Story contributed by Tessa Bousfield
Chris and Laura Verhoeven were walking down a street in Victoria one summer day when Chris got thirsty for an ice cold soda and thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a local soda? We have local beer, local spirits, local cheese, why not soda?”
When life was simpler and not dominated by large multi-national companies, there were all sorts of local bottlers that dotted the landscape. The style of 1950s and 60s soda pops just tasted better; the quality was recognized in every single bottle. So, that idea sat with Chris until Victoria Soda Works was born.
DON’T JUDGE A FLAVOUR BY THE BOTTLE. OR DO…
Victoria Soda Works makes hand crafted, small batch soda pop in 16 tasty flavours. To name a few there’s Classic Orange, Black Cherry, BlueBridge Raspberry, Radio Cola, Round House Root Beer, Morley’s Bitter Lemon and Pinky Grapefruit. You won’t find High Fructose Syrup in these reusable glass bottles, but only real cane sugar and beet sugar that is grown and refined in Tabor, Alberta.
If you don’t have a sweet tooth, they also have a secondary brand called Mile Zero Seltzers. Mile Zero Seltzers have zero sugar, zero calories and zero artificial sweeteners in them. The Black Berry, Cucumber and Tangerine flavors are a light, refreshing thirst quencher or a fantastic mix for a great cocktail.
The careful crafting and creative flavors are not the only ingredients that make this local line of sodas unique. Every bottle of soda they sell has a deposit associated with it. The bottles are brought back to their shop in Esquimalt and put through a special washer that sanitizes each bottle before they reuse it. This is repeated again and again.
DRINKS ALL AROUND
Victoria Soda Works has been forming for the past four years and they’ve had the privilege of being invited to local events to promote their brands directly to the community. They set up at a funky Tiki Hut at Capital Iron’s Celebrity Slider Cook Off, a fundraiser for the Mustard Seed Food Bank last May, and served up eight flavours to choose from with each donation. They had a ring toss game set up at the UrbaCity Challenge last summer, as well as selling their sodas at the Sidney Market, the James Bay Market, and the Bastion Square market.
If you have a party, wedding or corporate event, you can order batches of the delectable soda pops with custom, private labels, flavours and colours to match your theme. Chris and Laura feel this component is going to really pick up and it was proven successful at the Times Colonist’s Capital Magazine launch party last year.
During the early stages of Victoria Soda Works, they heard that VIATeC was hosting a Victoria Angel investment presentation, and they ended up securing a 5-minute preview pitch. “It was a wonderful learning experience about not only how to talk to potential investors and provide them the information they need, but also about our own company,” commented Chris. “It forced us to answer tough questions, drill down to exactly what we were doing, and how we were going to make money doing it. Because at the end of the day, you can be the most passionate person in the world for what you do, but if you can’t make any money doing it, then you may want to rethink your plan.”
HOW CAN YOU GET YOUR HANDS ON ONE?
Victoria Soda Works can soon be found at Chorizo & Co. in downtown Victoria and a selection of their flavours are currently available at Shirley Delicious Cafe, just past Sooke. This summer they will be at the Sidney Market every Thursday evening, and many local events and festivals. To bridge the gap between now and full retail availability, a 6 pack home/office delivery program has been set up. You choose from the available flavours, and they deliver right to your door.