Recently, while on a road trip with my family to Philadelphia, we encountered many localized soda brands, including offerings from the Olde Philadelphia Soda Company. Let's take a look at Olde Philadelphia Birch Beer!
Available in 12 oz glass longneck bottles, this red birch beer is pitched as a gourmet soda, as it's sweetened with inverted cane sugar… and that's only if you can read the label with features the smallest font I've ever seen to list the ingredients.
Opening the cap, you are greeted with a hearty root beer scent, which thankfully carries over into the taste itself. There's a great combination of birch and vanilla, creating a flavor that features more depth than what you'd find with a standard root beer, but not harsh like many birch beers. The vanilla does a nice job in smoothing things out in the flavor profile.
I can't say that the red does much than add a nice color; a blind taste test wouldn't reveal the aforementioned "deep red bark color." But it does look rather sharp. The label design is rather hard to read, especially with the heavy use of an "Old English" type font, even though in this case it might actually be warranted. The Liberty Bell is featured on the label, but is buried in the design, hurting the localized appeal and iconography.
Overall, I like the flavor found in Olde Philadelphia Birch Beer. It's an upscale take, provides a rounded taste and mouthfeel, and rides on a nostalgic/localized marketing pitch to raise awareness.
Olde Philadelphia Birch Beer
Filtered carbonated water, invert sugar, carmel color, sodium benzoate (preservative), natural and artificial flavors, gum acacia, yucca and quillaia extracts, Red #40
A 12 oz bottle contains 170 calories, 35 mg sodium, and 42 g carbs (42 g sugars).