Sunday, November 29, 2009

Big Fizz Root Beer

Hello all you out there in root beer internet land! I have another root beer to review for you today. This one i have known about for some time now and just recently got a hold of. It's called Big Fizz Root Beer. I found it on the Rite Aid website while looking for other root beers. Rite Aid is comparable to a Walgreens or CVS store. Unfortunately there are no Rite Aids in Arizona, the closest store being in California. Well as it turns out, my wife and i made a little trip with her extended family back in October to visit my wife's favorite place, or as i like to call it, "the gropiest place on Earth" on account of all the nefarious characters regularly groping your children there. Personally, i hate that place. It's the biggest exploitation of children since child labor. But once in a while i have to endure the torture of spending way to much money to be somewhere i absolutely hate in order to appease my wife's unhealthy Peter Pan fetish/obsession. SOOO... long story short, while we were in California we made a trip to the local Rite Aid and found a bottle of Big Fizz so i could review it. I am not sure if Big Fizz distributes exclusively through Rite Aid, but that's the impression that i get from the website. This mass marketed soda line comes in several flavors.

I picked up a 2 liter bottle of their root beer, and i am not sure if there is any other sizes or variations on packaging available. The bottle is a typical 2 liter plastic bottle. The label is very plain, lots of writing and text, with a limited color scheme. It's brown and white, with a little bit of yellow splashed in there for "flare". I don't know. Companies like this just want to throw something out there to get a small piece of the big pie, so the label doesn't have to be flashy or memorable. It just has to convey the message, which i suppose this one does just fine. There are some swirly designs in the background and carbonated bubbles coming off the word "Fizz", i guess to accentuate that this stuff if fizzy.

At least the root beer lives up to its name. It is indeed very fizzy. There is a lot of carbonation in this drink, which is fine by me. It's not enough to kill you or anything, but they don't hold back on it. Other than that, this root beer is completely forgettable. There is nothing very appealing about it. The root beer flavor is very watered down, which is too back because it's not a bad flavor. It also has a good aroma, but the taste fades so fast that you forget what it even tastes like right after you drink it. Even for the store brands, this one doesn't really make a mark, and being on the low end of the store brands is a sad place to be. It's not completely awful and is basically everything i expected it to be, but that still makes it a fundamentally bad root beer.

My official review is that Big Fizz Root Beer gets 3 (three) IBCs. I would say it's a high 3 because i don't detest this stuff, but it is not good enough to earn a low 4, so i have to mark this one down as sub-par. I don't know how widely spread out Rite Aids are across our great nation, but chances are that unless you're in some podunk, one-hat town there are other options out there for you as far as root beer is concerned. And in those cases, i suggest you look somewhere else for a decent root beer.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Napa Valley Root Beer

To start this review, i am obligated to give a "shout out" to my coworker Heather. Heather is a faithful reader and ardent follower of my work, and she was nice enough to lend a hand in finding a new root beer for me to review. She found this root beer at the local Big Lots for only $2 for a 4-pack. Quite a deal if you ask me. Anyway, she said she'd be happy to get me a pack to further my cause. So kudos to you Heather. Thanks for the helping hand, and let this be a lesson to the rest of you; when you help me you're really only helping yourself. Anyway, Napa Valley Soda Co. has been around since 1872, which puts it in the grandfather realm as far as root beers are concerned. Nappy Valley is of course in California and is famously known as wine country, but this soda is now distributed by Wet Planet, which has its headquarters in Rochester, NY. There are several fruity flavors, but it seems like they showcase the root beer (which any good soda company with good business sense should do).

This root beer comes in 12 oz. clear glass bottle. It's not necessarily a typical bottle though, it's a little different shaped. Kind of old fashionedy. Anyway, the sticker label is very colorful, complete with a rainbow hot air balloon and the flowery, hippie love child font (which i am not sure Microsoft is actually responsible for) spells out the name of the soda company over a spiraling galaxy like swirl. Probably influenced by the San Francisco hippy movement of the mid to late 1960's. I don't really care for the label, but in this case, i don't think that's what's most important.

I have long held that root beer in clear glass bottles is usually disappointing. Well up until now, every root beer in a clear glass bottle has backed that theory up. This root beer however flies in the face of all the presumptions i had about this. For starters, this root beer has a good amount of carbonation, something which is not common in clear glass bottle root beers. Most has little to no carbonation, but Napa Valley comes stocked with just the right amount. Second, the flavor is full and satisfying, while most other clear glass bottle root beers seem watered down and bland. The distinct full bodied root beer flavor and slight carmel undertones really impressed me. Granted, it's nothing earth shattering or completely new, but all that aside, it is a very refreshing and surprisingly good root beer. Both my wife and i thoroughly enjoyed it, and at $2 for a 4-pack, there's really no excuse why this stuff shouldn't get the approval of everyone else also.

My official review is that Napa Valley Root Beer gets 8 (eight) IBCs. This is a solid root beer, one i think has universal appeal. It's good, inexpensive, and refreshing. I am pleased with it, and i want to say thanks again to my coworker Heather for picking this one up for me. I'm adding it to my regulars list. I am not sure if Big Lots are located all across this great nation, but if you find yourself near one, you should stop in and pick up some of this stuff.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Journey Desert Sage Root Beer

Before i dive into this review (which is bound to be short), i just want to toot my own horn and say that i have officially been professionally reviewing root beers for one year now. Looking back, it's amazing and awe inspiring to see how many lives i've blessed with this important work i do. I appreciate all of the praise you, my loyal readers, shower upon me on a regular basis. So here's to another great year of root beer reviewing. Cheers!

So anyway, for the first review of my second official year, i'm pleased to announce that i tracked down one of the other two root beers created by the Journey soft drinks company. For a rundown on Journey, please see my Journey John Barleycorn post as it will save everyone time. The basics are that the company claims to make sodas from the best ingredients available. But from my review of John Barleycorn, the company has a lot more work to do. Even some of you, my faithful readers, put in some of your comments affirming my astute observation of a truly awful root beer (although, i will concede that one with a far inferior ability to mine could easily come to the same conclusion). Well i am sorry to say that this root beer is in the same wheelhouse.

The label on the 12 oz. bottle is basically just like that of John Barleycorn with a different color scheme. There is a soft green background to coincide with the Desert Sage name. I don't know if it's just a clever name or if they actually put Desert Sage in the drink, but if so i have something to say to the Journey company... STOP IT! This stuff is just as bad as John Barleycorn. It is completely flat, it doesn't taste like root beer at all, and it leaves a nasty taste in your mouth afterward. It tastes extremely similar to Route 66, almost like a rotten fruit flavor. It's awful. Don't waste your time with this company (again).

My official review is that Journey Desert Sage gets 1 (one) IBC. I don't know who in their right mind would think this company makes quality root beers. I haven't tried any of their other sodas, but i think any soda company worth its salt can be judged entirely from its root beer, and this company happens to have three root beers. So far, Journey has two strikes. That's enough for me to never want anything to do with them again, but i will continue my quest to track down the final Journey root beer. Don't hold your breath though.