Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Judge For Yourself! Root Beer

So this one looked suspiciously familiar to me and instantly made me think of Judge Wapner Root Beer. I thought maybe they had just re-branded it, but i think what's REALLY going on here is that Real Soda is trying to compete with Rocket Fizz which now owns the distribution rights to Judge Wapner Root Beer (or perhaps they always did). My original post on Judge Wapner Root Beer which was posted over 9 years ago says it is distributed by Blue Dog Beverages, but the label on Judge Wapner says it is the intellectual property of Robert Powells, a real life family member of Judge Wapner and affiliate of Rocket Fizz. So either i was wrong all along (not likely) or distribution has changed hands. Regardless, this whole preamble is just to say that Real Soda came up with Judge For Yourself! Root Beer, in my opinion to capitalize on the popularity of Judge Wapner. So, in light of this probably invented rivalry, i have decided to indeed "judge for myself" by doing a head-to-head blind taste test of these two root beers and i will post the results here for you to consider. Also, my kids are going to participate, but i assure you their opinions should and will make no impact upon the overall results. After all, they are not only children, they are idiots.

A head-to-head rivalry of litigious proportions

But first, let's not break with tradition and talk a bit about the packaging for Judge For Yourself! Root Beer. The bottle is a typical 12 oz dark brown glass bottle with a twist cap. The label isn't the cheapest thing i've ever seen, but it's pretty close. It has various different fonts with a terribly done photoshop job of a gavel smacking down on a mug of root beer with the most basic cartoon face that can be imagined. What i'm saying is that the artistic execution lacks effort. And to take up the dead space on the label they threw in a tagline that says "So good it should be banned!" (not bad), but then take a real left turn and throw another tagline that sounds like faux scripture that says "Judgement Day Cometh To Those Who Have Lost Their Fizz." What? Not only does it sounds stupid and not make sense, they also lost their original vision by writing "Have" and not "Hath". If you're gonna try and scare people into drinking this stuff with fear of divine judgement, at least stick with it and don't bail half way through. Or should i say "hath" way through.

So, the biggest thing i wanted to know is if these two root beers taste distinct enough from one another. So to do that, and for purposes of this review, i needed to know what Judge For Yourself! tastes like by itself. By itself, its very thin tasting. It's sweet from the cane sugar and has a decent aroma, but not a great aftertaste. It tastes kind of like a root beer flavored medicine. There is definitely nothing that distinguishable about it and I did't really like it by itself to be honest. BUT... i also had a hard time distinguishing it from Judge Wapner. OOOOO.... murmur murmur... is what you are all saying to each other, because i game Judge Wapner an 8, which is a very good rating in the context of my reviews. So if i didn't like this one and had a hard time telling them apart, does that mean i don't really like Judge Wapner? Sadly, i would probably have to concede that. I was not that impressed with Judge Wapner this time around. However, my original rating stands since i don't make a habit of going back and re-rating root beers. Plus, it's been 9 years and i don't know what did or could have changed during that time.

So to conduct the test, we poured some of each root beer in identical cups with marking on the bottom to tell which root beer each cup contained. The taster then left the room while the cups were being shuffled. The rest is pretty straight forward. The taster would taste both and determine which one was which. As for the results of the blind taste test, i guessed wrong the first time and right the second time. My wife and son both guessed right both times. My daughter put some into a cup of her own with some ice cream and then dipped pretzels and chicken nuggets in it. My wife tipped me off to the secret between them before my second attempt, and the key was that Judge Wapner has a distinct wintergreen undertone which Judge For Yourself! lacked. Perhaps the wintergreen is what helped sell Judge Wapner for me 9 years ago, but sadly it wasn't enough this time.

My official review is that Judge For Yourself! Root Beer gets 5 (five) IBCs. It isn't a good root beer. It's a novelty root beer, and a bad one at that. I have a fridge full of these kind of "joke" root beers that both Real Soda and Rocket Fizz are now known for. So the effect of it is in the branding, which in this case loses to Judge Wapner every time. It's a clear knock off, a generic that is trying to ride the coat tails. This stuff is akin to an RC cola compared to a Coke or Pepsi, and as such doesn't deserve your time or money. Get yourself a Judge Wapner if you're into court themed sodas, but don't bother with this one. Case closed!