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.