Soda-making went from hobby to career for the former real estate lawyer scaling up Brood Soda in Durham.

A self-professed soda-lover, Jon Lehman found name brand sodas like Coca-Cola and Pepsi to be just too sweet. So he started experimenting at home, and after a move from Florida to Durham in 2012, landed on a mix of flavors that combine unique natural ingredients like kola nuts, thai chilis, key lime juice, distilled orange flower water, peppermint and tree bark with soda staples like carbonated water, cane sugar and natural fruit juices. He found North Carolina the best place to start a new business, and Brood was born.

A couple years later, Brood has seven unique flavors that range from subtly sweet to spicy to smoky, as well as limited editions that Lehman rolls out whenever he lands on something tasty. They’re carried in craft breweries, Whole Foods stores, restaurants and novelty shops across the Southeast.

Though soda sales are declining nationally, craft soda is carving out a niche. Volume of craft soda grew 5 percent last year, and sales have grown 26 percent over the last five years.

The Brood website makes it clear that its sodas aren’t necessarily healthy, but Lehman hopes soda-lovers will at least appreciate the natural ingredients and innovation he’s pouring into every batch.

More of the story behind Brood in the video below:

Peppermint + White Grape = Innovation at Craft Soda Maker Brood from Anna Hammill/ExitEvent on Vimeo.