Monday, March 23, 2020

Gold Mine Root Beer

Oh boy. Another one on the books. I want to get this done now because i have a busy month coming up next month and i don't know what kind of free time i will have. We are moving houses again and have a lot to do in a compressed time frame. It's like i'm being punished for some injustice i committed in the past and skirted the consequences. The closest i've ever been to being arrested was one time when i was probably 13 or 14 i squirted water at a girl through her house window and the water got on a leather recliner and her mom called the cops to come talk to me. He sat me in his car and explained that they weren't pressing charges but that they could if they wanted to and that i was very lucky that i wasn't going to be arrested. It was a really really really toned down version of Scared Straight. But since then i've done plenty of other bad things that i was never properly punished for. So maybe this crazy moving/renovating schedule is the universe getting even with me, which is also likely why i am reviewing THIS root beer specifically. Gold Mine Root Beer is another of the many iterations of bad root beers Rocket Fizz has been brewing up,  slapping a silly name or theme on, and putting out on shelves for dummies like me to pick up. Side note; I've gotten bad at saving my opinion for after my extremely thorough assessment and tend to just blurt out what i think of it cuz i can't be bothered to build any kind of suspense or intrigue or climactic story framework before the big finale. So just to make sure i'm completely clear on this, i don't like this root beer. It feels like a punishment to drink and review.

This stuff comes in an oversized 22 oz. brown glass bottle. It has a very flashy and shiny label depicting a prospector in a mine standing next to a cart. This little guy is probably the inspiration for the prospector in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Looks identical, right? I really enjoyed that show, all of the little stories. The last one in the stage coach was probably my least favorite. And my most favorite was the traveling showman with Liam Neeson. Man, that one was brutal. Funny how my least favorite had the most talking and my most favorite had probably the least talking. But i really liked the prospector one as well. Those Coen Brother really put out some great stuff don't they? Don't you wish we could just sit and talk about something good like the Coen Brothers and their great movies? Me too. But i have to talk about a bad root beer instead.
So they are already not skimping and doing some good work on the label, but to add some mystique to the whole theme of this root beer there is a large portion of the label dedicated to handing out a "Gold Mining Company certificate" which when 5 are collected a Death Valley Root Beer (another sub-par root beer) can be redeemed. And to add more to the packaging, they do the thing Indian Wells does and pour "wax" (not really wax) over the cap and stamp it with the Rocket Fizz logo. But this is a lesson each of us should learn about flashy packaging. It's the little things, the details, that matter. While i will whole heartedly admit this oversize bottle and flashy label and poured wax cap (not really wax) stamped with the company logo paints a picture of a luxurious root beer experience waiting for the person who indulges and decides to treat themselves, the real story is plain as day when you peel that waxy finish (not really wax) off the cap. Underneath, they used a bottle cap for a completely separate root beer

These guys only appear to not be skimping, but they are skimping. It would have been better to have a blank cap under that not really wax, because this tips their hand to tell you that this root beer is not as advertised. It's not luxurious. It's not rugged. It doesn't embody the prospector spirit of the 1840s and 50s. It's a fraud. A fake. It's fool's gold, plain and simple. This stuff doesn't even taste like anything. It's super watered down and lacks all flavor. Any flavor it may have fades so quickly that it's practically indiscernible. Sweetened with cane sugar, this doesn't even have the decency to be sweet tasting. It just tastes like nothing and leaves a really bad aftertaste in your mouth to boot. I reject you Gold Mine and all that you stand for. You bring shame upon Joel and Ethan Coen, but even more, you bring shame upon yourself. 

My official review is that Gold Mine Root Beer gets 2 (two) IBCs. I really didn't enjoy this. The only pleasure i derived was knowing i have this complete and i can move on to other more deserving root beers. And a score of 2 is pretty harsh i know, but this stuff so fully rubbed me the wrong way tonight that i stand by it. It was an unpleasant experience from start to finish. Also, my kids thought it was pretty good. Just thought i would throw that in there. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Bear Wizz Root Beer

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. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Adirondack Root Beer

It's a settled matter that the when flying the person in the middle seat gets use of the arm rests since they have the most undesirable seat. The window has a view and can use the wall of the fuselage for leaning against to sleep. The aisle gets quick access to the restroom, which is why i prefer it since i have a little baby bladder, and gets a bit more space to stretch their legs. That leaves the middle, trapped between these two happy travelers left to suffer with no conveniences afforded. Therefore, the least that can be done for this poor soul is to afford them the luxury of full use of both arm rests. As i stated, it's a settled matter.
But i came across a situation recently where i don't know the proper etiquette. Who gets the arm rest if there are only two seats in the aisle? The window and aisle seats still have their respective benefits, but there is no decorum that i'm aware of to dictate who has rights to enjoy the arm rest between them. I was in the aisle next to the guy by the window, but that guy hogged the arm rest and i didn't feel like i had grounds to scold him or demand my share of the arm rest. Someone help me out please.

So I probably wouldn’t be posting this one since i just posted yesterday except that I find myself in freezing cold Albany, NY for work and stumbled across a few regional root beers that I have to drink and review while here because I can’t bring them on a plane. So let’s get to it, shall we? Adirondack Root Beer is bottled by Adirondack Beverages Co., named after the majestic Adirondack Mountain range in northeastern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and even up into Canada (I think), which is named after a not so fancy and uncomfortable outdoor chair common among patio furniture sets and often made of wood or plastic. That’s right, the mountains are named after the chair, so there is no need to do any further googling. Just trust me. The company started way back in 1967 in Scotia, NY, was acquired and dismantled 9 years later in 1976, and apparently came back by popular demand (or so the website would have you believe) in 1980. They have been pumping out seltzers, bottled water, flavored water, and full sugar and diet sodas ever since to serve the New England region of the United States. I think it’s healthy for people and companies to be proud of their accomplishments and all, but these guys seem like they are a little too into themselves if you ask me. You’re just bottling soda people. Just relax a little.
And although I mentioned bottling, I actually got this in a 12 oz. aluminum can because that’s what was available to me at the local Hannaford Grocery Store here in Latham, NY (a suburb of Albany). The can is colored brown and cream, which are traditional root beer branding colors, but the label has a beautiful picturesque color image of a lake and some mountains and trees based on a real place here in the state. The website has a similar photo of the image on the can as well as many others showing the natural beauty of this area. Since I’ve been here for only 3 days and have only seen gloomy gray skies and temperatures in the low 30’s (talkin Fahrenheit here people), just looking at these images is a welcome respite from deep winter depression that seems to cripple people’s livelihood in this part of the country. And I know 30’s isn’t even that cold compared to a lot of places, but for a thin blooded Arizonan like myself it’s enough to make me hole up on a subpar Holiday Inn Express and type away on my computer about root beer of all subjects just to avoid from being outside in the cold. Anyway, that is all to say the label is decent. 
This root beer is flavored with high fructose corn syrup, which has been under attack for a while as an extremely unhealthy sweetener and a huge culprit in the obesity epidemic in this country. It’s almost rare to find these kind of root beers that are not flavored with pure cane sugar these days. But the fact that this one still holds on the high fructose corn syrup is only one or many unnatural and processed ingredients in this root beer. There’s nothing in this root beer to make it stand out. It’s not unpleasant, but it’s just barely even there really. The taste in total is so subtle that it’s hard to point out any of the flavor profiles. I guess it’s faintly root beer flavored, but it’s almost overwhelmingly flavored like nothing at all. It’s not even enough of a thing to be disappointing. I bought a 6 pack of this stuff and I don’t even want to finish this one I am drinking while writing this. I guess it’s refreshing, but it doesn’t really tickle my pleasure centers the way a good root beer should. Did that last thing I said sound creepy? Cuz even I felt uncomfortable typing it. 
My official review is Adirondack Root Beer gets 3 (three) IBCs. This is a bit critical. Honestly it’s not a terrible soda. It’s just a nothing soda. And it’s not even unique that it’s nothing. There are plenty of bland root beers out there. I think most of the bad score from this one comes from the fact that I’ve been cold since I got here and I can’t seem to get warmed up no matter what I do. So I’m afraid I’m just gonna take it out on you Adirondack. The mountains look pretty, but that’s the only thing about Adirondack worth admiring (lookin at you chair).

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Hannaford's Root Beer

Not long ago I visited my brother in Salt Lake City, UT. I went up there to do some snowboarding (a very nice Christmas gift from my wife). My brother and I did some night skiing and when we were done we stopped by a CafĂ© Rio, which is a chain restaurant popular in this region. While we were walking in, we witnesses a group of people coming out. It was clear one guy was shouting at the others. For sake of clarity, I will call this man Steve, though I don’t know his real name. He was badgering a man and his wife as they were walking out, and it was apparent that these people did not know each other previously. He was shouting things like,  “I can’t believe you’d park in a handicap spot!”  “You’re selfish and ungrateful!”  “That’s a $600 fine!”  “My mother is in a wheelchair!”, and the like.
The man kept replying to him the same way, “I’m not parked in a handicapped spot. I told you that in the restaurant. I don’t know why you’re yelling at me.” The man walked over to the handicapped spot which was empty, “see?” he said. “I’m not parked here.” Steve stormed up in front of a car that was parked in the cross hatched spot next to the handicapped spot to block off space for wheel chair loading, which is technically a part of the handicapped spot. “This is still the handicapped spot jerk. You can’t park here!” The man points to the car and says, “that’s not my car. THAT’S my car.” He then points the other direction to a car parked a few spaces away, clearly not in a handicapped spot. 
Now, mind you, my brother and I are not in any way participating or involved in this at all, we are merely observing, but from my view Steve has made a grave error. He has absolutely no footing to stand on and is clearly in the wrong. Had I found myself in Steve’s position, I would have said something to the effect of, “You know what, I apologize for the misunderstanding. I’m sorry I reacted this way. Have a nice evening.” Then I would have left. This is not what Steve does. This guy doubles down. HARD. “You told me this was your car! You’re a liar!” “I told you I drive a white Infinity, that one,” the man says pointing at the other car. His wife (I presume) says to Steve, “Shame on you. You need to apologize.” Steve blasts back, “I’m not apologizing to ANYONE…” and with that my brother and I walked into the restaurant and were out of earshot. I don’t know how this confrontation resolved, but I do know that Steve had no business being a social crusader and conducting the witch hunt the way he did. 
So knowing that, I’ll tell you my tour of root beers from the Albany, NY region continues with this gem, which, like Steve, shouldn’t even be in this conversation. Hannaford Root Beer is the house brand of a regional grocery store from Scarborough, ME called Hannaford’s. I… don’t know what else to say about this. It’s a local grocery store house brand. Should be sufficient enough to get the picture. Ummm… let’s see… the bottle says the store has been around since 1883, though I doubt the root beer has been in production that long. Uh… it was started by a couple brothers with the last name Hannaford. Oh, the name reminds me of Mike Hanford of The Birthday Boys fame. I believe he's from this region as well. And… yup, that’s it. I’m out of trivial and uninteresting facts. Moving on…
The store had this stocked in aluminum cans, 2 liter plastic bottle and in 12 oz glass bottles, which is what I ended up getting. I got a 4-pack of clear glass bottles with the black and white photo of a Hannaford’s storefront and a man sitting on a carriage with a team of horses pulling it. The image is overlaid with generic brown font that simply says “Root Beer”. It’s typical of a house root beer looking to cash in on soda drinkers’ desires for a delightful beverage. But beware here folks, because you’ll find no such respite here. 
This stuff is bad. It’s bitter. It’s thin. It’s losing its hair. Wait, those all describe me. Except the thin part. But anyway, this stuff is barely a soda, let alone a reputable root beer. It contains pure cane sugar, which is a shock seeing as how bitter the taste is. The ingredients also say it contains wintergreen, but there is no trace of it in the flavor. It just tastes like the bad taste you get in your mouth after you have eaten candy or something sugary. I get the feeling it makes your breath smell too, though there is no one here to confirm that for me. And despite being not a great root beer, I’ve drank 3 of the 4 in the pack I bought, so I must be super depressed right now or something.
My official review is Hannaford Root Beer gets 3 (three) IBCs. I don’t like it. It’s not even original in how bad it is. But I’m still giving it a 3 because I keep drinking it. I think I’m mostly just in a bad mood though because I am sitting in my hotel room, in my bed, under the covers and I am still wearing my jacket cuz I’m so cold and have been for the past 2 days now. Sorry if you’re taking the brunt of my bad attitude Hannaford, but this root beer aint gonna save you.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Rocket Fizz Root Beer (with nutmeg)

I used to work at a restaurant in high school with a kid named Daniel Ortiz. Daniel was older than me by a few years but ended up being in my grade due to being expelled in middle school for bringing a knife. He wasn't a bad dude, but he had a bad reputation and a temper to boot. As long as you didn't get on his bad side, he was a chill guy though. I wouldn't say we were friends but we hung out at work and a little bit socially. When i was a sophomore, the school system decided to give Daniel another shot at public school. This is why he ended up being in my grade when he should have been a senior. I may have had multiple classes with him, but i only remember one; Sophomore English. Daniel started out the year just getting acclimated to school life again. The first part of the school year went pretty smoothly for him.  It was a small town and a small school and he knew many of the kids already, so he wasn't busying himself trying to make friends. But one person he did not know was our student teacher for the year, and she didn't know him. Her name escapes me but she was a mid 20's stocky lady who was desperate to establish herself as a teacher. We gave her a little guff, but nothing like what we gave to full out substitute teachers. However, Daniel had it in his head one day that he wasn't gonna give her what she demanded; respect. He sat at the front of class (not sure if this was due to assigned seating or what) and i sat along the side wall near the door in the front row, my desk turned 90 degrees to face him. He was just laughing and joking with people around him while the student teacher was trying to deliver her lesson. When she asked him to be quiet so she could teach, he snidely disregarded her. She was becoming visibly upset and Daniel seemed oblivious to anything she instructed. The time came when she passed out some paperwork for us to look at. Daniel was given a stack and told to take one and pass the rest back. He dropped the whole pile on the ground and smirked. I don't know what he was trying to accomplish, but he was making a stand. "Pick those up," she demanded. He commented back rudely, i don't quite remember his exact words. What i do remember though is the way she reacted, which still baffles me. She grabbed the hat off his head. She was young and naive and, as i mentioned, desperate to prove herself capable. But she miscalculated this altercation with Daniel by a long shot. I mean, this kid was expelled in middle school for carrying a weapon. He wasn't afraid of conflict and he didn't submit to authority. "Give me back my hat!" he barked. "Pick up those papers," she responded sternly. He silently glared at her for probably only 10 seconds but it felt like an hour. The rest of the class stared silently at the situation. Daniel's countenance had changed from jovial and uncaring to incensed. He turned his angry gaze downward to his desktop, silent but still refusing to pick up the papers. I didn't take my eyes off him. The teacher walked back behind her podium and placed his hat inside it and resumed teaching her lesson. I don't remember anything she said or how long she talked for. I just kept watching Daniel. He was wrestling inside himself. I knew he was a decent dude but that he was capable of bad things. However, i never expected his reaction. After a few minutes of sitting in silence, he stood up and walked to the podium. "Give me my hat," he said forcefully. Not waiting for her reaction, he reached around inside and grabbed it. She tried to stop him and grab the hat away and in one quick movement he violently shoved her backward into the chalkboard, slamming her against the wall and knocking her off balance. She caught herself on the railing to prevent falling to the ground. "Go to the office!" she screamed as she struggled to pull herself back up onto her feet. He voice sounded betrayed, terrified and humiliated. Daniel turned, not saying another word, and walked out of the class. With his hat. The whole incident happened so fast but burned into my brain because of how unlikely and shockingly it all went down. It was, of course, the talk of the whole school as being in a small town this type of gossip was currency. And as for Daniel, he was soon expelled from high school for assaulting a teacher.

Now what was this teacher's fatal flaw in this encounter? It was that she underestimated Daniel, a boy she didn't know at all and probably didn't hear the history about. So what does this have to do with root beer? Well this one falls into that category. You see, Rocket Fizz already has a root beer. I reviewed it back in June of 2013. And while i don't remember the root beer itself, the review i wrote was pretty bland. So i assumed this one would find itself in the same category. I almost didn't even get it because i figured it was just respun. But the label says Rocket Fizz Root Beer "with nutmeg". So that made me think this is just a rip off of Virgil's Bavarian Nutmeg root beer, which it totally is. But if i reviewed that by itself separate from Virgil's original recipe, i figured i would go ahead and get this one too.

To highlight how similar this is to Virgil's Bavarian Nutmeg you need only look at the bottle. This comes in an oversized 16 fl oz bottle. Additionally, it has that nifty little pop top with a rubber gasket that's resealable. It's fun, but it's a total rip off. The similarities in packaging end there. The label for this root beer is more akin to a generic with the color scheme, the text and the depiction of a root beer barrel. The label isn't the big draw, it's the size of the bottle and the pop top. But honestly, those things are enough. This thing stands out on a shelf big time. It dwarfs the surrounding bottles and commands your attention.

And back to the similarities with this and Virgil's, the nutmeg in this thing is a game changer. MUCH better than the original recipe. This is why this root beer is underestimated. I was expecting a larger bottle of the bland flavor the original recipe boasts. But this thing is loaded with flavor. It's sweetened with cane sugar and has a deep nutmeg base and after tone without burying the root beer notes. It's real good guys. It lacks on the creaminess of Virgil's, but i wouldn't mind trying them back to back to see how far the attempted replication goes. I've also cut out sugar for almost two months, so the sweetness of this is really hitting me right now. It's real good folks. Don't sleep on this one.

My official review is that Rocket Fizz Root Beer (with nutmeg) gets 7 (seven) IBCs. I docked it a bit for lack of originality, and it's just not quite where Virgil's is. But it's a good one to try for sure. I found this one at our local Rocket Fizz store and i'm sure it's available on their website. If you're in the mood give this one a shot. It's a treat for sure.

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Three Stooges Wise Guy Root Beer

"Why did the duck go to the bathroom?"
"I don't know, why?"
"Because it was a toilet duck."

This is a "joke" my 4-year-old daughter told me recently. If you didn't laugh, you're not alone. I am a harsh critic of my kids. I heap praise upon them when they deserve it, and when they don't i cripple them with shame. She made up this joke by herself and it was shameful to say the least. Rest assured i gave her a lengthy lecture about joke structure and why this one isn't funny in the slightest. I also told her what she needed to do in the future, because i'm sure it won't surprise you to know that in addition to being an expert in all root beer related matters, i'm also an expert on writing, telling and critiquing jokes as well as knowing what's funny. That's why i chose to review this root beer today. The Three Stooges is a classic comedy troupe from the 1930's and 40's. Their infamous slapstick brand of quasi violent humor was a hallmark of my late teens and would regularly play on late night reruns. I remember staying up all night with my cousins on more than one occasion watching these masters at work. I briefly consulted the source of all truth which told me that they were active from as early as the 1920's all the way up until the 1970's, which surprised me since the bulk of their work seems to be more dated than that. Six stooges made appearances during their run, with Larry and Mo as stalwart members and a rotating third member. Easily the most popular third stooge would be Curly, but i always personally preferred Shemp with his long disgusting greasy hair. And while some of the jokes they made were undoubtedly lost on me due to my youth and lack of experience as well and the timeliness of the references the Stooges were making, i could still relish in the cognitive dissonance of thinking this was a work of comic genius as well as complete garbage and the dumbest way i could be wasting my time. Their body of work stands at a whopping 190 episodes of expert open hand slapping and eye-gouging mayhem. But what do these comedy legends know about root beer? Turns out, not much. You see, these original Stooges have long been dead and this root beer is nothing more than Rocket Fizz up to their old tricks again. They are taking an opportunity to sell soda by tying it to a cultural icon just as they have several times before.

The 12 oz. clear glass bottle is adorned with a color image of the Stooges, atypical of their nearly entirely black and white catalog of short films. They are dressed in unconvincing cowboy attire and holding mugs of root beer. There isn't much else to the label, and to be honest there doesn't need to be. I'm sure this is why Rocket Fizz selected the troupe to embody a root beer, because they are so recognizable that it stops people in their tracks at a mere glance. It's genius when you think about it. I doubt they even have to license their likeness or anything. There is some legal mumbo jumbo on the label about trademarks and the Stooges likeness, but i doubt they get any money off the sale of this root beer. I see what you're doing Rocket Fizz and i gotta give you props capitalizing on famous dead people.

So we know they know how to make people laugh and we know they are in all likelihood completely uninvolved with the production of this root beer. Plus they are all dead, so they can't give it their stamp of approval. BUT, if they were alive, would they approve of this root beer? Something tells me they'd think it's not half bad because that's the truth. It's not half bad. I like the subtle wintergreen flavor and aroma, the sweetness of the cane sugar and the very muted bite this carries. It has a bit of a generic overall feel to it, could stand to be a bit more carbonated and has a bit of a watered down taste, but it's ultimately not bad. To be honest, i was expecting much worse. Rocket Fizz isn't above putting out a subpar product and slapping a recognizable face or two on it with a witty title just to sell some soda, but in this case it worked out pretty well.

My official review is that The Three Stooges Wise Guys Root Beer gets 6 (six) IBCs. I liked it. It wasn't super novel or ground breaking, but it was enjoyable and i would drink it again. That's really the biggest win any root beer can strive for; will this be consumed more than once by the same person, especially if that person is me. It's good. It's refreshing. It will sustain you through and all night Stooges marathon, the likes of which happen all the time (or at least they did 20 years ago). But with everything on demand these days, i think it would be well worth your time to crack a couple of these open and enjoy some good ol' fashioned comedic violent. Knuck knuck!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Live Probiotic Root Beer

I've done a lot of dumb things in my life. One of those dumb things was as a teenager growing up in Arizona. I was in highschool in Gilbert, AZ and my group of friends was looking for something to do to entertain ourselves. A few of us had driving privileges and access to vehicles, so one of the genius ideas we came up with was to go through a drive thru at any of the numerous fast food places and place an order. When we got up to the window, we wouldn't pay and we wouldn't get the food. Instead, we would have the guy sitting in the front passenger spot (i.e. "shotgun") raise a super soaker and blast the drive thru attendant before we drove off. Oh, and we would also videotape it. You know, for posterity. We did this literally dozens of times during our youth with a rotating group of friends. A few of these incidents stick out in my memory, like the time i blasted a dude in the face and knocked off his hat and headset, or the time one of the victims tried to jump through the window and grab the driver. But there is one time which still haunts me to this day. I don't recall if we continued this activity after this incident, but if we did it was one of the last times. I remember being in my friend Ryan *last name redacted*'s parents suburban and it was loaded to capacity with other kids. I honestly don't remember if i was manning the super soaker, but i want to say i was. The video camera was sitting right behind Ryan and rolling per usual This is the vantage point i most remember because we watched this footage over and over, but i also feel like i had a first hand visual of locking eyes with this guy. He was a schlubby looking dude, probably in his late 30s and looked like his life had taken some wrong turns. He probably once had dreams and aspirations, but a few failed semesters of school and some dicey credit card purchases along with a health scare of two probably pushed him into taking this job for way longer than he intended and the fast food grind had just taken it out of him over the years. He looked tired, unkempt, permanent 5 o'clock shadow, bags under his eyes, dark hair, a touch over weight, and (dare i say) swarthy. He greeted us mechanically and told us the total, which was our (my) queue to raise the squirt gun into position and let this guy have it like we had done with so many other poor souls before. But the thing that distinguished this dude from the rest is that he just stood there and took it, his dead eyes staring me down as i trained the stream up and down his body from his belly up to his face and back down over and over. And the whole time... he just stood there and took it. No real emotion crossed his countenance. It was the look of a man who had long been dead inside, and this was the last straw that he needed to help him go home, finish his manifesto, and then extinguish his whole family and then himself. We drove off laughing and congratulating ourselves, but i had no idea i would still think about this dude to this day as one of the guys I've done wrong in my life that i need to track down and give an apology to.

Now, why do i tell you this story? Is it to brag about my adolescent idiocy? Maybe a little. Is it to look back on my wasted youth and realize this is why i can't speak a second language or play the piano or excel at sports? Probably a little of that as well. But mostly, it's to realize i've done bad things in my life that i was never properly punished for and that in a cosmic or karmic sense, i am being punished now for my sins by having to drink this "root beer". Keen readers will recall i already reviewed another variation of Live Root Beer, specifically the Live Kombucha Root Beer. But this is the probiotic line from Live Sodas, and according to the blurb on the can, root beer is the most popular flavor. Live Sodas operates out of Austin, TX and is capitalizing on the sugar free movement by promoting "healthy" sodas with things like probiotics to improve digestion. I would categorize this as a "natural" soda, and in my language "natural" translates to "nasty". I can already tell you, this one is gonna be bad.

So on with the normal conventions of my formatting. It is at this point in the review that i tell you i got this root beer in a 6-pack of 12 oz cans. It is unfortunate that i had to get 6 of these as i would have preferred just the bare minimum of 1, but this is how they were sold. The coloring and imagery follows the conventions of a generic brand, with drab brown colors with a white or cream offset. They throw in a splash of red with the logo to liven it up a bit (no pun intended). The background is made to look like bubbles, perhaps as an accent on the fact that this has probiotics in it. I know little (nothing) about probiotics and don't care to do further (any) research on them, but i am taking a wild guess that like yeast when it is exposed to sugar, these organisms feed off some of the other ingredients and create carbonation as a result. If that's not accurate, guess what, i don't care. But if it is true, then kudos to me for coming up with that by myself. The can is also littered with all the logos and reminders that this is a zero sugar, naturally sweetened, non GMO soda to entice any of those hippies out there to give it a try.

I gave this thing the smell test when i cracked it open and could barely distinguish a faint root beer aroma. It mostly smelled like nothing, which the taste nearly mirrors. This stuff tastes like seltzer with a slight splash of root beer flavor. It's sweetened with monk fruit extract, which doesn't seem like it's pulling its weight because this stuff is pretty bitter. The aftertaste is actually much sweeter than when drinking it, and by aftertaste i mean 30 seconds to a minute or more after drinking it. The can has a blurb on it saying this root beer is "rich and creamy, bold and refreshingly smooth", none of which i would use to describe this drink. These adjectives are common among natural and generic root beers alike because they don't have a good enough flavor profile to come up with something unique to say. I drank the whole can, so i guess that's to its credit, but i didn't really enjoy anything about this experience.

My official review is that Live Probiotic Root Beer gets 3 (three) IBCs. This was my punishment, and i knew that going in. But as i stated above, the after-aftertaste of this root beer is actually not too punishing. Its the initial getting it down that really is a chore, and for that reason i won't be getting it again. Maybe it will appeal to your inner hippie, but i just don't care for it. I doubt this is proper penance for my previous teenage crimes, but it's a step toward making me a better person. And you know what else helps? The saving grace in all this is the fact that regardless of how juvenile and reckless those activities were, they will never be anywhere near as crazy, dangerous or awesome as this guy's. I mean, come on. He wins hands down.