The 14 Best Craft Soda Brands On The Market

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Soda is omnipresent. This might seem like a boon to soft drink fans, but in fact, it can be more like a curse. With so many fizzy beverages to go around, how's a drinker supposed to tell the good stuff from the mediocre — to say nothing of the outright bad? It's enough to make you throw up your hands and reach for whatever drink is nearest. But take heart, soda fiends: It's never been a better time to be a fan of bubbles. Craft soda brands are everywhere if you know where to look, and they're becoming more readily available with every passing day.

What's a craft soda brand, you ask? If you're familiar with craft beer, you've already got the gist. Craft soda brands are smaller, often independent operations, many of which have been producing soda for well over 100 years. They tend to emphasize quality ingredients, innovative flavors, and recipes with seriously impressive legacies. Many lack the kind of wide availability behemoths like Coca-Cola and Pepsi enjoy, but they don't seem to mind — limited edition flavors and regional charm are part of the fun, after all.

Curious about the world of craft soda? Then grab your bottle opener and get ready, because we're about to take a look at the 14 best craft soda brands on the market.

1. Jones Soda

Jones Soda is the granddaddy of craft soda brands. Even those who don't know the first thing about gourmet soft drinks stand a strong chance of having seen a Jones bottle at some point in their life. The storied brand didn't get where it is today by resting on its laurels: Jones Soda is delicious, innovative, and bursting with high-quality ingredients. The standard line-up remains one of the strongest in the craft soda world, from its classic cream soda to its eye-catching Fufu Berry flavor. The brand's use of cane sugar, as opposed to high fructose corn syrup, lends its drinks a sparklingly pure sweetness that manages to be tasty without cloying, and never obscures each soda's specific flavor profile.

Jones Soda has earned a bit of a reputation for wackiness over the years, thanks to limited edition flavors like turkey and gravy, blueberry pie, latke, poutine, and peanut butter and jelly. While the most out-there options aren't likely to become anyone's favorite, you can't help but be impressed by the fidelity of flavor at work in these offbeat drinks. Turkey and gravy really does taste like turkey and gravy, and, believe it or not, that makes for an interesting and even somewhat pleasant experience. More conventional flavors like blueberry pie are downright delicious. You'll miss them when they're gone, but you'll also be comforted by the fact that new Jones innovations are always right around the corner.

2. Dr. Brown's

It's easy to think of craft soda as a very hip and modern affair. Most brands are, after all, fairly young. But Dr. Brown's makes it clear that elite soft drinks have been served for quite a while. Still a beloved mainstay at Jewish delis all over the United States, Dr. Brown's got its start in 1869. It's infamous in some circles for being the brand behind Cel-Ray, a celery-flavored soda, but that's hardly the only drink they offer: Dr. Brown's root beer, ginger ale, cream, and black cherry sodas are just as beloved.

These latter flavors are indeed delicious. Dr. Brown's ginger ale is especially crisp and flavorful, while their root beer is full of rich, old-school notes of mint and licorice. But we also feel the need to stand up for Cel-Ray. You might wrinkle your nose at the notion of celery soda, but this flavor is actually a vegetal delight. If you can appreciate cucumber water, you can get down with Cel-Ray — it boasts a very similar sort of green freshness, with a hint of peppery piquancy. It might never be your favorite drink, but show it some respect — it has to be doing something right to still be standing after more than 150 years.

3. Capt'n Eli's

Maine license plates declare the state to be the nation's "Vacationland," and Capt'n Eli's sodas make you understand why: These Maine-born drinks are as superbly refreshing as a summer day on the New England coast. A family business inspired by one man's legendary homemade root beer, Capt'n Eli's offers a solid range of flavors including mainstays like root beer, cream soda, and black cherry soda. But then, things get interesting. How does a crisp blueberry soft drink sound? What about a succulent strawberry pop? There's a significant chance you've never enjoyed either fruit in soda form. Capt'n Eli's is here to change that in truly delectable fashion.

While every Capt'n Eli's flavor is worth trying, their blueberry pop is truly outstanding. Maine is known for its blueberries, and you'll understand why after just one sip — this soda tastes fresh, vibrant, and summery. No synthetic notes or saccharine sweetness here; there's nothing but pure blueberry goodness and a hint of supportive grape in each bottle. As one Amazon reviewer pointed out, it also boasts a wonderfully robust mouthfeel. Said reviewer went so far as to declare, "[It's] one of the best sodas I've tried in a very long time." We couldn't agree more.

4. Sprecher

As the Sprecher Brewing Company makes beer in addition to soda, you might assume the latter category of beverage gets short shrift. There's more money in alcohol, right? Moreover, while most everyone is familiar with the concept of craft beer nowadays, craft soda is still a bit out there. But in fact, Sprecher takes its soft drinks every bit as seriously as its beer. The very first thing you see on the brand's website isn't an ad for lager or ale — it's a declaration that they make the best root beer in the country. That boast is a big one, but they have the fanbase to back it up.

Sprecher produces a wide variety of unique and delicious soft drinks, from cream soda to the intriguingly named Puma Kola. But their root beer is by far their most adored creation, to the point that mass enthusiasm for this singular drink solidifies the brand's presence on this list all by itself. Reddit is riddled with declarations of the drink's superiority: Users declare, "This drink changed my life," "Sprecher is best," and even "ALL HAIL SPRECHER!" Their maple root beer is also beloved, to the point that some prefer it. "Regular is good. Maple is heavenly," one Redditor noted. You might think this is all hype, no fizz ... until you try it. The next thing you know, you'll be on Reddit pledging your allegiance to Sprecher forever.

5. Boylan

Boylan is a granddaddy of the soda world, having been founded in 1891. This longevity has served them well: Their soda boasts the kind of finely-balanced flavor you only achieve through decades of tinkering. For the most part, their options are fairly standard: Root beer, cream soda, orange soda, and grape soda are all on offer here, and they all impress. Boylan's fruit flavors are especially memorable, boasting vivid taste and clean finishes. Grape has a pleasantly dry, almost winey edge to it, while orange is positively zesty.

But Boylan has another flavor up its sleeve, and it's a surprising one: birch beer. As you might have already deduced, birch beer is made from birch trees. It's a lot like root beer, but it has a smoky, herby, mineral edge that sets it apart. Boylan's birch beer is one of the best on the market; if you've never tried this unique beverage before, starting with Boylan's take on it is an excellent idea. Those with a sweet tooth might also like their creamy red birch beer, which softens the drink's sharpness with a little vanilla.

6. Squamscot Beverages

Every bottle of Squamscot soda is a piece of history. Conner Bottling Works, the family-owned company that produces the line, has been going strong since 1863. That's not all: Each delicious drink is produced with a machine the company's been using since 1938. And it all happens in the same bucolic slice of New Hampshire the company has always occupied, where locals clamor for unique flavors like Mistletoe Mist and Fruit Bowl. Squamscot soda doesn't just have a reputation — it has a legacy that's endured war, Prohibition, and major technological change.

All it takes is one sip to understand how deserved this legacy truly is. Every Squamscot soda is a perfect balance of vivid flavor to rich sweetness, topped off by a bright, clean finish. Their maple cream soda is a particular highlight: It's bursting with mellow maple, bright citrus, and a lush foundation of pure cream goodness. Essentially, it's the most delicious plate of waffles you've ever had, in soda form. Other flavors don't disappoint; their zingy ginger beer and robust citrus sodas are especially memorable, and perfectly suited to those who find most renditions of these pungent flavors frustratingly mild. To drink a Squamscot soda is to realize that sometimes, the old-fashioned ways really do remain the best.

7. Grown-Up Soda

Grown-Up Soda, aka GuS, lives up to the promise of its name: These sodas are for discerning, gourmand adults. The brand prides itself on using significantly less sugar than most soda companies, resulting in more vibrant flavors and a pleasantly dry finish. What sugar there is in this soda is true-blue cane sugar, which is combined with real fruit juices ranging from blackberry to Meyer lemon. This produces a truly impressive slate of sodas aimed at the sort of person who eschews out-of-season tomatoes and strawberries out of an unbreakable fealty to fine flavor.

Every GuS soda is worth your time, but their blackberry, cranberry lime, and pomegranate flavors are particular stand-outs. These fruits' tart edges aren't hidden away in these drinks — in fact, they take center stage, combining beautifully with the brand's characteristically light touch of sugar. Cranberry lime is an especially impressive showcase, simultaneously sweet, tangy, ever so slightly bitter, and intensely crisp. Each drink is delicious on its own, but their uniquely impactful tastes also make them excellent mixers. GuS is well aware of this, and even offers cocktail suggestions on some flavor's pages. Grown-up soda indeed.

8. Maine Root

Maine Root bottles have a decidedly rugged look to them, with their brown labels and distressed-looking font. With one swig, you'll know this isn't just a tough-guy pose — it's perfectly representative of this sodas' powerful punch. Maine Root offers a solid mix of flavors, encompassing old-school classics like sarsaparilla, root beer, and Mexicane cola (think Mexican Coke), as well as unique ventures like the enigmatically named ginger brew. Each one can be described as robust, especially their root beer: Every gulp of that rich drink is spicy, herbal, and thick with mint, clove, and anise. It's so intense, in fact, that the brand explicitly positions their sarsaparilla as a milder alternative, for those who dig the flavor but need it at a lower volume.

Yet, Maine Root's root beer is not, in fact, the flavor most likely to knock you on your butt. That honor belongs to their ginger brew, which takes care to describe itself as spicy on the label. This isn't a crisp ginger ale, nor even a piquant ginger beer — it's pure, sinus-blasting ginger, entirely unleashed. It's so intense, it's even earned the respect of Reddit's "Spicy" subreddit. As one user put it, "Seriously weird sensation — cold, ginger ale flavor followed by a heat similar to eating a mild jalapeño. Didn't even know spicy sodas were a thing! Good stuff too." Try it for yourself ... if you think you can take the heat, that is.

9. Henry Weinhard's

Do you long for the bygone world of soda fountains, where mounds of vanilla ice cream crowned tall glasses of root beer? Then you need to check out Henry Weinhard's gourmet sodas. It all started when Prohibition changed the American beverage industry forever, inspiring Mr. Weinhard to try his hand at non-alcoholic drinks. The company he created proved to be pretty darn good at them, though they confine themselves to four flavors: root beer, orange cream, vanilla cream, and black cherry cream.

This is a uniquely small range of options, but once you've given Henry Weinhard's a try, you'll understand the virtue of this restraint: All four flavors are pretty much perfect. They're impressively full-bodied, with a luscious mouthfeel and oodles of cream flavor. This makes their orange cream soda a particular highlight — in a world full of thin and blandly fizzy orange-ish soft drinks, Henry Weinhard's tastes like the best Creamsicle you've ever had. Their vanilla cream soda is another stand-out, bursting with actual vanilla bean flavor and even a touch of honey. Each is decidedly desserty, and brings to mind the classic soda float of years past. You might not be able to become a soda jerk in our modern era, but you can definitely feel like one with a glass of Henry Weinhard's in your hand.

10. Fentimans

English brewery Fentimans began all the way back in 1905, when Thomas Fentiman sold his ginger beer from a horse and cart. That long-ago age lives on in the brand's Victorian-esque labels and throwback flavors. You might have heard of ginger beer, but what about rose lemonade, dandelion and burdock, or elderflower sodas? These are just a few of the botanical soft drinks Fentimans offers, which are as flavorful as they are retro.

Reluctant to try a floral soda? Fentimans' more conventional options are also delicious, especially their delicately flavored lemonade and zesty cola. Fresh, natural ingredients take center stage in these drinks, unimpeded by excess sugar or an abundance of synthetic additives. However, their more offbeat options truly are spectacular, and if you can, you owe it to yourself to try them. Their rose lemonade is a particularly lovely drink: Bright citrus melds wonderfully with luscious rose, becoming both sweeter and more mellow in the process. Dandelion and burdock, which boasts a minty, earthy, and intriguingly herbal flavor, is a must-try for root beer fans. All Fentimans drinks are also good mixers for those looking to take their cocktails to new, sophisticated heights.

11. Dang! That's Good

Naming your company Dang! That's Good is pretty gutsy — if customers respond to their first sip any other way, they're bound to notice. But Dang! That's Good fully lives up to the promise of its swaggering name. These sodas began in 1960s Milwaukee, and they have been impressing soda drinkers ever since. Their Italian cherry soda has a particularly impressive pedigree: It was created to capture the sumptuous taste of preserved maraschino cherries. Each bottle is indeed full of decadently dessert-esque cherry flavor, sure to impress even the most jaded cherry cola drinker.

Dang! That's Good's best sodas put a similarly intriguing twist on classic flavors. Take their butterscotch root beer. The minty, herb-rich flavor of classic root beer is present in this drink, but it unfolds against a background of warm butterscotch goodness. As one Amazon reviewer put it, "It's just really, really fine root beer. But it has a neat little back of the throat butterscotch flavor. When I held it in my mouth, all I could really taste was root beer ... Then you swallow it, and the butterscotch steps up and just gives you a little kiss." Classic root beer fans aren't left out of the fun either: Dang! That's Good also offers a conventional non-butterscotch root beer, and a diet option as well. They both also happen to be delicious.

12. Kutztown Soda Works

Old-fashioned soda doesn't get any better than Kutztown's delectable drinks. All the classic hits are here: root beer, ginger beer, red cream, orange cream, sarsaparilla, birch beer, and even diet birch beer. Sweetened with pure cane sugar, these sodas are full-bodied and intensely flavorful, with wonderfully clean finishes. They are, in the very best sense, nothing fancy — just tasty soda made from the very best ingredients.

Their birch beer is a particularly memorable beverage. Like all birch beers, it's full of earthy, woodsy flavor, but this take boasts a uniquely wintergreen-forward approach. This makes it beautifully suited to all seasons: The warm herbal notes are comforting in the colder months, while its minty edge proves refreshing in the summer heat. The diet rendition is just as good, too. As one Amazon user put it, "Diet soda that tastes better than any other. Not overly sweet, no aftertaste from artificial sweeteners." In this drink and many others, Kutztown makes a strong argument for keeping things simple, pure, and classic.

13. Virgil's

Every bottle of Virgil's bears the sunny image of a smiling man serving up two foamy tankards of soda to two cheering kids, who sit on stumps beneath the open sky. It's a idyllic vision, bringing to mind lazy summer days full of cool drinks and fun goings-on. It's also a pretty high bar to set for one's beverages: Can any soda, no matter how good, truly bring such a lovely day to mind? As a matter of fact, a soda can accomplish this feat — if it's a Virgil's soda, that is.

This classic brand focuses on quality ingredients, bold flavor, and smooth finishes. Each of its standard flavors — orange cream, black cherry, vanilla cream, and root beer — succeeds on all three counts. The vanilla cream soda is especially impressive: It's decadently sweet, with bundles of true vanilla flavor, yet it never becomes cloying. Virgil's also offers a zero sugar line of soft drinks, which includes sugar-free versions of the four main beverages, plus ginger ale, lemon lime, cola, grapefruit and the impishly named "Dr. Better" flavors. These drinks are wonderfully crisp and light, especially the zesty grapefruit soda. They're just the thing to sip when sitting beneath a summer sky, even if you're not a wide-eyed kid on a stump.

14. Olipop

Olipop's bright and stylish design sensibilities make it stand out from the pack, but the brand's intriguing range of flavors is what truly secures soda fans' attention. Beloved favorites can be found in the Olipop family, including root beer, cream soda, lemon lime, grape, and vintage cola, but so can unique options like ginger lemon, strawberry vanilla, banana cream, and watermelon lime soft drinks. However, this is not the entire reason soda drinkers love Olipop. The truth is, Olipop is great because it turns out some of the best beverages on the market.

Every single Olipop flavor nails the perfect balance of sweetness, fizz, and in-your-face taste. Their fruit-centric options are especially likely to wow you; they're bursting with farm-fresh flavor and zero synthetic aftertaste. The use of vanilla in the strawberry vanilla and cherry vanilla sodas is inspired, tempering the zingy tang of real fruit with mellow sweetness, while the citrus-based options basically taste like summer in a can. Olipop sodas are also unique for their nutrition: Each can boasts 9 grams of fiber and just 2 to 5 grams of sugar. Now that's a new-school soda.