Monday, August 13, 2018

Private Selection Creamy Ginger Root Beer

I keep seeing this one and i swear i have reviewed it already, but when i go back through my posts it isn't listed. I'm probably thinking of Signature Select which i reviewed not that long ago, but it also reminds me of the Safeway Select generic brand of soda that was only $0.25 per can back in the mid 1990's. This root beer definitely falls into this same category, which is why the ambiguous nature is so confusing. Private Selection is the house brand of Kroger, and as a result this root beer can be found in numerous grocery stores across the nation (so much so that i don't even remember where i picked this one up). Do i need to look up a website for Kroger? I don't think so, but here it is anyway. I think everyone is aware of this giant food conglomerate. My prediction for this review; unremarkable.

For a generic root beer, the label isn't as bad as i would think. It's a sticker label on a 12 oz. brown glass bottle with typical font styles and color schemes, but Kroger put a little flourish into it to jazz it up a bit with some detailed graphics and images worthy of a t-shirt design from the mid 2000's. It's fairly simple, but not too simple. I think it's decent for a generic soda.

This root beer is sweetened with real cane sugar and, as the name and the graphics on the label suggest, flavored with ginger. I'm not really picking up the creamy aspect as this stuff is basically just a ginger beer. I like ginger beer, ginger ale, and generally most things ginger flavored with the exception of ginger snaps. But does that mean i like this root beer. No it does not. There is no root beer flavor to speak of. I know ginger is a root and that technically makes this a root beer, but it would be more aptly branded as a ginger beer since it will not meet the expectation of any sane person buying a root beer. And i know i said i like ginger beers, but i wouldn't even say this is that good of a ginger beer. It's mediocre at best. Very dry and watered down. Again, no creaminess and no root beer flavor. My 6-year-old son took a quick drink and began nodding in approval followed by an immediate physical change in body language, complete with a disapproving face and shaking of his head. I fear that anyone who tries this "root beer" will come to the same conclusion much more quickly than my son who both lacks experience and is, dare i say, basically an idiot.

My official review is that Private Selection Creamy Ginger Root Beer gets 3 (three) IBCs. Despite the paltry score, this stuff isn't undrinkable. It's simply not a good ginger beer, and not a root beer at all. I would caution anyone thinking of trying this to seek another option.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Yacht Club Root Beer

I'll be honest... i have no idea where i got this root beer. It's been in my fridge for so long i really can't recall where it came from. Probably the Root Beer Store. Regardless, today i am reviewing Yacht Club Root Beer. Yacht Club comes to us from Centerdale, RI and has been around since 1915 with a varied line of flavored sodas, making it one of the oldest root beers i have reviewed. They don't have much of a website despite having what appears to be a very active twitter account, but i was able to get that the company is big on being green and recycling, so much so that the state legislature named Yacht Club "The Official Soda of Rhode Island". They have run a bottle return program for a long time where you could get a credit for your returned bottles. They then clean and reuse the glass bottles. According to the site the program was being suspended while the bottle washer was getting refurbished. No word as to whether or not it is back up and running of not. But i don't live in Rhode Island so this has little to no impact on me. However, kudos for the green effort. I think anything you can do is valuable, especially if it has a practical effect like this. On the other hand, this bottle i drank from has had countless other mouths touch it, which is a little unsettling.

The other bit of info i got from the website is that Yacht Club only sells their beverages in glass bottles and no other containers. This bottle is a 12 oz. clear glass bottle and it's not what i would call a "stubby bottle", but it is a little shorter and different shaped than a typical bottle. The label is fantastic. In the background it shows an image of a very colorful and pristine shoreline as viewed from the ocean with the big Yacht Club logo and the Official RI Soda seal up front. The brown background for the logo (the upside down triangle) changes color per label based on the flavor of the soda, and sometimes the logo color will change as well presumably as to not clash with the backing. Overall i think the label is top notch. I dig it a lot.

The website also mentions the importance of good ingredients like pure cane sugar for the integrity of the soda, even if it ends up costing more. So i appreciate that they want to make sure they are making soda the right way. Unfortunately in this case it doesn't really translate into a superior soda. It's not bad, it's merely fine. Some may say unremarkable. My 6-year-old son says it just tastes like regular root beer, which i can't really refute. It really doesn't stand out in any way. The only other thing i would say is that it leaves a bad taste afterward, which is not much of an endorsement either. But it's by no means bad. In fact, i'd go as far as to say it's rather good. But good is the enemy of great, just like a treadmill is the enemy of my wife. She's more of a couch kinda gal.

My official review is that Yacht Club Root Beer gets 6 (six) IBCs. It's simply just ok. I like the label. I like that they promote and encourage recycling. I like that they use premium ingredients. But i'm only sort of impressed with the drink itself. So... yeah. Not sure what else to say. The end.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Rogue Root Beer

Happy July 4th everyone! This root beer looked pretty patriotic when i chose it from my fridge to review today, and that was the main reason i chose it. I picked up this bottle of Rogue Root Beer from a local Target of all places well over a year ago. It's been sitting in my fridge just waiting for the perfect time to be consumed, which i deemed today to be. Rogue comes from Newport, OR and is part of the soda line of a craft brewery known for making craft beers (quite an extensive selection) and even spirits from natural ingredients mostly grown right there on the Rogue farm. I tried to get more information, but i couldn't get much in way of the brewery until i went to the source of all truth and discovered the brewery was founded in 1988. I can't confirm they have been making root beer for that long, but these guys have experience in the brewing industry and have made a name for themselves, having won numerous awards for their craft beers and spirits. And speaking of patriotic, i found a youtube video on the Rogue website with an Uncle Sam looking dude recruiting people to the Rogue Nation by reciting the Pledge of Rougelligence. May be worth a look if you guys are interested.

Now, talking about the bottle and the labeling, i have a lot to say. First, you may see from the picture that this is not an ordinary looking bottle. That's because this is a 22 oz clear glass bottle. Again, on the patriotic tip, they use a red, white and blue color scheme. The label is printed onto the bottle (not a sticker) and while it's difficult to see in the picture above, the bottle neck has the words DARE, RISK, and DREAM printed on it.


So how do i feel about this? I. Love. It. This is what labeling on a root beer bottle should be. A+ and 5 stars for the labeling. It's bold and unique and i couldn't be more pleased with it. The back even has a couple recipes using the root beer; one for a cocktail and one for a root beer float, which is simply to pour this over two scoops of vanilla ice cream, which seems a little unnecessary, but i still give them credit for the effort. I'm super thrilled with the bottle all together. The size, the design, the colors... everything. It's even a rare case where it's not a twist top bottle. You have my attention Rogue.

Until... this part. So real quick i will go back to the label, which has a dedication to the kid in each of us. This blurb talks about how this root beer is brewed with Rogue farm honey and given a "creamy texture, caramel richness and a rush of vanilla." Sounds pretty good right? Well i'm not getting any of that, with the exception of the honey. What i am getting is a taste of honey mixed with a pretty prevalent black licorice base and an aftertaste that's likely akin to coming off heroine. I don't like it AT ALL. Super let down for me. My wife, who likes black licorice, says it tastes like an armpit. My kids, who are idiots and are completely unreliable with their opinions being 3 and 6 years-old, took a taste and asked, "what IS this?!" That's likely because it tastes nothing like root beer, an unfortunate minefield of this industry. I've had way more "root beers" that taste nothing like root beer than i have of those that do. And this one just seems to be par for the course in that sense.

My official review is that Rogue Root Beer gets 3 (three) IBCs. I really, really wanted to give this one at least a 4 based on the bottle and label and attitude, but i can't in good conscience do that knowing what i know about the taste. That's the real deciding factor in it every time, because if this were served to me in a non-discript glass i would probably rate it a 2. Or a 1. I don't know if i could give it more than that. Sorry Rogue, i really wanted to like you. And i really hope your award winning craft beers are better than this, but even if they aren't at least the people pouring this heinous fluid down their throats would have the added benefit of being hammered afterward. As for me, i just need to go brush my teeth and tongue. Like, for a while.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Stubborn Classic Root Beer

I want to say i picked this root beer up at a local grocery store here in the Phoenix area called Albertson's, but i'm not certain of that. It's either that or i got it while i was in California at a Von's. Either way, Stubborn Classic Root Beer can be found a lot of different places. The Stubborn Soda company has been around since 2015, so they are relatively new on the root beer scene. The bottle says it is manufactured in Florida, but the website says, "STUBBORN SODA is a registered trademark of The Concentrate Manufacturing Company of Ireland." I confirmed this soda comes from Ireland as best i could by reading 3 whole websites, because i'm that dedicated to journalistic excellence. You'll notice the second "B" in Stubborn is printed backward, which is part of their trademark. The "mantra" of Stubborn Sodas is to use real ingredients (no HFCS or artificial sweeteners) and to mix up the norm with interesting and unique flavor combinations. The website brands it as a craft soda and as an alternative to craft beer.
They even partnered with PepsiCo for distribution in the U.S. and teamed up with Robert Kirkman, created of The Walking Dead, for marketing. Ultimately, i don't really care, but part of me thinks that's a weird pairing and kind of dumb. But i guess that's what being STUBBORN is all about. The year 2016 is about the time i completely lost interest in that show. I mean, i was into it at the beginning, then on the fence from about season 5, and right when Neegan showed up is when i checked out entirely. It's terribly repetitive and slowly paced and drawn out now. A real shame. Season 1 is still my favorite i think. For more details on how i feel about that show, please visit my side-blog Cosmo's The Walking Dead Reviews

This root beer comes in a regular 12 oz brown glass bottle. I bought it as a single, but i'd bet you can get a six pack of this if you really wanted to. The label is very basic. Not much to it. Black and white color scheme with a brown accent, the unofficial official color of root beer labeling. It has the Stubborn logo and flavor and that's about it. A little unimaginative, but they are trying to establish their brand as "not the norm". I get that, but still... could have used a little more creativity with the label.

Natural ingredients being key to their recipes, it's no surprise that they use real cane sugar for sweetening. In addition to that, the ingredients on the label lists purified stevia leaf extract, which i assume is one of the natural sweeteners used and is likely the taste i am getting most when i drink this. In short, it's not one of my favorite root beers. The root beer base is very thin to begin with, and the overwhelming taste of the stevia almost gives it a bit of fruity aftertaste that doesn't sit very well with me. It has decent carbonation and is only slightly watered down tasting, so i wouldn't say it's all bad, but it ultimately does not satisfy when i want a good root beer finish. It's no secret, i'm not a fan of the natural sweeteners, stevia included. It just over powers the whole root beer flavor for me. 

My official review is that Stubborn Classic Root Beer gets 4 (four) IBCs. It's another case for the natural sodas and how they just can't compete for soda supremacy. I get people want unprocessed ingredients in their sodas. I get people are more health conscious now. I get people are looking for a good substitute for something they used to enjoy that is not good for them. I just can't get behind it when it comes down to it though. These sodas just can't stack up to a regular root beer, regardless of how it's sweetened. Given the option, i wouldn't choose this over a real classic. Sorry Stubborn, but i'm gonna have to stick to my guns on this one. You're no good. 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Cicero Salted Caramel Root Beer

So we just made a quick run to the local Rocket Fizz shop here because a buddy of mine is "on assignment"in Indianapolis right now and stopped into a Rocket Fizz there and looked over a bunch of root beers to ask if there were any i needed. I conferred with him for a bit and then decided to run down to our local shop (as mentioned) since he would have to try and pack them in his checked baggage to fly home with, and i just felt that was a bit too risky. But it was fortunate that he contacted me because Rocket Fizz did indeed have a ton of root beers that i needed. I haven't been to that shop for several years now. Last time i went was in Thousand Oaks, CA and the guy there was trying to talk me into opening a franchise of my own in Phoenix. Well apparently someone else beat me to it and it turns out that they have a pretty decent rotation. Long story short, i got 14 more root beers i don't already have, and when i brought them home and added them to the collection i have  been accumulating over the last several months/years in my fridge, i decided it was high time that i review another root beer. Probably need to pick it up in the next couple weeks/months because i have a bit of a back log and haven't posted for quite some time. So with that long and senseless preamble, lets talk about Cicero Salted Caramel Root Beer. This isn't one i picked up tonight. It's one my sister-in-law got for me somewhere in Utah, though they did have it at Rocket Fizz. This root beer comes out of Chicago, IL. Cicero Beverages has a whole line of sodas, including another "Chicago Style" root beer. If it's anything like Hank's or Goose Island, i'm sure i would like it. An interesting note, the website says it is "certified women owned". So there you go. That probably means they want it to be said with the somewhat pretentious pronunciation "care-uh-mel" instead of the common tongue's "car-mull" that we lay folk use in our informal conversations. And by "we lay folk", i mean you dummies.

This root beer comes in a brown 12 oz. glass bottle. The label shows what i assume is the iconic Chicago riverfront with the river as a delicious golden brown river of care-a-mel. My wife and i did an architecture cruise up that river many years ago and it was lovely. I've visited Chicago twice and really enjoyed myself both times. The rest of the label is well designed. It looked like an aged piece of parchment with burnt edges and bold lettering. I like it.

And they are true to their word because this stuff tasted like thick salted caramel. It really has no root beer base that i can discern at all. It's basically straight caramel, which means it's very very sweet. It's also very good. I have yet to encounter someone who doesn't like a good salted caramel. However, i really would have liked at least a small hint of root beer. They should have just called this salted caramel soda, not salted caramel root beer. Overall though, it's still a dang good soda.

My official review is that Cicero Salted Caramel Root Beer gets 7 (seven) IBCs. I like it. It's a good "root beer". My wife really enjoys Kraft traditional individually wrapped caramel cubes, and while they may not be strictly categorized as "salted caramels", this is what i think of while i drink this root beer. Again, i wish it was a bit more root beer flavored, but it's still a very good one. Definitely try one out if you get a chance.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Signature Select Root Beer

New Year, new me? Hardly. My only resolution is to hold steady and keep reviewing root beers are a ridiculously slow rate with as little effort and accuracy as i can allow myself to bother to exert. Sure, i've got several in the fridge i could do and get a bunch more posts out, but let's be honest; most people have migrated over to Instagram or Facebook or Pinterest or any of those other social media sites and i still can't bring myself to do it. Partly cuz i'm lazy, partly because i have no interest in that, and partly because i have the hubris to think that these reviews are special and anyone who really wants them should have to do a little work. But i realize that hurts me since less people will see or read my reviews, though i'm not sure i ultimately care who sees these. This is for me more than anyone else, yet i still strive to make it public and endeavor to do my due diligence when reviewing root beers. However, the truth is i have been slacking on my reviews and don't put near as much research into these root beers as i used to, mostly because they all taste the same now. So if it sounds like i'm jaded and full of contradictions, its only because i am. So with that unnecessary preamble, buckle up for another year of mediocre root beers and equally mediocre reviews. Let's begin, shall we?
This root beer was purchased at a Vons grocery store in Anaheim, CA. At least i think it was. I saw this here in Arizona at an Albertsons, but i don't think i bought it until later when i strolled through a Von's while on vacation. This is a quintessentially generic root beer, likely the house brand of whatever grocery store conglomerate owns and operates Vons and Alberstons and i believe Safeway (this is where i would insert something from the internet that i researched about this topic, but i no longer care to do because i don't think it really matters, and it's certainly not interesting enough to warrant a google). This root beer is distributed by Better Living Brands, LLC. When i looked up the website listed on the label, it takes me straight to a Safeway page. So, there you go. I told you, i've been doing this a long time at this point. 

The true mark of a generic root beer is the label. It is well established in my posts that generic labels follow many of the same themes and color schemes and this label is no exception. It's trendy, in my opinion, in the way opening a vintage themed bakery or dessert store is trendy. That's what the theme of the label reminds me of, specifically a local bakery called SweetTooth Fairy, and by local i mean there is one near where i live but in reality there are several locations in Arizona and Utah (i think it originated in Utah, but again, refuse to research it more). If this root beer wasn't owned by Safeway, i could see it being sold at a STF bakery based on the label alone. I could spend some time describing the label in even the briefest detail, but i'm just gonna ask that you go ahead and look at the photo instead. As for my opinion, it's a perfectly utilitarian label that fails to excite my imagination or fire my spirit and inspire me to do anything in the slightest. Thumbs up. 

It shouldn't surprise you that the taste follows suit. It's a low carbonation, watery, artificial root beer flavored soda that is sweetened with cane sugar. Just. Like. Hundreds. Of. Others. The subtle aspects of the label try to imply that this is some sort of unique craft soda, but it's far from that. This is a mass produced, generic root beer with a VERY familiar taste that sells a price point slightly above the other generic brand on the shelf next to it because this one comes in a glass bottle. It doesn't taste bad, but it also doesn't excite my taste buds at all. My son claims it is "super spicy", but i assure you that it is not. In fact, it's more watery than anything. It's not spicy. It's not significant. It just is. 

My official review is that Signature Select Root Beer gets 4 (four) IBCs. I don't know what else i can say about it because it has so little depth to even pull from. So i won't say anything else at all. Try it if you want, but i intend to forget about this one entirely.