16 Craft Soda Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

If there's anything that can be said about soda, it would undoubtedly include the words bubbly and delicious. Whether you call it soda or prefer pop, there's no shortage of flavors and styles. A refreshing complement to savory eats, soda is the classic go-to beverage when juice is boring and water's too plain to please. The fizzy delight pops against your tongue, bringing playfulness to the palate.

Funnily enough, adding flavor to fizzy drinks started with 19th-century pharmacists. It began with sparkling mineral water, later infused with other surprising ingredients like tobacco, caffeine, and, believe it or not, cocaine. Once upon a time, we used to treat symptoms with drugs that are illegal today. Flavors would soon be added to curb the undesirable taste of the medicine mixture. Through trial and error, pharmacists then began discovering blends that mimicked actual fruit flavors. This would lead to further experimentation, culminating in the creation of soda.

Today, due to laws and the Prohibition era, soda and medicine are no longer synonymous. When you think of soda, health benefits are the last thing that comes to mind. While the soda market has mostly been dominated by major brands, in recent years there's been an influx of smaller-batch craft brewers. Craft soda brands offer an elevated experience using traditional brew methods — and some create completely new flavors altogether. To quench the thirst of the soda-lover in you, we've ranked the craft soda brands popping on the scene today.

16. Original Stewart's

Over 100 years ago, Frank Stewart set out to concoct the most delicious root beer ever, resulting in a soda staple that still exists today. Original Stewart's soda is a saccharine symphony of flavor. True to its roots, the legacy brand sells "fountain classics" like cream soda, black cherry, root beer, and cherries n' cream. They also offer birch beer, which is the peppery, earthy, and minty cousin of root beer — brewers sometimes use it when brewing root beer too. 

Original Stewart's sodas are creamy, full-bodied, and come in glass bottles, giving them a vintage feel. They're easy to find at local grocery stores as well. Unfortunately, it lands at the bottom of the list due to its use of high-fructose syrup and artificial flavoring, which are well-balanced here, yet aren't the health-friendliest. With that in mind, a little sugary indulgence from time to time never hurts.

15. Jones Soda

Before craft became synonymous with quality in the beverage world, Jones Soda was bubbling on the low, putting its own unique spin on the beloved beverage. The label design was iconic, featuring customer-submitted black and white photos, while their unique selection of flavors made them pop out from the rest. Whether gimmick or sheer marketing genius, it worked, turning Jones from a niche soda brand into a household name. 

Aesthetics aside, Jones Soda makes a good case in the flavor department. Those with seasoned sweet tooths will surely enjoy its rich taste, which comes from inverted cane sugar, natural and artificial flavors. From blue bubblegum to fufu berry, soda purists also have the option of classic sugar cane cola or cream soda. OGs like Jones Soda definitely deserve its flowers for shepherding the craft soda scene, but in that time, many brands have come along and raised the bar.

14. Zevia

This beverage brand offers health benefits without sacrificing much in taste. Emphasis on "much," as Zevia's sugar-free, zero-calorie, stevia-infused soda doesn't pack the rich flavor you're accustomed to. If you're looking for sugary satisfaction, we suggest trying one of the legacy brands, but if you're hoping to reduce sugar in your diet yet aren't quite ready to give up your sweet soda, Zevia is definitely one of the popular zero-sugar soda options. 

In addition to traditional flavors like cream soda and Dr. Zevia (their spin on Dr. Pepper), they also have a good selection of fruit flavors like strawberry and grapefruit citrus. Another great quality about Zevia is that they only use real ingredients, securing them the spot as one of the healthiest pop brands in the world. With so many benefits, sadly, points are deducted due to its stevia taste, which is an acquired one, and its lighter-bodied flavor — a nuanced experience some may ultimately find unfulfilling.

13. Swamp Pop

Down in the Bayou, there's some sweetness brewing with craft soda brand Swamp Pop. The Louisiana-based company was inspired by the state's sugarcane farming history and its quirky name came from a local music genre that was popular in the late 1950s. Their foray into naturally-flavored beverages ended up being an immediate hit, and today can be found on shelves nationwide. 

Offering interesting spins on classic flavors, Swamp Pop deliciously bridges the past with the present. For example, rather than generic orange soda, you'll find Satsuma fizz, a similarly citrusy choice. Bottles also include actual fruit pulp dancing inside the bubbly liquid. If you can take the sweet, Swamp Pop packs more than enough. Their Ponchatoula pop rouge can be described as liquid candy in a bottle, while the praline cream is somewhat overbearing and tastes more akin to coffee soda. Those with more sensitive palates may prefer lighter options.

12. Dad's Root Beer

Ranked one of the best popular root beer brands, Dad's has been satiating sweet tooths since the 1930s. From its iconic blue, red, and yellow design to its timeless blend of licorice, vanilla, and wintergreen, Dad's is a classic brand for a reason. It's widely available and like many commercial sodas, is made using cane sugar and artificial flavors. 

Sadly, this gives Dad's a nostalgic taste that pops at first before falling flat, rather than the artisan subtleties found in newer craft sodas. Depending on which side of the flavor fence you sit, this can be a pro or a con. Nevertheless, Dad's taste certainly justifies its iconic status, and its smell alone is enough to make you thirsty. Along with a root beer worthy of a cult following, Dad's also offers all of your favorite classics like orange, lemon-lime, and cream soda — the latter of which you can enjoy in several varieties. 

11. Dr. Brown's Soda

Made legend as a popular beverage in New York, Dr. Brown's Soda began as a refreshing go-to in the Jewish community before spreading nationwide. The brand is over 100 years old, is considered kosher, and rumor has it, is responsible for "the original cream soda." Despite being kosher-friendly, Dr. Brown's Soda is made using high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. In other words, craft connoisseurs need not apply, this is for those that can appreciate candy-like quality. 

Dr. Brown's mostly sticks to traditional flavors like ginger ale, cream soda, and black cherry, with the exception of one flavor they're famously known for: Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda. The idea of celery-infused soda may cause you to turn your nose up, but it's actually really tasty and has been a staple of the brand since before nifty sites like this existed to share fun tidbits of beverage history. In fact, it might just be the first vegetable-infused soda ever. 

10. Stubborn Soda

This PepsiCo-owned brand has infiltrated the taste buds of Americans in a non-traditional way — it's sold through restaurants and online sites almost exclusively. That means you're more likely to try one of their fountain flavors at smaller chains. Of Stubborn Soda's selection of eight pops, only three are actually available in can form, and can be found at Walmart and Target, amongst others. 

It's made using fair trade sugar cane and puts exciting spins on traditional flavors. Citrus hibiscus orange elevates the typical OJ variety, while lemon berry açai is a crisp and refreshing twist. Black cherry tarragon brings nostalgia to the present day, and pineapple cream soda injects a fruity flare into the flavor. This artisanal approach is intentional and is also why PepsiCo has chosen to keep this craft soda under the radar. With that in mind, the downside to Stubborn Soda is its stubborn decision to not sell through retailers.

9. Bundaberg Brewed Drinks

Boasting a family recipe that captures the craft soda flavor of yesteryear, Bundaberg is the premium choice worth sipping. The Australian-owned beverage brand brews its crafts over the course of seven days, using only real ingredients with careful consideration. Their ginger beer is considered one of the best available. 

Other offerings like the sarsaparilla-infused root beer, pulpy guava, and sun-ripened blood oranges aren't too shabby either. Whether you prefer fruity-flavored sweetness or the zing of ginger, this craft soda brand has what your tongue desires. For better or worse, Bundaberg crafts do tend to be on the sweet side though, maybe even a little too sweet — in other words, prepare for the subsequent sugar rush from drinking more than one. Its root beer is known for its unique, almost medicinal taste. One thing to keep in mind is that it's completely unlike your average store-bought brand and may require a bit of an open mind.

8. Devil's Foot Beverage Company

Up-and-comer Devil's Foot Beverage Company brings organic flare to its array of classic and fruity sodas. Only sourcing real ingredients from trustworthy farmers and food distributors ensures a quality pop-sperience. Devil's Foot soda has a cleaner taste thanks to its use of actual produce. Whereas the ginger beer with scotch bonnets packs an extra peppery kick that's not for the faint of tongue, their sparkling strawberry lemonade is one of nine unique lemonade flavors you can cool down with. Devil's Foot soda is definitely a lemonade-lovers brand of choice.

In our ranking, the brand's decision to focus solely on ginger beers and lemonades is simultaneously its winged sandals and Achilles heel. Basically, they excel at soda-making but only offer a limited selection of flavors. Devil's Foot is also harder to find than other brands, mostly available in the southern states and along the east coast.

7. Dang! That's Good

Each sip of Dang! That's Good is a glimpse into beverage history followed by a kick of flavor and pun-appropriate "Dang! That's Good!" This brand is a no-frills classic-style soda that only makes four flavors (with two diet options), and does them pretty darn well. The root beer is rich and bold, tickling your mouth with its acute fizziness. These nostalgic qualities carry on to its other flavors, which harken back to Bazooka gum and "I Love Lucy" quips. 

In addition to its wintergreen, vanilla, anise and pure cane sugar-infused root beer, they have interesting flavors like butterscotch root beer and Italian cherry soda. The former tastes of wintergreen, mint, and anise-blended butterscotch, while the latter has the fruity taste of maraschino cherries preserved in maraschino juice. Sadly, although a trip down memory lane is sweet, this journey may be too saccharine to stomach. That said, the brand makes some of the best root beer, and it's definitely worth trying because well ... dang, it's good!

6. Virgil's

Soda savants will surely salivate over this handcrafted soda brand. Like Jones Soda, Virgil's was one of the first craft options widely available to soda-loving customers. It packs all of the full-bodied flavors you love with none of the unhealthy ingredients typically found in soda. 

With a focus on traditional flavors, each was made using a specially crafted in-house recipe that brewmasters developed over years. You can expect a smooth and creamy mouthfeel with a decent kick of carbonation. One thing that makes Virgil's stand out is its use of herbs and spices. It gives sodas a uniquely herbaceous taste that may turn some palates off. To give you an idea, its root beer in particular is known for having a slight medicinal quality to it. That makes Virgil's a delicious yet unpredictable choice. Its selections are solid, but not quite consistent enough to land it within the illustrious top five.

5. Boylan Bottling

A mainstay amongst "Best Of" lists, Boylan Bottling was made for those looking for a premium soda experience. Slightly more pricey than other options, Boylan soda earns every dollar and cent with its lineup of classic fountain flavors. You'll enjoy top-notch versions of everything from elevated cane cola to fruity grape, along with other beverage classics like peppery ginger ale and Shirley Temple, which pays homage to the iconic non-alcoholic drink. 

It's also one of the few soda brands that offer the earthy birch root beer along with a curious red creamy flavor. In fact, birch beer was the first flavor that Boylan launched before expanding. Although it isn't made with real ingredients like other premium options, Boylan is definitely one of the best artificially flavored sodas on the market. It's also widely available and comes in long-neck embossed glass bottles, making them an easy find and grab.

4. Sprecher

Fire-brewed using raw Wisconsin honey, Sprecher soda is for serious lovers of the fizz. It's carefully crafted using a method akin to brewing beer, giving it a punch of bold flavor. Along with the usual starting lineup of traditional sodas like cherry cola and grape soda, Sprecher also puts interesting spins on root beer and makes several fruity pops like Orange Dream and Grape to name a few. 

Purists can purchase regular root beer, while adventure seekers can taste maple root beer. If that isn't enough to convince you, Sprecher's root beer was even named the best by the New York Times. Bet you're craving a delicious sip now, huh? If you prefer refreshing to woodsy, you'll no doubt enjoy its apple-flavored option, which is an uncommon fruit used in soda. Sprecher soda flavors can be found in specialty markets like Gelsons and Bristol Farms, along with various other retailers online and around the nation.

3. Cannonborough Beverage Company

In recent years, the art form of craft soda-making has been elevated to new heights. The award-winning Cannonborough Beverage Company knows a thing or two about quality craft, as all of their sodas are made from fresh produce and natural ingredients. From humble beginnings at local farmer's markets in Charleston, South Carolina, to burgeoning nationwide expansion, Cannonborough is the craft soda all the cool kids are drinking. 

The company's approach is simple — source the highest quality ingredients and pair them with a special aromatic component. This fine attention to craft results in surprising flavor blends like honey basil, strawberry jalapeño, and spiced cranberry. Cannonborough has carved out a space entirely its own, offering high-quality refreshments to soda drinkers. You can even order a mystery pack that comes with a combination of flavors to taste test. That said, it's hard to compare Cannonborough to other soda brands because they don't have any traditional flavors, which means their most attractive quality may also limit their overall appeal.

2. Maine Root

One craft soda brand that's figured out how to strike a fine balance between taste and quality is Maine Root. As the name implies, it originated in Maine before spreading to over 7,500 locations worldwide. Founder Matt Seiller initially made it his aim to create an improved root beer — after he accomplished that, he applied the same tenacity to the brand's other sodas. 

Fair trade certified and made with sugar and spices, Maine Root is handcrafted and hands down one of the best organic sodas available. In addition to its drool-worthy root beer, which is ranked one of the best root beers, it also has a classic Mexicane soda, a minty sarsaparilla flavor, spicy ginger brew, and several fruit flavors as well. You'd be hard-pressed to find better brewed goodness. One thing's for sure — with Maine Root, you can enjoy the sugar without the guilt.

1. Olipop

Landing the top spot on our list of top craft soda brands is Olipop. When it comes to taste, quality, and craft, it checks all the right boxes. Several qualities set Olipop apart from other soda brands — namely, its use of real ingredients, sustainable farming, and even probiotic benefits. Olipop uses a special formulation trademarked OLISMART, which contains seven unique botanical blends, plant fibers, and hand-picked probiotics. Trust us, you're not likely to find these seven ingredients in other sodas: cassava root, chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, nopal cactus, calendula flower, kudzu root, and marshmallow root. 

Another indicator of quality is Olipop's website, which transparently shares the benefits of each ingredient. Olipop's selection of flavors will satisfy traditional soda drinkers and fizzy risk-takers alike. Have a nostalgic sip with classics like vintage cola and root beer, or pop open a can of banana cream or doctor goodwin. Whichever piques your palate's interest, you'll get your fill of refreshment and quench your sugary needs.