We here at BevReview are pleased to be working with our friends at Old 52 General Store, a Minnesota-based shop featuring a wide variety of old fashioned sodas in classic glass bottles. You'll find Old 52 in Sabin, MN, just a stone's throw from Fargo, ND. This classic general store even has an old fashioned soda fountain and over 150 retro candies to choose from. Because of their vast selection, we'll be working with Old 52 from time-to-time in order help expose you to these classic, hard-to-find drinks, beginning with today's installment, Thomas Kemper Classic Grape.
When you hear the name Thomas Kemper, you may think of the spiritual fifteenth century writer Thomas á Kempis, but no, Thomas Kemper Soda Company is a Portland-based soda brewer. This particular variety comes in a brown, opaque bottle, but all one can see is a seemingly nice, deep purple. The label has some attractive buzzwords/phrases, such as "craftbrewed" and "naturally caffeine free." The bottle also has a twist off cap, which I make note of as not all classic soda bottles have this feature.
The ingredient list reads as follows:
Thomas Kemper Classic Grape
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, pure honey, acacia gums, natural & artificial flavors, maltodextrine, citric acid, sodium benzoate (for freshness), tartaric acid, FD&C Blue #1, FD&C Red #40
The serving size is one 12 oz bottle, which contains 190 calories, 45 grams of sugars, and 46 grams of carbohydrates, for those of you who are keeping an eye on those things.
So let's move on to the taste. I open the bottle, and with a quick "tsssht" the cap unwinds revealing an aroma of sweet grape soda. The taste is also sweet and not overly carbonated, allowing the slightly tart grape flavor to exude onto my taste buds. There is again, a slightly sweet aftertaste that beckons one to drink on. The soda is quite smooth and goes down easily.
There is a slight (and I mean quite slight) tartness to the flavor, but it is blended into the sweet. I also note a hint of flavor similar to that of root beer. Perhaps it is the honey. It really is a nice balance of taste, not overpowering, but clearly present. Another aesthetic feature is that once the cap is removed a sturdy bottle structure is revealed, adding to the overall experience.
Overall, this is a nice, easy grape soda. There is nothing brash about it, and it goes down smoothly. I must admit I was disappointed to see that high fructose corn syrup was the second ingredient on the list, but the taste is not overly damaged by this fact. I can recommend Thomas Kemper Classic Grape as a clean, subtle grape soda with a nice easy flavor.
Full Disclosure: This beverage was provided compliments of Old 52 General Store