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.