Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Rocket Fizz Root Beer (with nutmeg)

I used to work at a restaurant in high school with a kid named Daniel Ortiz. Daniel was older than me by a few years but ended up being in my grade due to being expelled in middle school for bringing a knife. He wasn't a bad dude, but he had a bad reputation and a temper to boot. As long as you didn't get on his bad side, he was a chill guy though. I wouldn't say we were friends but we hung out at work and a little bit socially. When i was a sophomore, the school system decided to give Daniel another shot at public school. This is why he ended up being in my grade when he should have been a senior. I may have had multiple classes with him, but i only remember one; Sophomore English. Daniel started out the year just getting acclimated to school life again. The first part of the school year went pretty smoothly for him.  It was a small town and a small school and he knew many of the kids already, so he wasn't busying himself trying to make friends. But one person he did not know was our student teacher for the year, and she didn't know him. Her name escapes me but she was a mid 20's stocky lady who was desperate to establish herself as a teacher. We gave her a little guff, but nothing like what we gave to full out substitute teachers. However, Daniel had it in his head one day that he wasn't gonna give her what she demanded; respect. He sat at the front of class (not sure if this was due to assigned seating or what) and i sat along the side wall near the door in the front row, my desk turned 90 degrees to face him. He was just laughing and joking with people around him while the student teacher was trying to deliver her lesson. When she asked him to be quiet so she could teach, he snidely disregarded her. She was becoming visibly upset and Daniel seemed oblivious to anything she instructed. The time came when she passed out some paperwork for us to look at. Daniel was given a stack and told to take one and pass the rest back. He dropped the whole pile on the ground and smirked. I don't know what he was trying to accomplish, but he was making a stand. "Pick those up," she demanded. He commented back rudely, i don't quite remember his exact words. What i do remember though is the way she reacted, which still baffles me. She grabbed the hat off his head. She was young and naive and, as i mentioned, desperate to prove herself capable. But she miscalculated this altercation with Daniel by a long shot. I mean, this kid was expelled in middle school for carrying a weapon. He wasn't afraid of conflict and he didn't submit to authority. "Give me back my hat!" he barked. "Pick up those papers," she responded sternly. He silently glared at her for probably only 10 seconds but it felt like an hour. The rest of the class stared silently at the situation. Daniel's countenance had changed from jovial and uncaring to incensed. He turned his angry gaze downward to his desktop, silent but still refusing to pick up the papers. I didn't take my eyes off him. The teacher walked back behind her podium and placed his hat inside it and resumed teaching her lesson. I don't remember anything she said or how long she talked for. I just kept watching Daniel. He was wrestling inside himself. I knew he was a decent dude but that he was capable of bad things. However, i never expected his reaction. After a few minutes of sitting in silence, he stood up and walked to the podium. "Give me my hat," he said forcefully. Not waiting for her reaction, he reached around inside and grabbed it. She tried to stop him and grab the hat away and in one quick movement he violently shoved her backward into the chalkboard, slamming her against the wall and knocking her off balance. She caught herself on the railing to prevent falling to the ground. "Go to the office!" she screamed as she struggled to pull herself back up onto her feet. He voice sounded betrayed, terrified and humiliated. Daniel turned, not saying another word, and walked out of the class. With his hat. The whole incident happened so fast but burned into my brain because of how unlikely and shockingly it all went down. It was, of course, the talk of the whole school as being in a small town this type of gossip was currency. And as for Daniel, he was soon expelled from high school for assaulting a teacher.

Now what was this teacher's fatal flaw in this encounter? It was that she underestimated Daniel, a boy she didn't know at all and probably didn't hear the history about. So what does this have to do with root beer? Well this one falls into that category. You see, Rocket Fizz already has a root beer. I reviewed it back in June of 2013. And while i don't remember the root beer itself, the review i wrote was pretty bland. So i assumed this one would find itself in the same category. I almost didn't even get it because i figured it was just respun. But the label says Rocket Fizz Root Beer "with nutmeg". So that made me think this is just a rip off of Virgil's Bavarian Nutmeg root beer, which it totally is. But if i reviewed that by itself separate from Virgil's original recipe, i figured i would go ahead and get this one too.

To highlight how similar this is to Virgil's Bavarian Nutmeg you need only look at the bottle. This comes in an oversized 16 fl oz bottle. Additionally, it has that nifty little pop top with a rubber gasket that's resealable. It's fun, but it's a total rip off. The similarities in packaging end there. The label for this root beer is more akin to a generic with the color scheme, the text and the depiction of a root beer barrel. The label isn't the big draw, it's the size of the bottle and the pop top. But honestly, those things are enough. This thing stands out on a shelf big time. It dwarfs the surrounding bottles and commands your attention.

And back to the similarities with this and Virgil's, the nutmeg in this thing is a game changer. MUCH better than the original recipe. This is why this root beer is underestimated. I was expecting a larger bottle of the bland flavor the original recipe boasts. But this thing is loaded with flavor. It's sweetened with cane sugar and has a deep nutmeg base and after tone without burying the root beer notes. It's real good guys. It lacks on the creaminess of Virgil's, but i wouldn't mind trying them back to back to see how far the attempted replication goes. I've also cut out sugar for almost two months, so the sweetness of this is really hitting me right now. It's real good folks. Don't sleep on this one.

My official review is that Rocket Fizz Root Beer (with nutmeg) gets 7 (seven) IBCs. I docked it a bit for lack of originality, and it's just not quite where Virgil's is. But it's a good one to try for sure. I found this one at our local Rocket Fizz store and i'm sure it's available on their website. If you're in the mood give this one a shot. It's a treat for sure.

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Three Stooges Wise Guy Root Beer

"Why did the duck go to the bathroom?"
"I don't know, why?"
"Because it was a toilet duck."

This is a "joke" my 4-year-old daughter told me recently. If you didn't laugh, you're not alone. I am a harsh critic of my kids. I heap praise upon them when they deserve it, and when they don't i cripple them with shame. She made up this joke by herself and it was shameful to say the least. Rest assured i gave her a lengthy lecture about joke structure and why this one isn't funny in the slightest. I also told her what she needed to do in the future, because i'm sure it won't surprise you to know that in addition to being an expert in all root beer related matters, i'm also an expert on writing, telling and critiquing jokes as well as knowing what's funny. That's why i chose to review this root beer today. The Three Stooges is a classic comedy troupe from the 1930's and 40's. Their infamous slapstick brand of quasi violent humor was a hallmark of my late teens and would regularly play on late night reruns. I remember staying up all night with my cousins on more than one occasion watching these masters at work. I briefly consulted the source of all truth which told me that they were active from as early as the 1920's all the way up until the 1970's, which surprised me since the bulk of their work seems to be more dated than that. Six stooges made appearances during their run, with Larry and Mo as stalwart members and a rotating third member. Easily the most popular third stooge would be Curly, but i always personally preferred Shemp with his long disgusting greasy hair. And while some of the jokes they made were undoubtedly lost on me due to my youth and lack of experience as well and the timeliness of the references the Stooges were making, i could still relish in the cognitive dissonance of thinking this was a work of comic genius as well as complete garbage and the dumbest way i could be wasting my time. Their body of work stands at a whopping 190 episodes of expert open hand slapping and eye-gouging mayhem. But what do these comedy legends know about root beer? Turns out, not much. You see, these original Stooges have long been dead and this root beer is nothing more than Rocket Fizz up to their old tricks again. They are taking an opportunity to sell soda by tying it to a cultural icon just as they have several times before.

The 12 oz. clear glass bottle is adorned with a color image of the Stooges, atypical of their nearly entirely black and white catalog of short films. They are dressed in unconvincing cowboy attire and holding mugs of root beer. There isn't much else to the label, and to be honest there doesn't need to be. I'm sure this is why Rocket Fizz selected the troupe to embody a root beer, because they are so recognizable that it stops people in their tracks at a mere glance. It's genius when you think about it. I doubt they even have to license their likeness or anything. There is some legal mumbo jumbo on the label about trademarks and the Stooges likeness, but i doubt they get any money off the sale of this root beer. I see what you're doing Rocket Fizz and i gotta give you props capitalizing on famous dead people.

So we know they know how to make people laugh and we know they are in all likelihood completely uninvolved with the production of this root beer. Plus they are all dead, so they can't give it their stamp of approval. BUT, if they were alive, would they approve of this root beer? Something tells me they'd think it's not half bad because that's the truth. It's not half bad. I like the subtle wintergreen flavor and aroma, the sweetness of the cane sugar and the very muted bite this carries. It has a bit of a generic overall feel to it, could stand to be a bit more carbonated and has a bit of a watered down taste, but it's ultimately not bad. To be honest, i was expecting much worse. Rocket Fizz isn't above putting out a subpar product and slapping a recognizable face or two on it with a witty title just to sell some soda, but in this case it worked out pretty well.

My official review is that The Three Stooges Wise Guys Root Beer gets 6 (six) IBCs. I liked it. It wasn't super novel or ground breaking, but it was enjoyable and i would drink it again. That's really the biggest win any root beer can strive for; will this be consumed more than once by the same person, especially if that person is me. It's good. It's refreshing. It will sustain you through and all night Stooges marathon, the likes of which happen all the time (or at least they did 20 years ago). But with everything on demand these days, i think it would be well worth your time to crack a couple of these open and enjoy some good ol' fashioned comedic violent. Knuck knuck!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Live Probiotic Root Beer

I've done a lot of dumb things in my life. One of those dumb things was as a teenager growing up in Arizona. I was in highschool in Gilbert, AZ and my group of friends was looking for something to do to entertain ourselves. A few of us had driving privileges and access to vehicles, so one of the genius ideas we came up with was to go through a drive thru at any of the numerous fast food places and place an order. When we got up to the window, we wouldn't pay and we wouldn't get the food. Instead, we would have the guy sitting in the front passenger spot (i.e. "shotgun") raise a super soaker and blast the drive thru attendant before we drove off. Oh, and we would also videotape it. You know, for posterity. We did this literally dozens of times during our youth with a rotating group of friends. A few of these incidents stick out in my memory, like the time i blasted a dude in the face and knocked off his hat and headset, or the time one of the victims tried to jump through the window and grab the driver. But there is one time which still haunts me to this day. I don't recall if we continued this activity after this incident, but if we did it was one of the last times. I remember being in my friend Ryan *last name redacted*'s parents suburban and it was loaded to capacity with other kids. I honestly don't remember if i was manning the super soaker, but i want to say i was. The video camera was sitting right behind Ryan and rolling per usual This is the vantage point i most remember because we watched this footage over and over, but i also feel like i had a first hand visual of locking eyes with this guy. He was a schlubby looking dude, probably in his late 30s and looked like his life had taken some wrong turns. He probably once had dreams and aspirations, but a few failed semesters of school and some dicey credit card purchases along with a health scare of two probably pushed him into taking this job for way longer than he intended and the fast food grind had just taken it out of him over the years. He looked tired, unkempt, permanent 5 o'clock shadow, bags under his eyes, dark hair, a touch over weight, and (dare i say) swarthy. He greeted us mechanically and told us the total, which was our (my) queue to raise the squirt gun into position and let this guy have it like we had done with so many other poor souls before. But the thing that distinguished this dude from the rest is that he just stood there and took it, his dead eyes staring me down as i trained the stream up and down his body from his belly up to his face and back down over and over. And the whole time... he just stood there and took it. No real emotion crossed his countenance. It was the look of a man who had long been dead inside, and this was the last straw that he needed to help him go home, finish his manifesto, and then extinguish his whole family and then himself. We drove off laughing and congratulating ourselves, but i had no idea i would still think about this dude to this day as one of the guys I've done wrong in my life that i need to track down and give an apology to.

Now, why do i tell you this story? Is it to brag about my adolescent idiocy? Maybe a little. Is it to look back on my wasted youth and realize this is why i can't speak a second language or play the piano or excel at sports? Probably a little of that as well. But mostly, it's to realize i've done bad things in my life that i was never properly punished for and that in a cosmic or karmic sense, i am being punished now for my sins by having to drink this "root beer". Keen readers will recall i already reviewed another variation of Live Root Beer, specifically the Live Kombucha Root Beer. But this is the probiotic line from Live Sodas, and according to the blurb on the can, root beer is the most popular flavor. Live Sodas operates out of Austin, TX and is capitalizing on the sugar free movement by promoting "healthy" sodas with things like probiotics to improve digestion. I would categorize this as a "natural" soda, and in my language "natural" translates to "nasty". I can already tell you, this one is gonna be bad.

So on with the normal conventions of my formatting. It is at this point in the review that i tell you i got this root beer in a 6-pack of 12 oz cans. It is unfortunate that i had to get 6 of these as i would have preferred just the bare minimum of 1, but this is how they were sold. The coloring and imagery follows the conventions of a generic brand, with drab brown colors with a white or cream offset. They throw in a splash of red with the logo to liven it up a bit (no pun intended). The background is made to look like bubbles, perhaps as an accent on the fact that this has probiotics in it. I know little (nothing) about probiotics and don't care to do further (any) research on them, but i am taking a wild guess that like yeast when it is exposed to sugar, these organisms feed off some of the other ingredients and create carbonation as a result. If that's not accurate, guess what, i don't care. But if it is true, then kudos to me for coming up with that by myself. The can is also littered with all the logos and reminders that this is a zero sugar, naturally sweetened, non GMO soda to entice any of those hippies out there to give it a try.

I gave this thing the smell test when i cracked it open and could barely distinguish a faint root beer aroma. It mostly smelled like nothing, which the taste nearly mirrors. This stuff tastes like seltzer with a slight splash of root beer flavor. It's sweetened with monk fruit extract, which doesn't seem like it's pulling its weight because this stuff is pretty bitter. The aftertaste is actually much sweeter than when drinking it, and by aftertaste i mean 30 seconds to a minute or more after drinking it. The can has a blurb on it saying this root beer is "rich and creamy, bold and refreshingly smooth", none of which i would use to describe this drink. These adjectives are common among natural and generic root beers alike because they don't have a good enough flavor profile to come up with something unique to say. I drank the whole can, so i guess that's to its credit, but i didn't really enjoy anything about this experience.

My official review is that Live Probiotic Root Beer gets 3 (three) IBCs. This was my punishment, and i knew that going in. But as i stated above, the after-aftertaste of this root beer is actually not too punishing. Its the initial getting it down that really is a chore, and for that reason i won't be getting it again. Maybe it will appeal to your inner hippie, but i just don't care for it. I doubt this is proper penance for my previous teenage crimes, but it's a step toward making me a better person. And you know what else helps? The saving grace in all this is the fact that regardless of how juvenile and reckless those activities were, they will never be anywhere near as crazy, dangerous or awesome as this guy's. I mean, come on. He wins hands down.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Tommyknocker Root Beer

In 2010, my lovely wife and i went on a Caribbean cruise. One of the on-boat entertainers was a young juggler who did a free show performing his routine for anyone on the boat who would come and sit in the air conditioned theater reserved for hired talent. This kid was probably in his mid 20's at the time, and while his act was reasonably impressive to someone like me with no juggling ability, he wasn't without flaws. There were several times he dropped bowling pins or balls or whatever he was hurling around in the air. However, the audience was very understanding, accommodating, and appreciative that he would share his talent with them, applauding at a well executed maneuver and encouraging when an item was dropped or the described action was not achieved as stated. But the part of the show that really burned into my brain was when he talked about his passion for being a juggler, that he had wanted to do this very thing all his life, and that he was so lucky that he could share this passion with his young bride who supported him in his efforts, found a love for the art herself, began learning the craft and even eventually became his juggling partner. Then the lovely young lady came out on the stage and the two of them performed a dual juggling act that went off without a hitch. It was heartwarming to see these two young souls share their love for each other and for the work they do with a crowd of strangers. The audience probably comprised of about 100 people and i don't know that any of my fellow audience members really even remember this couple. But i do. For some reason they made an impression on me, and to this day when i think of them i practically can't help but say these words aloud to myself; "wow... what a couple of NERDS!"

I picked up this root beer at the local Rocket Fizz here in town. Tommyknocker Brewery is located in Idaho Springs, CO about 30 miles west of Denver and has been around since 1994. The brewery makes several ales and lagers as well as a small line of sodas. The website speaks a little about the origin of the name, but i went to the source of all truth to learn about the Tommyknockers. These mythical creatures are akin to Irish Leprechauns, known for causing mischief in mines, rewarding those miners which leave them food by warning of impending collapses and stealing unguarded tools from careless miners who paid them no respect. The legends comes from English and Irish immigrants who came to work in the mines in America and the "knocking on the walls" preceding a collapse as the support trusses are about to give under the weight of the cave are attributed to the Tommyknockers. The brewery offers free tours to all who are interested in that sort of thing. 

The typical 12 oz brown glass bottle is adorned with a colorful label depicting a jolly Tommyknocker enjoying a frosty mug of foamy root beer. I really like the label, but i'm a sucker for lots of color and effort to make an interesting and eye catching label. So as far as i'm concerned, this is a homerun. Sorry if this seems rushed or brief, but i think you can get a better sense of the excellence of the label just by looking at the photo.

This isn't a twist top (not that that matters but i figure it's worth mentioning) and the first thing i noticed when i got the cap off was the rich aroma of maple syrup, mint and vanilla, all of which feature prominently in the flavor. This root beer has a rich, deep taste with a smooth finish and maybe a hint of anise, which i don't love but i think works reasonably well in this case. The syrup/molasses flavor dominates with a creamy after taste of vanilla mixed with carmel. I really appreciate when root beers have a good flavor because i have a lot to say about them, but all that really needs to be said is that this stuff is good. REALLY good. Its sweet, it's refreshing, it's deep and rich, and it's an overall winner. My only real criticism is that i wish it were more carbonated than it was, but other than that i'm very satisfied overall.

My official review is that Tommyknocker Root Beer gets 8 (eight) IBCs. It's not perfect, but it's pretty close. This stuff might be tough to find depending where you are regionally, which also makes it more expensive when you can find it. But it's worth checking out and at least investing in a bottle or two. I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Enjoy!

I use too many commas and i don't know how to stop. 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Cheers Boston Root Beer

Well well well, this is going to be a super special review indeed. Not because the 10th anniversary of me doing this dumb blog quietly came and went back in Oct of 2018, though that is special, but for another reason. You see my dear readers, this review right here that you happen to be reading with your very own eyes is nothing less than THE 200TH ROOT BEER i have drank and reviewed. Yes, this is an historic event the likes no one has ever seen. What's that? Other reviewers have drank and reviewed more than 200 kinds of root beer you say? Well then i would respond to that asinine comment with this simple question... do any of those reviewers or their reviews matter even a little bit? The answer of course is no. No they do not. So this is truly a special event. Wow. 200 root beers. And it only took me 10 years. I can assure you i will give this review my maximum effort. Ultimately that means that i will spend upward of 1 whole hour writing this thing, mere minutes of which is actual research of the root beer itself, and that not unlike The Avengers End Game, the whole concept will be overblown and stretch the limits of tolerable suspension of disbelief with the end result being fairly predictable/inevitable. And not unlike the final season of Game of Thrones, the pace of this review will doubtless include a slow beginning, confusing middle section, and unsatisfying end followed by a petition for me to rewrite the whole thing. Shall we do one more? Not unlike John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum, this review will probably include a lot of relentless violence, including someone being killed with a book. Alright, i think that's enough of that.
Now, on to talking about the root beer. I have several root beers in my fridge right now, most of which are likely mediocre or novelty drinks with no real thought behind them other than a catchy pun-based name or something of the like. Sorry root beers in my fridge, you know who you are. But for this, my 200th root beer review, i wanted to review something special. Something not regionally available here in Arizona, that i hadn't heard of before, and that isn't music based (i plan to do a whole run on music based root beers soon). So when it came to decide amongst the root beers in my fridge, this was an obvious choice. First off, i should say that this root beer is a nod to the hit TV show Cheers from the 1980's. I have never watched the entire series as i was but just a small lad during it's original airing. I just caught a few odd episodes here and there, but i am aware of the characters/actors and some of the tropes involved. It's a beloved TV show centered around an actual bar in Boston, though i'm told the TV set bar does not resemble the real life Cheers at all. The other reason this root beer is special is because i had no idea it existed until my lovely wife presented me with two bottles of it last Christmas. She went out of her way to order these from the Cheers fan website and gift shop, which from what i can ascertain is attached to the original Cheers bar on Beacon Hill in Boston. It appears there is another Cheers bar built to be a replica of the TV set at Faneuil Hall, also in Boston. I don't get any indication from the website about the brewing of the root beer and how long it's been available, but kudos to my wife for finding this one.

These bottles are the "stout" 12 oz. brown glass bottles that i like. I just enjoy the shape of them. A little different than the standard shape. The label is a color image of the iconic Cheers... logo? That's not the right word. It's the image during the opening credits and theme song of the outside of the bar. I'm sure there is a term for that, but i don't know it. Anyway, it's very recognizable to anyone even passively familiar with the show such as myself. It's very plain and very straight forward, but it's effective. I like it ultimately. Not much else to say about it.

I get the feeling this stuff is brewed on site there, though it may not be. I have no way to back that up, but the taste of this root beer reminds me of Surf City Root Beer which is self brewed at Brewbakers in California. It has that same kind of yeasty taste to it that underlies the VERY subtle root beer flavor. It's not super sweet, but it's good and well carbonated. I get a pretty bad aftertaste from it as well. I can't really pull a strong flavor profile out of this root beer though. I don't dislike it, but it's somewhat ambiguous as to what it actually tastes like. I've drank both bottles at this point and still don't have any real idea of what more i can say about this root beer.

My official review is that Cheers Boston Root Beer gets 5 (five) IBCs. I know i had a big long preamble about how this is a special root beer hand selected to by my anointed 200th review so it's a little disappointing that this one falls on a flat 5 like so many other boring, bland root beers. But i gotta be honest, and this one is just fine. I don't dislike it, but there's nothing about it that pops. So was this root beer review a failure? Well... yeah, probably. But not unlike Breaking Bad, we all knew from the very beginning how this thing had to end. We always knew Walter White was a dead man, just like we all knew that 200 reviews into this thing i would still be giving out middle of the road scores to just about every root beer that comes my way. So you're welcome for being predictable. And if we are lucky i will lend my expertise to many more subpar reviews in the years to come. Cheers!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Rocky Mountain Root Beer

Hey... all you mothers out there... HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!! Congrats on bringing children into this world and contributing to the ever growing global population (now somewhere around 7.35 billion). Let's get it over 10 billion and blow this thing out, shall we? Anyway, it has been a while and i figured it was a decent time to review another root beer. I am going through all the root beers i picked up from the local Rocket Fizz here in Gilbert, AZ and this one fits into that category. Rocky Mountain Root Beer is brewed in Denver, CO along with a wide variety of other soda flavors. I did a bit more digging than i normally do to find out that the company was founded in 2007 and has only about 6 employees. The company touts the fact that they use all natural ingredients and brew their sodas in small batches to control the quality of the product. Other than that there is some info on the website for people looking to distribute the soda, but not much else in the way of company history or background. It seems they are trying to go the "healthy soda" route with their brewery, which usually is a disaster when it comes to taste. But they have clearly made enough of an impact to stick around for over 10 years now and expand past the borders of their home state.

The brown 12 oz glass bottle is adorned with a beautiful label picturing a majestic mountain ram against a mountain range background. Looking at the website i see that each flavor has it's own unique label picturing a different mountain creature native to the area. The artwork does not shy away from the intricate detail of the image shown. It's very unique and deserving of recognition. Well done, i'm impressed. Probably more than i should be really considering it's just a big dumb goat staring me in the face. But i'll give credit where credit is due.

Natural ingredients. That seems to be the hot new ticket every brewery is trying to capitalize on. Cane sugar, spring water, natural flavors, etc. In trying to be different, they end up all being the same. So what does that mean for the taste of Rocky Mountain Root Beer? Not much. I cracked the bottle opened and tried to get a nice whiff of the initial essence and struggled to find a discernible creamy aroma amid the seemingly vacant odor-scape (a word which i just made up but with which everyone is already deeply and thoroughly familiar with the concept). The taste is similarly vacant of discernible flavor. It's overwhelmingly watered down tasting, fairly (if not completely) flat, followed by an acrid aftertaste. There really isn't much to say about it other than it's barely there. Maybe a touch of anise? It's really hard to tell what's involved in the flavor, but the only real standout quality is that it's unsatisfying.

My official review is that Rocky Mountain Root Beer gets 3 (three) root beers. I'm just not at all swayed by this stuff. It doesn't scratch that root beer itch for me in the slightest. I don't hate it, which surprised me why i ended up with such a harsh rating, but when i weighed the whole picture this is where my heart landed. Either that or i'm just eager to get this one over with. I truly don't hate this one, but i would be hard pressed to reach for another one of these. So i'm gonna stick with my rating. Sorry Rocky Mountain, but you're just gonna have to try harder next time.

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.