Thursday, September 25, 2008

Frozen Run Black Bear Mountain Birch, David Beverage Group

Trip to Michigan, Part I

Okay, so I took a trip to Michigan with my pal Phredd. I rode from NYC to wherever-the-heck, MI with dreams of finding mysterious sodas and bizarre drink concoctions. Images of cheap Coke knock-offs sitting on a banjo-strewn porch, shotgun across the knees. Blah blah blah. So I'm going to do a quick series on the things I drank on this trip. I won't cover the boring stuff, nor will I mention the many trips to the bathroom. I'll certainly skirt the fact that I only tasted a lousy five new drinks. Feh.

So first:

It looks like I smeared the camera lens with vaseline
to make the photo look artsy.
Actually, I just like smearing things with vaseline.

With design work like this, I suspect they used "Ctl-C"
to steal this from the internet instead of "Apple-C".

Phredd took this photo. This is one of those "ethical quandry" photographs:
Why didn't the photographer intervene and help the subject,
instead of merely recording the event?

I am now picking a tree to crash the truck into.
Preferably not a birch tree.

Frozen Run Black Bear Mountain Birch, David Beverage Group

First off, I'm not sure what this stuff is actually called. It looks like the name is "Frozen Run" and it's a mountain birch drink, but then one has to parse out where the "black bear" part fits in. Is it black bear flavored? I dunno. So tentatively I'll call it "Frozen Run Black Bear Mountain Birch". It's also not clear what it's supposed to be, but "birch" usually indicates a "beer", so I guess I'll stick with that.

Nice label, eh? I think black bears are sorely underrepresented on soft drinks, and far over represented on mid-western sweat shirts. Bears, wolves, and "phat" Disney characters should go on a sweater strike. And I think that little bear should have a word balloon saying "I sure hope you folks don't mind a cheap clip art bear".

The back has blah-blah about black bears. I skipped along till the word "aroused" caught my eye. Sadly, it wasn't bear porn of any stripe. Not even bear erotica. Maybe, maaaaybeeee, this might be the sort of thing that a literate bear cub might be aroused by, the equivalent of a twelve year old human looking at a National Geographic to be titillated the topless women. I feel it necessary to say that I always read "Nat Geo" for the articles.

You can see I'm stalling. Clearly there is something here I wish to avoid. Oh yes, opening it up. I guess that has to come next. No way about it.

When you do science like this be sure to wear big dopey goggles.
My big dopey lip is puffed out from dental surgery.

When I finally cracked the stuff open, the car was immediately filled with a smell that Phredd described as "1900s medicine". If 1900s nostrums smelled like "fake birch smell X45", then I agree. I'll give it to the Frozen Run Black Bear Mountain Birch - it certainly had a lot of smell. In that I feel I could give it a run for the money.

But that taste. Oh the taste. My initial sip was overwhelmingly foul, but that wasn't the sodas fault. I was recovering from horrid dental surgery and had to keep washing my mouthful of stitched out with Listerine.

The loyal Listerine sallied forth from a bile fortress to defend its turf from the vile plague of birchy black bears. A Tolkienesque battle was fought, heroes died, but the black bears won the day. Sadly, these aren't Beorn bears, but wicked little Biblical she-bears come to devour the naughty children, then cover my tongue in she-bear poop shot through with child-hair and indigestible plastic toys.

Well, maybe it wasn't as dramatic as that. It's more like the she-bears jumped out and yelled "surprise!" and hosed my tongue down with bubble gum flavored silly string. They realized they were at the wrong house and then skulked away. Seriously though, as each sip hit my tongue the first sensation was overwhelming bubble gum. Go figure. After the bubble gum went away, it was standard birch flavoring with too much fizz.

"Tim," says Phredd, "you say everything tastes like bubble gum."

"Phredd," says I, "why do you hate America?"

With a name as cool as "Frozen Run", I had high hopes for this stuff. The bear theme was neat, too. Overall, this feels like a local bottler dumping a generic flavoring packet into their big soda making machine. They just got lucky and made a cool label.

I'm all for small bottlers dumping flavoring packets into big machines, but I also want that small bottler to go the extra yard. Sugar, my friends. That's the key. "Frozen Bear Run Monkey Mountain" lists "corn sweetener" on its ingredients list. While I'm sure it's just another name for high fructose corn syrup, it sounds WORSE than high fructose corn syrup. My god, it sounds awful. It costs nickels more to add sugar and that wee bit of extra investment puts you head and shoulders above the King Corn Colas. Thats the sort of love that makes me order cases of local sodas from Connecticut, even though it's a stupid waste of money.

At this point I thought the story over. The "Froze Rum Bean Bear Beer" sat in the bear beer holder in the truck, half drank and all shunned. The next day Phredd samples it and declares it delicious. Phredd, as you will see, has a questionable sense of taste. His being a vegetarian, I also question his drinking something made of bears.

But Phredd liked it. Maybe after sitting over night, the overkill fizz dampened down into a more manageable flatness. I'm sure that my near diabetic-sugar-shock spittle mixed in with the stuff and livened it up, too.

To sum this stuff up: If I lived in the distribution area, I'd buy two liters of the stuff to take to RPG game nights. That way I'd have an almost-passable drink which the other players would have no interest in sharing. It's sad that my villainous greed so smothers my desire for tasty drinks.

Here's a "behind the scenes" photo of the magic in action.


  1. i went to the poconos for a cmping trip n it was the first time i ever seen frozen run.... when i first tasted it, i looveedd it :D

  2. You people are all nuts. Certifiably.

    Bethebear, your title gives away your terrible bias. Anonymous, how long were you lost in the woods before you staggered out of the underbrush near a discount gas station and bought a bottle of Frozen Run?

  3. You need to try another Frozen Run after your mouth is all healed up. I'm sure that had to affect your taste buds. Every time I go back to PA I bring CASES of it back to MI where nobody has any idea what birch beer is.

  4. "...after your mouth is all healed up"

    Out of context that's an awesome threat.

  5. Frozen run birch has been a staple of pennsylvainia for as long as I can remember. Its one of a few things we can say we got, but its somethin special to us who live here. It is not a poor mans soda or made from a packet flavoring in a soda stream. I agree u need to give it another taste for the first time. You'll love it just like the rest of us.

  6. Here's the deal, latest anonymous: The Frozen Run you grew up with isn't the Frozen Run you drink now. These places change their ingredients, HFCS wasn't a thing until comparatively recently. And it's not just the corn syrup, everything changes.

    Go out and drink a Coke from the convenience store, then drink a Mexican Coke in a tall glass bottle. Tell me which one tastes like the Coke from your youth.

  7. I agree with Phredd. On my way to NJ from Erie last night, I stopped at a rest stop and picked up a Frozen Run...hoping it wasn't HFCS, as everything else was. I drank some of it and left it in the car overnight. This morning, while unloading the car i took a swig and it was yummy!

  8. I LOVE Frozen Run birch beer, i live in the Midwest so my family when they visit bring me a couple of cases of 2 liters to fill me up for awhile. i would love to be able to find an online store to be able to order it myself.
    This also applies to Lebanon bologna as you can't get that out here either so they seal it in a freezer bag and freeze it to ship it to me. nothing better than a lebanon bologna sandwich and an Ice Cold Frozen Run birch beer!!!

    1. I confess that I have my family send me provel cheese from St. Louis...

  9. I live in MD I cant find it any where here I love it

  10. Discovered Frozen Run at a vending machine at the Harrisburg Mall, the only other place in my part of PA that sells RC cola (and I"m from Philly mind you). It's good stuff.

  11. Love birch beer. Love this stuff, even though I wasn't sure what I was buying when I brought it home. Had never seen it in PA before, but it turned up in a tiny local market along with other standard sodas, so I was operating under the assumption it might be birch beer. Good stuff. While I, too, would prefer they use sugar, I thought the fizziness was what it ought to be, and the flavor was right on. Definitely will buy again!

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  13. I know this is an older post, but I just found and tried this for the first time today. It's honestly not bad at all. I don't know where you get the bubblegum taste from. Never had a birch beer but to me it just tasted like root beer with a hint of licorice. Which I don't even like licorice, but this was nice. I think if people like root beer, they'd like this just the same.

  14. I've got to agree. Just tried this for the first time this weekend. Drank some thought it was pretty vile. Left it in the refrigerator overnight. Drank it again when it had lost some of its carbonation and WOW it was so much better.

  15. I've drank Frozen Run for as long as I can remember. I have relatives that live outside Altoona, so we always stock up when we got to visit them.

  16. Just had my first Frozen Run Birch "pop" on a return trip to WV from a Lancaster, PA soccer showcase... wish I had bought two... actually, don't usually drink much pop/soda, but I liked it! Sorta wished I had some leftover to sample this morning..but I did not.

    maybe I can make a deal with someone from that area.. I'll send you some WV pepperoni rolls, you send me some Frozen Run!!

    What a country!!


  17. You need to make "Wild Goose Chase"
    Frozen Run and Grey Goose Vodka!!!

  18. Frozen Run is PHENOMENAL and ANYONE who says otherwise is a LIAR!!! MWAHAHAAA!!

  19. Love at first sip, Wow. Search internet to learn not about Frozen Run Black Bear Birch