Jones Soda Hatch Chile & Lime Soda Review: This Is One Spicy Soda

Get your bottle opener ready for another whimsical sip from the mischievous carbonation artists at Jones Soda. This time, the flavor cranks up the heat with a lime and Hatch chile blend, a fun desert-themed mix of authentic Southwestern flavors. A tingle of lime, a blast of hot green chiles, and a bunch of bubbles mingle in this groovy green brew, the latest in Jones Soda's apparent quest to capture every flavor on the planet in soda form. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but consider past flavors like Jones Halloween collection's Red Licorice and Caramel Apple. This time, the crafty cola crafts folk have added a splash of heat to temper the sweetness. It's an unexpected twist, even for this creative company.

How exactly does a pepper-flavored soda work? Does the heat added to the carbonation feel like a cherry bomb blasting in the back of your throat, or does a soda with both sweet and searing aspects heat and cool at the same time? When this provocative pop crossed our radar, we knew we had to crack a bottle and find out for ourselves. The suspense practically bubbled while we waited for the first sip.

The ingredients are a sweet mystery

Carbonated water? Check. Cane sugar? You know it. Citric acid, potassium sorbate, and enough food coloring to achieve a nuclear green hue that approximates the color of a fiery chile pepper? Absolutely. But what imbues this dusty desert-green nectar with its powerful essence? The actual combination appears to be a sizzling secret. With green chiles being an agricultural icon native to Southern New Mexico, the Albuquerque Journal took a stab at cracking the soda code in an interview with Jones' brand marketing director, Curt Thompson. As he states about what creates the distinctive pepper flavor component, "It's complicated. I'll say that the flavor is made with both natural and artificial flavors." This is no more helpful than reading the label, but at least the reporter tried.

Not knowing exactly what makes a chile-flavored soda chile-flavored may be off-putting for beverage fans who like a little more insight before guzzling flaming hot green soda. Unfortunately, the magic ingredient is anyone's guess. Whatever it is, there's undeniable spice in the flavor notes. If the prospect of a soft drink as scorching as it is sweet is a deterrent, then Jones will not be your kind of soda.

Jones' peppery pop comes with a piping-hot price tag

If you're looking for a case of this limited-edition sipper, you can find a 12-pack for $44.99 on the Jones site. If you're a glutton for punishment, you can go for the 24-pack for $79.99 and save $15. Craft sodas are usually expensive, thanks to the extra work that goes into making specialty sodas that sparkle. But dropping between $50 and $100 for an artful drink you may not like isn't advisable, no matter what your beverage budget might be. The downside is that you could be left with most of a case of soda you don't like. You'll also be out a lot of cash, which is actually another downside. We're still looking for the upside here.

A better bet is to test out Hatch Chile & Lime with a one-bottle purchase. You can find single-serving options at soda shops for $2.99, a more reasonable prospect for tasting such an out-there option for the first time. If you like it enough to invest a little more, try a four-pack at Walmart for $5.28. Only when you know you can handle the heat should you consider a whole case.

This fire will burn for a limited time only

Though Hatch Chile & Lime made its debut on the soda scene in time to steam up the sweltering summer months, the Jones folks give no indication as to how long this fiery fizzer will be on the market. Other flavors from the company have been seasonal or holiday-related, making it easy to determine when the clock will run out. With a summer release, it makes sense to anticipate some new flavor sensation coming in around fall to knock this one off the shelf.

In the event that you find the flavor tingles your taste buds in all the right ways, you might want to stock up so you don't miss out. A spot of reassurance on the Jones site: these bottles are said to have a shelf life of two years, giving you plenty of time to work your way through your stash. There's always a chance that brisk sales will extend the selling window or prompt a reissue sometime in the future. For now, if you're intrigued enough to try it at all, you'll definitely want to get Hatch Chile & Lime while it's hot.

It falls in line with the other imaginative drinks in the Jones Soda pantry

In addition to using only cane sugar in its creations, Jones Soda has also established a reputation for conjuring daring and unexpected flavors that test the imagination of consumers, even for brave drinkers who love embarking on a wild flavor ride. Hatch Chile & Lime is in line with other questionable formulations. Case in point: Jones' Thanksgiving flavors, a multi-pack that replicates a four-course meal, including mashed potatoes and gravy — ugh. Jones' springtime dessert flavors, Sugar Cookie and Key Lime Pie, are more in line with familiar soda styles. But while it's easy to imagine how sweet treat-inspired sodas will taste, savory varieties can be a much more Willy Wonka-style adventure that ends, unsurprisingly, with mixed results.

Flavor is only one aspect of this wacky soda. Part of the Jones Soda mythos is the customizable label, a feature that allows customers to send in their own images to grace the front of Jones bottles. For Hatch Chile Lime, Jones chose a selection of eclectic Southwestern icons, pictures ranging from a serene Native American elder to a reclining cat in a sombrero, adding an element of visual fun to the whole experience.

Nutrition in this scorching soda is slightly more favorable than others

Jones Hatch Chile & Lime is soda, so its nutrition is questionable, at best. Even the presence of lime and pepper flavoring in the secret formula doesn't provide nutrition, even in a modest quantity. However, it does have the limited physiological benefit of opening your sinuses and clearing your nasal passages, thanks to the Hatch chili spice. You'll find 100 calories and 25 grams of sugar — one-half of the recommended daily allowance — swimming around in the bottle, which represents one full serving. This is considerably less than the 160 calories and 38 grams of sugar found in Jones' cream soda and the 180 calories and 46 grams of sugar in the company's root beer.

Maybe adding chile flavoring helps dial back the need for sweetness. With the lime standing largely in the background, there's a definite reduction in the cloying sweetness that usually comes with drinking a full bottle of any soda. While you shouldn't depend on Hatch Chile & Lime as anything more than a source of fun refreshment, it does end up being a less dubious selection for soda fans looking to keep their sugar consumption under control.

The fiery kick of Hatch Chile & Lime brings the heat

The unmistakable aroma of peppers hits your nose as the lid pops — sniff too deeply and prepare for a coughing attack. Your first sip introduces the subdued sweet tanginess of lime, like the watered-down syrup from the bottom of a melted snow-cone. This is not a bad thing, as the acidity tempers the overwhelming sugar hit typical for sodas. The pepper kicks in almost immediately and grabs the wheel, forcing the lime to ride shotgun and keep quiet for the rest of the ride. It starts a little fire in your belly, or more specifically, at the bottom of your throat. The embers last long after the last swig, as does the chile essence, leaving a not-unpleasant afterburn on your taste buds.

The flavor is so evocative of more sophisticated drinking experiences that a drop or two of tequila and a squeeze of lime will transform your glass into an easy, makeshift margarita with a little more heat than usual. This twisted concoction with tequila is so savory, in fact, that it quickly became our preferred way to finish off the bottle. We're not saying you have to. But you'll probably want to.