Honestly, most of us do not even want to look at 2020 in the rearview mirror. Sadly, so far summer 2021 has been its own doozy of a season. Climate change is punishing many of us with oppressive heat in the Pacific Northwest, wildfires across more of the western U.S., and dangerous flooding in midwestern states. Add the rise of the Delta variant, and 2022 so far will not look so bad, even with what will surely be polarizing mid-term elections here in the U.S. and mega sporting events slated to launch in nations with far less than stellar human rights records; oh, but then there's that wobbly moon that could be adding more chaos to climate change risks through April 2022.
Nevertheless, this summer has offered many of us the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family, and after a long day of working in the office or remotely, sometimes we just want a cold one. So, whether you imbibe or don’t imbibe, here are a few ideas for quaffing down a cold one by yourself, or with your favorite people – as in beverages that make us feel better that we spent some coin on these companies.
Brew Dr.: Bottled kombucha keeps getting better and better, and for those of us who avoid alcohol yet still want to hang out with our friends at the local bar or taproom (without being limited to a cola served with a slice of awkwardness), more of these establishments are offering these tea- and SCOBY-based drinks. As for consumers who buy into the supposed health benefits of kombucha but don’t want something looking like a human brain lurking in their fridge, the bottled options are a fine choice – and are now even available at drugstores and gas station mini-marts.
Arguing over what is the leading kombucha is about as productive as picking a fight over what is the best ice cream flavor, but we’re giving a shout-out this Friday to Brew Dr. The brand’s ginger lemon, mango, watermelon and yes, the pineapple guava flavors all shine, plus a lavender-chamomile-green tea option Brew Dr. rolled out for Pride has been a winner as well – and the latter helped raise funds for the Trevor Project. The company also participates in the 1% for the Planet initiative; Brew Dr. also donates proceeds from the sales of one of its product lines to organizations focused on racial justice.
Clean Cause: Intuitively, yerba mate, flavors like berry mint and carbonation should not be in the same list of ingredients, much less mentioned in the same sentence. Clean Cause shows making such an assumption is wrong, wrong and wrong. This Austin-based company has reinvented the fizzy drink, deliciously served in tall, 16-ounce cans. The drinks work cause nothing is overdone: the mate gives off no off-putting earthy aftertaste, the touch of erythritol as a sweetener is just enough and the flavors (others include orange ginger and cherry lime) are understated. Light and crisp sum up these drinks in two words. Plus, there’s a kick of caffeine – just enough to get you through the rest of the afternoon when 2:00 p.m. ambushes you and darn it, there are still several hours of work ahead.
What’s even better about Clean Cause? The company says it donates 50 percent of its profits to fund sober living scholarships. At last check, Clean Cause has fronted the costs of 2,000-plus such recovery scholarships that have added up to a value of more than $1.1 million.
Maine Root: No high-fructose corn syrup here. This company, based in, you guessed correctly, Maine, churns out the next-best thing to a real Mexican cola; traditionalists will enjoy the root beer while the more adventuresome will be intrigued by the blueberry and pumpkin pie sodas. For those who avoid sugar in any form, the diet Mexican cola holds its own (full disclosure: it is sweetened with sucralose). Most of Maine Root’s beverages are fair-trade certified, as the company sources organic sugar cane from Brazil.
New Belgium Brewing Co.: Here’s one token large company on the list, though its track record over the years suggests its efforts are hardly token. This certified B corporation has performed well both on the environmental front as well as how the company treats its employees. As for its beverages, the company has no shortage of fun, boozy options; plus, one of its ales, Fat Tire, is now officially certified as a completely carbon-neutral beer.
And as TriplePundit’s Sarah Lazanova recently pointed out, the Colorado-based brewer stepped up during the pandemic, as it set up a fund to help out bars and restaurants hit hard by COVID-19’s impact. New Belgium has also operated another fund that for almost a decade has helped out its employees at times of dire financial need.
Zaddy’s: Pre-made cocktails are all the rage, and the assortment is overwhelming. Unfortunately, after tasting some, we often feel enraged we’ve wasted our money. But there are plenty of creative choices out there, and the options keep getting better. Among the winners is Northern California-based Zaddy’s. These gin-based canned cocktails check many boxes: The company avoids using plastic within its packaging, participates with 1% For the Planet and donates some proceeds to The Story of Stuff project. Of the three flavors, the favorite is a toss-up between the Gin(ger) Fizz and Corpse Reliever, yet all work. Bottom line, these drinks are a winner – and each only has 100 calories a can.
Image credit: Clean Cause
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's worked an lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.