Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Batch Root Beer

I've actually had this root beer before on tap but didn't review it at the time because i wasn't sure if i had already done so. Turns out, i hadn't, but i was lucky enough to discover a bottle of this back home in my fridge. Batch Root Beer is brewed in California using natural ingredients. There isn't much else i can find about the company. They have been around since 2013, but the website is very vague about any kind of origin story. Why so secretive Batch Root Beer? Why don't you tell us a little more about yourself? As i alluded to, i had this on tap at a burger joint in the Gaslamp District of San Diego called Burger Lounge. From what i remember they had a pretty tasty burger. But i don't review burgers. I leave that to the Doughboys. The root beer on tap was honestly not very memorable, so this is essentially like reviewing it for the first time. Just thought i'd throw that out there as a disclaimer, as if it mattered at all or anyone really cared about this post or anything i do with my life. And that includes my immediate family, who would prefer i simply die and leave my root beer legacy and fortune to them. Little do they know i've squandered it all betting in gambling rings of back room games of tug-of-war. I can't pick a winning team to save my life, but the rush is just too good to quit. You'd think it's gonna be the burly guys every time, but i've got a squandered fortune that proves otherwise. 

This tight-lipped root beer may not be spending money on advertising, but they don't skimp on the label design. It's a very professional and clean looking label. First off, the bottle is a standard 12 oz brown glass bottle (i'm obligated to point out that fact, simply by convention at this point) and there really isn't much else to say about it. But back to the label; this thing really sells the stuff. The logo is a rich, clean image of a top-down view of a bottle cap with the name of the soda company on it. Batch makes a variety of flavors and the label varies from flavor to flavor in color scheme as well as one other small detail. At the top of this label, it says "smooth". That descriptor at the top of the label will change with the flavor to things like, "satisfying", "clean", "tantalizing", "delicious" and others. Just a fun little extra thing they throw in.
There are a few small images of bears resembling the California state flag as well as an interesting inscription resembling something akin to the Greek alphabet or perhaps hieroglyphics. No idea what it might say or mean or why it's included at all, but i thought it was interesting enough to point out yet benign enough to not care to research any further. 

I mentioned i didn't really remember much about drinking this root beer when i had it in San Diego and now i see why that is. This root beer has a rather clean and refreshing taste of a good solid root beer, but is otherwise completely unremarkable to me. The sweetness of the cane sugar stands out in the flavor profile, but not much else. It has a very thin, watery flavor that's very forgettable. I applaud them for the effort to use natural ingredients and still make a soda that doesn't taste like absolute garbage, but this beverage ultimately falls short of anything less than mediocre when it comes to taste. Sorry Batch, but yuh just aint cuttin it. 

My official review is that Batch Root Beer gets 4 (four) IBCs. It's sad because lesser root beers have been relegated to this same score but i just can't think of a good reason to elevate this one. It's just such a nothing soda to me. I feel refreshed when i drink it, but that lack of a good solid strong flavor, good or bad, make this just on the cusp of a classic root beer. I think you need to tweak your formula a little Batch. And i know i said i'm not qualified to judge burgers the way the Doughboys would, but i'd be interested to see how Mitch can do picking out different root beers in a Wiger Challenge-esque challenge. Mitch is a bit of a wizard with these things, but it would be interesting if he could differentiate them from one another. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Indian Wells Special Reserve Root Beer

I had a goal of posting at least one review a month this year and i've already failed at that. Last month was a bit of a doozy for me as we sold our house, moved back into our tiny condo we had when we were first married and had no kids, and remodeled said condo all in the span of 45 days. And this month hasn't been much easier as we try and adjust to a smaller home and organize everything while putting on the finishing touches of the remodel. It was not something i would like to ever do again. Lots of long days of work and late nights of remodeling. But the upswing is that we made a decent amount on selling the house and had enough to completely pay off my student loan. So now we are just going to slum it here for a bit while we save up to buy or build a new house in a few years. And hopefully i can still post the rest of the months this year. So i apologize for not posting in a while and for the fact that i need to keep this brief so i can get my kids ready for bed now. This root beer is one i picked up from the Rocket Fizz store. Indian Wells Special Reserve Root Beer is brewed by the Indian Wells Brewing Co. in Inyokern, CA and has been around since 1995. The website on the bottle takes me here, which is very confusing, but a simple Google search for this root beer took me to the correct website. There wasn't much info on the website, including any mention of this root beer though it's the same brewing company that makes Death Valley Root Beer, but i found some info on the bottle about The Indian Wells Spring that served as a watering hole for miners and explorers in the mid 1800's. It serves today as the source of water for this brewing company.

Right off the bat this root beer stuck out to me for a couple reasons. First off, it's in a 22 fl oz bottle, much larger than the typical 12 fl oz. Second, it's sealed with dripped wax for a decorative effect.
The top of the cap is also imprinted with the logo of the brewing company. So these distinctive features along with the colorful label made this a sure fire pick for me. I like the professional and colorful label. It contains the typical imagery of barrels on an old piece of parchment paper. Lots of different fonts and styles and lots of other superfluous info about the root beer or the brewing company. I give it kudos for the effort on a nice presentation.

The label lists several different flavors present in this root beer recipe, including vanilla, sarsaparilla, birch root, wintergreen, ginger, wild cherry bark, licorice and cane sugar, all aged in barrels made from Quercus Pyrenaica Chestnut wood, whatever that is. So i was expecting to be overwhelmed with flavor. The reality is that i didn't find this root beer all that interesting. It was a bit thin and not even all that sweet. It almost tastes just like sucking on a popsicle stick that never had a popsicle on it. And on top of that underwhelming taste experience, it left a really bad taste in my mouth.

My official review is that Indian Wells Special Reserve Root Beer gets 3 (three) IBCs. I didn't really care for this at all, and i rated it lower than i rated its sister root beer Death Valley, although i really don't remember what Death Valley tastes like except that when i saw they were brewed at the same place i just remembered i didn't care much for Death Valley. Luckily i had my two awful kids to help me drink all 22 fl oz of this stuff, and luckily they are still little enough and dumb enough to realize this stuff isn't that great. They were just happy to have root beer before bedtime. So that part of the experience was a win-win for me, but even though this root beer stands out in the store i will likely pass it by next time i see it and i think you should too.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Kroger Real Sugar Root Beer

Happy New Year everyone! It has been a little bit since i've posted but there is a lot going on. Don't need to go into it, but it's good to be back in the root beer reviewing game. We drove up to Utah to spend Christmas with my wife's parents and at a local Smith's grocery store in West Jordan, UT i found this Kroger Real Sugar Root Beer. It's the generic brand of that grocery chain, but i suspect most people are familiar with the Kroger brand of food. They supply dozens of grocery stores nationwide. The Real Sugar Soda line has a number of flavors, root beer being one of them, and should not be confused with Kroger's line of flavored seltzers. I made the mistake of getting these as well and quickly found out it was not what i would consider "good". I will not be reviewing Fizz & Co. Seltzers in root beer flavor. It is decidedly NOT a root beer.

I picked up a 12 pack of 12 oz cans because that was what was available to me. The label follows the traditional generic root beer color scheme of browns and grays with some silver and black in there as well. It's a lot nicer label than a lot of generics though. It has an old timey photo of who i assume is B.H Kroger and his family standing outside one of their grocery stores. For the sake of the story i'm going to say it was their first store with no credible facts to back that up, but it's a likely assumption, especially given that the label has a little blurb about the Kroger's first store being opened back in 1883. The font is big and bold and pretty. Definitely a step up from other generics, which is basically what i said before. Well done Kroger.

As you can guess from the name, this root beer is made with real cane sugar. It's quite sweet, which is a known side affect of using sugar, and has a really nice tone and finish. These words of course mean nothing, but it makes me sound sophisticated and like i know what i'm talking about when i use them. But the reality is this is a pretty good root beer. One of the better generics i've had for sure. The flavor is full and rich, not shallow, and has a nice vanilla finish to it. It really doesn't disappoint. I can't really think of anything negative about it other than it's not very original. But original or not it's still a refreshing drink with a solid root beer taste.

My official review is that Kroger Real Sugar Root Beer gets 7 (seven) IBCs. That's a solid score for any root beer and an exceptional one for a generic root beer. This one really surprised me. It consistently delivers the goods. I don't really have another to say bad about it. Give it a shot wherever you find it. It's probably pretty widely available.