Idaho Finds: Bucksnort Craft-Brewed Soda
Kainoa Lopez remembers visiting the old barn on Oahu where his great-grandfather made fresh, tropical fruit sodas. His family sold the soda company before Kainoa was old enough to remember the brewing process, but he fondly remembers the abandoned equipment and dusty old bottles. In 2009, he began brewing natural sodas using fresh, seasonal and often local ingredients. Hawaiian names didn’t seem to fit for an Idaho-based company, so he dubbed his business “BuckSnort”, after a short-lived, childhood nickname.
Using a converted beer keg, Kainoa steeps small batches of tea or “wort” (a brewer’s term for the infusion of base ingredients). His root beer tea is made from extracting sassafras roots, licorice and wintergreen, then adding molasses, vanilla and raw cane sugar before carbonation. Though it takes some time to achieve the right amount of carbonation, these sodas are not aged or fermented – the sodas are best when fresh. For this reason, BuckSnort is currently available only in kegs, to be consumed straight from the tap.
Bucksnort’s Black Sheep is the classic root beer infused with espresso from Boise-based coffee company Dawson Taylor. Their ginger beer is comprised of Hawaiian blue ring ginger, organic limes and Idaho Honey in Weiser. The Sapsucker Red Cream Soda contains lemons, oranges and vanilla.
Kainoa is always testing seasonal blends. One favorite is the Maple Cream Soda, made from organic maple syrup and brewed only after tapping season in Vermont. Huckleberry Cream Soda was first made in 2013 after a bunch a friends picked bucket upon bucket of wild huckleberries –if we’re lucky, it will be available again this fall. Apple Jack is the marriage of hand-cranked apple cider from Kelley Orchards apples and the classic Ginger Beer.
Thirsty? Kainoa and friends can be found at Capital City Public Market in Boise and at the Ketchum farmers market.
BuckSnort Root Beer