If beverage industry pros Andrew Anguiano and Gregg Spickler have anything to do with it, San Antonians may soon be trading in their cans of Big Red for a whole new fizz.
In January, the Alamo Brewing Company alums launched Southside Craft Soda, a new artisan company that provides an alternative to the sickly sweet sodas crowding grocery shelves. Instead of high fructose corn syrup, the brand uses a combination of pure cane sugar and hyper-local honey (some comes from as close as downtown) to craft the sweet treat.
The brand also supports area farmers by sourcing nearby. Unlike similar all-natural sodas like Maine Root, Southside brings true South Texas terroir to its products. Flavors include a birch root beer; a honey cream soda; and a cola with a citrusy kick from Texas-grown limes, oranges, and lemons. The team also has a couple of fermented sodas including a ginger sparkler and a take on Mexican tepache using fresh pineapple, local honey, piloncillo, and cinnamon.
For the fermented drinks, Spickler draws on his experience owning a small brewery in Maine. As it turns out, there are plenty of parallels. Spickler tells CultureMap that he is “using some of the same organisms [in the sodas] used in beermaking.”
In about a month, the team will begin work on a storefront (which will also house the bottling operation), converted from a house near Mission Road along the World Heritage Corridor. The shop will sell honey and natural beeswax soaps from Winding Road Provisions and feature a soda fountain where guests can fill up growlers. "Close to a million tourists visit the missions each year," notes Anguiano. "We will be able to show off our South Texas roots with unique regional flavors, as well as drinks that will taste familiar but definitely unique."
Although the general industry trend is towards soda alternatives like La Croix, Spickler tells CultureMap that starting with soda was intentional. “I grew up in San Antonio and I love San Antonio,” he says, “and the best way to hit the market is to have some aspect of familiarity.” Still, Southside has not ruled out eventually expanding to sparkling waters and other beverages.
That may come sooner than later. The team has been sampling its core five offerings at pop-up soda shops at various festivals to high praise. During the next phase, the company will focus on smaller vendors and bars. Spickler notes that the sodas make “amazing cocktails.”
Eventually, Spickler hopes the drinks will find their way to larger stores like H-E-B. For that, he will draw on his experience in large-scale manufacturing at Alamo. For now, you can catch Southside at Brews and Blooms on May 19 at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. In a couple of years, you’ll be bragging about how you knew them then.