Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It comes in your typical dark brown 12 oz. glass bottle and the label on it has some weird root drawing or something on it and a list of all the ingredients (kind of like Virgil's). There is a lot of typed print on the label, i guess to reassure you that they really do use all these natural flavors. The color scheme is green, brown and white, very Earthy colors, and as i have already stated, i get the over all impression that this is a hippie root beer. Don't believe me? Look at a picture of it's creators on the home page of their site. Two words; greasy hippies.
Anyway, despite the fact that this is a hippie drink, it's not terrible. It's not great, but not terrible. It has the black licorice flavor, but not overpowering, it's semi-sweet and lightly carbonated (kind of like Virgil's). I guess what i am trying to say is that if you like Virgil's, you'll probably like this. It doesn't have the exact taste Virgil's does, but it's close. It also does not have the incredible marketing job that Virgil's has, with their giant bearded man and awesome packaging. All in all though, it's not a terrific drink, but it also doesn't taste like a dead guy, so that's a plus.
My official review is that Maine Root gets 4 (four) IBCs. This is one of those drinks you just have to like the basic taste of. Virgil's has a bit more to it than just the black licorice flavor which makes it more likeable for me. Maine Root simply compensates with a sweet sugary after taste. So again, if you like black licorice flavored root beers, be my guest. Just don't buy to much of this stuff. We don't want another hippie uprising.
The typical 12 oz. dark brown glass bottle has a fun yellow label on it with the root beer's name and a picture of Australia in the corner, reminding you where it's made. There is also a big kangaroo pictured in the center to reinforce that fact. The bottle i got wasn't all that interesting, but the one on the site looks pretty interesting to me. I would have liked to get one of these bottles cuz it looks like more fun. I'm sure you agree with me.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
My official review is that Abita gets 5 (five) IBCs. It wasn't bad as far as the taste goes. The honey taste was mellow and didn't go too far and it was a decent over all blend of root beer. My lovely wife didn't care much for it though, and i don't know that i liked it enough to get it again. Unless of course i break my leg or have clogged arteries or contract tuberculosis. Don't worry Abita, i got your number.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
My official review is that Sioux City gets 6 (six) IBCs. It's a good root beer, no doubt. I like the taste of the different and unique flavors as they blend together. Like i said, it reminded me of Gale's, but i think Gale could take some lessons from Sioux City. Grab one if it's available, or if you can find the sarsaparilla, i say go for that one instead.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
My official review is the Sea Dog gets 4 (four) IBCs. It's not terribly done, but at its core it is not my favorite blend of flavors. I am sure there is a market for it out there though and some people just rave about it. Maybe it's up your alley, maybe not. But as far as i'm concerned, i don't think i'll have it again any time soon.
The clear glass 12 oz. bottle has a clear, rather colorless sticker label with a nice mountain range pictured below the root beer's name. Makes me think of the majestic Rocky Mountains. You know, because Des Plains, IL is typically known by the presence of the majestic Rocky Mountains close to the vicinity. So right there, they lost the credibility they earned from donating to/promoting education for Native Americans. And we already know how i feel about sodas in clear bottles. I am skeptical at best about them.
I was at a BBQ recently (see the post about Mason's Root Beer) and one of the people there picked up a bottle of this root beer and said, "this one is one of the ones i really liked." I had not tried it at that point, but i knew he was a Weinhard's fan and that i couldn't trust his judgement. Well what do you know... i'm a genius. This stuff isn't good. It's not bad, but it's not even "alright". It's just kind of... blah. Really watery and little carbonation, the only thing i could really taste outside of the faint root beer flavor is the cane sugar. It loses flavor so fast that i was disinterested with it after just a few drinks.
My official review is that Cool Mountain gets 3 (three) IBCs. I really don't have much to say about this one except that it is very forgettable. It's not necessarily bad tasting, but it holds no appeal for me. You can give it a try if you'd like, but i would recommend saving the money and just drinking sugar water instead to achieve the same effect.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
My official review is that Mason's gets 6 (six) IBCs. It gets the same rating as all the other sodas it tastes like (except Rat Bastard, which is just a jerk). Really, there is very little differentiation to me between these sodas. Jack Black's is a bit stronger on the flavor, but other than that, i don't know that i could pick them out in a blind taste test. So if you're into those root beers, try this one too. It's nothing new, but it's right up your alley.
It comes in a clear glass 12 oz. bottle that is pretty standard. The label is brown with big font and a little cartoon picture of a root beer barrel. It's fairly simple, but i can appreciate it. It gets the message across. Whatever.
It's a good root beer, but nothing special about it. It has a good, classic root beer taste to it that's enjoyable, but nothing much else. I was a little surprised that it was as good as it is. I don't know what it is, but i almost have a bias against a root beer in a clear bottle. However, this root beer uses high fructose corn syrup. A lot of the independent brews use cane sugar, and when they come in a clear bottle, i usually am not as impressed with the taste. Just noticing a trend here. I believe the scientific method would call for me to make a hypothesis based on my observations, so i would make the hypothesis that perhaps the amount of light that is let in by the clear bottle affects the content of the soda (particularly the cane sugar) and alters the taste slightly. I'm probably wrong, but i gave it a shot, right? And hey, in my opinion science is really just about sounding smart.
My official review is that Gray's gets 5 (five) IBCs. It's a good, basic root beer. Not amazing and not really unique at all, but it's good. It will just have to join the ranks of all those other middle of the road root beers. I'm not sure how widely distributed it is, but i didn't mind it and you should give it a try if it's available.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Waialua bottles all of its sodas in clear 12 oz. glass bottles. They kind of make a point of using clear glass bottles because it's what all companies used to do in the old days or something. Hmmm... neat. Anyway, the label is a lot of fun to look at if you are a guy and a great source of jealousy if you are that guy's wife. My wife hates the label, as well as the fact that i can't stop looking at it even now. That's right hula girl... shake that skirt of yours. There is some writing at the bottom that looks like it is of Asian origin. I was surprised to discover that Honolulu has a large population of Japanese people, so i would guess it's Japanese. But it doesn't really look like Japanese to me. I would ask a friend of mine that used to live there, but he only pretends to speak Japanese and doesn't really know any of it. He's basically worthless when it comes to speaking and reading Japanese. Plus he's allergic to milk, so... you know... can't trust him anyway.
Waialua sticks to its promise of using only native Hawaiian flavors because their root beer doesn't taste like root beer at all. All i can taste is brown sugar. It's not a bad taste, but it is rather overwhelmingly sweet. Not what i am looking for a in a root beer personally, so it doesn't really do it for me. Additionally, Waialua has little carbonation in it and tastes a bit flat.
My official review is that Waialua gets 4 (four) IBCs. It's not a typical root beer. I think it's a stretch really to call it a root beer at all, but i'll go with it for the sake of argument. I loved Hawaii when i was there and am more than happy to promote anything Hawaiian, but i can't in good conscience give it more than a 4. It's decent, but sweet and lacking in the real root beer flavor. Try it if you'd like, especially if you're in Hawaii (it might have a different effect over there), but i would choose other standard root beers over this one when it comes to taste.
I got off on the wrong foot with this one and was already expecting it to be garbage. For starters, i hate the bottle. It's a 12 oz. bottle that has an irregular shape. It kinda reminds me of the old milk bottles from back in the day when they left them on your door step (remember that kids? *sigh* boy, memories...). The label is very retro with a 40s or 50s look to it. You'll have to click on the picture to enlarge it to get a better look at what i am talking about, but this bottle is filthy too. It's covered in some goopy guk stuff on the left side of the picture like it had scotch tape on it that melted in the sun and then was peeled off and left the residue. Also, the label is scuffed and ripped up, which i don't like. But guess what. This is the best/cleanest bottle i could find. For realsies. They all seemed like they were covered in this crap, and most of the labels on the bottles i saw got the worse end of the deal that this one got. Now i suppose we could crack it up to having one of the bottles break and spill over all the others or something, but i went to a different section and found a different bottle of Empire, and the bottle was a different shape (still 12 oz.) and it was still covered in goop with a jacked up label. Come on Empire, get with it. It makes me think they just salvage any bottles they can, regardless of uniformity, and fill them with root beer without washing them.
When i opened it up, it had a nice smell of wintergreen, so i was hoping it might redeem itself for what it lacked in looks with taste. It has a decent wintergreen flavor to start with (which i like), some regular old root beer flavor, and it almost tastes like bubble gum in the after taste. But the taste doesn't last long and it leaves kind of a taste of aspartame i your mouth that's rather unpleasant. My wife said it reminded her of a diet soda, which i have read on other reviews for this root beer. There is also little carbonation in it. It's not flat, but i would have liked it to be more carbonated. Unfortunately, it didn't win me over.
My official review is that Empire gets 3 (three) IBCs. Not the best showing in a root beer. The taste itself isn't half bad, but it's not very memorable or outstanding. They lost me big time on the bottle though. I seriously think they fished it out of the trash and just filled it with root beer. But hey, i bet it cuts down on cost. Sorry Empire, but i am recommending my readers to go ahead and skip you.
Addendum: 7/23/2010 - So, nothing to do with root beer really, but one of the things my trip to California recently rewarded me with was a chance to visit a Rocket Fizz store and meet the owner, a swell guy. I bought a few root beers and my wife got some old timey candy, and he actually gave me a bottle of Empire Bottling Works Spruce Beer free of charge. It is a clear soda (think Sprite or 7-Up), but he said he hadn't tried it and wanted to know what i thought of it. So i cracked the thing open and... WOW! That stuff is powerful strong, not in a good way. Seriously, it tastes like Vick's Vaporub. I would say if you can find it just get one for the experience. You only need to do it once though. I doubt you'll go back for seconds.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The bottle is a typical 12 oz. and on the label is pictured two adorable dogs named Hops and Barley whose breed the root beer is named for. Now, here is where i am confused, and maybe someone can straighten this out for me. I am not a dog expert (i am too busy being a root beer expert), but the name of the root beer is Bulldog and those don't look like bulldogs to me, they look like pitbulls. Am i wrong here? Is that ok to call it Bulldog Root Beer and not Pitbull Root Beer? I know i am splitting hairs here and it has nothing to do with the taste of the root beer, but it still kinda bothers me. I mean what if i called my root beer Lighthouse Root Beer and put a picture of the Eiffel Tower on it? It just doesn't make sense to me. But whatever.
Although my colleague spoke so highly of it, i have to admit i wasn't too impressed. My very first impression was, "this tastes like Weinhard's." Normally i would spit that cursed liquid out and run my tongue over a cheese grater to get the taste out of my mouth, but i am a professional and as such i promised i would review this root beer. What i mean when i say it tastes like Weinhard's is that it has the same candy corn flavor. It's not nearly as strong though, and not nearly as sickly sweet. Then the after taste hit me and i thought to myself, "this tastes like Thomas Kemper." One of their key ingredients, like Thomas Kemper, is honey, and it has the same kind of honey taste that TK has, but again not nearly as strong. So it's kind of like a blend of low potency Weinhard's and Thomas Kemper. I didn't care more for TK and i absolutely abhor Weinhard's, so i wasn't all that fond of this one. In Bulldog's defense though, the blend of the tastes combined with the toned down potency wasn't a bad mix, but i personally just didn't find it all that appealing.
My official review is that Bulldog gets 4 (four) IBCs. I couldn't in good conscience rate it higher than Thomas Kemper, and the candy corn taste wasn't winning it any points. Again, this is probably one of those root beers that fits a particular taste. It wasn't awful, but it's not my cup of tea. I would pass this one up and go for something else.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Again, i picked this up at a gas station in a 20 oz. plastic bottle, although it's not your typical plastic bottle. It has a different shape to it which is unique to A&W (as far as plastic bottles go). The logo is displayed on a background made to look like a barrel. Again, i don't particularly care for the plastic bottles, so this one isn't a big deal to me. I think of any of the bigger named root beers though, this shouldn't be too difficult to find in a 12 oz. glass bottle. I could be wrong, and if i am, you're pathetic for wasting your time just trying to prove me wrong. It doesn't mean you're cooler or smarter than me, it just means you need a hobby. Or a girlfriend, but i doubt you're attractive enough to find someone who will tolerate the sight of you. But thanks for being a loyal reader regardless.
Addendum 7/25/2010: well look here, i found it in a glass bottle. It wasn't too difficult either. There is a place in Los Angeles called Galco's that sells A&W in glass bottles.
Also, i found a bottle of A&W BBQ sauce while i was in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and i thought it was kinda funny. They actually have several different sauces flavored with various sodas and liquors. I didn't try it or anything, but i am a fan of A&W as well as a fan of BBQ. So maybe i'll mail order some to try it out. I get the feeling it just tastes like BBQ sauce though.
Addendum 7/1/2016: I also just found these new A&W flavored Pop Tarts. Gimmicky, but they did pretty good on the taste. Not terrible. I took them on a camping trip and we had them for breakfast. The only thing that would have made them better would be to wash them down with some IBC.
I don't need to go on and on about how A&W tastes. It's good, we all know that. I will say it reminded me a lot of Stewart's with a nice carmel finish. It can't be as popular as it is by tasting gross, right? So they have to be doing something right. I will see other reviewers from time to time talk about how A&W isn't even good, it's just a low end mass produced root beer. I have a term for these people; root beer snobs. They are the same people who turn their nose up at your favorite band or movie because it's so trendy, and then list off several bands or movies no one has ever heard of to validate their own need to be individual and break away from the mainstream. Seriously, i know people have different tastes, but stop being a tool and putting down a good, classic and original root beer to promote others that no one has ever heard of so you can "express your individuality". No one cares what you think, they care what i think. And further more, no one takes your opinions seriously when you start out by downgrading a perfectly good root beer like this.
My official review is that A&W gets 7 (seven) IBCs. I am sure most people will feel this rating is more than fair. I still have my favorites, but i will acknowledge good taste when i come across it. It's a good soda, people. It's all over the place. Get one. I recommend it.
p.s. if you REALLY want to know what the worst band currently performing is, click here. It's true, they're so trendy and lame. Someone needs to stop them.
Man... i'm so awesome.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Again, because i bought it in a gas station, it's in a pretty regular 20 oz. plastic bottle. I hope to be able to review at least most of my root beers in glass bottles, but i realize i will have to do some from plastic bottles, and at some point maybe even cans. But if i can find this in a glass bottle i will update the picture and maybe the review. The label is very colorful and polished with the mascot holding a mug of root beer under the name. He's cuter on the label than he is on the website, where he kinda freaks me out a little. Just take a look and i think you'll see what i mean.
This is a good root beer, but not much less or more. I like it a lot, and there is something about it that is specific to Mug and sets it apart, yet it's still quite anonymous in the way of root beers and can be lumped in to a lot of the regular middle of the road variety. I enjoy the classic root beer taste though and the nice carbonation. Mug also uses high fructose corn syrup instead of pure cane sugar, and again, i think that's simply to save money because it's such a widely distributed root beer and part of a large conglomerate (i.e. Pepsi). But i don't hold that against a root beer. At this point, i don't care about the whole corn syrup/cane sugar feud. Whatever guys, let's just act like gentlemen and let bygones be bygones. Except you, Wienhard's. You're still worthless.
My official review is that Mug gets 6 (six) IBCs. Like Barq's, i end up drinking a lot of this stuff while i am out and about. It's a good root beer and deserves the reputation it has, but again, it's not really anything special. I like it, but i wouldn't choose it out of a line up. Weather traveling or eating out, chances are you'll be drinking this soon anyway, so i don't really care if you pick one up or not.
Barq's proudly flaunts the tagline, "Barq's has bite." I'm not sure what this means, but i do know that when i mentioned Barq's to my wife and Sweet Lola Jane, they both independently mentioned to me that Barq's has bite, in case i wasn't aware. So i guess that counts for something. It is one of the few root beers that contains caffeine, so maybe that has something to do with it.
I was unable to find a glass bottle of this stuff, so i went with the 20 oz. plastic bottle common to most soft drinks found in a gas station. If anyone knows where to get this stuff in a 12 oz. glass bottle, let me know so i can give it my professional review and see if it still measures up. The logo has been the same for as long as i can remember. The same bold, cursive font proudly displaying this soda's name is easy to spot among the shelf of soft drinks.
If you haven't ever tasted Barq's, 1) stop being stupid and get in touch with society man, you're embarrassing everyone, and 2) it definitely has a bite to it. I think i mostly taste the strong, rich root beer flavor, but it has a very subtle hint of a wish of a dream of a whisper of black licorice flavor to top it off. It is ever so subtle, and that's why it's good. As you know, i don't like black licorice, but this flavor is a definite plus to the soda as it doesn't hinder the rest of the rich root beer taste. It's quite a compliment to the rest of the flavor. Most of the lesser known root beers i pick up from the Pop Shop proudly display the fact that they are made with pure cane sugar. This is not the case with Barq's. They go the money saving route by using high fructose corn syrup instead, which is common in most soft drinks. I don't know that it tastes any better or worse, i just know it's good.
My official review is that Barq's gets 6 (six) IBCs. I know i just ranted and raved about it and it may seem like i am kind of giving it the shaft now, but i mean Barq's no disrespect. It's a genuinely good root beer and i drink it a lot. My only beef is that because it is so widely distributed, i end up drinking it a lot. Therefore, if i have the option, i am usually going to reach for something else to try a little variety. But a lot of gas stations and fast food joints stock this stuff, and i never shy away from it when i am in the mood for a root beer and it's my option. So grab one when necessary, but try something new if you have the option.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Thanks for being a loyal reader though...
My official review is that Fitz's gets 7 (seven) IBCs. It's not necessarily an original flavor, but i enjoyed it none the less. Plus, the news piece makes the restaurant look like it's a pretty cool place to visit. I'm not sure how widely distributed this stuff is, but i think it's worth picking up again, and if you get the chance you should try it out too.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Ok, but really, here is what i do know about Rat Bastard; it's very arbitrarily aggressive. The bottle is your typical 12 oz. dark brown glass bottle. The label has multiple funky colors and has a sloppy, hand written feel to it. It has several things written on the label that just come off like this root beer is really mad at you. I get the feeling like, "What are you lookin' at?! Just drink me, you queer!" On top of the cap, it says an insulting word not suitable for our younger readers, and under the cap it just says, "Stop putting Canadian quarters in the parking meter!" I imagine other caps have different complaints listed under them. Hey, RB... why so angry? Seriously, is the world that mean to you? Come on, lighten up. Maybe if you weren't $2 a bottle (yup, it's a pricey one) people would like you more and be more friendly to you. And to be honest, i wouldn't have even bought you if i weren't reviewing root beers. You jerk. You big bully meany jerk.
As far as taste goes, Rat Bastard isn't bad, but it's nothing new. Again, i immediately thought of Jack Black's Dead Red Root Beer. They have the same distributor and refer to the same useless website (skeleteens.com), so i imagine they come from basically the same place. It's different in that it's not nearly as strong of a nutmeg flavor as JBDR. I actually almost appreciated it more because it wasn't so overpowering. But it also lacked a lot of carbonation and it was basically flat. So that was a downer. All in all it was kind of a let down cuz it felt like i had already tried this one.
My official review is that Rat Bastard gets 5 (five) IBCs. It's not a terrible soda, but it's nothing new. I have tasted this already, and the fact that it has so little carbonation turns me off. And it doesn't help that it is just so aggressive. At least to for me it doesn't. I just don't care to be bullied around by my root beer. I get enough of that from my wife. And the final blow came when i had to pay $2 for a regular bottle of it. I just didn't think it was worth it. So i would say skip this one and get a Dad's or a JBDR instead if you want a similar taste.
The bottle is a shorter, sorta stout 12 oz.er, though i am not as drawn to this one as i am to the Iron Horse or Thomas Kemper designs. It has the label printed on a clear sticker in just a few colors (orange, white, and brown) and is pretty simple. It's not really flashy, but it doesn't really need to be. I think the name is recognized enough that people know what they are getting into.
It has that classic root beer taste with a nice, rich carmel finish. I was eating chips before i drank it, and it almost tasted like carmel popcorn to me from the salt. But my wife assured me it was just a carmel flavor, and not a carmel popcorn flavor. In fact, she insisted it tasted like carmel syrup that you would put on ice cream. I promptly raised the back of my hand to her, ready to strike, and she remembered her place.
My official review is that Stewart's gets 7 (seven) IBCs. I like this root beer a lot. It's not an IBC, but it's a good substitute for one if you can't find one. The good, solid root beer flavor is well complimented by the carmel after taste. This also reminds me of Iron Horse, which i found quite delicious. But i still think Iron Horse is better. Anyway, the great thing about Stewart's (besides the fact that it's good) is that you can find it all over the place, so it's readily available. Grab one where ever you are, cuz it should be easy to find.
And if i may take a minute to be serious, i love my wife and i never hit her. Domestic violence is nothing to make fun of or joke about. Except for this. Makes me laugh every time.
This bottle is a 12 oz clear glass bottle, and like i mentioned above, i think this might be the old logo. It's very retro, but i don't dislike it. It's kind of endearing. But it just goes to show that these guys have been around for a long time. I imagine it's fairly popular in some circles, but this is the first i have heard of it.
It's not a bad tasting drink. It definitely has that classic root beer taste, but on top of that there is another flavor i am having difficulty pinpointing. It reminds me of a candy from my childhood, and i want to say circus peanuts, but i am sure that's not right. I just can't exactly figure out what i am tasting. But it's good. Not amazing, but good. I liked the rich, classic root beer flavor followed by the childhood candy flavor which i will identify for now as those crappy little marshmallow circus peanut candies that make you sick if you eat more than 6 of them. It makes for a good tasting root beer though.
My official review is that Faygo gets 6 (six) IBCs. I was teetering on giving it a 7, but it's just not that amazing. It's good, and i would drink it again, but i couldn't quite give it a 7. It's more middle of the road than extraordinary. But i would choose it over some of the other brands out there that fall into the same catergory. I say give this one a shot if you'd like.
Friday, November 21, 2008
i like the short, stubby bottle they use. It's a 12 oz.er and it has an attractive label. There is a lot of info on the side about how TK started and what goes into brewing their root beer. There is a little emblem of a honey bee on the label as well as the cap, and the design is both retro and fresh, so no complaints there either.
But... i can't make it through this review with out complaining a little. Ok, a lot. My initial review was that i hated this stuff. I know they put honey in their root beer, but it was overpoweing. It's all i could taste. I had a friend in high school that wouldn't eat honey at all because he said it's like eating a bee's puke. He was dead serious about it too. I'm not really in that category. I just don't necessarily like the taste of honey, but i don't hate it either. I would say i am impartial to it. However, when my root beer tastes only like carbonated honey, i begin to have a problem with it.
I actually put off writing this review after talking to a colleague because i told him how much i disliked it. He told me he thought it had a taste very similar to Virgil's and that he thought it was good. He said he could barely even taste the honey. I told him he was clearly mental and that it tasted nothing like Virgil's and i couldn't taste anything but the honey. So he convinced me that maybe i just got a bad bottle (i've had bad bottles of different root beers before, not including Weinhard's which are all bad bottles), so i gave it another shot. It did change my mind... but just a little. I found that i could indeed taste the black licorice taste (like Virgil's), but ever so slightly at the beginning. And again, the overwhelming honey taste was a big turn off for me. It almost tasted gritty and raw, like i was drinking straight honey. So in the end, i still wasn't a huge fan of it.
My official review is that Thomas Kemper gets 4 (four) IBCs. I was originally going to give them a 3, but the second try on it convinced me to cut them a little slack (i'm not going to make a habit of it though). I will give them credit for originality with the honey. It's something i haven't had a lot of in a root beer before. So kudos for that. However, i think they could tame it down a bit. And i know there is a big following for TK out there. It probably stems from my not caring much about the honey taste though. If you're into honey (a lot), you might like this stuff. It was a bit too raw for me though. So unless that's what you're into, i would say get something different.