Gonna round out my Albany, NY root beers now with this playful and whimsical drink. Bear Wizz Root Beer is brewed by the Adirondack Brewery (not to be confused with Adirondack Beverages Co.) in Lake George, NY. The brewery has been open since 1999, but I’m not certain this root beer has been in production that long. It’s another local concoction, but by a small independent brewer and not some nameless, faceless entity putting out garbage with the word root beer attached. The backstory is that a guy went to Europe after college, got hammered on some sweet lagers and ales over there, came back to the states and couldn’t find anything that compared, so he started brewing his own beers. Then after 19 years of home brewing he opened his own pub and brewery. It’s a tale as old as time kids. Now this lousy drunk and likely disappointment to his family is living the dream, getting tanked every day of his miserable life, and rakin in that sweet sweet cash while he does it. I say hats off to you man, you’ve done it. You’ve found a way to be both successful and perpetually drunk. Like I said, livin the dream.
I picked up a 4-pack of brown glass bottles from the local Hannaford grocery store here in Latham, NY just outside Albany. The label is very colorful and evocative. There is an image of a large bear entangled in thick brush being swarmed by bees. It has a look of supreme surprise and a bit of panic on its face. The label itself is very matte and non-glossy, giving it a more homemade look. Overall I’m a fan of the label. Nice work guys. What I’m not a huge fan of is the name, Bear Wizz. It’s a bit too cheeky for me. Is the brewer trying to imply that this root beer tastes like the urine excreted from a bear? Dare I say, Bear Piss?! I don’t know and I ultimately don’t find it amusing. But I do enjoy saying it in the manner made popular by Stewie on Family Guy, “Bear Whizz”.
The label says this is a classic creamy root beer and boasts about the foaminess you can come to expect. Neither of those descriptions proved to be accurate to me. I will say other ingredients on the label definitely do play into the flavor, namely honey, cane sugar, vanilla and anise. Mostly anise. It has a deep molasses taste for the base, the cane sugar for a nice sweet finish, and a hint of honey for some tone. Sounds good, right? Well, I’m sorry to disappoint but it’s just ok. This is definitely the boldest and most defined flavor of the 3 root beers I have tried here in Albany, but it didn’t have very stiff competition. It’s not that is has a bad flavor, it’s more of a flavor I’ve tasted before and wasn’t a fan. It reminds me of a muted Thomas Kemper or even an Abita. The honey really sells it, but it’s quite subtle. Again, no creaminess or foamy taste, and the base flavor just doesn’t do it for me. It just seems like this one, like so many others, is trying way too hard.
My official review is Bear W(h)izz Root Beer gets 6 (six) IBCs. It’s a reputable score. Maybe I’m feeling generous right now or that I need to balance out my last two bad scores. I’m just now realizing this root beer score is the sum of the two previous scores I gave to its associates. I assure you that was not intentional, not that any of you would or should care. But this stuff has its place in the root beer hierarchy and that place is right above the middle.