North Star Craft Soda is a root beer that has quickly become a new favorite here at Chug’s. North Star is a wonderfully sweet, vanilla root beer with an anise base and some fruity leanings to finish off the taste, not seen in many other brews. Much like other gourmet sodas, North Star is best served ice cold. Its no surprise that a root beer this unique would have a significant history which brings us to the Whistler Bottling Company, based in Forest Lake Minnesota and North Stars producer.
Whistler bottling company, founded in June 2013 got its name from the actual act of whistling because according to owner Jesse Hopkins: “Its something you can only so when you’re happy!” Hopkins was an assistant principle of Oltman Middle school in St. Paul Park, Minnesota when he decided to start brewing his own soda, (in his basement no less!) Jesse decided to pursue his interest in the soda industry and reached out to Owner and founder of Flavor 8 Bottling in New London, Wisconsin, Dave Talo. Taking time out of his busy schedule, Hopkins was able to pursue training with Talo on weekends and holidays. After two years of training Talo needed to upgrade his soda making equipment, giving Jesse the opportunity to buy the old pieces some dating back to the 1950’s.
Whistler bottling’s claim to fame is that they produce soda in ‘returnable’ bottles, similar to other brands; Pop Shoppe and Pic a Pop. According to Hopkins, these “buy and return” soda themes stores were popular some 40 and 50 years ago however, it has become a challenge to convince store owners to bring back the tradition of accepting, storing and redeeming returned bottles. It is truly an environmental benefit as the bottles can last up to 40 years and have numerous reuse opportunities.
At any given time Whistler bottling company has over 40 flavors in production or being developed. One interesting fact about the company is that they chose to bottle their sodas in 8oz bottles vs the traditional 12oz bottles. However, as demand for their amazing sodas grew, they decided to produces an additional soda in a one time use bottle, giving us the beloved, root beer of the month, North Star Craft Soda.
Its amazing the steps and journey it takes to get us to a final product. Its always important to listen to those of us who have found success and listen to the wisdom they offer. Jesse’s advice for people is: “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to stick to what you are passionate about. It’s tempting sometimes to branch out into other beverages-that may seem popular at the time, but success comes through sticking with what you love- and perfecting it. For us, that’s small batch, old-fashioned soda. We here at Chug’s were definitely excited to learn about the journey to North Star and hope you are too. Come on in and try The February Soda of the month: North Star.