In the age of craft beer, Rambling House Soda is focusing on a different craft beverage. However, beer does play a role in the successful soda shop that recently acquired 1,600 square-feet of new production space at 2628 N. High St.
About five years ago while working for Elevator Brewing, Owner John Lynch had an idea.
“I just decided that I wanted to open up a little brewpub in the Clintonville area,” he says. The more he researched and looked at where the craft beer market was going, “I started thinking about soda and about how there are a lot of similarities between the two products,” Lynch says.
There was a huge explosion of growth in the craft beer market, but completely untapped potential in craft soda.
Rambling House started small in 2014. Until the expansion, everything was happening in their space at 310 E. Hudson, from production to live music on the weekends. Lynch says they were using the space and the customers that came in as a test. It’s a test they have seemingly passed with flying colors.
“We started with five accounts because that’s all the kegs we had space for,” Lynch says. The new production space should allow Rambling House to increase its soda output five times over.
“Probably the biggest change for us is a much larger cooler to store kegs and bottles, and a much larger tank to carbonate water,” Lynch says. “That’s been our biggest roadblock is the amount of water we can carbonate at once. With those two changes we’ll be able to just produce a lot more.”
With the expansion, Rambling House will also be moving into the bottling market. Lynch expects a mix of bottle and draft accounts going forward, adding to their already established presence around town.
“The very first place we ever got into was the Ohio Taproom over in Grandview,” Lynch says. “Our newest account is the new Lineage Brewing in Clintonville.” Rambling House Soda is also available at the Torpedo Room, Chintz Room, Weiland’s Market and Growl.
“Three of our highest volume accounts are Seventh Son, Bodega and The Crest,” Lynch adds. “One of our accounts we are probably the most excited to get into with the expansion is Whole Foods.” He also sees potential at Lucky’s and The Hills.
Lynch says making a soda that just tastes really great has been a contributing factor to their success. He spent time researching and developing recipes before finalizing the arsenal of classic and more inventive flavors.
“The cola was the first flavor we came up with,” Lynch says. He heard a radio description of the supposed original recipe for Coke and modeled the Rambling House version after it, incorporating flavors of orange, lemon and nutmeg.
“We knew we wanted to have a ginger beer because it’s such a popular drink in cocktails right now,” Lynch adds. Rounding out the classics is a root beer with sarsaparilla and sassafras roots.
At the Rambling House Soda shop, patrons can experience a whole variety of flavors, with each week generally bringing a new specialty.
“We’ve probably done at least 60 different one-off flavors,” Lynch notes. There’s fruity combos like strawberry or blueberry vanilla, and on the sweeter side, a salted caramel and a number of chocolate sodas. Drier sodas like basil or lavender lend themselves to cocktails.
While some sodas stand alone, Lynch wants their creations to go into local cocktails.
“For our draft keg sales, the main target audience is slightly upscale or craft bars that just really care about what’s going in to their cocktails,” he says. As he points out, it’s never made sense to him to put a local liquor into a cocktail then use a mass-produced high-fructose soda to mix it with.
Those enjoying a locally crafted cocktail at Rambling House will soon have a little something to go with it as well. The newly freed up space will be used to create a pop-up kitchen concept from Zach James of Paddy Wagon. Lynch says the kitchen should be up and running within the month.
For more information, visit theramblinghouse.com.
Photo by Jenna Taylor.