Sunday, December 21, 2014

Live "Revive" Root Beer

So i'm on my holiday vacation visiting my family and i am driving through Sandy, UT and my wife tells me we have to stop at a Target to get some diapers. I run into the store and am drawn to the soda section by intuition which is where i find this "root beer". I put that in quotes because it's difficult for me to even believe this is really a soda, let alone a root beer. Live Root Beer is a line of soda out of Austin, TX. There is a lot of info on the site about the company, about the founder and his motives, and especially about Kombucha and it's benefits. In a nutshell, Kombucha is a healthy bacteria brewed from a tea with lots of health claims, none of which are actually substantiated by scientific evidence according to the source of all truth. The claims on the benefits of Kombucha range from slowing the aging process and helping prevent/reverse hair loss to fighting and curing cancer and helping protect against harmful radiation poisoning. Yeah, for real. Of course, some of the side effects include just a minor case of death. None of this can be factually supported by the FDA or, you know, science. But people have believed this tea to be beneficial for centuries. It's commonly an Asian tea, which is why i hesitate to even call this a soda. Even the website says you should replace soda with this for a healthier lifestyle. The founder of Live Soda also has a couple other lines of healthy energy foods and snacks. I think it's probably equivalent to Activia yogurt, which has a lot of the same claims with the benefits to your digestive system from the probiotics contained in the yogurt. All i know is that Activia gives my wife chronic diarrhea, and on the bottle of Live Soda it says not to consume if you are pregnant or nursing without a physician weighing in first, so i doubt my wife will give an opinion on this one. I could say a lot more about Kombucha just from what i read on the Live Soda website, but i'll let you dive into that if you care to.

The label looks professional and is well laid out to try and draw people in. It's well done, but still has the organic look to it. I bet this stuff is in Whole Foods. There are lots of benefits listed on the label, as well as the afore mentioned caution to pregnant ladies. And below the label it has the flavor listed as "Revive Root Beer". Gotta throw a healthy plug in there. But i will let you in on a little bit of my process. Normally before even starting a review i crack open the root beer and give it a taste, but i haven't done that with this one and there are a few reasons for that. One, it's in a 12 oz. clear glass bottle, so i have low expectations for it, especially since it's probably not even really a soda or a root beer. Two, i kinda have a big day today and i am a little worried it's gonna make me crap my pants. And three, on the label this stuff is listed as being both vegan and gluten free. Come on man. We already know it's organic. You gotta throw that at us too? This is the kind of hippie nonsense that drives masses of people away from so called healthy sodas like this.

Alright... moment of truth. Just cracked the top off... smells a little gross, and... yeah. This stuff is foul. Not good, AT ALL. The founder says on his website that Kombucha isn't good tasting, but he has strived really hard to make it good as well as healthy. That's why it's sweetened with stevia and not cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup. The website also claims a rich creamy vanilla flavor and a hint of sassafras. I don't taste any of that. I don't know what i taste, but it's not good. I mean, the more i drink it, the easier it is to palate, but it wouldn't call this a pleasant taste and i for certain would not call this a root beer, or a soda. It's naturally fermented, which gives it a slight carbonation, but it overwhelmingly just tastes like tea or a rotten fruit juice or something. I'm not pouring it down the drain like i have done with other root beers, but this stuff is definitely not great. It's like the founder of Live Sodas says on the website though... if it tastes this bad it has to be good for you.

My official review is that Live Root Beer gets 1 (one) IBC. They did it again. Hippies try and create an organic alternative that they claim is just as good as the original. I don't know what they are thinking or how their minds allow them to even attempt to say this tastes the same as root beer. If you want to make a "soda" out of tea, just call it tea soda. Or rotten fruit soda. But don't try and call this stuff root beer. I initially finished this review and published it with the rating of 2 IBCs, but as i finished the bottle and shuddered at the taste, i was convinced this only deserves a rating of 1. It tastes nothing like root beer and i'm most likely going to be tied to the toilet for the rest of the day. So thanks for that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Anchor Ginger Root Beer

I am writing this on an airplane on my way home for Christmas, so i think i'm gonna keep this one brief. Anchor Ginger Root Beer is bottled and distributed by our friends over at Orca Beverage Inc. It has a total sailor vibe to it, but less of a modern day sailor, like in the Navy, and more of a salty old sea dog aboard an old pirate ship. There have been other pirate themed root beers i have reviewed in the past, but this is not one of those. It's a straight up sailor root beer with no pirate affiliations other than those i conjure in my own mind. The website doesn't give much info about Anchor and the small paragraph on the site page is also on the bottle label. I think by reading it you will understand why i think of sailors in the golden age of sailing instead of a modern military serviceman or even boating enthusiast. Rather than type it out, i will just show a pic of it. Laziness, you win again.

We are back to 12 oz. dark brown glass bottles, which is a step in the right direction. The label is professional and looks good. A big emblem of an anchor dominates the view and everything is in it's right place. Below the name of the root beer is a little tagline saying (and yes, i will type it out this time), "Soothing Beverage for the Traveller". They say ginger is used to cure motion sickness, or at least help abate the effects of motion sickness. And by they, i mean people on the internet who are probably not doctors and may in fact be hippies who have managed to steal internet access from a local non-chain coffee shop.

The upshot is that this root beer is an oasis in the desert of mediocrity i have been seeing in the root beers i have reviewed recently. To be fair, i don't review as frequently now as i have in the past, so they are more spaced out, but this is still a welcome reprieve. Good carbonation, good root beer flavor, just a hint of ginger (which is enjoyable), and ultimately a great compliment to a plate of nachos which i strive to eat at least one of every day or my life, and often succeed. It's all about goals, you know?

My official review is Anchor Ginger Root Beer gets 7 (seven) IBCs. I liked this one quite a bit. I wasn't expecting much, but it turned out to be one of the better ones i have reviewed this year. I got this from the Root Beer store, so check them out.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Big Ben's Root Beer

'Ello 'ello! I know what you're thinking by looking at the name of this root beer! Well knock it off, cuz you're wrong dummy. This is Big Ben's Root Beer (apostrophe "s", possessive). Besides, the Brits don't even like root beer. The website for this root beer is a bit rough. Seems like it never got updated from the mid '90s. From what i gather, Big Ben's beverages has 23 flavors of soda and is made in Catawissa, PA (a place i've never heard of). Since it's brewed in Pennsylvania, i wonder if the name of the root beer has anything to do with the Pittsburg Steelers. Hmm... someone will have to let me know if i'm on to something with that. Probably not though since this root beer was brewed and sold long before Roethlisberger was even in the NFL. The root beer is bottled by Catawissa Sparkling Beverages, a company started by a husband and wife back in the 1920s. I am still unsure if this bottling company ended up changing it's name to Big Ben's or they are just licensed to distribute Big Ben's along with several other brands. I don't know. The info on the website is a bit confusing and does not follow any hard narrative. It just kinda wanders and talks a lot about equipment used to brew sodas. I found it quite an uninteresting read, nor very enlightening. I'm note sure who wrote it, but i must say... it could use some work. But what would i know? I've only written somewhere around 170 amazing root beer reviews. And by that i mean my reviews are amazing, certainly not all those root beers.

The website does mention switching labeling methods during different times in production. The current label is a glued on paper label with basically no frills. It's not the most generic looking label i've seen, but it's a contender. The colorful font is the only thing that saves this from being utterly drab. Even so, that's not enough. It just looks like a cheap root beer based on the label alone. I'll be honest... it's a little depressing to look at. I almost didn't want to drink it, and if i didn't take a vow and hold myself to a strict code of ethics i probably wouldn't have bothered with this one based on looks alone.

Sigh... sometimes i hate having a strict code of ethics. I'll just cut to the chase. This stuff isn't good. It's not terrible, but it's certainly not a strong root beer. If this is popular in Pennsylvania then Pennsylvania is wrong. I don't know, i've never been there, but they aren't putting their best foot forward with this one. Right off the bat, clear glass bottle. My theory holds strong. I've had one or two good ones in clear glass bottles, but this seems to follow suit with most of the rest of the garbage in clear glass bottles. I guess they want you to really see their failure clearly so you have to make the moral decision of whether or not to ingest this stuff with full consciousness of the choice you are making. It has an almost bitter, really acrid taste to start, finishes with a hint of sweet from the cane sugar, and fades into an overwhelmingly bad after taste. Doesn't taste like root beer at all and what little flavor it has is very watered down. The carbonation is just shy of abominable as well. All in all, i was in for a terrible night after drinking this.

My official review is Big Ben's Root Beer gets 2 (two) IBCs. I gotta say it. I hate this root beer. I hate that i am currently passing it through my body. It's not good. Period. Still, the crazy thing is that i have had worse. MUCH worse, and not just Henry Weinhard's. Just steer clear of this one. That's really the only thing you need to take away from this train wreck .

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Holiday Gift Idea

So seeing as it's the holidays, i thought i would pass on this gift idea that i have seen in the past. It's not new and i didn't make it up. I would venture to guess many of you root beer lovers have already seen this if you're spending your time reading a root beer blog. But i figured i would show it anyway.

Root Beers Reindeers. It can be done with any brand of root beer (except Henry Weinhards, cuz that would be a sin and would offend the sweet baby Jesus). I of course recommend IBC. They are simple to make. Just some brown pipe cleaners for horns, googly eyes and a red puff ball for a nose. It's an inexpensive gift and people love them. Give them a shot. There is a little rhyme that goes with it, but i don't remember what it was. I'm sure you can look it up though.

Another idea is to give a variety pack of root beers. One year my wife and I gave our families some hand picked variety 4-packs. I don't recall exactly which root beers we gave them, but if i were to do it again this year i would probably choose my line up as IBC (obviously), Iron Horse, Goose Island, and maybe something like Buckin' Root Beer cuz it's good and a bit different. Hanks would be a good option as well in my opinion. And we made up a little rhyme to put on a card with it. It went something like this: 

Merry Christmas to all! We bring you good cheer!
With this hand picked variety 4-pack of root beer.
We know it's not much, but we just want to say
we wish you a Merry Christmas in our own special way. 
So we hope you enjoy them. We've brought you the best.
And if you don't like them, you should just act impressed. 

Olde Philadelphia Root Beer

So i took a little break from reviewing. The only thing i can really say is i'm lazy. Sorry. But i intend to make it up by reviewing a few of these this week before i fly back to AZ for the holidays. This root beer has nothing to do with Christmas, but it does join the ranks of the elite few with "olde" in the title. Olde Philadelphia Root Beer touts itself as being "the REAL taste of America". Sounds like a tag line Steven Colbert would give it, as i picture him saying it in my mind when i read that sentence. From the website i gather that this soda company has been around in Philadelphia for a while, but in 2010 came under new management who decided to shift the many flavors in their line away from high fructose corn syrup and begin using cane sugar to sweeten their sodas. They speak a lot about being revolutionary by relaunching their new cane sugar soda line in 2011, but it seems to me like they are just following suit with most of the small, vintage craft sodas out there. Lots of people are doing cane sugar guys. I wouldn't jump to calling yourself revolutionary just yet. Maybe you should use ponies to brew the root beer. Or children. Now THAT would be revolutionary. Or at the very least, controversial. On second thought, looks like that's already been done too. Sorry Olde Philly. Just keep your eyes open for a good opportunity i guess.

This root beer is one of the dreaded 12 oz. clear glass bottle root beers that typically disappoint. I don't know what it is about these clear glass bottles, but i am usually not impressed by them. The label is colorful and nice. The website also said that while redesigning the logo, they wanted to be sure to keep the Liberty Bell central in the design to make this a uniquely Philadelphia brand root beer. Fair enough. I really don't have any problems with that. Olde Philadelphia is written in Olde English font and it has a sense of majesty about it. Like they are trying to be fresh and new while holding onto the past. It's not lost on me Olde Philly, i can appreciate the workmanship.

I just wish there was more to the taste. As is typical of clear glass bottle root beers (again, i don't know what it is), the flavor is lacking. It's quite watered down and doesn't really taste like root beer at all. I taste the sugar. I feel the sensation of the carbonation on my tongue. I know my mind is telling me this is root beer. But i fail to make the connection with my taste buds. It's just not cutting it for me. If this were in a line up of unmarked root beers, i wouldn't be able to pick it out. It just has no substance. The website makes a big production of how much work went into revitalizing this whole brand starting with redoing the recipes, but this just tastes unfinished to me. Back to the drawing board Olde Philly.

My official review is that Olde Philadelphia Root Beer gets 3 (three) IBCs. This is a touch harsh i realize, considering the fact that i didn't say it's gross. It's not. It's just nothing. It probably falls more into the 4 rating range, but i see way too many of these root beers in the same category claiming to be something they are not; legitimate. You've still got some work to do Olde Philly. Tighten it up and come back to me.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Zippy's Giant Root Beer

This root beer is tied to a burger joint in West Seattle, WA and has been around since 2008. Zippy's Giant Root Beer is made and sold at a place called Zippy's Giant Burgers and is distributed by Orca Beverages, which is also located in the northwest and distributes several sodas and root beers that i have reviewed. I know i said it's in West Seattle, but the bottle says "Wesseattle", which i tried to do a little research on and couldn't come up with much. I assumed it's just a region of Seattle, specifically in the western part of the city. But i talked to someone who lived there and she hadn't heard of it before. Even the source of all truth is stumped by this one. Maybe my root beer comrade Eric can give us some first hand info since he's from that area.

So, the label. In a word… creepy. There are a lot of colors and a picture of a kid holding a burger and drinking a mug of root beer. The freakish cartoon image of the kid licking his/her lips is unsettling at best. It reminds me of every creepy/scary toy doll movie from the 80s. The color scheme and frightening imagery definitely catch the eye, but if i weren't reviewing this for the purpose scientific discovery and a general civil obligation to provide reliable information regarding the appropriateness of root beers to the public, i doubt i would think this was worth drinking based on looks alone. I mean, seriously… this kid is freakin' me out with his/her huge sunken eyes, piggy nose and weird mouth. Come on Zippy's, hire a new artist at the very least. You're not doing yourself any favors here.

I can't comment on Zippy's burgers, but as far as the root beer is concerned i doubt i would make a visit to the restaurant. It's really watered down, low carbonation, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It is sweetened with cane sugar and has a slight creamy vanilla undertone, but ultimately disappoints on multiple levels. I didn't hate it while i drank it, but the aftertaste is really making me hate it now. My wife said she didn't drink enough to formulate an opinion (not like it would matter anyway since she is untrained in root beer expertise). My son seemed to like it, but he's not even 3 years old yet and likes any soda, which he calls a "spicy drink". So his opinion is unreliable as well. Looks like mine is the only one that counts (as always), and i say this one is no good.

My official review is that Zippy's Giant Root Beer gets 4 (four) IBCs. It's not great and seemingly gets worse the more you drink it. I'm not opposed to going to Zippy's if i am ever in Wesseatle and maybe i would try it again at that time. Maybe a fresh batch would taste better. But that's probably the only circumstance that would lead me to trying this stuff again. Sorry Zippy's.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Old Red Eye Root Beer

There she is... Old Red Eye. I'll bet that's what the ranchers who owned the bull this root beer is named after used to say when they saw her (technically a him seeing as it's a bull, but for the sake of the story let's just pretend for a little bit). Old Red Eye Root Beer has a very brief history on the label which seems more fable than fact. The legends says this old bull would only leave his pen to go to farm work if someone poured some of this root beer into his tin drinking bowl. Sounds like someone made it up to slap on a root beer without an origin. This is bottled by the Orca Beverage company out of Mukilteo, WA. They are a distributor that puts out several other sodas and root beers, including several i have already reviewed on this blog. That being said, i don't know much else about the story/history behind this root beer, including how long it's been around. And i don't care to take the time to try and find out because winter is coming.
This is a typical 12 oz. brown glass bottle. It looks quite normal and ordinary. The label is nice. Only three colors, stark in contrast. I like it quite a bit. Very simple but bold. It stands out with the big bull's head drawing and Old West style font. No fuss, no filler. Just straight up label.
And guess what... i actually liked the taste of this one quite a bit too. It's almost offensively root beer flavored and sweetened with pure cane sugar. Very strong flavor with a big kick of something i can't quite put my finger on. All i can really say is that it's spicy (not a perfect descriptor, but i really don't know how else to put it). You know how they say Barq's has bite? (or at least they did back in the 90's) Well this stuff has some bite to it. I like it. I was pleasantly surprised. I really didn't expect much from this but i gotta say, i enjoyed it. I even made a root beer float with it and was not let down.
My official review is that Old Red Eye Root Beer gets 7 (seven) IBCs. I like it. It's a no nonsense root beer. Probably why they gave it an Old West motif. Grab one if you have a chance. It's worth it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dang! (that's good) Butterscotch Root Beer

As promised, here is the sister root beer of Dang!, which carries the same name. Dang! (that's good) Butterscotch Root Beer is made and bottled by the same company that does original Dang!, Imperial Flavors out of Milwaukee, WI. I don't really feel like going into the very briefly covered history of the company, so look up the last review if you're interested in learning more. I know it's been nearly two months since i reviewed the last root beer, but i want to keep this brief. I'm a busy man and have things to do.

This root beer comes in a 12 oz. brown glass bottle, a little different from your typical shape though. It's a little more broad shouldered, if that makes any sense. I like it. Not the first time i've seen it, but i will still give them props. The other Dang! i reviewed was also in a cool bottle, but not the same one. This label is just a different color scheme than the original. It has a beige/cream color to go along with the butterscotch theme. The one thing different about this label is that it doesn't have the little month/year scale thing on the side like orignal Dang! had. Not that i miss it though. I really don't care either way.

I was impressed with original Dang!, but i'll be honest... i don't love this stuff. It just tasted like those butterscotch disks, not root beer. It also leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Carbonation is ok, but ultimately, i don't really like this that much. It's quite a let down based on how much i enjoyed original Dang!. I'm pretty bummed out about it. I had high hopes/expectations. My feelings were hurt. I feel betrayed. The life is slipping away from me. I wish i hadn't tried it at all. I'll never love again. I've lost my faith. How many other ways can i say it wasn't good?

My official review is that Dang! (that's good) Butterscotch Root Beer get 3 (three) IBCs. Just did not care for it. And i don't think it really is as bad as a 3, but it deserves it for being so disappointing. If you like butterscotch sodas, maybe. But in my opinion, don't bother with this one. Go for an original Dang!. Much more satisfying.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dang! (that's good) Root Beer

It's time once again for another review and i am happy to say this is kind of a "two-part" review as we will be discussing this root beer and a sister soda soon to follow. Dang! (that's good) Root Beer is bottled by Imperial Flavors and comes from Milwaukee, WI. Imperial Flavors has been in business since 1964, but i am not sure this root beer has been around the entire time. They also make several other flavors of soda under the Dang! brand. It's a catchy little name for a soda, not unlike So-Duh brand root beer that i reviewed a while back. I believe i got this from the Soda Emporeum. Either that or the Root Beer Store. Those are my two go to places right now, as any regular reader (which i am sure you all are) would know. Not much else to say for a preamble… so hows about we just jump into it.

I see pics of this root beer on online shopping sites as a tall 12 oz. dark brown glass bottle, but the bottle i got happens to be a stubby one (which i like). The label is very simple by catchy and probably hasn't changed much or at all since the 1960s. It's a solid brown background with an orange circle and the logo of the root beer pasted across the front. I also noted that the orange cap matched the orange circle on the label. The "Dang!" is very large and noticeable, while the "that's good" is almost an afterthought. It's almost like they were trying to capture a thought in a bottle
I also thought it was interesting that they used the same type of little letter coding on the side of the label as Steelhead Root Beer did. It's not exactly the same, and i had to get a little help cracking the code cuz i'm a dummy (see Steelhead review), but i wonder what the significance of it is. Why put it on a root beer label? Are the month and year supposed to be circled so we know when it was brewed or something? Actually, i think that really is what it's for. So never mind about those last couple questions.

I actually like this one quite a bit. Better than average even. It has a sold root beer flavor with a very slight hint of wintergreen, good carbonation, and it's sweetened with cane sugar. Kinda of a creamy finish and doesn't leave a bad aftertaste. Really can't complain. I don't think it's on the Mt. Rushmore of root beers, but it's a solid one. And because of that, i think i will be fairly generous to this root beer with my rating (spoiler, but not very much of one because my rating is just below this sentence).

My official review is that Dang! gets 7 (seven) IBCs. It's a good root beer, much better than average or mediocre and therefore deserves to be elevated above a 5 or even a 6. Well done city of Milwaukee. You've managed to give me something to say about you.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Three Dachshunds Old Fashioned Root Beer

I got this from the Root Beer Store and it's one of my recent acquisitions. The title of this post is "Three Dachshunds yada yada", but the way it is written on the label (sorry to jump ahead a little) is "III Dachshunds blah blah blah". And to add even more variety, the website for this root beer is So… i am gonna probably just call it Three Dachshunds, or simply Dachshunds, to both save time and appease my laziness. Just in case you're trying to search for it though, it might require the III (Roman numerals for those of you not in the know) to find it. It is so named because the founders of this brewery happen to own three dogs of the breed dachshund, or more commonly known as wiener dogs. The brewery is located in Milwaukee, WI and has been around since 2003. The owners really love their little wiener dogs and claim them as the sole inspiration of the brewery and beers they create there. This company seems primarily focused on brewing beer, but has managed to squeak out a root beer for people like me. How nice of them.

Now, more about the label. First, it's wrapped around a 12 oz. brown glass bottle and it's very well done. It features one of the III famous wiener dogs in front of a barrel laid on it's side and the proud logo stamped into the wood of the barrel lid. There is a little bit of the history of the brewery on the label, but most i read on the website. And they make a point to be one of those root beers that very proudly displays the fact that they brew this with pure cane sugar. Like i said though, it's a very well done label. Tasteful, not too showy, not too cheap, and captures what these root beer drinkers/brewers are most passionate about. Seems like dogs are the inspiration for a lot of beer and root beer companies. Wonder why that is. Is there a correlation between alcoholism and animal lovers? Anyone who wants to do a doctoral thesis on this, i give you my permission. Just report back on the results. That's all i ask.

You know what… this stuff is actually pretty good. Good solid root beer flavor. Good carbonation. Good finish, though after a while it does leave a bit of a bad taste in your mouth. I won't hold that against them too much though. And the cane sugar gives it a nice sweetness that is enjoyable overall. That being said, i don't find much about it that really sets it apart. It's definitely not bad, but it's also not terrific. It just kind of is. Like Skymall. It's just there. Sure, i'll leaf through it on a plane, but there is no way i am paying those inflated prices for what essentially amounts to being ridiculous junk. I mean come on, a torso toner? Give me a break. No one is buying that. However… if someone offered me that crap for free, i'd have a swanky new set of pajamas, i'll tell you that right now.

My official review of Dachshunds Root Beer is 6 (six) IBCs. Like the lovable little wiener dog on the label, i hold no ill feelings for it, but i also don't have any overwhelming affection for it. Personally, i'm not really a dog lover. I guess i would put it more correctly as i am not a pet person. I have had pets as a kid, but don't have or want any now. My wife is the same way, and my son is too young and stupid to know any different at this point. But i'm not afraid to disappoint him when he asks for a puppy. It's just not gonna happen. What i would give him though is a nice cold refreshing Dachshunds Root Beer as a compromise. Only cuz i'm a good dad though.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sudz Root Beer

There is a little grocery store here in Ocala, FL (and i assume other places) called Aldi. Someone told me they are either affiliated with or have adopted the IKEA model and formatted it to a grocery store, but everything i read online says it is owned by the same corporation that owns Trader Joe's. I can see an IKEA influence in the way the store is laid out though. There is a specific path you have to follow as you enter the store and wind through the aisles toward the exit. It's not as bad as IKEA, forcing you to walk through the entire store before you can get out, but there is a distinct entrance and exit strategy that they use. They carry a lot of unknown brand names at significantly lower prices than even Walmart in most cases.  But people around here kinda rave about how fresh and novel their approach is. I mean… it's ok. But i don't really get it. I buy chips there cuz they are super cheap and pretty decent, but i don't shop there for much else. When i told
people i had never heard of Aldi before moving here, the one thing people wouldn't stop talking about was how amazing it was that they charge to "rent" the grocery carts. They are all locked together until you slide a quarter in this little mechanism that releases the cart. Then once you return the cart, you get your quarter back. Frankly, i find it a little cumbersome and never even bother getting a cart, but whatever. They also charge you for plastic grocery bags to take your food home in. Something like 10 cents a bag or something. Again, i don't usually bother, but i guess thats good if you're one of those people who is all "save the planet" and bring your own grocery bags with you. Whatever. Anyway, this is less a review of Aldi than it is of a particular root beer they carry called Sudz Root Beer. It's brewed by Summit (i think, but don't really care) and distributed by Aldi exclusively. Essentially it's just another generic root beer. 

I got 12 pack of cans of this stuff for something like $2.50 (Aldi has really cheap prices). I didn't even see the option to get this in a 2 liter bottle in the Aldi i went to. If i had, i would probably have gotten that. The label is well done, but is typical of a generic root beer. The color scheme and picture of the mug are a dead give away that this thing is just another store brand. So… i don't really know what else i can say about it. 

I really don't mind this stuff. It's a basic root beer flavor, but it has decent carbonation and drinks really easily. Nothing really sets it apart from other root beers, but its a good generic. Like the label though, i don't have much else to say about the taste. It's sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, so there is a little more info for you if that sways your decision at all. I will say i used it for a root beer float and it did quite well. And my two year old loves it. He calls it a "spicy drink". That has nothing to do with root beer though. He calls every soda that. And he's not very discriminatory, he loves all spicy drinks.

My official review is that Sudz Root Beer gets 6 (six) IBCs. It's pretty good stuff at a very reasonable price. I could see myself getting this again. Not sure if i'd go out of my way for it, but i liked it well enough. It's on the higher end of the generic spectrum, that's for sure. Check it out if you're near an Aldi. And don't forget to bring a quarter. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cooper's Cave Root Beer

I think this is the last one i have left from before this new order i just received. I believe i got it from the Root Beer Store, which it's probably safe to say most of my root beers will be coming from for the next little while. Cooper's Cave Root Beer is from Glens Falls, NY. The Cooper's Cave pub makes a variety of food and drinks, including ice cream/ice cream cakes, beer and soda, and a full menu of pub food. Although they call themselves a pub and focus on making English style ales and brews, the food seems mostly American. The website doesn't have a lot of info about how long they have been in operation or any back story about the owner. I don't have a lot to go on other than what i have already mentioned. So i think i'll just leave it at that.

The label on the 12 oz brown glass bottle is fairly simple, eye catching and original. The main portrait portrayed is that of a sketched dog. I'm not a dog person, so i don't know what breed that is. It just looks slobbery. I'm impressed with the sketch though. It's one of those ones that looks simple enough for anyone to do, but probably difficult to reproduce if you're an untrained illustrator. The color scheme of red, white and blue is classy without being patriotic or overly British or American. I think they have been in business a while because the current logo on the website looks nothing like the label. Not sure if the label is specific to the root beer or if it comes on all their sodas or ales. But overall, even though a dog has nothing really to do with root beer, i think it's a nice label. I was wondering if the dog's name was Cooper and why he owned a cave, but the website was silent about those matters. I guess it will have to remain a mystery. And if you know, keep it to yourself. It maintains the atmosphere of intrigue, and besides, no one like a know-it-all.

The taste is a bit hard to nail down. I will just get it right out front by saying it's not a great root beer, and really it's only average at best. The taste is very fleeting and has a molasses undertone that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The root beer flavor is extremely subtle and overall i think the flavor lacks the sweetness needed to balance out the total experience. It's not a very memorable root beer. Not one i will likely revisit. But for all that being said, i didn't hate this root beer. It was just kinda… meh.

My official review is that Cooper's Cave Root Beer gets 5 (five) IBCs. It's a reasonably fine root beer. Truth be told, i'm a bit of an Anglophile, and the ties this pub claims to have to Britain and English style  brewing made me have high hopes for this root beer. Unfortunately, it just doesn't stack up to some of the greats. Maybe if you're in Glens Falls, NY you should stop by the pub for some food. You might find that the root beer compliments the food, or vice versa. But for me, it didn't really do anything special.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Capone's Family Secret Root Beer

I just finished filing my taxes for the year and decided to treat myself to a root beer from the fridge. I've had this one for a while, probably at least a year or more. It came from the Root Beer Store, an online soda vendor i sometimes use to procure new root beers. Capone's Family Secret Root Beer is based on the premise that legendary 1920's mobster Al Capone used to keep his warehouses stocked with root beer instead of liquor when the feds would do raids during Prohibition. The company now produces and distributes several flavors of soda in Chicago, IL. The website says that this family recipe is now available after 80+ years, so that makes me think this stuff is fairly new to the market and has not been in production for more than 10 years or so. The validity of this story seems questionable to me. I get the feeling this is just an angle to sell sodas. From what i know, Capone was a hard one to pin down even with his involvement with several illegal activities, including bootlegging. The government tried several times to arrest him but had no charges with which to indict him. He was finally arrested and sentenced to prison in Alcatraz for tax evasion, and no it's not a coincidence that i chose to review this root beer after finishing preparing my taxes. Let's just say, i plan to stay on this side of Alcatraz's walls.

This root beer comes in a 12 oz. brown glass bottle to obscure your view from the shady dealing going on within. The label lacks any real vibrant color, but is creative in it's own right. There is a picture of a truck hauling root beer barrels over the backdrop of a root beer cap. There is a city skyline in the background with the Sear's Tower, distinctly Chicago since this is where Capone's mob operated. I've been to Chicago before a couple times and was impressed with it. Very clean city surprisingly. Not sure if i've said that before on this blog. And if i have, well… guess what. You just heard me say it again. Don't like it? Go read someone else's root beer blog, honey.

The good news is it's low in sodium. The bad new is, it's not very good. If they were trying to convince the feds that this stuff isn't alcohol, they didn't do a very good job because it tastes like a sweet beer. I don't know if it's carbonated with yeast, but it reminds me of those kinds of root beer that are fermented enough to produce carbonation but not alcohol. I will say it's easily one of the loudest root beers i've had. All the chemical reactions happening inside it are only exacerbated by opening the bottle. The root beers i would most closely relate it to would probably be Bundaburg or Gale's, both of which i really didn't care for. Gale's wasn't terrible, but i didn't really like it either. And Bundaburg WAS terrible. Those Australians really missed the boat on that one. I really don't know how else to describe this root beer. It has a sweet taste to it, but the whole flavor lasts so short a time it's hard to nail it down. The overwhelming taste though is the beer-like yeast flavor. All i can really say is that it's not very satisfying.

My official review is that Capone's Family Secret Root Beer gets 3 (three) IBCs. I was really looking forward to a nice delicious root beer. It's a shame, because this definitely did not hit the spot. Maybe Capone should have taken that secret to the grave with him cuz it doesn't belong in the root beer world.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Triple AAA Root Beer

So this root beer definitely comes from the Root Beer Store, and i have a little bit to say about that. After my last post and my realization that i was quite low on root beers to review, i decided to place an order for some new ones from the Root Beer Store. I gotta say that i'm not very satisfied with my order. First off, the root beer store is located in Washington state and i currently live in Florida, so the shipping alone was more than my order. Second, you have to order in quantities divisible by 6. Luckily, i found 11 new root beers on their site that i wanted so that meant i only had to order 1 repeat. So for an order of 12 root beers, the shipping nearly doubled the price of my total order. I realize that i am going to have to face that if i want to get access to new root beers and this is my only method of getting them, so the fact that shipping is expensive isn't really the issue. And the fact that you have to order in quantities divisible by 6 doesn't really bother me either unless the following scenario happens (which it did). I got a call the next day from someone at the Root Beer Store telling me that 3 of the root beers i ordered were out of stock. So now i am doubling up on 4 root beers unless i want to forgo getting 2 new ones and reduce my order to 6 root beers. It was a little frustrating to say the least. I know it's a petty thing to be upset about, but it's not cheap doing these mail orders, so if they don't have the root beer available i'd like to know before i commit to buying a large order like this. And as it turns out, one of the ones i had ordered was this one because i didn't realize i had it in my fridge. So i asked to sub that one out too, meaning my order of 11 new root beers was actually reduced to 7. Pretty bummed out about it. But if i was going to pay good money for mail order root beers, i wanted to make sure i got some quality stuff that i don't have direct access to here, so i had them add some Iron Horse, Goose Island, Saranac, and Hank's to my order. For those of you not hip to the root beer pecking order yet, these ones are some heavy hitters. Never disappointing. Anyway, i've ranted enough about my unpleasant experience with the RBS. Lesson learned. I will probably check out Soda Emporium first next time. No minimum order or quantity requirements there, but the shipping is still what gets you for the most part.

So let's talk about Triple AAA Root Beer. This one has been hiding in my fridge for quite some time, which is why i completely forgot about it and accidentally ordered it again this time. This root beer comes from Oklahoma City, OK and was first produced back in 1937, making it one of the oldest brands i've reviewed. The website mentions that the founders based their brand off the Texas brand Triple XXX (which i have also reviewed, but don't really remember since it was quite a while ago).

This comes in a 12 oz. brown glass bottle like any self respecting root beer would. You will see that the label has an older look to it, as i believe this is the original design used when the company first started. However, there are a few discrepancies with the label, namely that it says clearly at the top that this soda is sweetened with pure cane sugar while the ingredients list shows an absence of cane sugar in favor of high fructose corn syrup. This is likely due to the soda being out of production starting in 1974 and being revamped in 2010 (apparently with an altered recipe). There is also a website for Bricktown Candy on the label, which is the company who revitalized the brand and put it back into production as well as currently distributes it. Regardless, i like the label. It's simple, but the nostalgia it brings is a big plus.

The taste is up for debate though. I've had a rash of root beers lately that really just don't taste like root beer. This one would probably fall into that category. When i cracked it open (not a twist-off cap btw), i noticed a very sweet aroma. It's a fairly fragrant root beer, if you can call it that, but it doesn't have the typical redolence you would expect to accompany a root beer.
It smells more like candy than anything, and the taste matches. It's very sweet despite lacking pure cane sugar and has a taste reminiscent of circus peanuts or chicks and rabbits easter candy (which my wife insists taste different from each other, but they are the same thing and are both disgusting and shameful). Those things that dissolve in your mouth and make you pray for death have no place in a root beer. My wife agrees, and she actually LIKES those candies. That all being said, this isn't a terrible root beer. Sure, it doesn't taste like root beer, but it also doesn't taste like genocide. I can finish a bottle without wanting to smash said bottle and impale myself with the broken base afterward.

My official review is that Triple AAA gets 4 (four) IBCs. It's better than the last root beer i reviewed, but that was a pretty small mountain to scale. I think i've said enough about this root beer, so i'll just end with a story from when i was in high school and dated a girl who… let's just say "lacked virtue". Anyway, it was a short lived relationship and when it ended my friends and i stuck circus peanuts on the outside of her bedroom window. Mostly because they lend themselves to a certain shape. Was it a stupid thing? Of course, as were most things i did in high school. But i still don't regret it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ben's Old Fashioned Root Beer

Happy New Year to all! I only have a few root beers left in my fridge, and while i don't currently put them out at a very fast rate, it might be time for me to reorder again soon. Today's root beer is Ben's Old Fashioned Root Beer from Ben's Kosher Deli. This is one of the root beers i got from… you know what? I don't even know where i got this one. I can't find it on either The Root Beer Store or Soda Emporium sites, so i can't verify i got it from either of those places. And it comes from Merrick, NY, a place where i have never been and have not been near in several years. So i really am at a loss this time. Sorry to whoever gave this to me that i cannot give you proper credit. But i do appreciate it. The website isn't super helpful on info about Ben's, but it's a New York kosher deli with several locations and a 4 out of 5 star rating on Yelp!. I don't trust Yelp! anymore by the way. Most of the time the reviews are written by the owners and/or close friends or persons with a vested interest. Yelp! hasn't done me much good, especially not here in Ocala, FL. The local flavor here is pretty dismal.

This one comes in a clear glass bottle. It's 12 oz. to be sure. The label is pasted on a little crooked like the machine was misaligned or the guy doing it manually doesn't get paid enough. It's one of the more simple designs i've seen. Not a lot of imagination or flashiness to it. I'm thoroughly unimpressed. Really don't know what else to say about it. Way to disappoint the customer right out of the gate Ben.

I can't say much for the taste either. Really, i can't say anything about the taste. It honestly doesn't taste like anything. It's so watered down that you barely get a sense that you're drinking root beer at all, let alone a soda of any variety. It's just so unnoticeable that i don't really even know what to say about it. I guess it tastes vaguely like sugar, even though it's sweetened with HFCS, but even that flavor is so fleeting and shallow that i can't really even call this a root beer. I'd call it… sugar. In water. ("Eggar… your skin is hanging off your bones…"). For reals though, i work with a guy who looks just like that guy right now. It's pretty exhilarating/unsettling.

My official review is that Ben's Old Fashioned Root Beer gets 3 (three) IBCs. It's not cutting it in the root beer world, and i am not even sure it can measure up as a soda. I've had root beers more offensive than this, but being offensive isn't Ben's problem. It's being distinguishable. I mean, kudos for doing the kosher thing and all. But even if that's your thing, i can't really recommend this stuff. It just doesn't do anyone any good.