Square Root Soda is an interesting new entrant to the non-alcoholic beer market. What was once a small kitchen operation selling ginger beer to local farmers markets in Harringay has since expanded to create one-of-a-kind small batch sodas and collaborative shandies with local brewers.
Co-owner Robyn Simms explains that they have always approached making drinks as a brewery would – by producing a core range and some rotating seasonal flavours from fruit to bottle. Both Robyn and Ed come from the brewing industry and are regularly approached to make juice flavourings for local brewers. Since setting up shop, they have work closely with Pressure Drop to create a series of three alternative flavours to their Wallbanger beer including Lime & Ginger, Bergamot & Juniper and Blood Orange & Vanilla.
Taking this collaboration one step further to make a shandy seemed like the natural next step. Since then, they have worked with Five Points Brewery, Chorlton Brewing Co, Beavertown Brewery and Brick Brewery to produce a range of shandies.
I had the chance to try three of these, including Square Root’s Indian and Tarocco Sour and the Das Radler. All were advertised as shandy mixes and were expertly packaged with some fantastic designs and easy to remove caps. Overall I found them enjoyable, but very difficult to compare to a beer as the mixture of fruit and sugar overpowered the traditional hops and malt flavourings. They may not appeal to some beer drinkers, but I can imagine these shandies hold sway over cocktail drinkers and the soft drinks market.
Square Root’s Indian Sour (0.5% ABV)
The first shandy I tried was Square Root’s Indian Sour, which was fairly cloudy in appearance and an incredibly light shade of straw. It gave off a sweet, fruity aroma and was faintly carbonated without much head – much more the consistency of a soda than a beer. Traditional beer flavours of malts and hops were overpowered by sugar, lemon and lime. I thought it was a really nice soft drink alternative to try in a pub garden with barley, floral and spice aromas coming through. It was quite refreshing, but a bit too sweet to have more than one at a time.
Square Root’s Tarocco Sour (0.5% ABV)
Square Root’s second shandy was darker in colour and again quite cloudy with a soda-like consistency. It had a medium intensity aroma which was both sharp and sweet, with citrus and fruit on the nose. Blood orange and grapefruit flavours were quite dominant and it had an almost a boiled sweet aftertaste. Much more tart than the Indian Sour, I would recommend drinking this one with plenty of ice!
Das Radler Sour (2.5% ABV)
The final shandy I tried was the Das Radler, which I have to say was a bit of a shock to the system. It was a strange mix of fermented lemons, beet sugar and beer. While some herbal citrus flavours came through, it had a bitter balance and seemed a bit off and I personally didn’t find the combination all that appealing.
Whilst I wasn’t a huge fan of the Das Radler, I did think that the collaboration were an impressive example of just how innovative and exciting the beer market is at the moment. The range of flavours and styles now available to consumers has never been better, and beers are being created today that appeal to a much wider audience. Who knows – maybe we might be able to convert some of the die-hard cocktail drinkers to beer with one of these new brews!
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