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

Island Corridor launches survey to determine importance of Vancouver Island rail line

“ICF remains 100 per cent committed to the restoration of full rail service on Vancouver Island”

Cowichan Aquatic Centre will reopen on Oct. 13

But facility will only be open on a limited basis for time being

Editorial: Pandemic election will be a challenge

We hope our citizens will step up. Voting is both our right and our duty.

UPDATE: Hundreds march against location of safe injection site in Duncan

A Voice for Our Children opposes centre being near schools, recreation sites

Vancouver Island under a thunderstorm watch tonight

Environment Canada forecasts downpour and possible thunder and lightning

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

B.C. Green leader says NDP abandoning environmental plan

Horgan’s claim of unstable government false, Furstenau says

Transgender B.C. brothers debut fantasy novel as author duo Vincent Hunter

‘Transgender people are being misrepresented in popular fiction and media, and we aim to change that’

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

‘Won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving:’ Trudeau says COVID-19 2nd wave underway

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Most Read