Root Beer Reviews
Reviewing the Best (and worst) in Root Beer, by John and Fred (and sometimes Jo)
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
John: Good scent, rich and spicy. On the tongue is vanilla, cinnamon, and hint of clove. This is a root beer with spice. Unfortunately any complexity this root beer might otherwise have had is lost under a wash of too-sugary sweetness. The syrupy aftertaste lingers and is unpleasant. Not awful, but I wouldn't drink it a second time. ** Sorry, Rover.
FRED: A GOOD ROOT BEER BUT A BIT TOO SWEET AND SPICY. **
Saturday, December 15, 2012
John: Wow, this is a strong brew. Very strong anise. Very strong nutmeg--moreso than other root beers. And VERY strong clove flavor to add a little spice. This is a bold, sweet, spicy beer! There is nothing shy about this root beer, so I'm not shy about decorating it with our very acclaimed **** four star ranking. Try it.
FRED: VERY GOOD ROOT BEER. TOO STRONG FOR MY TASTE. ***
Thursday, August 2, 2012
John: Nice nose, but rather syrupy and quite tart, with a metallic-like zing on the tastebuds, as if from sour berries or sour grape soda. Unusual, not bad, just kinda weird. ***
FRED: REFRESHING MILD OLD STYLE ROOT BEER. VERY SLIGHT HINT OF LEMON FLAVOR ****
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
John: Crisp, refreshing, a little watery, and with a hint of a flavor I might describe as "mapleberry." Totally inoffensive. ***
FRED: VERY GOOD SIMPLE THRIST QUENCHING ROOT BEER. NOT OVERPOWERING. ****1/2
Friday, July 27, 2012
Gale's Root Beer
John: A sweet and delicious root beer, the strong spices of cinnamon and clove are this brew's hallmark. I hardly taste the vanilla, and not the ginger at all, so she can leave that out of future batches. Strong, rich stuff like thick black Moraccan coffee. ****
FRED: GOOD FLAVOR. A BIT TOO SWEET. ***
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
John: Good right off the bat. Crisp, cool, refreshing, sweet and strong. Fizzes like a cold root beer float and the zesty vanilla sizzles on your tongue. Good to sip or gulp down. A top notch brew, worth seeking out. ****
FRED: GOOD ROOT BEER. LITTLE DIFFERENT TASTES REFRESHING AND SATISFYING. ****
Monday, April 16, 2012
Tommyknockers were mean little elves who harrassed workers in the gold mines, according to Colorado superstition. In 1859 they got into the Root Beer business and this brew was born! These elves do things a little differently, brewing with such exotica as pure maple syrup and Tahitian vanilla extract. Can these little half-pints measure up?
JOHN: A strong nose of maple syrup is immediately apparent, which also lands on the tastebuds. A tangy, slightly fruity flavor mixes with the maple, which is not altogether pleasing. Only a hint of the Tahitian vanilla extract, but a mother lode of maple syrup aftertaste. It might taste better on Pancakes. **
FRED: DOES NOT TASTE LIKE A ROOT BEER. TOO MUCH VANILLA AND MAPLE SUGAR TASTE. *
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Well, well, well, a Connecticut Root-Beer has found its way into our court. Avery's seems to go for the "less-is-more" approach in their label. I like the label; will I like the root beer??
JOHN: Not unlike the label, there's a lot missing here. Quite watery, not sweet, just a hint of anise. The taste is pure, but elusive. Not much there, but what is there, is not objectionable. **
FRED: GOOD ROOT BEER. EASY TO DRINK. TOUCH OF ANISE. WEAK BUT REFRESHING. THE AFTERTASTE LINGERS THOUGH. **
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The rising sun shines to celebrate our 60th root beer, a milestone for this blog. This is so exciting I can hardly stand it, so let's get right to the review of Caruso's Legacy Robusto Root Beer!
John: For a "robusto" root beer, this stuff is actually pretty mild. Not overly sweet, it is a smooth, dignified root beer, suitable for sipping while listening to a Verdi opera on a Saturday night. However, towards the end it starts to get a little flat and watery, and the aftertaste is syrupy and lingers. **
FRED: STRONG FLAVORFUL WITH MANY FLAVORS. NOT A FAVORITE. **
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
We all know and love Langer's juice... but who knew they also made root beer? Well, this Los Angeles-based juice empire claims they also produce a "premium" root beer with "Madagascar Vanilla Extract" and "a touch of honey." And, like their juice, they use absolutely no artifical colors or flavors. This could be interesting.
John: A scent of fresh, robust vanilla cream wafts from the tasting glass, and a smooth, creamy, mildly exotic brew greets the palate. This one is both pleasantly sweet, and refreshing, an unusual combo. The nose is really, really pleasing; I could just sit here and sniff it all day. I won't lie, this bottle went fast, it was that good. After almost 60 root beers, it takes a winner to stand out above the crowd, and this one does. ****
FRED: SWEET AND SMOOTH BUT NOT OVERPOWERING. GOOD ROOT BEER FLAVOR ****
Friday, September 30, 2011
Myers Avenue Red Root Beer
Uh oh. Every once in a while something like this manages to sneak through. A renegade "root beer". This one offers an amber tinge and a nose of Tree Top apple juice.
John: Mild sweetness of cinnamon apple juice, a splash of echinecia, and a drop of alka-seltzer. Maybe it will help a cold. Not bad, but not root beer as we would like to understand it. **
FRED: WHY THIS IS CALLED ROOT BEER I DON'T KNOW. IT DOES NOT SMELL OR TASTE OF ROOT BEER. THEREFORE NO COMMENT.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Saranac Root Beer
1888. Quite a year. Jack the Ripper was mutilating his victims in London, Vincent van Gogh was mutilating himself in France, the "Great Blizzard of '88" left more than 400 people dead along the east coast, and the National Geographic Society was founded in Washington, D.C. In the midst of all this chaos, a brewery was founded in the foothills of the Adriondack mountains of New York. Today, Saranac (Iroquois for "cluster of stars") is a thriving beverage company that prides itself on all its beers...including root.
JOHN: Hits your palate with the flavor of a delicious vanilla ice cream soda. A gently frothy texture, and a pleasing, unobtrusive taste of vanilla and sassafras bark. It's been a while since we've enjoyed a root beer this good. No fancy ingredients on the label, and--get this-- they use high fructose corn syrup instead of pure cane sugar. Guess all that stuff doesn't really matter. ****
FRED: GOOD OLD FASHIONED ROOT BEER. GOOD FROTH AND GOOD SIMPLE TASTE ****
Monday, September 19, 2011
In 1863, while the Civil War was raging, and the 15th Regiment of New Hampshire was spilling their blood in the name of preserving the Union, Squamscot Beverages was founded in Newfields, NH. Still boasting their original recipe, Squamscot invites you to "experience the past...one sip at a time." So as we hoist our glass to the memories of the lost souls of the glorious 15th, we can share a taste in time, and know the same liquid refreshment as they did, all those years ago. But as their last breaths escaped them on the battlefield, did they whisper the name "Squamscot"?
John: Though the ingredients boast a dose of clove oil, that flavor is buried underneath what is yet another excessively sweet root beer. The sticky-sweetness coats your mouth and leaves a distinct sensation of sugar sticking to your teeth. The aftertaste is slightly bitter. **
FRED: HAS A TASTE LIKE DIET ROOT BEER. *
Saturday, September 17, 2011
A simple label. An imposing name. Rhode Island's Empire root beer may be from the smallest state, but that doesn't mean it can't be tremendous in scope and massive in taste!
John: Nothing fancy here. No unusual flavors, no strong spice, no honey, mint, or vanilla. Just tastes like root beer--but an extremely sweet root beer. Not rich, just sweet. Sugary sweet. It's good, but you gotta have a sweet tooth. ***
FRED: GOOD BASIC ROOT BEER. TOO SWEET AND SYRUPY. LINGERING AFTERTASTE **
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
With a stately coat of arms adorning their label, Washington state's very own Bedford's Root Beer may be a root beer fit for a king!
John: It pours light with no froth whatsoever, and has a distinctive nose of blueberry syrup. A crisp zing of cherry juice dominates the flavor of this root beer, with a slightly acrid aftertaste. It's not bad, and certainly different from your run of the mill root beer, but somehow, just not good enough to join the 3-star club. The aftertaste is a bit sticky and lingers. **
FRED: VERY DIFFERENT FLAVOR. EXOTIC. NO FROTH. GUMMY. **
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Maine Root Beer
The only root beer we've encountered so far to be labeled "Fair Trade Certified," and with a bare bones handcrafted ingredient list that reads: carbonated pure water, Fair Trade Certified organic cane juice, and spices, let's hope this hippie tonic strikes us as more than just "Fair."
John: A nice frothy head and robust nose leads to a spicy root beer with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. These Christmas-like spice cake flavors give way to a slightly medicinal sweetness and lingering aftertaste that taints the finish and knocks it from four stars down to three. ***
FRED: GOOD FROTHY ROOT BEER. SLIGHT MEDICINAL FLAVOR AND AFTERTASTE ***
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Holy Moly! Founded in 1851 in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, this eponymously named soda company promises to deliver antebellum-era root beer taste in a 21st century bottle! Can't wait to try this stuff.
John: Dark on the pour and rich on the nose. This is not a sweet root beer, but one whose strengths lie in its spicy, minty, rooty characteristics. And there are many shades to this hue: one detects vibrant, fresh wintergreen, earthy sassafras root, bitter black licorice, and sweetly mild after-dinner mints. A surprisingly complex blend of these pointed flavors balances out into a complex taste profile--sharp on the attack, yet mellow and subtle on the tongue, leaving one the enjoyment of unwrapping its mysteries. Until I drink more, I just cannot reward this singular beverage with anything less than ****.
FRED: DARK RICH AND COMPLEX. NOT TOO PLEASANT AFTERTASTE. NOT TOO REFRESHING. ***
Sunday, July 31, 2011
The first root beer to come to us from America's Hat, The Pop Shoppe is the crown jewel of Canadian soda pop companies. Dating from the 60s, this Burlington, Ontario pop maker has been satisfying thirsty Canucks for half a century. But will it do the same for us Yanks south of the border?
John: Frothy with a silky, smooth texture. Dry, with a subtle "vanilla mint" flavor that tastes a little like the melted leftovers of a bowl of ice cream. Crisp and refreshing like the northern wind through wild peppermint groves, with a pronounced--but not overdone--sweetness. Delicious and superb. *****
FRED: SIMPLE EXCELLENT REFRESHING ROOT BEER. *****
Friday, July 15, 2011
Here we have another modern root beer wrapped up in a gimmicky ad campaign. Proclaiming to be "soda with an attitude," So Duh! features a ditzy blonde on their bottle and the hip label of "Rockin' Root Beer." The ingredients feature cane sugar, natural vanilla, and the star of the show, "alfalfa honey," whatever that may be. But here, we judge on taste, not cuteness, so let's get going.
John: Wow, this is a bold root beer. That alfalfa honey is no joke: the sweet honey taste is prominent and adds a depth to the texture that murders the other honey root beers (e.g. Sprecher's, Point). Rich, creamy, thick in body, deep in flavor, and very sweet, this is a sumptuous, delightful root beer. The vanilla flavor is barely present, and no mints or herbs at all--honeycombs rule the day. The aftertaste is almost sweeter than the liquid, yet not unpleasant. I hate to hand out four star ratings to just anything, but So Duh! is definitely high quality. ****
FRED: A GOOD FLAVORFULL ROOT BEER. SLIGHTLY SWEET AND UNIQUE. ****
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I'll get right to the point and review the most recent root beer I've had the pleasure of sampling for this blog: Stevens Point Brewery Point Gourmet Root Beer. The founder and head brewer, Steven Point, can be seen sampling his creation here. It took a long time to create it, but a short time to name it, is how the slogan goes. Was the brew worth the wait?
John: This is a Wisconsin root beer, which--like Sprecher's--boasts a commanding prevelance of honey in the nose and body of the brew. In addition to the honey, Point has a mild caramel sweetness that does little to enhance the overall character. Three stars but I'll likely never drink it again. ***
Monday, July 11, 2011
Batter up! Here's a hall-of-fame root beer named after one of the Minnesota Twins' most beloved ballers! I had occasion to sample it while watching Casey Blake of the Dodgers drop a pop fly and send the Twins on the path to victory, 6-4. Will the Twins' signature root beer be a grand slam, or will I be like another Casey, the one at the bat, waiting for a good drink to slide down my throat?
John: Refreshing and pops in your mouth like the crack of a hickory bat! A dash of peppermint spices things up with a refreshing kick, with a touch of anise only sweet enough to leave you wanting another swig. I'm calling my shot like the Bambino, and predicting this root beer could win the World Series of smooth ballgame brew! ****
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Virgil's Bavarian Well Water Edition
This special edition bottle of Virgil's makes use of the entire spice cupboard in their recipe--but that's nothing new. What is new is the inclusion of "Bavarian Well Water" as the base liquid. Water is, of course, the most important single ingredient in any beer, root or otherwise. Here Virgil's ups the ante by going for the highest possible quality water they can find. But how does it taste?
John: Tastes like Virgil's, but watered down. ***
FRED: GOOD FLAVORFUL BUT BIT TOO MUCH AFTERTASTE. BIT SWEET. ***
Friday, February 18, 2011
If you're the kind of root beer drinker that likes goat cheese on your salad, shops at co-ops, and shampoos your hair with dandelion extract, have we found the root beer for you! Natural Brew is an all natural root beer that may change the way you look at root beer!
John: The color is lighter than most root beers, with a maple-caramel translucsent tinge. The taste is light, sweet, and a bit vanilla-like. As you can see, the frothy head is a plus, too. ***
FRED: GOOD ROOT BEER. SMOOTH FROTHY MILD GOOD TASTE REFRESHING ****
Saturday, January 22, 2011
First we had Route 66 Beer. Now it's Highway 101 root beer. Both fit in nicely with the name of this website. So will this 101 root beer keep us on track, or will we merge onto Highway 46 and meet James Dean's end?
John: Amazingly, we continue to find root beers with their own distinct quality. You'd think after 45 root beers they'd all start to taste the same. 101's scent assaults your nostrils like candy gasoline fumes, letting you know you're in for one sweet ride! This one tastes like cake frosting, and is very creamy. A little vanilla too. If you like birthday cake, this is your root beer. ****
FRED: GOOD ROOT BEER. SMOOTH AND CREAMY. SLIGHT VANILLA. ****
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Well, this is our first review that features root beer out of a plastic bottle! It had to happen sometime, so today we look at Teddy's and see if it can live up to our high standards.
John: Teddy's came like a meteor out of BevMo and exceeded the low expectations I had for it. A distinct flavor profile with with cinnamon, clove, and wintergreen, it's a refreshing root beer and not too sweet. ****
FRED: A SIMPLE ROOT BEER. REFRESHING. NOT TOO SWEET. LITTLE AFTERTASTE. ****
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Who let the dogs out? Another root beer brewed with honey and real vanilla, let's see if we can run with the dogs, or call the dog catcher to take this brew back to the kennel!
John: This is a sweet and tasty root beer. Unlike some inferior brews, the sweetness is pleasing and not overbearing, on account of a distinctive and complex flavor profile. The honey and vanilla aspects are apparent, but the hallmark of this root beer is the distinctive licorice flavor, which tastes like those candy-coated fennel seed treats you find at Indian restaurants. All this combines to make a really delicious treat. Very enjoyable. No question that it earned its four stars. ****
FRED: GOOD ROOT BEER. BIT TOO SWEET AND LINGERING AFTERTASTE. ***
Sunday, January 2, 2011
John: Uninspired, and uninspiring. Not terribly objectionable, but thoroughly mediocre. If you don't have the energy or interest to drink a real root beer, this generic soda will do fine. I'm putting about as much effort into this review as they do into their root beer. **
FRED: BELOW AVERAGE WITH LITTLE TASTE AND A BIT SWEET. **
Saturday, January 1, 2011
HAPPY NEW YEAR! To ring in the new year, we've decided to sample one of the most talked about root beers on the market! Unfortunately, most of the talking is done on the root beer's own label, but that's okay. Virgil's gets five stars for self promotion: with rambling stories about collecting various spices from all over the world, ancient root beer recipies (that pre-date the beverage's invention), and an endless quest for perfection in brewing, they talk up such a good game that you're destined to either love or hate the actual contents of the bottle before you even take a sip. And let's face it, you've got to have some serious hubris if your label features a picture of a Lumberjack Jesus serving you root beer in heaven. That's why we're here to cut through the P.R. hoopla, and set the record straight.
Jo: Definitely a **** for me too. I was really impressed.
John: Yes, you actually can taste all the spices and extracts they brag about: vanilla, nutmeg, clove, wintergreen--they're all here plus more. The mint seems to assert itself slightly more prominently than the other spices, but the richness of the blend is what makes an impression. That, and the fact that the aftertaste is a little too sugary sweet. They describe their brew as "creamy," but I wouldn't use that word--the texture is not exceptional. Very good, but narrowly misses Greatness. ****
Jo: Definitely a **** for me too. I was really impressed.
FRED: AN EXCELLENT EXOTIC ROOT BEER. MANY FLAVORS AND NOT OVEWHELMING. ****1/2
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Old Town Root Beer Company
With an invitation to become an owner of one of their stores adorning the label, this might be the grassrootiest of all root beers.
John: Not bad. A little minty, sweet, and a dash of cinnamon if you try to notice it. There's a lingering syrupy aftertaste. It hovers somewhere around a ** or **1/2.
FRED: NOT BAD BUT THE MORE YOU HAVE THE LESS YOU LIKE IT. AVERAGE. **
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
From Durango, Colorado comes an independent brew with probably the weirdest name yet. Like the other Colorado brew we sampled (Barrel Brothers), Zuberfizz fancies itself a creamy, draft-style root beer. Let's see what else these Rocky Mountain beers have in common.
John: Yes, it is creamy. In fact, it tastes like some whipped cream was added to the pot. The flavor also suggests a touch of caramel. It is a sweet-tasting brew all around. A little too sweet, though, and not unique enough to ask for seconds. But assuredly a high quality brew. ***
FRED: SWEET GOOD FLAVOR. BIT TOO SWEET TO DRINK TOO MUCH. ***
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Snake River Sarsaparilla
From the Jackson Hole Soda Co. comes another old west saloon staple: Snake River Sarsaparilla. Will it be pleasing, or will we flush it down the hole?
John: This is a sweetly herbal mix: with a very strong flavor of licorice and oily fennel plant, and a whiff of sagebrush, it's like drinking the deserty outdoors. In aftertaste, it is the licorice that remains. I probably wouldn't go out of my way to drink it again, but not bad at all. ***
Jo: This is a pretty good holiday treat, spicy and a hint of mint, and fragrant bouquet that tickled my nose. It fell short on the bubble factor, and was a little on the sweet side for me. ***
FRED: GOOD SARSAPARILLA BUT A BIT SWEET AND SYRUPY. STRONG LICORICE TASTE. ***
Pithy Little Soda Works
A small batch, small town, independent brew out of San Luis Obispo, CA, Pithy Little Root Beer is the creation of the Pithy Little Wine Company, who discovered that at their wine tasting events, there was invariably one "pour soul" who didn't drink wine and was stuck drinking water...until they invented their root beer, that is. So let's see how these small time vinters do in the Big Boy world of Root Beer.
John: Strong and bold and definitely one of those hard hitters. Strong anise, strong licorice, and the tart astringence of crushed pine needles. Not my favorite, but not disagreeable enough to low-ball with a 2. ***
Jo: Not shy on flavors! Strong at first taste but really balances out nicely. Different with the mint, licorice, and anise flavors. ***
FRED: PRETTY GOOD ROOT BEER. NOTHING SPECIAL EXCEPT STRONG LICORICE FLAVOR. LINGERING AFTERTASTE. **1/2
In the root beer world, three letters send waves of awe and admiration through thirsty enthusiasts' bones: I... B... C! Dating from the same year as the preeminent and iconic two-lettered brew A&W, in 1919 the Independent Brewing Company out of St. Louis, Missouri, crafted an American brew that is still the darling of legions of fans. We, however, are objective, critical, and as cold as a frozen mug in our reviews, so we'll give you a straight shot of truth when it comes to IBC's true quality.
John: Great looking bottle. Good initial spice taste that rapidly gets enveloped by sweet sassafras. Good fizz, and almost remarkable, but a little too generic at the end of the day. For a better alternative of a similarly styled brew, try Sioux City Root Beer (reviewed below). ***
Jo: Great effervescence. Great root beer smell, but the flavor just didn't measure up. Not bad but not a 4-star. ***
FRED: AVERAGE ROOT BEER. NOT EXCITING. ALMOST GOOD. ***
Jack Black's Dead Red Root Beer
Arrrrgh, Mateys, we've unearthed us some Pirate Brew. Claiming a vintage from 420 years ago (which is interesting considering root beer was only invented about 130 years ago), this is one of the newer, gimmicky root beers that is trying to sell to the younger crowd by including guarana and caffeine in their brew--two ingredients notably absent from virtually every other root beer on the planet, but ubiquitously found in energy drinks like Red Bull. We're willing to walk the plank and try some.
John: Mildly sweet, with a delicate berry flavor (the guarana extract) almost as prominent as the root beer flavor. Gimmicky, but as gimmicky as it is, it's not too bad. **
Jo: This is not root beer--not even 420 years ago. Flat, mild, fruit flavored beverage with a nasty aftertaste. *
FRED: BESIDES THE LYING LABEL THE TASTE IS UNPLEASANTLY ROOT BEER ISH. *
Saturday, December 18, 2010
From West Lafayette, IN, the home of the Purdue Boilermakers, comes a root beer with a tantalizing and intriguing name: XXX, which claims to "make thirst a joy." Will they get three stars from us to match their moniker?
John: It's hard to describe how bad this root beer is. The worst of the worst. Other one star brews may taste horrible, but at least they're trying; But XXX is the weakest, most watered-down impersonation of a root beer I've ever tasted. It's just root beer infused tap water--that got diluted with more tap water. Even the stuff you get for a quarter in a can from the supermarket is better (and cheaper). Exactly what you'd expect from West Lafayette. I'll give it one star instead of zero, only to make sure I don't confuse a Purdue grad who may be inclined to think I forgot to rate it. This stuff just sucks. Boiler down. *
Jo: Puck furdue. You can put that on my review, I don't even have to taste it. *
FRED: UNPLEASANT FROM THE FIRST TASTE. WEAK AND BORING. LIKE WATERED DOWN ROOT BEER. YOU HAVE TO BE REALLY THIRSTY TO DRINK THIS. *
Dad's is an old-time Chicago root beer that dates from 1937. Could this be the brew to redeem the windy city for its slew of disappointing root beers? (e.g. Berghoff's and Filbert's).
John: Dad's is done right. Woodsy and rooty. Easy to drink and a great flavor. Nothing fancy, just good. A root beer anyone can handle. A classic to enjoy! ****
John: Dad's is done right. Woodsy and rooty. Easy to drink and a great flavor. Nothing fancy, just good. A root beer anyone can handle. A classic to enjoy! ****
Jo: Finally, a good root beer! Hints of cherry and sweet woodsy flavors, and feels like little spiky needles in my mouth, which I love. ****
DAD: VERY GOOD OLD TIME SIMPLE ROOT BEER. ****
Friday, December 17, 2010
Brewed with pure Wisconsin honey right from the combs, Sprecher is gas-kettle fired and ready to drink!
John: You can really taste the honey in this one, along with a startlingly prominent accent of oak wood. The aftertaste is sweet and lingers. All in all, a little too much: if they toned it down a little they perhaps could have attained our coveted four star ranking. ***
FRED: DIFFERENT AND GOOD BUT A BIT TOO MUCH HONEY AND WOODSY. ***
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Originally brewed during prohibition, Henry Weinhard's is a gourmet root beer with foam, foam, and more foam to spare! Brewed with sassafras, vanilla, and wild honey, this just might be the tasty treat we've been waiting for!
John: Lots of foam, a smooth texture, and a mild and subtle taste profile (hints of vanilla ice cream and brown sugar) make this a truly delicious beverage. Due to the perfectly balanced carbonation, and with a texture that feels like it was poured right off the tap, this is the first root beer we've had that tastes like root beer, and not root beer flavored soda pop. Thick, luscious, creamy, delicious--but not overpowering. A root beer fit for Zeus. *****
FRED: GREAT OLD FASHIONED ROOT BEER. MILD FROTHY SMOOTH AND SIMPLE. *****
Monday, December 13, 2010
Thomas Kemper root beer dates from only 1990, but already enjoys a reputation as belonging to the upper echelon of root beers. Brewed with honey, this should be "one honey of a root beer."
John: Smooth and mild with gently sweet tones of spiced honey and cinnamon, and just a drip of vanilla extract. Smooth sipping, sweet, and sophisticated. ****
FRED: NICE. SWEET BUT NOT TOO SWEET. GOOD FLAVOR ROOT BEER. NICE MILD AFTERTASTE. *****
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Sioux City Sarsaparilla
We already know that Sioux City root beer is a good, solid beverage...is their sarsaparilla even better? Continuing with the old west theme on the bottle, this claims to be "the grandaddy of all root beers." Let's taste and see if quality is handed down in the Sioux City family tree like a cherished Winchester '77.
John: Other sarsaparillas we've sampled have thoroughly overdone it, brewing an excessively rich and syrupy soda in their quest for individuality. Not so here. This is a solid, good tasting brew. Woodsy and mild, but brewed with a streak of sweet sassafras root that runs through the bottle like a gold vein, this is what western gentlemen drink on a Saturday night. Recommended. ****
FRED: EXCELLENT SARSAPARILLA. REFRESHING AND SATISFYING. MILD. *****
It's time to get into the Christmas spirit, and what better way than to enjoy a nice frosty glass of Frostie root beer! With snow and Santa adorning the artwork on the front of the bottle, this is sure to be a delicious yule tide treat!
John: This root beer has too little to work with and is trying too hard: initially bland, a heavy wintermint flavor then evolves that makes this taste like a combination of chewing gum and listerine. The aftertaste sticks to your mouth and lasts, yet the drink still manages to taste watered down. This is the root beer equivalent of finding coal in your stocking. **
Jo: The best thing about this root beer was the flavor in the after-drink belch. I didn’t enjoy drinking it though, it was heavy and licorice-like, and coated my mouth with a film. **
FRED: AVERAGE ROOT BEER WITH OVERWHELMING AFTERTASTE. A BIT GUMMY. FLAVOR NOT PLEASANT. **
Saturday, December 11, 2010
From the rocky mountains comes a modern root beer that announces what it's shooting for right on the label: "creamy vanilla." So, if you don't like creamy vanilla, stay away. We like all stripes of root beer, so we drank it.
John: This is one of those root beers that makes a good first impression, but whose stock diminishes directly in proporition to the amount you put in your stomach. Nice foamy head? Check. Sweet vanilla flavor? Check. Smooth and creamy? Check. A little gross the more you drink it? Check. So share a bottle and it'll be worth the experiment. I'm feeling generous. ***
FRED: A NEW ROOT BEER. GOOD BUT NOT GREAT. VANILLA AND CREAMY. ***
Friday, December 10, 2010
Olde Brooklyn Root Beer
Something about New York root beers makes me hesistant, waiting to expect the worst. Maybe it's the legacy left by Dr. Brown's, but I had to steel myself for Olde Brooklyn and put my prejudice in the back seat. Who knows, maybe I'll be surprised and it'll be great!
John: Surprise, it's not that good. Good initial first taste, but after a few drinks it tastes like cheap, sweet soda with some artificial grape flavor added. Different, but not in a stimulating or interesting way (like Bundaberg's is, for instance); it just tastes like run of the mill sugar water. **
FRED: PRETTY GOOD ROOT BEER BUT A FLAVOR I CAN'T DESCRIBE. NOT GREAT. **
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Filbert's Old Time Quality Draft Root Beer
Dating from 1926, Filbert's is a Chicago brew from the prohibition era, when George Filbert delievered milk, ice, and coal in a horse-drawn wagon to local homes. Evidently George figured that brewing root beer would be profitable during prohibition, and his secret recipe endures to this day! Let's hope that it's an improvement over that other Chicago brew, Berghoff's, which is disgusting (see review below).
John: Something's just not right. A little bitter, a little melted-vanilla-ice-cream flavor, it tastes like some tonic water fell into the barrel. **
FRED: PLAIN SIMPLE ROOT BEER. NOTHING SPECIAL. **
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
A root beer that dates from 1891, this may be the olde-tymiest root beer on the market! The secret weapon on the ingredients label this time around is Yucca extract, a desert plant used to make soap. So I'm ready to wash my hands clean of my old root beer loyalties and try a taste from centuries ago!
John: A strong scent of burnt caramel wafts from the open bottle. On the tongue the caramel flavor is enhanced by an accent of sweet apples. I'm not sure where the Yucca extract fits into this, but overall it is a tasty drink, and very fizzy. A less carbonated, thicker texture might better suit the flavor profile. ***
FRED: AN INTERESTING DRINK AND QUITE GOOD BUT DOESN'T TASTE LIKE ROOT BEER TO ME. **
Jackson Hole Soda Co. "Buckin' Root Beer"
Yeeee Haw! Jackson Hole Soda Co. has delivered a root beer with a kick! Will it kick our love for root beer up a notch, or will we kick it to the curb?
John: A leathery, peppery root beer with a strong bite reminiscent of pepper trees, balanced by an underlying taffy sweetness. Not for the faint of heart. ***
FRED: REMINDS ME OF A BARNYARD. NOT A PLEASANT TASTE. STRONG. PUNGENT. *
Monday, December 6, 2010
River City Root Beer
Few root beers brag as much on their label about the quality of their brew as does River City--and they play the nostalgia card big time: "River City Root Beer brings back memories of a time gone by. When the sky was bluer and the clouds whiter and the breeze off the river kept you cooler." etc. etc. Since this stuff is made in Sacramento, their pitch sounds like pure P.R. The test is in the taste.
John: A sweet, rooty flavor, with an extra infusion of wintermint to add some bite and crispness. It stops way short of being remarkable, but falls squarely into the "good" category. It could exist, or not exist, and the world would go on turning. ***
FRED: GOOD ROOT BEER. ROOTY AND A HINT OF MINT. ***
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Bundaberg Australian Root Beer
G'day mates! Today we're sampling a brew from down undah! Can those Aussies compete when it comes to America's national beverage?
John: The most interesting aspect of Bundaberg is the bottle: with instructions to invert before drinking, and a laundry list of herbal root extracts, it promises to be a unique root beer. The taste: sweet, herbal, homeopathically medicinal. Not recommended if you like a traditional root beer. But I didn't really dislike it to the degree my colleagues did. As the song goes: It's not root beer, but it's not bad. ***
Jo: The Witchdoctor called and wants his medicine back. I had a hard time swallowing the first dose. At least it has effervescence, but I'll stick to Robitussin. ** (only because the bottle was neat)
FRED: THE DIRECTIONS SAY TO INVERT THE BOTTLE BEFORE DRINKING. OBVIOUSLY IT IS MEANT TO BE DRUNK IN AUSTRALIA. AN OLD ABORIGINAL HERBAL REMEDY. IF YOU DRINK A FULL GLASS NEAR A TOILET YOU DONT NEED TO HAVE AN ENEMA. NO STAR.
Boasting "pure Louisiana cane sugar" on its label, Abita may be the last word in southern comfort.
John: A rich luxurious scent like syrup floats from the bottle, and the taste follows: too syrupy, too sweet, spiked with a tiny suggestion of mint and anise. A bit too heavy for this reviewer. **
Jo: With the tease of having 'pure Louisiana cane sugar', this beverage should be called 'Boring Cane Sugar Soda". Too syrupy and a sweet flavor, but not root-beery enough. The title says it all: it's just "a-bit-a" root beer flavor. **
FRED: ALMOST LIKE ROOT BEER. BORING. **
Rat Bastard root beer encourages its drinkers to "spread your lips and ingest." That's just what we did. Was it a fulfilling experience? Or did we do the walk of shame back to the refrigerator?
John: A pleasant licorice scent greets the nostrils, but the taste is rather mild and forgettable, with just a hint of licorice. The aftertaste is the worst part of the profile--a little acrid and bitter, like rat droppings on the back of your tongue. **
Jo: Hmmm, smells pretty good... vanilla, licorice, oh boy! But then I spread my lips to ingest a mouthful of flatness, bitter flavor, and a lingering dirty aftertaste. I wish I could have those calories back. **
FRED: NICE MILD ROOT BEER. BIT LICORICY. ***
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