Sunday, December 9, 2012

Eric's Famous Root Beer

It's time i start reviewing the batch of root beers i got from The Root Beer Store. Technically, i already reviewed at least one i got there, but i reviewed all the root beers i ordered from the Soda Emporium together and now i will endeavor to do the same with this group. Eric's Famous Root Beer is one i've heard of for a long time but only now have gotten my hands on.  It was started by a guy named Eric around the year 2000 (the distant future) up in Millcreek, WA. Eric's Famous is a line of sports drinks (a la Gatorade) as well as 4 flavors of soda, root beer being one. The sodas are energy drinks, so this is technically an energy soda. I've reviewed a few energy root beers on this blog before (see Bawls G33K B33R and Root Jack) so this isn't necessarily new to me, but i was caught off guard a little. I guess i was expecting kind of a more classic crafted root beer, but this is definitely not that. It's one of the few root beers containing caffeine, along with ginseng, guarana, and all those other things that give you energy. Granted, i think most energy drinks overload you with sugar and caffeine to the extent that you feel sick afterward. So i will give it to Eric that he tried to make an "all natural" energy drink. And speaking of being caught off guard, if i'm looking at the website right i think Eric is a black guy. Good for you Eric. I didn't know black guys even liked root beer. But i think i speak for all root beer enthusiasts when i say we're glad to have you.

Side note: Sorry that first paragraph was so hyperlink heavy. I apologize. Where are my manners?

This energy root beer comes in a classic 12 oz. brown glass bottle. The label looks very professional and classy. It has a lot of silver metallic elements to it and it's flashy and eye-catching. It almost looks like a beer label. My first impression was Coors Light, but when i looked up pics for comparison it didn't really match up as well as i thought. Something about the label says "silver bullet" to me though. It has a real machine quality to it. But maybe that just comes from the pics i saw on the website of the root beer next to something that looks like a chromed up drill press and a circular saw. Not sure what to make of it all. Maybe that this stuff is just for men? Men working in construction or other blue collar jobs? I don't know. But regardless, i like the label. 

However, the taste is up for debate. If you read the reviews i did on the other energy root beers, you'll know i'm not really a fan of how they taste. So right out of the gate, Eric's has a heavy bias against it. I will say for the record though that this is definitely better than Root Jack. And it's been a long time since i tried Bawls, but it's probably better than that too. As i mentioned, it's made with natural ingredients, including cane sugar. It has a fair root beer flavor and decent carbonation, but the energy drink side of it basically dominates the aftertaste. I think Eric did good at making his energy drink taste like a root beer, but unfortunately it's not really what i'm looking for over all. The taste has grown on me the more i slowly drink it, but it was quite jarring at first and still doesn't quite settle right with my expectations of what a root beer should be. 

My official review is that Eric's Famous Root Beer gets 5 (five) IBCs. My wife thinks i am out-of-my-mind crazy for rating it this high. From that statement you can probably gather that she's not a fan. But she had the same jarring first experience i had without the luxury of finishing off the rest of the bottle; a practice i try to do with every root beer i have reviewed and only failed to do with a very select few of truly awful root beers. So while she tapped out early, i gotta say sticking with it has it's benefits. I can appreciate this root beer, but still... that doesn't mean i have to like it. Sorry Eric, but this stuff really just isn't for me. I'm still glad you're with us though. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Pop Shoppe Root Beer

Here is another one i ordered from Soda Emporium. I am coming to the end of the ones i ordered from this site, but not to fear because i still have several more to review from another site. The Pop Shoppe is a company that makes sodas in a variety of flavors. The website is kinda crazy, so just be ready for that. It seems like it has a lot to explore and promises to be jam packed with fun and adventures, but i went there just for basic information and didn't poke around all that much. Something of interest is that this company is Canadian and was started all the way back in 1969. It was started by two guys in London, Ontario and enjoyed quite a bit of success up until about 1983 when sales slowed down and the company shut its doors (from what i can gather). Then in 2002, a new guy stepped in and revitalized the company, moved it to Burlington, Ontario, and brought it to the point it is today where it is available once again all over Canada and the United States. So here's an interesting fact about me... i actually lived in both London and Burlington. Both great cities, though if i had to choose a favorite it would be Burlington. Beautiful place right on the southwestern shore of Lake Ontario. I don't love the winters up there, but fall is gorgeous with all the leaves changing color. I lived in Ontario for 2 years and never heard of this stuff until now, but i guess it makes sense since i left in 2002, right as it was making a comeback. Must have just missed it.

The distinctive "stubby" bottle as it was known was a signature part of the company's persona, one that was important enough to maintain during the revitalization. It's clear glass and 12 oz. but definitely not typical. My wife says it's cute. I rather like it also. Canada must have a fascination with small bottles because i remember a line of sodas called "chubbies", and the cuteness of the packaging must have been the whole appeal because they were awful. The label is part of the bottle. Doesn't come off without some serious scraping. I don't know what you call that kind of label, but it's kind of like screen printing on a t-shirt. It's just on there. It's very simple in nature and maintains the original logo of the company from its inception in 1969. I like it.

But... this root beer is not without its flaws. First, it doesn't really taste like root beer to me at all. My wife says it tastes like medicine. She's not a fan of it at all. While i don't agree with her and i don't hate it, it's far from one of my favorites. It's very watery and nearly completely flat as well as not very sweet. It's also quite foamy and maintains a decent head for those of you who care about that kind of thing. I for one do not, but it's worth mentioning i suppose. I really don't enjoy the aftertaste either, which lingers for a long time after the bottle is empty. I still can't really put my finger on what it tastes like and nothing in the list of ingredients lends any hints, but rest assured that this stuff definitely falls short where it counts.

My official review is that The Pop Shoppe Root Beer gets 4 (four) IBCs. To be completely upfront and honest, the only things that saved this from getting a 3 was the stubby bottle and the fact that it's from my old stomping grounds. It was destined for a 3 (or worse) based on taste alone. This is kind of harsh i know because the 1 to 3 ratings are reserved for root beers i absolutely hate. That's why i struggled so hard with this one. I want to love it. I really do. I just can't. I won't say i'll never drink this again, but i will say that this root beer had better have more than just a pretty face if it wants to be in my regular rotation.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Crater Lake Root Beer

My recent root beer exchanging acquaintance Eric told me about the website where i found this root beer (or at least i think he did). Crater Lake Root Beer was one of the root beers i ordered from The Root Beer Store a while ago. Like the Soda Emporium they have a good variety and seem to get new brands from time to time. The Root Beer Store is based out of the Pacific Northwest, specifically Washington state, so it's nice to be able to access some of the root beers in that region via this website. The company was started by a guy named Curt Gouverneur from Indiana and his family. The family moved to Portland, OR (where Crater Lake is located) and got into the soda game making it and distributing it in kegs until a recent merger allowed them to start bottling it and selling it in retail establishments. They make a total of four flavors of sodas, one of which is root beer. They tout all natural ingredients and 100% cane sugar as well as being gluten free and kosher. You can always count on those Pacific Northwest hippies to make a vegan soda when you need it.

This root beer comes in a clear 12 oz. glass bottle and has a very colorful and tasteful label. There is a mural of serene looking Crater Lake and the whole thing is fresh and clean looking. There is a photograph of Crater Lake on the website, and i gotta say the place is very picturesque. I like the label a lot. Maybe if i ever get up to Portland i'll go visit the real thing. Until then i might just keep this bottle on my desk so i can gaze at it when i want to get away from work for a few minutes.

The website says that all the ingredients are organic and that there is little carbonation for a full, crisp taste. Well i gotta hand it to those hippies... they made a pretty decent soda. I would like a little more carbonation for my personal tastes, but it is still pretty good. It has a decent vanilla flavor and a nice sweet undertone from the cane sugar. Still, there is something about it that is a little funky. It does leave a bit of a bad aftertaste in my mouth, but all in all it's not bad.

My official review is that Crater Lake gets 6 (six) IBCs. I don't think i would classify this as a natural root beer even though it would technically fit the bill. It's too good for that anyway. Instead i will stick with the term used on the website and call it a "gourmet" root beer. It definitely didn't offend me so bad that i wouldn't try it again. Still, at about $2.20 per bottle, this stuff is a bit pricey to buy one at a time in the mail. Maybe go up to Crater Lake and grab one of these sodas sometime. If i ever get up there, i'll probably do that.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

DNA Old Fashioned Root Beer

My friend Richard moved out to San Diego and visited the shop where Old Town Root Beer is sold. If you visit my post about Old Town you will get a little info about that operation as well as why the website listed on the bottle ( isn't very reliable for info. To save those of you who don't care to read any of my other reviews some time (shame on you), it's kind of a soda/sandwich shop from what i gather. They have all kinds of bottled soda there and make a few varieties of their own, including at least 2 different root beers. This root beer, DNA Old Fashioned Root Beer, is one of them. Richard picked this one up for me along with a few others and brought it to me. What a nice guy. I think next time we go out to visit him, i will definitely need to stop by this shop and check it out. I have seen a similar set up of a small restaurant/soda shop in St. George, UT called Judd's Store. I just walked through it quickly and didn't order food or even get a soda, but i assume it's the same general idea as far as the set up goes.

This root beer came in a 12 oz. dark brown glass bottle. The label is kinda busy. Lots of text surrounding a small black-and-white portrait of two young scamps sitting on an old wooden wagon loaded with root beer bottles. Looks like something right out of the Little Rascals, or probably more-so like they are borrowing a page directly from the portfolio of Kim Anderson. They even threw in a little color in the photo on the root beer bottle labels (which from what i gather are bottles of Old Town Root Beer, not DNA). But i guess it works cuz my wife thinks it's a-dorable. The text surrounding the portrait says things like, "thank you for buying our root beer. it's going to pay for college." It's also written in font that looks like little kid hand writing, really driving the nail in on the cute factor that all these dumb girls keep falling for. Below the portrait it says, "It's what you're made of", which is an obvious play on the literal meaning of the acronym for deoxyribonucleic acid (settle down nerds, i still had to look up how to spell it). I was looking for something to link the name DNA to the names of the kids in the picture, as in "Dan n' Andy" or "Darius n' Alistar", but i had no such luck. Even without the evidence I still think that might be what they were going for, but unless someone has the inside scoop i guess we'll never know.

This root beer is kinda like the pretty girl who can't manage to keep a guy. She may be cute but she doesn't have much else going for her. I gotta say, this stuff is not very good. For starters, it's super watery. The faint flavor it has is dominantly honey based, and not even in a good way. The ingredients claim vanilla is used, but i don't taste it at all. It is also sweetened with cane sugar, but it's really not all that sweet. And to top it all off, the aftertaste it leaves is pretty repugnant. I know it sounds like i am completely trashing this stuff, but in defense of DNA there are definitely a lot worse root beers out there. This one just isn't very good.

My official review is that DNA Old Fashioned Root Beer gets 3 (three) IBCs. In very rare fashion i told my wife i was considering giving it a 3 and asked her what her input would be. She agreed with me, completely casting aside how cute she thinks the little boys in the label are. There is just nothing there to make me want to drink another one of these. So i gotta say if you make your way down to the shop in San Diego, try one of their other root beers instead of this one. And sorry boys... but you might have to consider taking out student loans.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Grand Teton Root Beer

I picked this one up personally a while ago up in Centerville, UT (a suburb just north of Salt Lake City). My brother lives there and we went up for the 4th of July to visit family, and it just so happened that i found this one by chance at the local grocery store by his house (which i can't seem to remember the name of at this time). The Grand Teton Brewing Company is located in Victor, ID and has been making beers and sodas since 2003. Victor is night near the Idaho/Wyoming boarder, near Yellowstone National Park and at the foot of the Grand Teton Mountains. I went to college my first year in a small town nearby called Rexburg, ID and spent a lot of time in the Tetons snowboarding at Targhee Ski Resort. I have a lot of fond memories of that place, even though i doubt i would want to live there permanently. It was very scenic and pretty, but also quite isolated. I much prefer the city life personally. Still, convincing me to go back to Targhee for a snowboarding trip wouldn't be hard. They had great snow and a lot of fun runs. It's been well over 10 years since i have been back, so it would be neat to go visit for a few runs.

I picked this up in a 4-pack of 12 oz. clear glass bottles. The label is well done, colorful, vibrant, and fitting of a small town brewery in Idaho. There is a scenic picture of the Grand Tetons setting a backdrop for a meandering stream and a silhouette of a moose. Yes, they do have moose in those areas. My brother and i did a night time canoe trip down the Snake River one night and he told me how he had done the same float before with friends and they were stared down by a giant moose getting a late night drink of water. We didn't see a moose on our trip, but we did tip the canoe and get soaking wet in the middle of the night. Even at the tail end of summer it was freezing cold. In the moment it wasn't much fun, but we had a good laugh about it after.

This root beer is fairly watery and is prominently flavored by anise. I don't love the black licorice taste, but it is watered down enough that i don't gag on it or anything. It is sweet tasting from the cane sugar, but i am not in love with the overall experience. The carbonation is ok and it has a nice sweet finish, but it all comes down to the unfavorable anise flavor. It's also a common taste, meaning that i know there are several root beers i have had which taste very similar, though i can't pinpoint one immediately. Not terrible stuff, but definitely not in contention for one of my favorites. My wife agrees, this does little to nothing for her.

My official review is that Grand Teton Root Beer gets 5 (five) IBCs. My wife doesn't like it at all and doesn't think it deserves even a 5. Technically, it should get a 4 since it's not necessarily bad, but definitely not what i'm looking for. But i figure i will bump it up for sentimental reasons. It brings back a lot of memories of my time in Idaho, even though i never drank this there. But that was a fun period of my life and it's nice to revisit it when drinking this stuff. So grab some of this is you care. Or don't. I'm not really bothered either way. However, if you do find yourself in Rexburg, you should take a trip out to Big Jud's and get a Jud Burger. It's about 15 to 20 minutes south of town in Archer, ID and it's totally worth it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fireman's Brew Root Beer

This is another root beer i got from my shipment from Soda Emporium. Fireman's Brew is based in Inyokern, CA (a little north east of Bakersfield) and was started in 2000 by two Los Angeles based firefighters named Rob and Ed. They started the company making beers, but expanded to make a root beer, a cream soda, a black cherry soda, and even a few flavors of coffee. One thing i read on the site and thought was pretty cool is that they carve off a piece every sale and donate it to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which is nice to see them take care of their own. No complaints about that. In fact sirs, my hat is off to you.

The label is very tasteful and well done. It has a nice firehouse type seal dominating the label. It's clear and clean and professional looking, as well as respectful. The logo has the phrase "Extinguish Your Thirst" above it and "Ignite the Party" below it. Catchy, classy, and an overall good feel to it. I gotta say, i'm impressed with the work you've done Rob and Ed.

This root beer is also sweetened with real cane sugar, which seems the route a lot of smaller companies are going. I know the debate rages on between pure cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup, i.e. which is better for you and tastes better, etc. Frankly, i don't really care. I like a lot of the root beers/sodas with HFCS and i also like some with pure cane sugar. That's not as big selling point for me as it may be for many others. But using cane sugar can't harm your score in my opinion. The sweetness of the root beer is a mere afterthought to what the overall flavor is, and i gotta say, this one has a real good flavor. It has a nice wintergreen aroma and taste, a touch of molasses maybe, and it packs a little bit of a bite. But i has good carbonation and a nice aftertaste which make this one of the better root beers i have had in a little while. It reminds me a little of Teddy's, though i still think Teddy's has the strongest and most favorable wintergreen finish to it of almost all the root beers i have tried. But I think this is stuff can hang with Teddy's.

My official review is that Fireman's Brew gets 7 (seven) IBCs. I struggled with this rating a bit. It's every bit deserving of a 7, which is good, but my wife was urging me to give it an 8 or possibly even a 9. She said she thinks i am wrong on this one. That's how i know my wife is crazy. I mean, this stuff is good, but i gave Teddy's only a 7 and Teddy's is still better than Fireman's. In fairness, Teddy's was one of the first i reviewed, and in hindsight and after 4 years of doing this i would readily say Teddy's is deserving of an 8 for sure. However, i don't re-review or retract ratings once given, so Teddy's stays at 7 and this one needs to fall in line. Had i given Teddy's an 8, i would gladly bump up the rating on this one as well. But really, the pith of the matter is that this is a good root beer and you should grab one if you get the chance.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Trader Joe's Vintage Root Beer

This one has been on my radar a long time, but i seriously could never track it down. I think a lot of people are going to be familiar with this though. Trader Joe's is a chain of grocery stores located in several states across the nation which pride themselves on being small, dealing with local farmers and grocers, and being utterly overrun with hippies at all times. It's somewhat similar to Whole Foods, but not as big or expensive or pretentious. They make a line of their own sodas, which includes a root beer. It is, of course, naturally sweetened and made with natural ingredients. It's even vegan, if you care about that kind of thing (cuz i don't). I have gone into several Trader Joe's locations from time to time over the years looking for this one, but it was always out of stock or not on the shelves. At one time i thought it might be discontinued, but i kept seeing mentions of it. I finally found a store with some root beer stocked, so i picked up a 4-pack. It's not a bad store if you can tolerate the shiftless hippie employees and patrons. I once dated a girl who was a vegetarian yoga instructor border lining on being a full blown hippie, except she was very clean and not a vagrant or a burnout. It was a bit of a moral dilemma for me. Needless to say, it didn't work out even though i still think highly of her. She was the one who introduced me to Trader Joe's. But i honestly have never shopped there much. All that was just to say i'm not opposed to the place, but it's not my first choice either.

They went with the 12 oz. clear glass bottles which are typical of a lot of the natural root beers. The label doesn't inspire much, but it's not terrible either. The color scheme lacks originality, but the design and font are lively enough and save the label from utter drabness. This came in a 4-pack, and it was about $4, so it's not the cheapest stuff around, but it's not expensive either. For your money, the best deal is still a sixer of IBC on sale for around $2.50. And last i checked, stupid Henry Weinhard's is around $7 for a 6-pack. Are you insane Henry? Oh wait, we've already established that you are, you tyrannous ne'er-do-well. But i digress.

My wife has told me that she really enjoys this stuff. And i have to say, for a natural root beer, it's easily one of the best i've had. Maybe even the best. It has good carbonation and a good root beer flavor with a hint of vanilla aftertaste (one of the flavors listed as an ingredient). Other listed flavors include anise, wintergreen, and birch. I can taste maybe a hint of wintergreen, but i don't really get the other flavors. It's sweetened with cane sugar, which makes it pretty sweet too. It's fairly watery, but i find it compliments the salty taste of a plate of nachos (a staple of my diet). So... i guess all i can say is... nice job vegans. You did a decent job on this one. 

My official review is that Trader Joe's Vintage Root Beer gets 7 (seven) IBCs. I have to say, it's a borderline 7. I wrestled with giving it a 6, which i think it wholly deserves. But it's better than a plain old 6, especially considering it's a natural root beer. So i am letting it squeak by with a 7. It's decent stuff. Really. Just another reason to consider Trader Joe's an alright place to shop. Grab some if you get the chance. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mercury Root Beer

I want to get into this one, but before i do i need to say that i got this root beer from a site called the Root Beer Store. It's another good mail order root beer site that someone (i think Eric) directed me to. I alluded in my last post (Freaky Dog Rooffbeer) that this was the next one i was going to review. Mercury Root Beer is brewed by the Mercury Brewing Co. The website on the bottle ( leads to a dead end, which you would know from reading the Freaky Dog post. You would also know that by googling Mercury Brewing, you can reach this site, which is the site for the brewery that brews Mercury Root Beer and has been operating out of Ipswich, MA since 1991. Other than being a town in Massachusetts, Ipswich is also a popular football club (aka soccer team) over in England. I'm not really a professional sports fan in any sense of the word, so someone over there please correct me if i'm wrong, but i don't think i am. I think i've overheard enough soccer talk in my life to get some of the basics. But the point is, i think Mercury Brewing and Ipswich Brewing must be one and the same. Not sure if it was a take over type situation or a shared labor agreement, but i have to think they are working together for more reasons that just this one. But we'll get to that later.

The typical 12 oz. clear glass bottle is adorned with a generic color schemed label with the main focus being on the fact that this soda is a root beer, and the name of the company is below as a secondary consideration. So instead of being Mercury Root Beer, i should probably have labeled this post "Root Beer! ... (oh yeah, that's made by Mercury Brewing Co.)". Nothing on the label really stands out from the bland background except the little depiction of the Roman God of Messengers, Mercury himself (or Apollo if you subscribe more to the Greek mythological god naming protocol). Mercury can be seen drinking from a mug wearing his distinctive winged hat. Traditionally he is depicted wearing winged sandals to symbolize his speed, but the label only has him shown from the shoulders up. Kind of a bad call if you ask me Mercury/Ipswich Brewing Co. Instead of the giant "root beer" font on the label, maybe you should have shown a better image of Mercury in all his glory. Hey, even a picture of the planet Mercury would have been better. All the planets of course taking their names from Roman gods, Mercury was so named for being the innermost planet with proximity closest to the Sun, giving it the shortest orbital cycle. Indeed, Mercury's swiftness is displayed by completing an orbit once every 88 days, which means it circles the Sun a little more than 4 times every Earth Year. But while its eccentric orbital path may be the shortest distance of all the planets in the solar system, Mercury has one of the slowest rotational speeds, completing roughly three Mercurian days every two orbits. It has been documented for centuries via telescopic Earth observations, but was only visited via satellite during the mid 1970's Mariner Probe missions and recently at the end of the last decade via the Messenger flyby to study Mercury's core and magnetic field. Fascinating stuff. I mean, come on Mercury Brewing... i think you really dropped the ball on this label.

Outside the obvious connections between the websites listed on both the Freaky Dog Rooffbeer and Mercury Root Beer labels, one of the main reasons i wanted to try this one right after Freaky Dog (and quickly after) was to do a taste test between the two. Now, it wasn't side-by-side comparison, but i just reviewed Freaky Dog yesterday and i have to say... i think they are the same root beer. I think the same liquid is bottled in two separately labeled bottles and sold under separate distribution channels. A true side-by-side test would help me confirm my suspicion, but for the time being i am going to say that they taste identical.  It's not uncommon for one root beer to taste like another, but when both companies list the same brewery/website and then that website leads to a dead end and the only common link is a third unmentioned-on-the-label brewery, i gotta stop and think these crazy kids are trying to cover their tracks or something. Seems kinda fishy what these two companies are up to.

My official review is that Mercury Root Beer gets 5 (five) IBCs. Now i know what you're thinking... "Yo Cosmo, why would you give this a lower rating than Freaky Dog if they tasted identical? How can that one be better than this one bro? I mean, i know you're like super awesome and probably like real good lookin' and stuff. I mean, i aint never seen you and i'm not gay or nothin'. Like, i mean, i like girls and stuff. So ya know... just sayin'. But how could you do that bro?" My answer, dear reader, is this... because i can. In fact, i just did. It's not just the taste that sells the review. It's the whole package. And the Freaky Dog package is better than the Mercury Package. Need i say more? I do? Well... i'm not going to.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Freaky Dog Rooffbeer

 Ok, tracking down the correct website for this one took a little extra work (and i emphasize "little" cuz really i'm just sitting at a computer and typing and clicking), but i finally tracked down the right one. Freaky Dog Rooffbeer (clever) is bottled by Drinx Unlimited Inc., but is somehow associated with Mercury Brewing Company. Both companies' websites are on the label. Typing in will send you here. Not much help. Google searching Mercury Brewing lead me here (after clicking on the sodas page). I didn't see Freaky Dog Rooffbeer on this site, but i did see Mercury Root Beer, which i have at home and in light of all this i will probably review that one next. So i will talk more about that page/company in my next post. Typing in took me here, which brought me much closer to my final destination. All i had to do was click on the icon in the top left corner and we finally get to the correct website for Freaky Dog Rooffbeer. So making sense of the whole thing i found out that brothers Tom and Jim Magli grew up in Connecticut with a father in the soda business. They too went into the beverage distribution business for a while before starting their own distribution company (Drinx Unlimited). So that explains that. I am still not certain how they are associated with Mercury Brewing, but i will go so far as to say they probably contract Mercury to brew their root beer. Don't really care to do further research though cuz that's not really what you, my loyal readers, really care about. The name Freaky Dog comes from a little beagle rescue dog Jim and his wife adopted and named Eddie (aka Little Eddie). The site gives some details about the crazy antics of this destructive/kleptomaniac dog of theirs that they just love to death. I like animals in general, including dogs, but i've never been big on pets, so this didn't tug at my heart strings like it might with some of you dog lovers out there. But if you care to read up on Little Eddie and see some videos of him (i presume they are of him), you can check out the website for yourselves. It's set up to be a fun site. The home page has a little animation at the top of Eddie walking down a sidewalk. I'd suggest hovering you mouse over him for a moment for a little thrill and then disappointment in yourself that you actually wasted you time by listening to my suggestion.

Tom and Jim's website stress the fact that all 16 fun flavors of their sodas are bottled in clear 12 oz. glass bottles so you can see the soda. That was a big thing for these guys when they were kids. The Freaky Dog label depicts a cartoon version of Little Eddie with a menacing look in his eyes and a very toothy grin. The font is big and catchy, and these two components dominate the label. There really isn't anything else on it other than the nutritional facts and some website details hidden off on the sides. It's a nice enough label. I don't hate it. Not super elaborate, but these guys weren't just phoning it in either.
One thing that i noticed different about the bottle is the level they fill it to. Without going back to do the research personally, i'm going to go out on a limb and say every other root beer i have reviewed is filled to or near the "normal" level, allowing a little room between the liquid and the cap for whatever reason. I think this is the only one i have tried so far that has the bottle filled to the "not normal" level. Not sure if this was a one-off goof or standard practice for the boys over at Drinx Unlimited. Being in a clear glass bottle it's easy to see this distinctly, but i really didn't give it much thought until i twisted off the cap and gave it the smell test before drinking it. I couldn't help but think that the liquid was a lot closer to my nose than normal (because when i do my smell test, i stick my nose inside the bottle neck as far as i can to get a good seal). That's not a bad thing, it's just a stupid observation i made. Not a big benefit or detriment for this root beer's rating at all, but something to consider.

I expected this one to have kind of a bland taste like many of the others i have had recently. I was surprised at my first drink though and thought it was really good and had a different kick to it. It was kind of peppery (like a Dr. Pepper) and had a mix of root beer candy barrel and cane sugar sweetness flavor. But the longer i drank it, the less unique i thought it was. By the end, it had slid back into the mediocre taste slot that is common among many root beers. The carbonation is decent and it's not as "thin" flavored as most, but it can be a bit watery. Still, i have to say it's better than a lot of root beers out there. But just barely.

My official review is that Freaky Dog Rooffbeer (still clever) gets 6 (six) IBCs. I think it's a cut above mediocre, but not quite ready for the big leagues (i threw that one in for Tom and Jim cuz the website says they are big baseball fans).  Nice label, amusing name, cute back story, but just kind of a decent taste that's not too bad. Valiant work though guys, keep it up. Grab some if you have the chance. But if you're looking for root beer candy barrels, there is really only one option.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Avery's Root Beer

This is another root beer i got in a not-so-recent shipment from the Soda Emporium. Avery's is another retro soda brand from long ago that produces a wide variety of flavors. It's named after Sherman F. Avery, the guy who started brewing it in his barn in 1904 in New Britain, CT. There is a picture of him as well as his barn on the website if you're interested in taking a look. Home delivery was a big part of his business, and apparently citizens of New Britain and surrounding areas can still get sodas delivered to their homes over 100 years later. I would suggest taking a look at the website and browsing around. The company seems to be really involved in the community and gives the opportunity for people to come in and make their own sodas. I am not kidding about the wide variety of flavors. The selection reminds me of the vastness of Jones Soda flavors. There is even a line of flavors called "Gross Sodas" which were inspired by kids coming in and making their own sodas. Customers can even design their own labels for fun or special occasions or whatever. Not necessarily new ideas as i have seen these options before (i.e. in my Surf City Root Beer review from Brewbakers in San Diego), but I like how Avery's gives its customers opportunities to get involved.

All the sodas on the website are bottled in 12 oz. clear glass bottles like the one in the picture above. The Avery's logo dominates the top of the label with the slogan "Always ask for Avery's". The label has a very retro look and feel to it. I doubt it has changed much if at all from the time Sherman started bottling his drinks. It's very simple but eye catching. It has a fresh look to it. Not my favorite label ever, but definitely a step above a lot of the competition. You'll also notice that it doesn't actually say "root beer" anywhere on the label because it's the same one they use on all their drinks. I guess that's their way of keepin' it real or something.

The root beer is flavored with pure cane sugar making it fairly sweet, but the overall flavor is a little thin and watery. This is common of many clear glass bottle root beers i have tried, and i have yet to make a valid connection as to why. So i kinda wasn't expecting much on the taste. It's definitely not terrible, but it doesn't knock my socks off either.

My official review is that Avery's Root Beer gets 5 (five) IBCs. I like a lot about the company and its a decent root beer. That doesn't make it one of my favorites though. It just kinda falls in the middle like so many others. I don't mind it at all, but nothing about the flavor really stands out to me. Unfortunately this leaves Avery's with a mediocre rating. But if you're dying to try one, i don't think you'd be wasting your time. I just have better root beers to be drinking is all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bedford's Root Beer

This is another root beer i ordered from the Soda Emporium. Bedford's Root Beer comes from Port Angeles, WA and has been around since 1984. I know this because it says so right on the label. The root beer is currently distributed through Orca Beverages, same as Red Arrow Root Beer. Little else is known by me about this root beer, but the name Bedford's is a little generic. There are tons of things that come up in Google when you enter Bedford's... a roofing service, a town in England, several inns/motels in various locations, and even some weird oceanic creature called a flatworm, which is just one more reason i hate everything in the ocean. But finding more info on the root beer named Bedford's was more difficult for me than all these other (un)interesting topics sharing the same name. For the most part though, i got what i wanted straight from the bottle.

This root beer comes in a classic (i've taken to calling it classic now, cuz i'm fancy) 12 oz amber glass bottle. The label isn't over the top amazing, but it is eye-catching. The big letter B in the center swirled in what appear to be some kind of vines or something draws your attention away from the fact that this is probably the only root beer i've seen where the name "Bedford's" is actually below the words "Root Beer". So reading in the traditional Western practice of left to right, top to bottom, it reads Root Beer Bedford's. A little clunky for my liking, but it's all about what you're used to i suppose. For example, here in America we would call the longest river in the country the Mississippi River. In contrast, over lovely friends over in England call the river dividing the city of London the River Thames. Neither is wrong, just a different way of saying it i suppose. I suspect it's part upbringing and part preference. But just between you and me, those people over in England are saying it wrong.

This stuff isn't half bad. It's quite sweet (made with pure cane sugar) and has a faint molasses taste to it, but it's not unpleasant. It has a good root beer flavor and decent carbonation. The flavor does fade fairly quickly though, and it leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth (literally, not figuratively). But for the most part, it's a decent root beer. Much better than Red Arrow, which is distributed by the same company.

My official review is that Bedford's gets 6 (six) IBCs. It's a good root beer. Not my first choice, but good. Really not much else to say about it, so... yeah. Lets just leave it at that.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tower Root Beer

Here is another root beer i got from the Soda Emporium site. Tower Root Beer has a lot of history attached to it. It comes from Somerville, MA and has been serving the Boston area since 1914. The site has a big write up on the history of the family run company, complete with some cool black and white pics from way back. The company that produced Tower Root Beer was called Prospect Hill Beverages, LLC which was a location where a tower stood atop a small hill for which the root beer is named. It was started by three brothers (i assume they are brothers, although it never really specifies) from Italy named Domenick, Giuseppe and Felice Cusolito.
Very Italian mob boss sounding names. During the years of prohibition, the company thrived and expanded to service much of New England throughout the Depression and into the 1960's. In 1969 the company was sold to a conglomerate and a franchise was run by Domenick's son Richard until 1978, at which time Tower went off the market. Then in the late 90's, Domenick's grandson Larry found the old recipe and brought the root beer back into production. All this can be seen on the website. Kind of a neat story i guess.

This root beer came in a stout brown 12 oz glass bottle, but the website tells of a time that the root beer was bottled in clear bottles until the acquisition of several 7 oz amber bottles from a beer brewery that was shut down during Prohibition. Ever since then, the brown glass bottles were used. I like the label. It has the old timey look of something you'd find in a pharmacy or apothecary. The font and colors selected are classically in line with the way it has always been made. The small circular depiction of the tower in the center includes the words "better than the best". While i admire the brash show of confidence, it has already been established that nothing can be better than IBC. Nothing gets 10 IBCs except IBC. Sorry Tower, you're just wrong on that one.

Keeping true to the old recipe, Tower is sweetened with pure cane sugar. But the ingredients on the label don't give any other indication to the flavor of the root beer. I think it has a very subtle molasses base which thankfully is not overpowering. But aside from that and the cane sugar i can't say i really get a root beer taste from it. That doesn't make it bad. In fact, i find myself enjoying this stuff quite a bit and perhaps without justified reason because i can't really defend it. I just like it. It's not amazing, but i wouldn't mind having another any time soon.

My official review is that Tower gets 6 (six) IBCs. I teetered on giving this one a 7, but i don't think it's quite deserving of that high a rating. But it's enjoyable, satisfying, has good carbonation and a pleasant taste, and therefore is easily deserving of a 6. Well done Tower. And welcome back.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Red Arrow Root Beer

A few months back i made a couple large online orders for root beers from a couple different sites, so the next several root beers that i will review will be from one of these sites i used. Red Arrow Root Beer was found on the site Soda Emporium, which has turned out to be quite useful as they cycle through new things all the time. They usually have the option to order individual bottles of a root beer, but sometimes they are only available in 4 or 6 packs. Shipping is always the killer with acquiring sodas this way, so it's only viable for me to order as many as i can/need at a time rather than one by one as they become available. But like i said, this is a good site for getting new root beers. Red Arrow is distributed by a company called Orca Beverages operated out of northern Washington state. They distribute a lot of older/classic sodas that aren't in regular circulation right now. I didn't spend to much time on it, but it's kind of a neat site.

The bottle is a tall 12 oz. dark brown glass bottle and the label is very simple and straight forward. I don't want to say lack luster because it really contains everything it needs and still caught my eye with the basic design of it. Sometimes simple is good. I like it.

I gotta say though, i wasn't as impressed with the taste. It had a nice hint of wintergreen aroma as i first twisted off the cap, but the taste left me wanting. It was very watery, sweet tasting from the cane sugar, but other than that i couldn't decipher much of a root beer flavor from it. I got a bit of anise flavor from it and it has somewhat of a sharp, almost spicy aftertaste (not uncommon to many root beers). It got better the more i drank it, but still was overall a bit of a let down. All the flavors were quite subtle and when all was said and done i had basically forgotten it.

My official review is that Red Arrow gets 4 (four) IBCs. I was leaning hard towards a 3 at first, but talked myself into a 4 after drinking it for a while. I realize that the reviews most people are interested in reading are the root beers which are very highly or very lowly rated. I want to deliver on those types of reviews, but the truth of the matter that the majority of root beers out there are just middle of the road. This happens to be another one of them, although i would consider it slightly less than middle of the road. Not the worst thing out there, but not my style. Go ahead and skip it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thomas Kemper Purely Natural Root Beer

I reviewed Thomas Kemper Root Beer a long time ago near the beginning of this whole root beer journey i've been guiding us all through, and at the time i reviewed it i thought i was done with Thomas Kemper. But it appears there is a new chapter in the book because in addition to the original brew, Thomas Kemper also makes a variation called Purely Natural which uses all natural ingredients (or in layman's terms, cane sugar). This was brought to my attention by a new acquaintance i have made courtesy of my root beer nemesis. My new acquaintance is also in the root beer reviewing racket and has offered to do some open trading with me as well. His first offer was for this TKPN, which he claims is off the market now and very rare. I took him at his word, but later saw that the Thomas Kemper site has a page dedicated to this supposedly now obsolete brew. Makes me wonder if this stuff really is discontinued. Either way though, i had no access to it so i was happy to trade.

The Purely Natural bottles are the standard tall 12 oz. bottles, which are different from the original TK stout bottle. The label is very different as well. It's a clear sticker and very stripped down of the pageantry and elegance of the original TK label. It doesn't look bad, but it definitely lacks the luster of the other label. Not sure why they didn't stick with the same bottle and label design. Maybe "natural" root beers are too good for all of that...

My review of original TK wasn't very favorable. It was the first root beer i reviewed that had a heavy (and i mean heavy) honey flavor. So i will always associate other honey root beers with TK even though they may not get as harsh a rating. And i gotta be honest, i don't really see any difference in the taste of TKPN. Maybe it's a little sweeter from the cane sugar and it's definitely a lot less gritty than i remember, but it's been so long since i've had a TK that i can't give it an accurate comparison. All i can do is describe what i taste in TKPN, and to sum it up nicely i would say it tastes like honey. Wasn't expecting much different though. Maybe a little bit of a gingersnap taste to it, which i am not sure where that flavor is coming from, but ultimately i am not a big fan. Maybe even less of a fan of this than original TK. That's hard to say though without having another original TK, and i really can't be bothered with that stuff anymore. I have lots of other better tasting root beers to drink.

My official review is that TKPN gets 4 (four) IBCs. Not a fan, not of this stuff nor the original brew. Just not my style of root beer. I have a friend who just moved to Portland whom i plan to visit sometime soon hopefully, so i am curious to research the availability (or lack there of) of this stuff in the Portland region, but other than that i couldn't care less to ever drink it again. Oh, and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The end.

Addendum 7/30/12: i should just tell you now that this new root beer acquaintance i made is named Eric and so far he's turned out to be a helpful guy in a lot of respects. I also now know that he reads my reviews (or at least this one) because he emailed me the following correspondence with email address attached from the President of Thomas Kemper Soda:


Thanks for your note. Unfortunately we've recently discontinued our Purely Natural Soda line. We loved the product but had difficulty in production.

Bill Germano
President, Thomas Kemper Soda

I am gonna go ahead and say this is probably legit. Good enough for me. If you choose to not believe it, well then that's on you dummy.

Side note: either Eric has a lot of swing or Bill isn't that busy a guy.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Saint Arnold Root Beer

This root beer comes from the great big state of Texas and was acquired on my latest cross country trek that i have mentioned in recent posts. Saint Arnold Brewing Company is located in Houston, TX and has been in operation since about 1994. The main focus of the brewery is making several beers which they claim are popular in the area, but in addition they also brew a root beer (and no other flavors of soda so far as i can tell). The website gives some fairly vapid history of the brewery and quite a bit of history and legend about the actual historical figure Saint Arnold who lived from 560-640 AD. I didn't find it very interesting, but if you'd like to read up about it you're welcome to do so. I'll give you a bit of a spoiler though for the sake of the blog. In short, the brewery is named after him due to a legend regarding pilgrims carrying his remains to a final resting place who were thirsty and without drink. One of them prayed to Saint Arnold that he would provide and the remnants of the beer they had with them ended up multiplying to be enough to quench all of them till they arrived home at the end of their journey. Neat, right? Yeah, i didn't really think so either.

I like the stout 12 oz bottle this one comes in and the label is definitely different from traditional root beer labels i have seen. It has a lot of color, striped background, and an illustration of the man himself, Saint Arnold, complete with a glowing halo around his pope hat (but just to be clear, he was never a pope). There are some little children on the sides of the picture too, maybe signifying it's ok for kids to drink this stuff. Arnold's a beardy man holding a frothy mug of brew. Oh, and he's got some snazzy looking robes on too. Very well done label, i must say. Reminds me a bit of the Virgil's label. Was Virgil a saint too? I don't know these things, but perhaps i should since they pertain to root beer.

Saint Arnold is fairly sweet start to finish, but it's not sickening or overwhelming. It's pretty typical of a root beer sweetened with cane sugar, which this one is. It also has a nice hint of wintergreen flavor, which i like. Kind of lacking in carbonation, but not completely flat. To be honest, the root beer flavor itself is fairly subtle, but this stuff isn't bad. There is a lot i like about it, but it's still somewhat forgettable, proved by the fact that i drank a bottle of this several months ago when i got it and couldn't remember how it tasted when i reviewed it today. All in all though, it's not a bad root beer and could assuredly quench a thirst on a hot day.

My official review is that Saint Arnold gets 6 (six) IBCs. It's better than a middle of the road root beer, but i am not craving it constantly (like i do with IBC). This stuff is supposed to be all over Texas, but we had to go to the brewery specifically to buy it. So outside of that, i am not sure where you'd find this. It's a decent drink though, so don't shy away from it if you get the chance to have one.

P.S. happy 43 anniversary of the Moon landing today, which i assure you was NOT faked. Keep your comments to yourselves haters.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Piggly Wiggly Root Beer

The last generic root beer i currently have is this; the Piggly Wiggly Root Beer. I have often heard of this little store called Piggly Wiggly, but never visited one until my last trip driving across the Southern states. Piggly Wiggly is a grocery store chain started in Memphis, TN in 1916 by a guy named Clarance Saunders. They give this guy a lot of credit for creating the whole concept of a self-service grocery store. Anyway, the chain is very popular in the South and other select areas, but they don't exist out here in the West/Southwest. The one i stopped in was in Georgia in a place called Grovetown outside of Augusta. I was wondering why they called it Piggly Wiggly. I think Richard (my travel companion) said it's cuz they sell every part of the pig there. But the website alludes that there is no real answer and gives a few theories which i guess are generally accepted as truth:
"Saunders' reason for choosing the intriguing name Piggly Wiggly ® remains a mystery; he was curiously reluctant to explain its origin. One story is that he saw from a train window several little pigs struggling to get under a fence, and the rhyming name occurred to him then. Someone once asked him why he had chosen such an unusual name for his organization, and Saunders' reply was, "So people will ask that very question." He wanted and found a name that would be talked about and remembered."

Again, the easiest/most inexpensive way to get this was in a can. Luckily i didn't even have to buy a six pack. The label follows some of the traditions of most generics as far as color scheme and logos are concerned. Honestly, it just looks kind of cheap to me. The Porky-Pig-looking mascot (cleverly dubbed Mr. Pig) kind of throws it off for me. I mean, i know this root beer is not trying to make anyone take it seriously, but the cartoon pig just overstates that in my opinion.

The taste is nearly identical to A&W, another proven generic method to copy such a popular flavor. It has decent carbonation as well. It's not bad. I can't fault it on taste. It will definitely do the job at a hot summer afternoon picnic or in a root beer float. And it's cheaper than A&W, but given the choice i would probably still just spring for the A&W. Don't really know what else to say about it. Maybe just... "meh".

My official review is that Piggly Wiggly Root Beer gets 5 (five) IBCs. This will conclude our tour of generics for the time being. I have a lot more root beers to go through and i just kinda wanted to get these out of the way, sad as it is to say. But that's part of being THE BEST ROOT BEER REVIEWER IN THE WORLD. And in case there is still any confusion, i am talking about myself. You're welcome world.

Hill Country Fare Root Beer

I have a few more canned generics i need to get through, and this is one of the ones i picked up on my cross country drive at the beginning of the year. Hill Country Fare Root Beer is one of the root beers i found in Houston, TX at the local HEB grocery store there. HCF is one of the brands sold by HEB and from what i gather is similar to Kroger in that HCF makes a wide variety of products. Anything from food to personal hygene and more. I guess root beer falls under that wide umbrella. I couldn't find a site for this one, not even a proper page on the HEB website. But it's known that HCF makes more flavors of soda than just root beer. From the can i think it may be made in San Antonio, but that could be completely wrong. No way to tell how long it's been in existance. Really though, it's just another product from a giant faceless corporation, so i can't imagine the backstory is all that interesting.

Like most generics, this one came in a variety of vessels, but i just wanted the cheapest and least space consuming means of transporting this across the country with me. So i sprang for the standard aluminum can. Nothing to say about the label really. Company logo, bland color scheme, big font, you get the point. I don't really mind reviewing generics, but 9 times out of 10 i struggle to find things to say about the labels because they are so bland and formulaic. This is one of those times.

I remember i drank one or two of these at the time i bought them on my trip, but it must have been as unremarkable as now because i have no memory of the experience. This stuff doesn't have a bad taste, but it's quite tame and forgettable. The flavor fades fast and it's a bit watery. It also leaves a bad taste in your mouth afterward. The carbonation seems a little off too, as i expected more than i got. Other than that, it's the stardard root beer flavor, no doubt made from a concentrate syrup bought in bulk. I can't really fault HCF. They are pumping this out in large volume to glean a little off the soda market. However, to HCF's credit the can says if you're not happy with your experience they will "cheerfully refund your money". I doubt i will take those measures as i am not particularly unhappy, just not very impressed.

My official review is that Hill Country Fare gets 3 (three) IBCs. I don't really mean to be harsh on this one because it's ultimately not terrible. But it's definitely on the lower side of the generics, meaning it lacks a lot of flavor and character. Truly, this root beer is adequate and is very inexpensive. But if you invest just a little more money there are a lot better options out there. So if you see this in the store, just get the HEB brand. It's in the same place and gives a greater ROI.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Maui Brewing Co. Island Root Beer

Aloha loyal readers! My wife and i took a recent trip to Hawaii for a much needed vacation to stay with Jenn's cousin Tyler and his wife Lauren. They live on Oahu, but for the weekend we all took a trip over to Maui where we found this locally brewed root beer. Maui Brewing Co. is located in the town that we stayed in for the weekend called Lahaina, but we found this root beer at a little pizza place called Flatbread in a town called Paia. It's kind of a little hippie, art community so Flatbread boasted how everything on the menu was locally grown and organic. Apparently there are more of these Flatbread pizza places around the country too, and i would highly recommend going. The menu in each place is different based on what local ingredients are available, and we all enjoyed the food a lot. We saw someone drinking this root beer there and of course had to inquire. Tyler and i each drank a can and decided to visit the brewery when we were closer to our hotel.

Here is a view of the Brewery from the outside. We attempted to eat there one evening, but they were closed for a brewfest going on somewhere else on the island, so we had to squeeze in a quick lunch on the day we left. The restaurant was really good. We all liked the food and it was a nice clean atmosphere that didn't smell weird since my wife refuses to eat at places that smell weird. Not too expensive (by Hawaii standards since everything over there is expensive) and good portions of food. If you make it to Maui and don't like root beer, definitely go just for the food. It's good. There are some pics of the interior below, one of the main dining area and bar and one of the brewery where all the beers and sodas are made.

Maui Brewing Co. cans their root beer, so Tyler and i each had a can of it at Flatbreads, but had it on draft at their location. The 12 oz. can is dark brown and tan in color with black and white writing. I like the Hawaiian turtle design on the can, and while there i learned that the Hawaiian word for turtle is "honu". And now you know that too. Look, we're learning things on this blog!

Tyler really liked the root beer because he really likes honey and the main ingredients in the root beer are honey, vanilla, and cane sugar. The honey definitely dominates the flavor and the cane sugar makes it quite sweet. We both agreed it seemed a little sweeter on draft than from the can as well. But ultimately, it just tastes like Thomas Kemper to me. I have said repeatedly on this blog that i am not a huge fan of honey in root beer, but that aside this stuff wasn't terrible. Not my favorite, but definitely not bad at all. It had good carbonation and was enjoyable despite the heavy honey taste.

My official review is that Maui Brewing Co. Island Root Beer gets 6 (six) IBCs. I rated Thomas Kemper fairly harshly, and i stand by my rating. That was the first root beer i tasted with honey in it, so it is kind of my standard for this style of root beer. But i really didn't mind Maui's Island Root Beer. Again, not my favorite, but i feel it's worthy of a 6. Hawaii is a great place to visit and we enjoyed our time in Maui. If you get a chance to go out there, definitely go to the brewery for a lunch or dinner and grab a root beer while you're at it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Zest-o Root Beer

Here is another international review. Zest-o Root Beer comes from Quezon City in the Philippines. The website is in English and features all the products Zest-o offers, mostly food related. I picked this stuff up on my study abroad last January in Dubai, but i have found websites where you can order it and have it shipped here. I know a few people who are from or lived in the Philippines and told me about another soda over there they say is similar to root beer, but really isn't root beer. I don't remember the name of it now, but i remember trying it and not being impressed at all. It was kinda weird. But from the sounds of it, root beer is really hard to find outside the U.S. I know Bundaberg comes from Australia and i reviewed that root beer previously, but that stuff is seriously terrible, further solidifying my notion that i never want to go to Australia. My wife likes to watch those travel shows about the most dangerous and deadly places on Earth, and guess what... they are all in Australia. Nature seriously wants to kill everyone there.

I found this in the Emirates Mall in Dubai inside a giant store that would be comparable to Walmart here. I don't recall the name of it. But all i could find were cans of Zest-o, and it was an 11.2 oz. can which is a tad smaller than the standard 12 oz. U.S. can. The label follows the formula of one of the many generic brands here in the states; brown/wooden background (presumably symbolizing a barrel), typical color scheme, and even an image of a frothy root beer mug at the bottom. The logo is bold and prominent with the promise that this root beer has a full rich flavor. We'll just have to see about that.

Right off the bat, this stuff had a thick anise aroma when i cracked the can open, basically giving away the taste of the soda. It's fairly sweet (they use refined sugar) and reasonably carbonated, but heavily dominated by the anise flavor. Anyone who has followed my reviews knows that i am not a big fan of this. Basically, this stuff is like drinking a can of Good & Plenty (i can't remember if i said this before about another root beer, but it seems like i could have). And everyone knows that in the grand scheme of candy
supremacy, Good & Plenty comes in second to last just above candy corn. So long story short, i'm not really a fan. That's lucky for me since this stuff is generally harder to find considering it is made overseas and may be difficult to get here in the states. And for a comprehensive breakdown of candy supremacy, visit my blog of the candy supremacy hierarchy.

My official review is that Zest-o Root Beer gets 4 (four) IBCs. It's not a terrible tasting root beer, but i simply don't like the flavor. Much better than some of the other garbage out there and a decent attempt for an overseas company to take at making root beer. I think I would like to visit the Philippines sometime. From pictures and talking to people it seems to be a tropical paradise where everything is really inexpensive. Australia, however, is a hell hole.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Appalachian Brewing Co. Root Beer

I made a deal with my root beer nemesis a while back which landed me this next root beer. I don't remember the details of it, but this is one of the ones he sent me. The Appalachian Brewing Company is located in Harrisburg, PA and has been functioning since 1951, although the building has been there since the late 1800s. The Appalachian Brewing Co. (or ABC for short) now has locations in 4 other towns as well, all which i presume are in PA but don't really care enough to research. The primary role of ABC is making beer and operating as a restaurant, but some craft sodas are also included in the menu. In addition to root beer, ABC makes a birch beer and a ginger beer. I've only driven through PA so i really don't know the area well enough to comment, but i didn't think the Appalachians Mountains were a prominent presence in the state. The thought of the Appalachians conjures up thoughts of hillbillies making moonshine in the woods, and i don't really consider Pennsylvania to be a hotspot for hillbilly activity. But i am probably wrong (something i'm not normally used to since i am the ultimate authority on all things root beer). But even if i am right, i won't hold the naming of the company against ABC, although it is a little long. I prefer either a really short concise name or a ridiculously and completely unnecessarily long name. Like the "Appalachian Brewing Company of the Great State of Pennsylvania Established for the Enjoyment of Americans Everywhere" root beer. That would be pretty sweet. Personally, I'd like to see an even longer name. Get on it ABCOTGSOPEFTEOAE.

This root beer comes in a standard 12 oz. glass bottle and features a colorful and professional looking label with info about the brewery and restaurant. There is a picture of some train tracks on a bridge over a lake or river or something and an image of a bear (cuz it's made with honey). Not a cute cuddly bear either. A serious bear. No seriously... it's a bear. It looks pretty. No complaints. Extra points for a professional looking label. This is also one of the few root beer i have reviewed that doesn't has a twist off cap. I had to ask around for a bottle opener as i am not usually equipped with one. I used to have one that was sent to me with one of my orders from, a now defunct webstie that used to sell sodas. That thing was a piece of junk though and didn't work. Not sure what i did with it.

The label also says this root beer used high fructose corn syrup and/or cane sugar. I can't really tell by tasting it if it has one and/or the other in it, but i will say this stuff isn't too shabby. It kinda surprised me that i like this stuff. Granted, i don't absolutely love it, but it's decent stuff. It has a good aroma, a bit of a minty taste with maybe just a hint of anise, and a "delightful blend of honey" (taken directly from the label). I generally don't care much for honey root beers, so i am surprised that i found this as favorable as i did. Not really a traditional root beer flavor, but it works. It's a good sipping root beer, something you can enjoy for a while.

My official review is that Appalachian Brewing Co. Root Beer gets 7 (seven) IBCs. I don't know if you can tell, but i am writing this early in the morning so it doesn't feel like my best written and most well thought out review. Kinda just thrown together really. Additionally, i am at work and all my coworkers think i am boozin' it up at my desk. But the point i want to make is that this stuff isn't half bad. If i make my way out to Pennsylvania ever, i may even stop in and try the food.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Dr. RootBeer's Premium Brew

My friend Richard (whom i have mentioned several times) lived in North Carolina for a while for work and while there he visited a little community called Sneads Ferry where the Root Beer Hall of Foam was established and run by a man named Jerome Gundrum who calls himself Dr. RootBeer. This dude is pretty serious about root beers and ran a little memorabilia shop and restaurant with several types of root beers for sale and display. Jerome even made his own brew for sale under the name Dr. RootBeer's Premium Brew. Richard met the man and got me his root beer, as well as a laminated certificate of authenticity, and took a bunch of pictures. None of the pictures he took are in this post however, these are just random ones i found on the interwebs. The website that is listed on the side of the bottle is Sadly, this seems to be no longer working (though there is a picture of the homepage of the website at one point). A little research on google directed me to this news website, which says Jerome closed up shop after being diagnosed with cancer so he could focus on getting better. That's a real shame. He ran the shop for seven years and seemed to really love what he did. From reviews of the shop people always enjoyed visiting with him. Richard said he was a super nice dude and a real pleasure. Hopefully things go well for Dr. RootBeer and he can get back to running his Root Beer Hall of Foam soon.

View of the Exterior

Inside the Hall of Foam

Screenshot of the old website

The bottle is one of the stout 12 oz. bottles i like made of dark glass. The label is very animated, complete with a cartoon depiction of Dr. RootBeer in sea fisherman's slickers and garb, a fishing boat and some cartoon shrimp at the bottom. There is a lot going on and i gotta give him credit for the professional look. He really took this stuff seriously. Richard said he told Dr. RootBeer about my blog and he was super excited to hear about it. That was well over a year ago now and i now regret that it has taken me this long to getting around to reviewing his root beer.

Dr. RootBeer didn't do too bad making his brew. The carbonation was a little lacking for my tastes, but other than that i quite enjoyed it. It has kind of a base molasses/brown sugar taste to it and it reminds me of another root beer i have tried previously but can't quite pinpoint. It's not exactly a traditional root beer flavor, but it doesn't stray far and definitely fits the description better than a lot of other root beers i have tried in the past. I gotta say though, it has a bit of an aftertaste that i am not a huge fan of. Maybe a bit of an anise flavor. That's kind of a staple for a lot of root beers and a lot of people like it, but i am not particularly fond of it. Over all though, it's not a terrible concoction.

My official review is the Dr. RootBeer's Premium Brew gets 6 (six) IBCs. It's a decent shot made by a dude who loves root beer, and it's more of an homage than i can put together considering i've never crafted and mass produced my own root beer creation. So on a semi-ametuer scale, i think this stuff is pretty all right. With Dr. RootBeer not running his shop anymore, i don't know how easily accessed this stuff will be. It could be that this will go the way of many other root beers and disappear from the market entirely. So i would suggest you snatch some of this stuff up if you can find it because there may soon come a time where it won't be available at all. And Jerome, i am sure you don't read this crappy little blog of mine, but if you do just know that we are all pulling for you and wish you well. Get better man.