just a taste of what we saw…

NRA Badge

We’ve got our credentials, let’s head inside!

Fountains at McCormick Place

Fountains at McCormick Place

Welcome to the NRA Show

No, it’s not the National Rifle Association

Looking onto the convention floor

Hitting the convention floor at McCormick Place

Coke's Freestyle Machine

How tall do you think this Coke Freestyle machine is?

Coke Display

Coke’s large exhibit space

Good folks at Honest Tea

Honest Tea folks showcasing Honest Kids

Pepsi Foodservice

Would you like a Pepsi?

Pepsi's Social Vending Machine

A look at Pepsi’s social vending machine

Pop Machine Conversation

Have a conversation!

Dr Pepper Snapple Group

Unfortunately, SunDrop was not on tap

Dr Pepper Snapple Group Brands

Count the Dr Pepper Snapple Group logos on this wall… Which is featured the most?

Facebook at the NRA Show

Yes, Facebook is at the food show (Groupon has a huge booth as well!)

Google Places at the NRA Show

Google pushing their Places service

Bruce Cost with Real Ginger Ale

Bruce Cost of Fresh Ginger Ale, one of our favs!

Reed's Ginger Brew

The good folks at Reed’s… Neal and Emily

Numi Tea

Very attractive packaging redesign for Numi Tea

Lake Michigan

A view of Lake Michigan from McCormick Place, home of the NRA Show

Main St. Cafe

Smoothies from Main St Cafe. Very good!

The Republic of Tea

2 new bottled Stevia flavors from Republic of Tea… Black & Green

Crave Chocolate Milk

Crave Chocolate Milk. Shelf-stable and very chocolaty

5-Hour Energy

New 5-Hour Energy flavor hitting this summer… Extra Strength Grape

Lots of QR Codes

A lot of exhibitors are using QR codes

Harney & Sons Tea

Yvette at Harney & Sons, showcasing their smooth new Organic Lemonade

Keynote from Colin Powell

What does Colin Powell have to do with food & restaurants?

Monin Syrups

Some syrup for your beverage?

Adagio Teas

Try the bottled Oolong Tea from Adagio

Milk Straws

Flavored milk straws for kids. Nice idea

Beer Tubes

BeerTubes for drink dispensing… They’ll hold about 2.5 pitchers of any beverage


Wouldn’t you love a large Jarritos bottle?


2 new “Light” flavors of Jarritos (Mandarin & Tamarind) + new Mexican Cola flavor (very good!)