New name, but same power-packed beverage with dozens of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals
By Bob Audette
WENDELL, Mass. — Six years ago, Sara Schley and Joe Laur officially launched MapleMama, a line of nonalcoholic craft maple spritzers.
But the idea had been on the table, the kitchen table actually, for many years before.
“Joe and Sara were experimenting with their SodaStream,” said Kiley Brouillet, who said her title was “employee number one,” having been with the couple since Joe started delivering MapleMama out of the back of his Honda Pilot. “But people in the Deerfield Valley know me as Maple Mama.”
Brouillet said Joe and Sara have a little sugar shack on their Wendell property that produces 30 to 40 gallons of syrup a season. They started to use some of the maple syrup to sweeten fizzy drinks for their kids.
“They would have guests over, and guests would rave about it,” said Brouillet.
The kids started selling it out of a little stand at Wendell Old Home Day.
“All of a sudden, they had a line five to six people deep, more than anybody else on the common, and the people came back for more,” Joe told Wine and Craft Beverage News.
MapleMama Craft Maple Spritzers are only 40 calories, and Brouillet touts the 54 antioxidants and seven vitamins and minerals contained in each drink.
“We’re not just trying to make a buck here,” she said. “For Mama, we’re trying to help people put better things in their bodies.”
The company started with two flavors: cold brew coffee and vanilla. It has expanded the line to include flavors like blueberry pomegranate, ginger lemon and strawberry kiwi.
The 11.5-ounce spritzers can be found all over the tri-state region, including the Vermont Country Deli in Brattleboro, Vt., Foster’s Supermarket in Greenfield and Stonewall Farm in Keene, N.H.
The drinks are also available at Hannaford Bros., Whole Foods Markets and Shaw’s Markets.
Recently, the company has rebranded, so you need to look for the Samara label, though it’s still made by MapleMama.
“The reason for the name change was because we use the maple as a sweetener, not a flavor, and what we found over time was that people were making presumptions that would prevent them from even trying it,” Brouillet said. “Samara is the helicopter-like seed pod that comes from a maple tree.”
Brouillet said MapleMama recently reached a distribution deal with Polar Beverages, the 138-year-old, family-owned producer of sparkling beverages in Worcester.
As the company has grown, it’s outsourced its organic maple syrup, now supplied by sugarers in Vermont and Quebec.
But other than that and the name, not much has changed since Sara and Joe were pumping out concoctions for their kids.
“The origin of our beverage is ‘craft’ by nature, because it was fine-tuned to the desires of a family,” Brouillet said.
She said you can expect to see Samara at local craft fairs and other events this year, including at the 2022 Street Food Festival, brought to you by the Reformer and sponsored by Whetstone Station and Kampfires.
The company is hoping to start visiting local co-ops and other outlets soon to host samplings, too.
Brouillet said she is excited to be getting back out into the community to meet with people and share some of the flavors.
“I’m a born salesperson,” said Brouillet. “My parents quit their jobs and opened an antique store and cafe when I was 12 years old. Entrepreneurship is in my blood.”
Bob Audette has been writing for the Brattleboro Reformer for close to 15 years. When he’s not working or hanging out with his 6-year-old son, he can often be found on one of the many trails leading to the summit of Mount Monadnock, in southern New Hampshire.