From field to finished product, Season Soda aims to make varietal ingredients express the subtleties of place and season in each of their drinks. Honey helps them with just that.
Learn how Luke Pro, Director of R&D at Seasons Soda, is inspired by honey and how it helps the company achieve its mission to source diligently, process with innovation and deliver the essence of its origins.
Why did you formulate your sodas with honey?
Honey is full of depth and terroir. It feels alive – very much alive. Why? Because with every taste you can discover something new that you’ve never noticed before. It has been such a rewarding experience experimenting with honey and how it tastes when paired with different ingredients.
When did your journey with honey begin?
Two years ago, Bobby Change (Founder of Seasons Soda) and I were huddled around a table comparing different types of honey while we were working on our HONEYmint Demi-Sec. The buckwheat was so complex, so developed on its own, that it was hard to find things that paired well with it. A few years, later, while working on the Ginger Demi-Sec, that buckwheat honey flavor popped up in my head while I was working with a very unique ginger extract. It was as if I had stumbled onto the right key for this very specific lock and it just fit.
The buckwheat honey really breathed life into the formulation in a way that I can’t really describe. But, when you taste it, you know. And, with all of our formulations, including those with honey, the aromatics and the way they make you feel when you drink them – they just have a sense of life and fullness that you can’t create on your own. You have to find these flavors in nature and find a way to preserve them.
The character of honey is so intriguing to me that it stays in my mind, and when the moment is right and I stumble onto the right pairing, I got for it.
How does honey go with your philosophy of expressing the subtleties of place and season in each of your beverages?
We just stay out of the way of the expressions that are in our ingredients. For a long time there has been a tendency to create drinks that appeal to the masses and, for whatever reason, the way to get there was to strip, bleach and purify things. Honey is the antithesis of this.
Think about it – bees fly all over. They scour the earth, they get dirty. Pollen coats them like a kid playing in the mud, and miraculously this rubbing and sticking and getting “stuff” all over them keeps a lot of our food supply going. It also means that the taste they gather is real. It comes from millions of bees flying and crawling and working their whole lives. It is really a beautiful thing to think about. The taste of honey itself is very complex and interesting, but the knowledge of where it comes from adds a lot to it. As corny as it sounds, being able to taste everywhere these millions and millions of bees have been makes us all feel connected to these places and times.
What varietals of honey do you use in your sodas and why?
We use orange blossom and buckwheat honey. We began with orange blossom honey because we found that it was a wonderful compliment to spearmint. It is really amazing how that specific combination works so well. Later, we also incorporated that into our Bitter Lemon Tonic. Orange blossom honey pairs well with a lot of flavors and when it does, it really brings things to life. It has enough depth to it that every time someone drinks one of our honey sodas, there is always some aspect of the flavor left for our customers to discover next time they pick up a Seasons. We also wanted to begin with something that was available and similar to what our consumers would have access to.
Buckwheat honey is fantastic, but not as familiar to customers and requires a bit more education in some cases. We are taking consumers on a journey with us as we begin to dive deeper into the world of honey and truly discover what each varietal can do. Our Ginger Demi-Sec utilizes the buckwheat honey in a fantastic way, and it is unlike any Ginger soda that we have tasted.
What’s next for Seasons Soda? Can we expect to see any future honey sodas?
A core part of what we do is staying out of the way of flavor and exploring the word through our sense of taste. My job is to be curious and continue to think about, explore and taste ingredients. Honey will continue to be a core part of our process, because it is amazing!