MEDFORD, Ore. — Armed with local honey and a long ingredient list of spices from as far away as Hawaii, a Rogue Valley man is brewing up something special. The only turmeric beverage in the entire country is made in the Rogue Valley, it’s one of several flavors of Wylie’s Honey Brews.
“Turmeric, Ginger, Mate Rose Hibiscus, Tulsa Basil and Root Beer are just some of the flavors,” said Wylie Bettinger. Root Beer was the first flavor he started with several years ago.
“I thought to myself, ‘oh, I would really like a root beer that would be sweetened with honey,’” said Wylie.
However, Wylie couldn’t find it, so he made it.
“Root Beer is a mosaic of flavors, we’ve got all spice, whole all spice, whole anise, cardamom pods, liquorish root, juniper berry,” Wylie described. “This is a sarsaparilla powder but there is lots of flavors involved in the collective taste of what we call Root Beer.”
In a tiny room in Phoenix, Wylie and his assistant, Sarah Crush, mix, juice, brew, and bottle five flavors – plus one bee pollen soda, which is only available at the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market.
“I like the ingredients to speak for themselves for the most part,” said Wylie. “I am not a sales person, I just like making this stuff and making it as best as I possibly can.”
Each blend has a list of simple, and sometimes unusual, ingredients that are always natural.
“We don’t put molasses or carmel coloring and that’s common in most root beers these days,” Wylie explained
One of the most important ingredients in these beverages is honey.
“The benefit with honey as opposed to other sugars, like a cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, is honey is a monosaccharide sugar,” said Wylie. “So, your body doesn’t have to invest energy to actually get the energy from the sugar itself, so it’s more easily digested and you’re less likely to have a lag effect that might come with the artificial sodas that we drink today.”
Unlike most other soda’s, which are carbonated by force, Wylie’s honey brews carbonate during the fermentation process.
“It’s naturally carbonated, so it will feel good in your body,” said Wylie.
However, the natural carbonation does come with a risk. The brew can become a little more unstable than your average can of Coke or Pepsi if you don’t keep it cold. All Wylie’s bottles have a prominently displayed label that reads “Keep Refrigerated.”
Now, because the beverages are fermented, they do contain alcohol. There are lab tests done to make sure the content falls below .05 percent, which allows Wylie’s Honey Brews to be considered a non-alcoholic beverage.