Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wild Harvest Natural Root Beer

School has started for me again for a new semester, and my schedule is just as busy as ever. With all my down time this summer, i really didn't do much for root beer reviewing (other than mail ordering and traveling the continental U.S. to obtain new root beers). But i don't want to get behind now that school has started for me again. I picked up this little root beer at an Albertson's in Huntington Beach when my wife and i took our little weekend trip over to California. Wild Harvest is a natural root beer and falls into the category of those sweetened with real cane sugar. The company is kind of like an organic conglomerate of farmers, mostly in California, but from all over the U.S., Canada, and even internationally. I looked briefly through the site trying to find a date when and exact origin where the soda was created, but it's kind of hard to get that kind of cold data from the website (I did see that it is currently distributed from Eden Prairie, MN, for what it's worth). And for any further details... well, i will leave that investigative journalism to you fine folks, if you feel so inclined. These guys have an approach which is very similar to that of an interesting documentary my wife and i watched called Food, Inc. I don't get too caught up in that kind of stuff, but i will say it's interesting to think about if nothing else. It just seems so hard to eat healthy, but i think with the whole green movement and the global warming marketing scam going on that organic food is catching on in a big way. I'm telling you, going green sells.

I picked this root beer up in a 6-pack of cans. Not sure if it's packaged any other way, but i would highly doubt an opportunity to try this stuff from a glass bottle. No big deal though. I have my preferences, but i'll take what i can get. The Wild Harvest logo is accompanied by an image of a frothy mug of root beer and the typical natural/organic mumbo jumbo you can find pasted on a root beer label. Its design is not unlike several other labels of natural root beers i have seen. 365 Root Beer comes to mind, as well as Santa Cruz Organic. So it's nothing overly novel or exciting. I don't expect too much these days, though it's been a while since a root beer label really knocked my socks off.

Wild Harvest makes only 4 flavors of soda, root beer being one of them. And as far as taste is concerned, i gotta say... it's not too shabby. Not what i expected from an organic root beer. The fact that it's sweetened with cane sugar is a big step in the right direction. Unlike Zevia. Are you kidding me? That stuff tastes awful. And for those of you who left me comments on my Zevia post... i rarely do this ever, but i will respond briefly... Quit kidding yourself that it's "healthy". Try drinking natural fruit juice or purified water if you want healthy. I want good tasting root beer. If it's a ginger beer, call it a ginger beer (which i also like, and which Zevia tastes nothing like). But don't call whatever that crap is a good ol' fashioned root beer. What Wild Harvest has to offer was a surprisingly tasty root beer. The root beer flavor is fairly subtle, but still there. It also has a bit of a pepper aftertaste to it, which sounds weird, but think Dr. Pepper and you'll know what i mean. It really works quite well though. I have to say, it's definitely one of the best natural/organic root beers i've tried.

My official review is Wild Harvest gets 6 (six) IBCs. For a natural root beer, that's very good. I mean, let's be honest... it's not my first choice. Nowhere close. But i'll give credit where credit is due. If Wild Harvest operates the way they claim to, then they make a fine root beer product with the business model they have. It's not bad.

Oh, and hippie from Seattle... sorry to hear that you sold your soul to use the Internet and respond to my Zevia post. Heavens knows it must have killed you to up your carbon offset by consuming the electricity to power your computer. Zevia sucks. I RULE!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dr. McGillicuddy's Old-Fashioned Root Beer

I ordered this root beer along with several others from a website called sodapopswarehouse. This silly little root beer with a funny name comes with a bit of a funny personal story, but i don't really feel like sharing it with you. You'll have to ask me to tell you about it at another time. So anyway, Dr. McGillicuddy's root beer is one of the few things made by the company that isn't a hard liquor, specifically schnapps. How the fine doctor parlayed this into a line of root beer is beyond me. The doctor's name is given on the site as Dr. Aloysuis Percival McGillicuddy, born 1808, and from all accounts is a fictional character used only for marketing, joining the ranks of Tony the Tiger and Joe Camel. The company that makes Dr. McGillicuddy's was bought in 1870 by a man named Thomas H. Handy, but it is unclear when the good doctor began making root beer. Most of the site is devoted to the schnapps aspect of the company, which likely is their bread and butter. However, i feel it was kind of them to put out a root beer so that i might review it for the masses.

The brown 12 oz. glass bottle is nothing out of the ordinary. The clear sticker label is very basic also. Only one color is used, a kind of beige/cream color for the entire label. As you can see, lots of text with a few different font styles relays the message that this is indeed a root beer you are drinking. Overall though, it's quite lack luster and there is nothing fantastic about it.

However, what Dr. McGillicuddy's lacks in label innovation, he makes up for in taste. This is a GOOD root beer. Not the best, but it's one of those that pops out of a sea of ordinary to sweep you off your feet. My wife particularly enjoyed it, saying that it tastes like Delta in-flight airline cookies (which, if you've ever flown anywhere with my wife, you will know she thoroughly enjoys because she won't stop talking about them until the plane lands). My description isn't that specific, but i would say that it has a mellow, kind of underwhelming root beer flavor combined with some smooth vanilla and a touch of minty-ness for a fantastic aftertaste. It's not as carbonated as i usually like, but it's not too shabby. Overall, i would definitely say it's the best root beer made by a doctor, and there are quite a few doctors putting out root beers these days...

My official review is that Dr. McGillicuddy's gets 8 (eight) IBCs. In reality, it's probably more like a 7, but i let my wife influence me and talk me into at least giving it an 8. But regardless, it's a good root beer, and one i suggest you try if you're anywhere near a bottle.