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.