By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 08, 2011 at 1:06 PM

When we introduced you to Big Bay Brewing in Shorewood late last year, co-founder Jeff Garwood promised that the brewer would add a line of gourmet sodas, too.

If you've visited the tasting room, 4517 N. Oakland Ave., in the past few weeks, you likely already know that Garwood has made good on that vow.

And now, Big Bay's Oh Buoy! Cherry Cola and Pierjumper Twisting Citrus are now available in 12-ounce bottles with twist-0ff caps, too.

The sodas are for sale in four-packs at the tasting room and store and at retailers statewide. Some cafes, shops and restaurants will also sell individual bottles.  Suggested retail is from $3.99 to $4.19 per four-pack.

The hand-crafted sodas, developed with Oak Creek's Black Bear Bottling Group, are all-natural and you can taste the real sugar in there, too.

Garwood says that gourmet sodas are a natural for a small brewer like Big Bay.

"We see the growth of gourmet sodas running parallel to that of craft beer, and believe our products will appeal to those who appreciate hand-crafted quality whether it's in a beer or a non-alcoholic beverage," he said.

"It's been exciting to see the innovation and growth that's been happening with craft sodas and we're pleased to deliver two soda flavors made with the same passion and attention to detail as our craft beers."

We tried the sodas recently and they both possess a nice, cool snappiness that is perfect for the heatwaves that summer has been laying on us.

Garwood says that while the sodas have been available at the tasting room, customers haven't been shy about dishing up ideas for blending the sodas with beer.

That, added Garwood, mirrors Big Bay's intentions. While developing the sodas, the Big Bay folks were already thinking about new concoctions, like pairing the Pierjumper's citrus tang with Big Bay's Wavehopper Kölsch Style Ale for an interpretation of a German Radler-type quaff.

One customer suggested mixing the cherry cola with Big Bay's Boatilla Amber Ale.

"We've been pleasantly surprised at the innovative ideas our consumers have brought to us for mixing our gourmet sodas and craft beers; and we see them as a way to provide even greater variety to beer drinkers looking for a lighter alternative or a different flavor profile," said Garwood.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.