When she was asked to come up with some drink specials at Verdant Tea Bar, Eva Duckler (whose brother David co-owns the place) didn’t waste any time. “I got a bit creative with all sorts of drinks I had never tried before,” she says. After a few online searches, multiple batches, and some help from her brother and Midwest Brewing Supplies, the 17-year-old mastered a craft-soda brewing process that grew into Tree Fort Soda.
Eva was no stranger to soda when she started Tree Fort in June (the name connects with nature to reflect botanical ingredients and comes from feelings of nostalgia). As a kid, she tasted every flavor of soda she could get her hands on and even took notes on them (which she admits in retrospect was “super nerdy”). The knowledge paid off—she is Minneapolis’ first producer of botanical craft root beer, available now at Verdant Tea Bar, Linden Hills Co-op, and (as of next week) Seward Community Co-op.
photo courtesy of tree fort soda
So how does she brew the bubbly concoction? First, she takes various herbs, steeps them to extract the flavor, and caramelizes cane sugar. She then mixes everything together, puts it in a beer keg, and hooks it up to CO2. Wait a couple days, and presto, her signature Tree Fort Soda root beer is ready to be served on tap. After giving her micro-brewed creation a try, Eva’s personal touch is evident—the flavor is far from typical root beer. Because it’s made with real cinnamon, ginger, and local honey, I could pick out those specific flavors right away and knew that my bottle was made by hand (A&W and IBC who?).
photo courtesy of Tree Fort Soda
Though root beer is the only product being bottled right now, Eva’s other endeavors include classic ginger ale and cream soda, as well as palate-challenging rose soda and basil-mint soda. Because space is getting a bit tight in Verdant’s kitchen, larger tanks (Eva currently works in five-gallon batches) and an entire Tree Fort warehouse are also in her future.
As the Blake High School grad heads to Wellesley College this fall, she leaves Tree Fort in the hands of a new brewer, but still hopes to take the business as far as she can. Her piece of advice to young aspiring entrepreneurs? “If there’s an opportunity, take it. These last couple months have transformed my life. There are great opportunities out there for everybody.”
Verdant Tea Bar, 2111 E. Franklin Ave., Mpls., 612-223-8907
Linden Hills Co-op, 3815 Sunnyside Ave., Mpls., 612-922-1159