Fitz’s teams up with other local brands to develop new flavors

Bottles of Fitz’s new soda flavors, Ginger Beer and Coffee Cola, are featured alongside some Fitz’s classics, Black Cherry and Orange Cream. The new flavors are currently only available at Fitz’s, Pi Pizzeria and Kaldi’s Coffee, although there may be plans to expand the products in the future.

Fitz’s, a St. Louis-based restaurant and bottling company regionally famous for its root beer, has now partnered with other local restaurants to create new flavors.

The bottling company teamed up with other local restaurant favorites to develop a co-branded Ginger Beer with Pi Pizzeria and a Coffee Cola with Kaldi’s Coffee.

While Fitz’s opened its Loop location and bottling company in 1993, the company has never before shared its label with other brands.

The new flavors underwent research, development and testing for over a year, and were released in the St. Louis locations of their respective brands on August 18.

While Fitz’s co-founder and alumnus of the Washington University School of Law, Michael Alter, contacted several local companies with his idea for the project, he’s especially excited to work with businesses that share a similar, local-focused philosophy.

“We were ‘locavores’ way before I heard the word ‘locavores,’” Alter said of Fitz’s. “We’re based here in St. Louis, that’s our home, and over the years, we’ve seen businesses come up like Kaldi’s and Pi that share the same philosophy about being a craft company, and locally-based.”

With Kaldi’s, Alter said, trying a Coffee Cola was a natural choice.

Kaldi’s Coffee Cola is made with all natural flavors, mixing Kaldi’s cold-brewed espresso 700 blend, into a new Fitz’s soda mixture just before bottling. Coffee Cola is Fitz’s first caffeinated beverage, and it contains about as much caffeine as 1/4 cup of coffee.

According to Alter, Coffee Cola was the more challenging of the two soda flavors to develop, due to certain components of the coffee that make it difficult to bottle. During research and testing rounds, though, the two companies were able to develop a micron filtering system to remove those components.

“I don’t know if we were the first to ever do it,” said Director of Marketing for Kaldi’s Coffee, Frank McGinty. “I’ve never seen it before, like I’ve seen bottled iced coffee and I’ve actually seen some that’s been carbonated before, but this is the first I’ve ever seen of an actual coffee cola. And it’s actually got a really great flavor, it’s really unique and it’s not overpowering coffee or cola, but it’s a good balance.”

Alter was equally excited about developing such a unique and original product.

“I’d never heard of it before either, which is kind of the fun thing about being in the business, you know, to create something new, something different, something people will appreciate,” he said.

The Ginger Beer soda flavor, too, had its own set of challenges and kinks to be worked out. The ratios and proportions of spicy ginger flavor, cane sugar sweetness and carbonation were all tweaked through several rounds of testing until both parties thought the recipe was right.

“We worked… to get the whole combination right so we’d get something that was kind of unique, and work toward a flavor profile that would be best for our store. We wanted it to be something that we could use in cocktails as well as something that someone would want to drink a whole bottle of, and I think that’s what we kind of came to that happy medium,” said Steven Caravelli, Corporate Chef of Pi Pizzeria.

While Alter said these two sodas are still “fringe” or specialty products, he is excited about the collaborative project and pleased with its results.

“It kind of puts a smile on my face because they both came out so good,” Alter said. “They’re on completely opposite ends of the taste spectrum.”

While the product is currently offered only locally in each of the three brand’s several St. Louis area locations, there may be plans to expand the co-branded products in the future.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening at Washington University and beyond.