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. 

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