Words & Photos by Mobley Brandenburg.
As if Athens could get any hipper, there’s a new kid on the block. A southern craft soda company is making its way across town. Paul and Carla Kooistra, founders of New Creation Soda Works, are excited to spruce up the soda scene around the Classic City. They take pride in being the first and only craft soda company in Athens.
Paul and Carla are proud to call Athens home with their three daughters, Carson (15), Molly (13), and Ava (11). They know that people in Athens love local and are open minded when it comes to supporting new businesses. Paul shared his enthusiasm by stating, “we can’t imagine starting a business anywhere else.”
Paul and Carla have always had a desire to be entrepreneurs and they’ve both been gifted with creative minds. Paul was inspired at a young age by his grandfather’s soda collection in Duluth, Minnesota. He shared, “the soda idea has always been tucked away in my memories.” He remembers being intrigued by all of the cool flavors and different colors as a kid. He continued, “we think God has provided us with the circumstances for our desire and our creativity to come together and we think the environment is right for craft soda.”
Carla and Paul know that starting a business will have its own set of challenges. One of the greatest hurdles was gaining enough courage to take the risk. Regulations can be difficult when starting a business in the food and beverage world. Paul and Carla hope to eventually change the soda palette in Athens. In the meantime, they want people to enjoy the creativity and uniqueness that their sodas have to offer.
New Creation Soda Works is developing a line of both year-round and seasonal sodas that are fresh, flavorful, and fun. Their most popular flavor, “Nada,” a strawberry-habanero soda, is described as having “a sweet and fruity beginning followed by a warm habanero finish.” It contains locally grown habanero peppers and strawberries picked from Washington Farms in Watkinsville. It’s known to be “best enjoyed on a creaky porch listening to sounds of the south and doin’ ‘Nada.’”
The best news? The sodas are much better for you than your everyday soda. All natural, no preservatives, local ingredients, and less sugar are just a few ways to describe these liquid refreshers.
So where can you find these delicious drinks? New Creation Soda Works has been collaborating with several local hot spots around town. You can find it in a keg being served on tap at Southern Brewing Company, and in bottles at The National, The Rook and Pawn, and Heirloom Café. Jittery Joes in Watkinsville is also on board. Stay tuned for details and updates on how to purchase the syrups so you can mix up your own creation and look for New Creation on Facebook or Instagram.
Be on the lookout this fall for The Pilgrim, a limited release that contains hints of plum and apricot. It’s great on its own but it also pairs well with bourbon. Perfect for a fall tailgate! Keep an eye out for their new label designed by Young Athenians, the same talented folks who designed the logos behind Creature Comforts. The craft soda market is on the rise and the best is certainly yet to come.