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New craft soda hits shelves in the UK

Posted: 27 June 2017 | , | No comments yet

The craft trend is everywhere and in this interview, we speak to the founder of an exciting new craft soft drink hitting the UK’s shelves this Summer.

Dalston's-lemonade-with-lemons-(002)

Fast growing British craft soft drink’s maker, Dalston’s, has its first national supermarket listing in Waitrose from Monday 26 June – across 150 stores. A new generation of sodas is arriving in the mainstream and Dalston’s is the leading flagbearer blending soft drinks with adult tastes in mind.  These are believed to be the first range of canned British craft sodas to be available in supermarkets.

These soft drinks, in cans, are made from carefully sourced, high quality ingredients, using fruit and spring water, as well as Sicilian lemons and oranges, cola nuts and a blend of spices. The range of premium drinks features orangeade, lemonade and cola.

“We’d seen what was happening across the new wave of premium food and drinks and felt soda was rather neglected.  We wanted to bring about a revolution in taste and quality, so we got busy and built a company from the ground up – working with growers and suppliers to source excellent quality, honest ingredients that transform the taste of soda drinks,” adds Duncan O’Brien, Founder of Dalston’s.

“That our sodas are in cans was inspired by the success of craft beer in cans, so we knew there was a fantastic opportunity.  Designers can have plenty of fun with the can’s branding and packaging, which is great news for our soda range.”

To further explore the news, we bring you an interview with Founder, Duncan O’Brien:

  • Tell us about Dalston’s, yourselves and your ethos?

We think it’s the perfect time to offer craft soda in cans.  Our range of premium canned soft drinks are made from carefully sourced ingredients – blended with the adult palate in mind – using fruit and spring water, as well as ingredients such as Sicilian lemons and oranges, cola nuts and a blend of spices.

We’re chefs that make drinks, and consider ourselves drinks makers rather than drinks marketers. First and foremost, our drinks are honestly made.  Our training was all about taking the best ingredients and presenting them simply rather than messing around with them too much.   By sourcing excellent, high quality ingredients, less sugar is needed.  There’s a great deal of public consciousness and confusion around sugar right now, so this is an ideal time to offer premium soft drinks that contain less sugar.  We’re proud to be the first of a new generation of ‘craft soda’ producers.

Dalston's-Orangeade-with-glass-(002)

It’s all about ensuring that our ingredients are carefully sourced.  We have good relationships with our suppliers and have kept a tight control of the supply chain – which is particularly important as the supply chain for soda can be complicated – sourcing ingredients from various parts of the world. 

  • Why, when and how did you get into making soda?

The idea for Dalston’s was hatched in an East London club five years ago.  I was working as a chef and in food sustainability and met another chef who had this idea of making craft cola.  So, we teamed up to make craft cola into a business, and things grew from there.  Our range of premium drinks in cans now features orangeade, lemonade and cola.

We’d seen what was happening across the new wave of premium foods and drinks and felt soda was rather neglected.  We wanted to bring about a revolution in taste and quality, so we got busy and built a company from the ground up – working with growers & suppliers to source excellent quality, honest ingredients that transform the taste of soda drinks.

  • What makes your drinks special?

Right from the start, we’ve set-about developing drinks and flavours that will appeal to the adult palate – moving away from soda pop-style drinks to authentic sodas made from carefully sourced, high quality ingredients. 

  • Who buys your canned soda? Where do you sell it?

Adults buy our canned drinks in cafes, bars and restaurants – mainly in London but this is starting to spread out to other towns now.  Ocado will be selling our sodas very soon and Waitrose is stocking them from late June.

  • How did you first get into canning and how are you currently canning your soda?

The big push to put our soda in cans came from our Managing Director, Dan Broughton, who was inspired by the success of craft beer in cans, so knew there was a fantastic opportunity.  Also, our premises were originally next to Beavertown Brewery so we witnessed first-hand what this craft brewery was doing with cans. 

There are such fantastic design options available for can labels now, and we particularly like the matt finish.  Designers can have plenty of fun with the can’s branding and packaging, which is great news for our soda range.  We work closely with the canner Cott Beverages.

  • What are the biggest benefits of canning your soda?

There are so many benefits when canning.  They chill down quicker and cans are more compact, plus they don’t break.  Distribution is easier too, and cans are easier for people to carry around with them.  Then there’s the sustainable quality of cans as they are completely recyclable – taking less energy than glass to be recycled.

  • Any advice for other soda/soft drink makers wanting to get into canning?

It’s important to allow plenty of lead time if you’re planning to work with any of the larger canners, as there’s a great deal of preparation and paperwork involved, especially during the set-up period.  We managed to do this in just three months from initial meeting to first production run, and were very lucky that Cott Beverages could work with us in such a short timeframe. 

  • What’s been your proudest moment at Dalston’s?

The proudest moment has been watching our team develop professionally as we scale-up the business.  We’ve trained our people throughout this process, with many of the team being with us since we started out, and some of these long-standing colleagues are now running our new-look logistics & supply chain.

  • What’s next for Dalston’s?

Well, we have plenty of new drinks to develop, and are busy visiting new fruit farms to look-into the possibility of sourcing some more soft fruits.  We want to focus on growing in the UK, and are already exporting to Benelux so who knows where we might go from here…

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