To Your Good Health

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ERTH is a refreshing new craft beverage—without the alcohol

By Liza Long
Photos Emma Thompson

The holidays offer numerous opportunities to celebrate the season with family, friends, and co-workers, often with an adult beverage. But what do you drink at a holiday party when you’re not drinking? Fortunately, the days of flat tonic water, warm Diet Coke, or too-sweet sparkling cider in a champagne flute are over. The #SoberCurious movement has created a healthy interest in complex and delicious craft beverages, and one of the most passionate makers, ERTH Beverage Company, bottles small-batch botanical craft sodas right here in Garden City.

I first discovered ERTH at the 8th Street Capitol City Farmer’s Market on a hot July day. I almost walked past the bustling booth, thinking it was just another local brewery. Then the ERTH name and logo caught my eye, and $5 later, I was hooked. I tried a can of the Raspberry Ginger Switchel, one of ERTH’s most popular beverages, which is based on an old Farmer’s Almanac recipe for “Haymaker’s Punch.” This was the delicious, refreshing, barely sweet beverage I had been waiting for since I decided to quit alcohol last year. I’m not alone in choosing sobriety for health reasons: So many people are now sober-curious that the New York Times ran a feature article on the movement last summer.

In a blog post for Medium, ERTH holistic nutritionist and master herbalist Sam Chaffin-Benson, who created the company with her partner, biologist, former chef, and craft-beer cellarman Eric Herrera, explained how they named their botanical craft soda company after an 8-day river trip: “Unlike naming a child, naming a business also allows for a unique opportunity in accountability. A daily reminder. A moral compass of sorts,” Sam wrote. “ERTH is a reminder of what is important. It’s not just where we source our ingredients; it is our home.”

When I sat down with Sam and Eric at Roots Zero Waste Market to discuss the growth of their popular beverage company, Eric told me more about the switchel I had tried.  “It’s the original Gatorade,” he explained. “Farmers would drink this to stay hydrated in the hot fields.” The switchel, brewed in small batches of ginger, apple cider vinegar, and local honey, tastes a bit like a sparkling kombucha, refreshing and energizing.

While Eric oversees the switchels, Sam’s passion is her complex botanical craft sodas. Sam and Eric reminded me that in the good old days, a soda was a medicinal drink designed as an elixir for a variety of ailments; by using natural locally sourced ingredients (when possible), they are creating a modern elixir as a healthy alternative to mass-produced, sugar-saturated sodas. Sam’s background as an herbalist using Western herbs within the Chinese formulaic system informs her unique and intentional combinations of ingredients.

Until late 2019, the couple brewed their popular concoctions, including Huckleberry Holy Basil Jun-Kombucha and Schizandra Limeade, in 30-gallon, 250-can small batches and sold their beverages at the Capitol City Farmers Market and a few select locations, including Roots Zero Waste Market, Hyde Perk Coffee, Edge Brewing’s pub on 10th Street, and Lark & Larder. ERTH’s new equipment will allow them to produce on a larger scale while still maintaining the commitment to local sourcing and partnerships that makes their beverages unique to the Pacific Northwest. “We want to continue to support the community that has supported us,” Sam told me.

If you’re waiting until Dry January to switch to nonalcoholic beverages, Eric pointed out that all of ERTH’s all-natural, honey-sweetened locally sourced beverages are the ideal cocktail mixers—they’ve even provided pairing suggestions right on the cans. “If you’re going to drink alcohol, why not enjoy something that was designed to make you feel better after a hangover?” Eric laughed.

As for my holiday party this year, I already know what I’ll be serving: An array of colorful botanical craft sodas from ERTH Beverage Company. And I hope that more of my favorite local restaurants and bars start to carry ERTH’s delicious and refreshing drinks. Cheers!

For more information: www.erthbevco.com

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