Although I am not a big soda drinker, I am a fan of fermented foods, so when I heard about Cascal, a non-alcoholic fermented soda in flavors like Crisp White and Ripe Rouge, I was intrigued. Could Cascal somehow bridge the gap between wine and soft drinks in a satisfying way?
After trying four of the five flavors currently available, I'd have to say yes. Cascal offers sodas with more complexity and less sweetness than most carbonated beverages, so they are especially light and refreshing. While the wine-like flavor descriptions on the labels seem like a lot to live up to — Crisp White promises "notes of pear, apricot and magnolia" — for the most part those subtle flavors do come through (though I confess my taste buds are not sophisticated enough to taste magnolia).
The four flavors I tried were:
• Light Red: With "notes of black currant and mirabelle," this soda includes fermented barley malt and has a light berry flavor with a slight sourness I enjoyed.
• Crisp White: As mentioned above, the pear and apricot flavors came through strongly in this soda, which was the sweetest of the four.
• Ripe Rouge: The promise of "cherry, chocolate and rose" is spot on; this soda has a deeper berry flavor than Light Red.
• Fine Dry: My favorite of the four, maybe because it has the most unusual flavor. There are indeed "notes of apple and anise," but the fermented malt also lends a complexity that makes this soda taste the most like wine or beer.
I did not try Fine Dark, which has "notes of honey and malt."
Whether you are looking for an interesting beverage to serve tee-totaling guests, or just want a sophisticated, less sweet alternative to the usual soft drinks, Cascal is worth a try.
• Find it: $5.99 for a 4-pack at Whole Foods and Cost Plus World Market.
Have you tried this line of sodas? What do you think?
Related: Soda with Bitters: Simple and Refreshing
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf.