Cap’n Eli’s Root Beer is one of the better known craft sodas available in Maine this summer. Sande Updegraph / For The Forecaster

Craft soda is making great inroads into the soft drink market nationwide and summer is a grand time to sample soft beverages made or founded in Maine. Soda – once widely referred to as “tonic” in Maine – comes in a large number of flavors and several brands are available. Craft soft drinks use natural ingredients and herbal or fruit flavorings. Conspicuously absent is high fructose corn syrup, most often found in large commercial formulas.

Sande Updegraph lives in Brunswick and is a longtime food writer. She can be reached at [email protected]

Maine Root Beverages was founded at the Portland Flatbread Company by Matt Seiler, who wanted to create an organic beverage to go with his all-natural pizzas. He started with root beer and now has a large variety of flavors, including Ginger Brew, Mexicane Cola, Sarsaparilla, Blueberry, Pumpkin Pie, Maple Syrup Lemonade and others. The company is now based in Austin, but maintains strong ties to Maine (through its name and some local bottling) and the products are distributed worldwide.

Capt’n Eli’s root beer has been handcrafted in Maine by the Forsley family of New Gloucester since the early 1920s. In 1996 Fred Forsley, founder of Shipyard Brewing, started bottling it for the public and serving it at Federal Jack’s Restaurant in Kennebunkport. The brand now has nine flavors and is widely available at retail and restaurants. It is still made with 100% natural cane sugar in Portland.

Old Soaker has been made by Atlantic Brewing Company in Bar Harbor since 1998. They make root beer and blueberry soda with all-natural ingredients and are available throughout the state.

Green Bee is a natural soda made at the Fort Andross Mill in Brunswick with local honey and natural flavorings. They have nine flavors and have now added a line of sparkling waters. Chris Kinkade, the owner and founder, began by making all-natural drinks for his kids. They are now sold country wide including Luke’s Lobster in Las Vegas.

And, of course, Moxie. Moxie was created around 1876 by Augustin Thompson as a patent medicine. It has a sweet taste with a bitter aftertaste and is flavored with gentian root extract. Eventually carbonation was added to give the heavy flavor lift and sparkle. Moxie was designated the official soft drink of Maine on May 10, 2005. It is now produced in Bedford, New Hampshire, and was purchased by Coca Cola in 2018.

Culinary News

A Merrymeeting Adult Education cooking class is available online. Vegan Test Kitchen Cinnamon Rolls will be offered July 22 at a cost of $30. For details see merrymeeting.maineadulted.org/classes/categories/cooking/.

A group of Portland area foodies, Maine Food and Friends, have created a map of ice cream shops throughout the state and consolidated the information on the maineicecreamtrail.com map. The map includes 343 shops across Maine and it is arranged by region as well as alphabetically. Follow the map, make a family trip out of it and enjoy the fruits of your efforts.

Aug. 7

Pineland Farms, 15 Farm View Drive, New Gloucester, is continuing its Graze summer dining series. The event features food items from Snell Family Farm and beverages from Fore River Brewing. Service begins at 6 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres. This will be followed by a four-course small plate dinner, including heirloom tomato salad, lemon pepper pappardelle, seared Maine scallops and pink peppercorn raspberry sorbet. Because of the virus, dinner will be served plated rather than the usual family-style service. Tickets are required and are $75/person, available at Eventbrite.

Sept. 19

Pints on the Pier, samples from Maine brewers, Maine Maritime Museum, 243 Washington St., Bath, 4-7:30 p.m., $38 plus ticket fee at Eventbrite.

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