Saturday, January 31, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
It comes in a stout 12 oz. glass bottle in a 4-pack. Not buying it at the Pop Shop means i don't have the luxury of just buying them one at a time. The label has a color scheme using Earthy colors and shows a serene looking landscape consisting of a set of rolling hills/mountains in the background with a babbling mountain spring in the foreground. It's like something right off an Arrowhead Water label (maybe someone should alert them that their logo is being plagiarized). There is a lot of text along the sides of the label arguing the benefits of natural ingredients, etc. This seems to be common of all root beers that use natural ingredients. No big surprise there i guess.
Being a root beer that utilizes natural ingredients, i was already expecting a certain taste. And based on the mixed reviews of Dick and his wife, i was already thinking this was going to be another bad natural root beer. But i really didn't mind it. It was typical in the way of natural root beers in that it has a base flavor of black licorice and less carbonation than normal, but it also has a heavy clove taste to it and a mild vanilla aftertaste. I'll be honest, it wasn't bad. Probably one of the better natural root beers i have tried. But still not one of my favorites overall.My official review is that Natural Brew gets 5 (five) IBCs. I really wouldn't mind drinking it again. I don't know how much i would go out of my way though, because it's kind of expensive. It was just under $5 for a 4-pack, which when you think about it isn't that much per bottle. But when you can get IBC for less than $5 for a 6-pack, it's an easy decision based on price alone. However, i will say i was relieved that i wasn't compelled to dump the other three bottles down the drain. This stuff isn't amazing, but it's not terrible. If you like the natural ingredient root beers, i think this one might be your best bet so far.
I would like to try and get this in a 12 oz. glass bottle, but the 2 liter bottle is what is featured and is standard in every sense. The label kind of reminds me of a pizzeria. It has a beige/tan background with checkerboard boarders at the top and bottom, and the logo is a big frothy mug of root beer with Howie's name plastered across the front in big cursive font. Fine by me for a label. Nothing spectacular, but nothing too cheap and unappealing either.
But let me let you in on a little secret... man is this stuff good. I liked it A LOT. It was a serious treat, a real gem of a find. The label describes it as smooth, creamy, and mellow. I would add amazing to that. The first thing i noticed when i poured myself a glass was a heavy wintergreen scent which took me by surprise. I don't usually do a smell test on root beers, but it was overwhelming (in a good way). So i was expecting a nice wintergreen flavor, but it's only a very subtle after taste. It has a great root beer flavor with a mellow, creamy vanilla base, and then the slight hint of wintergreen to follow up. Wow... this stuff is really good. My wife seems to think it's not as good as i think, but if anyone agreed with her they would be looking at her blog right now and not mine. Plus, she's a girl, and girls don't know anything about root beer. Or fun.
My official review is the Howie's gets 9 (nine) IBCs. This might cause a rift in my marriage, but i really think Howie's deserves it. It was very impressive, and very inexpensive (i think it was something like $1.23 for a 2 liter). Let's just say i will definitely be picking up more of this stuff on my next trip up to Utah, and i would highly recommend you do the same.
*** ADDENDUM 8/28/2019 ***
So i paid a visit to my brothers up in Utah last month for my neice's wedding and while perusing in a local grocery store up there called Ream's i found this 12 pack of cans. I previously had only seen this root beer in 2L bottles, which were also in stock. I shared the 12 pack with my family, who were all impressed with the root beer. Just thought i'd say i found this other packaging option. Check 'em out if you're near a Ream's.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
The bottle is pretty standard, 12 oz. dark brown glass. The label, as i mentioned before, is what caught my eye. It has a lot of browns, greens, and yellows, some metallic colors, and a crazy looking barrel thing with a face and a moustache. The writing reminds me of Star Wars, epic and cosmic, desperately trying to catch my attention. There is a lot of text on the label cuz they have a lot of info to throw at you. I would have preferred it to explain what the cryptic and psychedelic image is supposed to mean. The cap even has a big question mark on it, maybe asking you if you're sure you really want to drink this stuff. I get the feeling like this is going to be an Alice in Wonderland experience, or maybe the famous blue pill, red pill decision. Apparently all the sodas have different images on them, each as perplexing. The site mentions that Mark Panley comments on the labels. "If you think it’s just a soda with a crazy picture of a dragon on it, then you just don’t get it." Guess what Mark, you nailed it. I don't get it. And if i can be completely honest, it reminds me of poop. Yeah, i said it, and it's true. The color scheme, the texture of the barrel in the illustration, even the name "barleycorn" (to spell it out for those who don't get that, it's because sometimes when you poop, there's corn in it). Sorry, I don't mean to offend anyone or anything. What am i saying? I don't care.
Mark strived to make this a "historic brew" from Scottish and Irish brewing traditions. It includes malt, which to me doesn't seem like a good decision. I am not sure if Bundaberg uses malt too, but these two taste very very simlar. I guess what i am getting at is that this stuff is not good at all. It has zero, as in, absolutely no carbonation. I don't like the taste at all. Three words on the label describe it as nutty, malty, and foamy. The three words they should have used were nasty, acrid (link requested by my wife), and flat. I don't think it's good or original or worth going out of your way for. I actually broke one of my own "rules", in that i usually make it a point to drink the entire bottle of the root beer i am drinking to get more than just a first impression of it. Well i couldn't do it with this one. I seriously only drank about a fourth of it and poured the rest down the drain. It's awful. Just plain awful.
My official review is the JJBC gets 1 (one) IBC. As i mentioned above, Journey makes two other root beers which i have not found yet, and i would just as soon skip them if i weren't so dedicated to my cause of bringing you relevant and pertinent information regarding root beer. What i do is important to a lot of people. So i suppose i will have to track those two down and try them as well. But as for you, don't bother tracking this one down, and i wouldn't recommend looking up the other two until i give you my expert opinion on the subject.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The typical 12 oz. bottle is adorned with a simple, yet bold label of brown, metallic red, and yellow. I like the simplicity of it. Not much going on, but it doesn't really need it. It caught my eye in the store. Then again, i seek these things out, so maybe that's a bit slanted. Another point of interest was that on the website it mentioned that despite the demand for retail bottles, Triple XXX is only available through restaurants and food outlets as a fountain drink right now. Perhaps this has recently changed, and i'm glad it did.
The tag line on the bottle says, "tastes like root beer used to taste". Recently it seems like i am less kind to the "old time" root beers, because they just over complicate things with the flavors and ingredients and being all natural and all that garbage. But i was pleasantly surprised by this root beer. It's quite good and has a simple and straight forward taste. To be completely honest, i think it basically taste's exactly like Stewart's, and that's not a bad thing. I like Stewart's, ergo, i like Triple XXX. It has that great, classic root beer taste with a smooth carmel finish. It was a pleasure to drink and it complimented my meal (a plate of homemade nachos, which is a staple in my diet) quite nicely.
My official review is that Triple XXX gets 7 (seven) IBCs. It's a lot less easy to find than Stewart's is, but i think i might try and drink them side by side to try and distinguish between them. Maybe like a blind taste test. Come to think of it, that might be interesting to do with all the root beers i have tried thus far. Hmm...
Sorry, i got side tracked there. Anyway, it's a good one and i recommend it if you can find it.
Monday, January 5, 2009
As i mentioned above, you used to be able to find Hires Root Beer in gas stations and grocery stores all over the west, but it is hard to come by now. When i asked them at the diner if they sold bottles of their root beer, they told me it is actually brewed in Tucson, AZ which is just a few hours south of me here in Phoenix, but really not worth visiting (not even for Hires). Anyway, they told me it is shipped up to them in gallon jugs. Kind of strange, but i asked if i could buy a gallon jug, and they said sure. What i didn't realize is that it came in a plain milk jug with no label. So i had to kind of jimmy-rig this thing and i printed off their logo on the computer and taped it on the gallon jug. This is the featured picture in this blog post. I know it looks ghetto, but it's the best i can do.
Hires has a great taste to it. It's that classic root beer flavor followed with just a hint of a vanilla cream flavor, which makes me certain this is a good root beer to have with ice cream and make a root beer float with. The gallon had lost it's carbonation by the time i got it home and drank it, but it has a good amount of carbonation and it's smooth and creamy (to use a cliche root beer review term). It's a shame it's so hard to find now because this stuff is very good.
My official review is that Hires gets 8 (eight) IBCs. I was originally thinking a 7, but the fact that it's harder to find makes this one a little more special. I searched several gas stations and grocery stores while in Utah this weekend and couldn't find any trace of this delicious root beer. So if you by chance find some, i highly recommend you pick it up. It's worth it. Maybe you can still buy it in Tucson. It might be worth driving down there for...
Oh wait, i forgot. It's Tucson. Never mind, i can just get it in a frosty mug in Salt Lake.