Bottles of Cronk are shown in this recent handout photo. (Cold Garden Beverage Company, Trevor Cox)

‘Cronk is the drink’: New take on old beverage sells out quickly in Calgary

Cold Garden brewed up 1,800, 375-millilitre bottles

The local news section of a Calgary Herald newspaper from 1883 began with a one-word paragraph: “Cronk.”

Interspersed between articles were similarly terse and mysterious phrases: “Cronk is good.” “Buy Cronk.” ”Cronk is the drink.”

A Calgary brewery, inspired by the enigmatic ads, has resurrected Cronk. Cold Garden Beverage Co. began selling stubby bottles of the fizzy, herbal-tasting beverage in its tap room Wednesday morning and ran out that night. More should be available online soon.

“I think, overall, it’s a success,” said Trevor Cox, brewer at Cold Garden.

“I think it really tastes nice when it’s cold and carbonated.”

Paul Fairie, a community health researcher at the University of Calgary, makes an occasional pastime of perusing old digitized newspapers and he often posts on Twitter the oddities he comes across.

“Oh God. I’ve got to learn more about this,” Fairie recalled thinking when he encountered the Cronk ads in June.

Cronk went viral. People posted photos of antique bottles that once contained the drink. Someone unearthed a recipe that calls for sassafras, sarsaparilla, hops, chamomile, cinnamon, ginger, green tea and molasses.

The owners of Cold Garden decided to have a go at brewing Cronk.

“The fact that it hadn’t been produced in over 100 years made us kind of interested to see what it would taste like. We couldn’t really find anywhere where anyone had said they had tasted it,” Cox said.

“The only way to find out was to brew it ourselves.”

Getting all the ingredients was tough during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Silk Road Spice Merchant, a shop near the brewery, helped procure what was needed.

The only diversion from the original recipe was leaving out sassafras. That’s because it contains a substance believed to cause cancer and Health Canada has banned it from being used in food.

The brewery used mint, burdock root and other ingredients to mimic the flavour profile of sassafras.

The first attempt at Cronk was a foul-tasting flop.

The problem was the type of molasses.

“The black strap molasses was just way too thick and you could not get any of the other flavours. It was just basically molasses fermented,” said Cox.

“So we used a different type of molasses and the second batch turned out to be exactly what we think it should have tasted like.”

Cox said the concoction has the taste of an herbal liqueur, like Jaegermeister, that’s been diluted to four per cent alcohol content and carbonated.

“It’s meant to be a light beverage.”

Cold Garden brewed up 1,800, 375-millilitre bottles. There was a lineup soon after the brewery opened on Wednesday.

Proceeds are going to the Alex Community Health Centre and to Heritage Calgary.

Some bottles were set aside for Fairie, who was expecting Cronk to taste like “maybe a nice-sipping cough syrup.”

Fairie said Cronk provided a surprising and welcome break from the COVID-19 doldrums.

“I couldn’t have searched for a more bizarre kind of way to spend a month-and-a-half or two months of the pandemic — just finding some weird thing that’s a little bit harmless and a little bit fun to get yourself involved in.”

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Trending Now

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Westerner Park audit finds ‘gross operational mismanagement, gaping holes and lack of controls,’ says councillor

Two councillors question audit’s conclusion no inaccuracies were presented to the governance board

160 new COVID-19 cases reported in Alberta on Tuesday

Province now has 1,571 active cases

Lack of nurses stressing Red Deer hospital staff, says union

‘We don’t have enough nurses to do the work that’s required’

Reports of horse fever confirmed in central Alberta

Alberta horse owners are on the alert for the spread of a… Continue reading

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ‘keeper Dayne St. Clair makes most of MLS opportunity with Minnesota

Canadian ‘keeper Dayne St. Clair makes most of MLS opportunity with Minnesota

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

Forge FC to play in El Salvador on Oct. 22 in CONCACAF League preliminary round

Forge FC to play in El Salvador on Oct. 22 in CONCACAF League preliminary round

Canada’s top coaches connect to navigate relationships with athletes

Canada’s top coaches connect to navigate relationships with athletes

No matter who wins the finals, Kentucky will have champions

No matter who wins the finals, Kentucky will have champions

Canadian Denis Shapovalov advances to second round at French Open

Canadian Denis Shapovalov advances to second round at French Open

Titans have NFL’s 1st COVID-19 outbreak; next game still on

Titans have NFL’s 1st COVID-19 outbreak; next game still on

“It’s a marvel” – Canada’s Levins to race in London marathon bubble Sunday

“It’s a marvel” - Canada’s Levins to race in London marathon bubble Sunday

Most Read