While searching for an image of a beer delivery truck yesterday, I noticed a photo of this truck kept popping up in the search results, but always identified as a beer truck, or words to that effect. However, take a close look at the bottle.
Cool as the image is, it sure didn’t look like beer inside the bottle to me. So I did a little research to find out what Bionade is. It turns out that it’s organic soda made in Germany. But interestingly, it does have a brewing pedigree. Here’s the story, from Wikipedia:
Bionade was created in 1995 by Dieter Leipold. Leipold was the master brewer at Privatbrauerei Peter in Ostheim, a town in northern Bavaria with just 4,000 inhabitants, and a friend of the family that owned the brewery. He was worried about the future of the company, which was about to go bankrupt, as import beers like Corona and Miller Lite were taking over the German market. He got the idea of creating a nonalcoholic drink produced with the same principles and under the same purity laws used to brew beer: not using corn syrup or other artificial additives and making it by fermentation. The drink would consist only of the natural ingredients malt, water, sugar, and fruit essences. For eight years, Leipold experimented spending €1.5 million of the brewery owner Peter Kowalsky’s money. His lab was a bathroom. He isolated a strain of bacteria capable of converting the sugar that normally becomes alcohol into nonalcoholic gluconic acid, which he used to ferment the new drink.
Bionade’s premise was that it tasted like soft drinks, but contained little sugar and no stabilizing or flavor-enhancing additives. It thus combines the taste of soft drinks with the healthiness of juice. It also contains both calcium and magnesium, in such quantities that they do not cancel each other out and is low in sodium and free of phosphorus
To this day, Leipold refuses divulge the exact chemical process he used to do this. the gluconic acid also has the advantage that it allows him to reduce the amount of sugar, because it strengths the sugar’s taste. After fermentation, the natural flavors, elderberry, litchi, orange-ginger, and herb are added along with carbonation.
Apparently sales Bionade started out slowly but with the recent popularity of healthy food and drinks, things have picked up considerably. Since 2006, it’s been sold in the U.S., though I can’t say I recall ever seeing it. But then I don’t drink soda so I wouldn’t have been looking for it, either. It might be worth giving it a try, since it was created by a brewer and he’s managed to keep the secret of how it’s made. There’s also an article about it from Time Magazine that was published last January.