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.