In Season: Soda
by: Courtesy of Crater Lake Soda, Portland-based Crater Lake Soda offers up a line of soft drinks that fizzle, not burn, on the way down.

As spring dawns and coolers are unearthed from basements and garages, you can find a local soft drink with which to fill them - 12 ounces of Crater Lake Soda's root beer, orange, lemon-lime and vanilla flavors in a bottle.

Since last summer Portland-based Crater Lake Soda, a line of Ocean Mist Sales and Marketing, itself an arm of the Portland-based Yoshida Group, has been storming the local bubbly scene with its sweet, pure cane sugar, lightly carbonated, caffeine-free, kosher sodas.

The company name was inspired by beverage sales and support director Curt Gouverneur's Crater Lake National Park family vacations. Since the roots of the business hearken back to his family's home-brew, this only makes sense.

Gouverneur grew up in Southern Indiana and can't remember a time when he didn't home-brew root beer with his family. Gouverneur moved to Portland in 1984 and worked as a laser optics engineer and later found a brewmaster.

Brewing soda was something he pursued during his free time. For the past four years, Gouverneur's root beer has been on tap at most McMenamins throughout Oregon and Washington.

The 70,000-square-foot Yoshida facility, home to Crater Lake Soda, is kosher and organic certified as well as capable of in-glass pasteurization.

The factory can produce up to 4,000 cases of soda a shift, or 250 bottles a minute. This has been important for expansion, and Crater Lake Soda now can be found throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska and soon will be on shelves in Montana and Northern California.

Crater Lake Soda participates in the Oregon Brewers Festival, which takes place every summer at Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Last summer Gouverneur and other employees staffed the designated drivers tent. They teamed up with Umpqua Dairy, maker of Umpqua Ice Cream, and served more than 3,000 soda floats throughout the weekend.

According to Gouverneur, who has been a part of the festival for more than 15 years, 'it turned into a hoot because at some points during the days we had lines that were longer than the beer lines. We're definitely going to be doing that again this year.'

Gouverneur favors soda that is lightly carbonated and not burn-your-taste-buds fizzy. 'I always liked 7UP and Sprite growing up, and then they ruined them with high fructose corn syrup and adding more carbonation - injecting more junk into them. I always wanted to make something that reminded me of that.'

Gouverneur adds that Crater Lake Soda's Lemon Lime Bitter returns to the original feel and flavor of these citrusy sodas.

'It doesn't taste exactly like that but it's the same gist,' he says. 'It has pure cane sugar. It has a clean crisp taste to it. You don't have that level of carbonation that burns all the way down.'

In and around Portland you can find Crater Lake Soda in Zupan's Markets, Market of Choice, Thriftway, Roth's Fresh Markets, QFC, Fred Meyer, Elephants Delicatessen and many restaurants.

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