Friday, December 28, 2007

The Root Beer Standard in Jelly Bean Form


Recently my wonderful angel wife found something that certainly appealed to my root beer senses. I have noticed more recently that many products have taken on a brew theme and so it must have made sense for Jelly Belly to capture the fun in one of their many flavor options. They actually have a wide range of flavors that include a soda pop series. I think the plastic soda pop bottle package was very appropriate. The flavor was certainly that of the standard and if Jeff and I rated candy I am sure this would fall well into the highest standards.
-Adam

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dogs n' Suds

It is true, Dogs n' Suds has been in my life since I was a child. How can you turn down a huge bottle of brew? Especially one sporting such a colorful label. But the truth is I haven't had this root beer in quite a while and when I opened this mammoth bottle I was not as a giddy as I was when I was a child. For some reason, I feel my bottle was defective.

When I made my first pour into the trusty frosty mug, no head appeared. Instead the spirit (bubbles) just lie stagnant along the side of the mug. To say the least, it was very odd. The second pour was a little bit better, a head did form, but it was no wear near the quality of the standard. When I tasted the Dogs n Suds, it was somewhat flat - but not entirely. It still had a crisp root beer flavor and aroma. It was very sweet, but truly was just an ordinary root beer with no flavor frills. It is the kind of root beer that floats were made for.

I am going to give this brew 3 Frosty Mugs mostly based on label and serving size. This rating is skewed by my poor sample quality. In the future, if I do run into another bottle, I will post an update to give a more accurate review.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dog n Suds Drive-In Style Root Beer : Dog Gone Good Brew

Dog n Suds has a long history beginning in Champaign, Illinois back in 1953 when a couple of music teachers opened a car hop style drive-in restaurant serving hot dogs and of course root beer. Their idea evolved into a booming business reaching a peek of about 750 locations back in the 1970's. Unfortunately, as times changed so did interest in car hop style restaurants and only a handful of these Dog n Suds drive-ins are left. One striving location is in Montague, Michigan which proves that there certainly remains a place for these very nostalgic eateries. One thing left from this franchise is of course their bottled version of the brew from their chain of drive-ins.

Jeff sent me this very mammoth 32oz glass bottle of this drive-in style brew. He is a native of Illinois so I know this particular brew holds a very special spot in his heart. To begin with I must admit that big bottles of brew always impress me. After all for a brewer to be bold enough to expect that their brew is so good that someone would want a 32 oz serving is either an indicator of confidence in the product or just simple narcissism. I am happy to report that a 32 oz serving is just right when considering Dog n Suds. Along with this large bottle one's eye is certainly going to be drawn to very unique and appealing logo. It certainly carries that nostalgic feeling of easier times in America. After all it is not everyday that a dog will serve up humans brew and a hotdog, certainly a far stretch from what I often observe humans doing for their dogs in the local park (think baggie).

The spritz of this brew is most inviting, a traditional root beer extract aroma with a good balance of carbonation. The foam head is very similar to the standard but was very white versus the brownish tinge of most brew. I am partial to white foam, not sure why but I think it is a plus just for appearance sake. The flavor is deep and distinctly root beer. I noted that there are no frills, no unexpected blends of other non-traditional flavors, just your down home root beer flavor. For a Americana traditional root beer frills would certainly be a drawback and although I certainly love frills in my brew I was happy to not experience them in this classic brew. Dog n Suds exceeds the standard by the fact that it provides a much more distinct root beer flavor, again no frills, and that there is a much better balance of carbonation, the standard is a bit more carbonated than I would prefer. Dog n Suds has a much more appealing balance which makes popping this top a much more smooth adventure.

As they once advertised it is "so dog gone good" and they are right on the money with this brew. For the distinct root beer flavor, long time American tradition, white foam, and awesome logo, I serve up on a car hop window tray 4 Frosty Mugs for this American Tradition.

-Adam

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

RAT BASTARD root beer: Good Brew Gone to Waste

I first wish to acknowledge my negative expectations of this particular brew. If the name wasn't enough to turn my nose skyward the other antics located on the label certainly did the job. In fact the other reviews I have seen on this brew indicated that it was by far the worst of the worst, which in and of its self is something to note. In fact it was that reputation that prompted me to choose this brew from among the other many options when I was at Jungle Jim's. In many ways it seems that the brewers of Rat Bastard actually sought after that reputation, not a bad way to sell some brew.
The ingredients were just as appalling as the label. It was as if they went through a natural-food grocery store and grabbed the nastiest stuff they could find. I am not even sure if some of these ingredients are even considered food. Needless to say my hesitation was great, but then Jeff posted his review and my apprehension quickly turned to intrigue. I popped the top and began to experience an overwhelming feeling of incongruence.
This brew was expected to be completely nauseating, even the very initial aroma spritz was supposed to cause delirium, but in fact this was the exact opposite of my experience. This brew smelled good, I mean really good, like brew is supposed to. The pour resulted in a fair dark foam head, it didn't hang around as long as the standard but it wasn't far behind it either. My first taste of Rat Bastard was most delightful, rather than feeling sick to my stomach I actually felt warm and fuzzy. This stuff was dark, very dark, and carried a creamy, smooth, and well balanced flavor that clearly toted a root beer extract. I was amazed, how did these guys cram all those crazy ingredients into this brew and still pan out with a high quality product. In fact the taste of this brew is that of Virgil's quality but the bottle is certainly a liability in my book.
Had it been in a nice happy bottle with a sweet logo this brew would land right next to Virgil's in my book. However, their attempt to sell brew with outrageous means will cost them, at least here at the Rootbeer Brothers. I grant Rat Bastard 3.5 Frosty Mugs and although it is good I don't foresee me recommending it to my friends.
- Adam

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Rat Bastard: If you are in for something different - drink it, but don't be a D#@$.

Rat Bastard is a unique brew - to say the least. It is created and marketed by the Skeleteens/Eat me Foods out of Los Angeles, CA. Currently their website is down, so I have no real information on the company. The only thing I can speculate on is who they market it to.

On the label it says:

"It's us against them"
"Quit being a D#@$ drink it"
"Antidote: 818.844._121"
"Ok, we admit it, we conned you into buying this" (inside cap)
I don't think you would find that type of lingo on too many of the main stream brews out there. However, this type of marketing appeals perfectly to the younger soda-deprived generation. The name and the label design targets the teen to mid-twenty's age groups. In a sense, their marketing campaign is brilliant. Another aspect of this company that targets this age group (and may be beneficial to the older age groups as well) is what the brew is made of. It is loaded with practically every ingredient imaginable (see the tags). With the explosion of the energy drink market, this brew could sit on the shelf next to the infamous Red Bull. It has 3 different types of Ginseng and whole bunch of other stuff I had to Wiki!! Let me break that down to you Viagra folks, if Viagra isn't working, Rat Bastard probably will and ease your mind in the process!

Because of this very, very unique "herbal blend" you get a brew that is unlike any other. When you open the bottle the aroma is very pleasing to the nose and actually surprised me because many of the other online reviews destroyed this brew. Once poured into a frosty mug, the brew displays a tall head which lasts a good while. The color when held up to the light is somewhat crimson - perhaps a dark, rich cranberry hue. Again, most surprisingly, I really enjoyed the taste - although I can't describe what I drank - Its not creamy and has a bite - a lot of bite.

My BIG Con: It doesn't tell you the amount of these substances in the "herbal blend" you are consuming. I am not a big fan of the "natural product" market and tend to trust the government over producers. I keep feeling that another radon (which is another "natural product"; along with ricin and cocaine) marketing scheme will be exposed and everyone will kick themselves for getting duped.

Until that occurs...drink up. I will not be investing in this brew again for that reason, but I will be very fair in my review. I DID ENJOY IT = 3.5 Frosty Mugs.

-Jeff
----------------
Now playing: Coldplay - Swallowed In The Sea
via FoxyTunes

Monday, October 1, 2007

Hank's Gourmet Philadelphia Recipe Root Beer: Find it. Drink it. LOVE it.

Ladies and Gentleman; Boys and Girls, I must apologize for not fulfilling my end of this adventure. I am sorry. As Adam mentioned, I have been off working on career endeavors for the last month. I was actually up in Rhode Island for a month and I had very limited internet access. Fortunately, I was able to fine tune my root beer palate because I had access to Hank's Root Beer on the weekends.

Look at that bottle! I have to completely agree with Adam at the magnificence of the packaging. Double embossed gold foil labels - if thats not "Gourmet", I don't know what is. If for some reason, the labels fall off, the bottle itself says "Hank's" on the neck. This brew I actually enjoy drinking straight from the bottle.

Not only does it look good, it tastes good. It is a fantastic brew. It is similar in taste to a Stewart's, but rolls on the tongue a bit creamier. I will also suggest that this is one of the darker brews you will come across as well. Almost looks like a Guinness in a mug instead of a root beer, except the head on the Hank's is not as frothy and disappears quite readily.

This ranks high in my book: 4.5 Frosty Mugs

Where do you find Hank's? Well, I found it on a military base. But, for those who do not have access to a base, they have an online store. I have also tried their orange cream and black cherry sodas, both of which I recommend. I would be glad to send out one to anyone as long as you are willing to send me a new brew in return (good or bad). Just drop me a line.

-Jeff

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rootbeer Brothers Brewing Notes #1


From the beginning of this tasteful journey Jeff and I have played with the idea that eventually we would be brewing our own root beer for the web site. Our thoughts were that we could identify what each of us loved about the brews we evaluated and then some how collect them into a brew of our own. Recently I have been attempting to bring this to at least some realization.


I decided to check out a local home brewing supplier which proved to be the most enlightening hour of my collective lifetime of root beer experiences. The guys over at "The Home Brewery" in Ozark, Missouri were by far the most knowledgeable sources I have come across. I originally went in to simply purchase a few supplies but we got to talking and before I knew it my whole perspective about root beer had shifted in a remarkable way. I went from being a devout yeast and glass jug using brewer to a CO2 Cornelius keggin' brewer. I learned more in that single hour than I had from all the books and articles I had read over the last 6-months (and there were a lot of them). To learn for your self just check out their website http://www.homebrewery.com/ and be sure to tell them Adam from the Rootbeer Brothers sent you.

So I purchased the basic equipment for a genuine CO2 kegging system and then cooked up a recipe that I have been working on for some time. This however was the first time I had ever made 5 gallons of brew at one time, a much different experience indeed. I also purchased the basic equipment to bottle the brew which is an entirely different process altogether. In the end this first carbonation experience was very productive in that I learned that I have much more to learn and my technique and recipe has far to go to achieve perfection. But all in the same this is our first step toward an official "Rootbeer Brothers" brew.
-Adam




Friday, August 31, 2007

BK Root Beer Stand in Sidney, Ohio





We will have to excuse Jeff for the delay on his Hank's post as he is currently predisposed in his career endeavors. Evaluating root beer is certainly enjoyable but one has to also pay the bills. So while we wait for Jeff's return I thought this would be a good time to post about a favorite eatery of mine back in my sweetheart's hometown Sidney, Ohio. Just adjacent to the local city ball fields one will find some batting cages and a genuine Americana drive-in selling freshly brewed root beer.


The BK Root Beer stand sells spanish dogs (coney dog), shredded chicken and pork sandwiches and of course root beer in frosty mugs. The best part is they bring it right to your car. The large mugs are huge but they even have kiddie sized mugs which made lunch for my daughters most delightful. The root beer is very fresh, it was low in carbonation but was distinct in the traditional root beer extract flavor one would expect. From what I have learned through some simple searching on the web, BK Root Beer once was a striving chain of drive-in restaurants within the midwestern states. A&W Root Beer actually started in root beer stands very similar to this. However, over time people lost interest in this style of eatery and they all but disappeared. Recently the Sonic chain has made a significant come back but unfortunately they do not toat their own fresh root beer. A&W has also made a come back but now they are all regular sit-down restaurants. Essentially, finding a genuine root beer drive-in stand is a precious find indeed. Besides this BK in Sidney I also know of two others in Ohio, a BK in Piqua and Wot-A-Dog Drive-In in New Carlisle. Regardless of how the root beer compares to other brews, fresh brew is always great brew and at root beer stands like these its carried right to car in a frosty mug. -Adam

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Hank's Gourmet Philadelphia Recipe Root Beer: Serve it on a Silver Platter


As far back as I can remember I have never paired root beer with the word gourmet. In fact when I think that far back I think of root beer being served in a frosty mug in some fast food joint where the waitresses are zipping around on roller skates. Now that is about as far away from gourmet as you can get. So how did Hank's enter the picture? The bottom line, these guys started out in the mid-1990's with the single intention to make an upscale premium product. Premium is only about a half-step away from Gourmet, the only difference is presentation. I checked out the Hank's website and found that normally their bottles actually say "Premium" rather than gourmet but there was also a difference in the bottle. The bottle I have pictured to left is a much more upscale bottle and therefore it reads "Gourmet" and appropriately so.

I am not sure where Jeff found this one but I found it amongst the many bottles of brew he sent in a box I found on my door step when I arrived home from our Ohio visit. He encouraged me to pop the top of this one first, I am glad he did.

I was amazed as I poured this brew from one of the most impressive bottles I have ever seen brew stored in. The bottle has the logo embossed in a golden foil, not once, but twice and then the actual glass of the bottle also bears the name "Hank's". Very gourmet and that's only the bottle. The brew was dark, very dark, the foam was very similar to that of the standard, and the spritz, well that aroma was very distinct, a very strong root beer extract emanated from the elixir inside.

This brew has few flavor frills, something I actually look for in a brew, but for some reason I still loved it. It didn't have a hint of almond or vanilla, just root beer, plain and wonderfully simple. I mean it, I experienced a very sound root beer flavor, smooth, crisp, and pure. The carbonation was perfectly balanced, the brew flowed from the mug easily over my taste buds, it was as if this brew had been made for the sole purpose to be appreciated for what it was ..... a root beer. Gourmet, indeed, this brew is what you would want to serve your boss, if he loves root beer. This is the stuff they probably stock in the 5-star restaurants around this fine country and if they are not stocking it the reason is simply because they do not stock root beer at all. I thoroughly enjoyed this review and encourage all of our readers to seek this one out. I serve up Hank's my highest score yet, 4.5 Frosty Mugs.....on a silver platter.

-Adam

Monday, July 30, 2007

Natural Brew Draft Root Beer: The Tree Huggin' Companion

I found Natural Brew Draft Root Beer at the local Price Cutter grocery store and it is by far the most complex brew we have evaluate thus far. The taste is packed full of more distinct flavors than what you might find at a Natural Food Organic Buffet Restaurant (which would be interesting in it's own respect). Virgil's Root Beer also claims all natural ingredients, but let me tell you there is a huge difference. Natural Brew chooses ingredients only true tree huggin' enthusiasts can appreciate. Having been raised for some of my childhood in the state of Maine (a place where natural food is very typical) I am able to truly appreciate the uniqueness of this particular brew. But the real question is how it stands against the standard.

This brew was similar to the standard in spritz aroma and color, the head however was something most refreshing. The foam was very similar in thickness and depth to that of our standard but the color.....the color was eye opening, it was actually white, pure white, not a hint of brown in it. I am not sure why this was but I liked it! White foam is so cool, after all we usually think of foam as being white but in reality it hardly ever is. Not the case with Natural Brew, it was as white as the clouds in the sky.

The flavor, as mentioned above, caught me off guard. I am not sure what it was, maybe the licorice, but it hit me hard. I never would have expected that in a root beer, but there it was. At first I thought it didn't belong but after a few swigs the flavor became very enticing. It reminded me of the Maine brew, Moxie, which is actually repulsive at first but after about the fourth drink you are in soft drink heaven. The flavor was the most unique root beer flavor I have ever tasted and I emphasize that it was root beer flavor, some how they still pulled it off. But I agree with Jeff in that this is not a brew for everyone, try Moxie first, if you like that check out Natural Brew.

To conclude my evaluation I want to comment on the glass amber bottle that this brew is packaged in, the logo carries you away to a rocky mountain stream deep in the thick woods of some northern state of our fine country. I am not sure that this will be the experience you will have when you pop the top of this brew but it was an interesting way for them to market the stuff. It was a cool logo all the same.

In the end, with all things considered, and emphasizing that this brew may not be for you, I award Natural Brew Draft Root Beer with -4 Frosty Mugs. If you have a natural flavor I am sure you will agree, if you do not have a tolerance for natures way than stay away from this bottle or you will not be a happy camper!

-Adam

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Natural Brew Draft Root Beer. Different and Good.

This is the final review from the last shipment received from Adam.

Natural Brew Draft Root Beer is a very unique root beer with the best head to date. The foam sprung up quick and hung out for quite a while. The aroma leaving the bottle was a good combination of licorice and other earthy (root) aromas.

Out of all the brews we have reviewed thus far, this brew gave my mouth the most trouble determining which flavor was the strongest. I actually did not like the first swill out of my frosty mug. However, the after taste drew me back for more. Again, the same happened with the following drink. The problem with this brew is that I have had this flavor before - at least the major flavor in this brew. What my mouth was reacting with was the anise. One of my favorite Mexican beverages (Jamaica) is made from hibiscus flowers and our family recipe uses anise as a major ingredient. So after a minor mental adjustment I could enjoy this brew for what it is.

Overall, this brew is good. I have a pretty good feeling that many people will not like it. In fact, my wife asked what our rating scale was after she tried it. I told her 0-5 Frosty Mugs. She ranked it a 0. I will give it much higher than that. It is a solid 3.5 Frosty Mugs.

-Jeff

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Root Beer Mother-Load at Jungle Jim's

On a recent visit to the Buckeye State I took a short drive down to Cincinnati to shop at one of the most unique grocery stores you may ever find across this great land. Jungle Jim's International Market is by far one of the most precious jewels Ohio has to offer. This place is worth the drive no matter the distance.

photos obtained from www.junglejims.com
Along with the widest varieties of fruits, vegetables, seafood, foreign food, and cheese Jungle Jim's also has an entire section of hot sauces from around the world. Now this is no ordinary grocery store, oh no, not even close. To simply drive by the place is to experience something quite out of the ordinary. Even their bathroom facilities take a bit getting used to since they actually look like a porta-potty but in fact are a modern full service facility appropriately decorated in jungle attire. Best of all however, there is an entire aisle dedicated to soft drinks from around the world. I originally would visit Jungle Jim's because they are the only store that carries Moxie outside the state of Maine. My recent visit however was to capture other items from the soft drink aisle, root beer of course.

The soft drink aisle borders the Mexican food aisle of which Pedro is always watching over. I like to think he is also a lover of root beer too and that is why they placed him in this area of the store. So as I looked over the mother-load of root beer I quickly realized I would have to be selective. There were probably 25 brews I had never tried before but I decided I would only purchase 10 brands (2 bottles each of course). I had a very good friend along with me who helped in the process (a big thanks out to Michael of Framed Poetics). We made our selection and headed for the cash register. As we were checking out, Michael decided he would use the moment to advertise our little website here to the two cashier girls. So if they were crazy enough to take his advice and check out the site I extend my apologies for my crazy friend and also a thanks to you for visiting. In all I walked away with 10 new brews, some good laughs because of Michael and some embarrassment because of him too (what are friends for).

I wish to also take this time to thank my wife and Michael's wife Amy who had to put up with Michael and I during our little Jungle Jim's adventure. They certainly displayed some serious patients during the purchase of 10 future brews for the Rootbeer Brothers. Thank you ladies :)

Now in time as Jeff and I exchange these brews you will get to see what exactly was found at Jungle Jim's. Keep sippin' the brew, we will be back soon........

-Adam

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Ohio Root Beer Stands

B&K Rootbeer
301 Riverside Drive
Sidney, OH 45365-2853
937-492-7886
---------------------------------------------

Jolly's Drive In
210 Erie
Hamilton, OH 45011
513-894-7541
---------------------------------------------
Portage Lakes Rootbeer
3405 Manchester Road
Akron, OH 44319-1412
330-644-9741
---------------------------------------------

Arizona Root Beer Stands

Carter's Drive In
575 South Haskell Avenue
Willcox, AZ 85643-2719
520-384-2277
----------------------------------------

Indiana Root Beer Stands

BK ROOT BEER STAND
1020 Logan Street
Mishawaka, IN 46544
574-259-2615
--------------------------------------------

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Faygo Draft Style Root Beer: Not Bad.

Is Faygo and A&W the same brew???? Almost.

This evaluation was a little skewed for me. You see, I am in the process of moving and I am currently staying in my empty apartment - nothing was in it except this Faygo. So I didn't get the opportunity to make the traditional pour into a frosty mug; so I can't comment on the pour and the head after the pour.

Absolutely no head formed when I opened the bottle, which can form on some brews that are over carbonated (A&W does this often). I must agree with Adam, the color through the bottle did remind me of the standard as did the distinct root beer aroma. I do believe Faygo has a little "harder" flavor than the crisp airiness of A&W. My wife says Faygo lacks the creamy taste of other brews. That may be, but I am not 100% sure. Something about the flavor didn't play my taste buds like an A&W.

Overall, Faygo is a good brew, but I would still pick up an A&W if I had the choice. Faygo's label already displays 2 Frosty Mugs, so I will bump them up a half. 2.5 Frosty Mugs

-Jeff

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Faygo Draft Style Root Beer: A&W's Oldest Brother

I found this root beer in a Kroger grocery store in Ohio. Faygo carries a great number of flavors and by no means are they known for their root beer. This very year the company is celebrating their 100th year in business. So I wish to send out a big mug of CONGRATULATIONS out to them on this momentous occasion. Faygo began way back in 1907, exactly 12 years prior to A&W.

The pop of this top sent out a most familiar and inviting aroma of root beer extract. Familiar in that I could not distinguish it from the A&W I opened immediately afterward. In fact as I poured the brew into my frosty mug it was as if I was seeing double. Faygo was so similar to A&W all the way down to the plastic bottle that if it wasn't for the label I would have sworn I had grabbed two of the same.

The taste was certainly that of the standard, exactly that in fact. The head was the same, the color even the same. In some ways I was a little let down, I like trying new brews, this was no new brew. Since Faygo has been around so much longer than A&W I decided that it's new nickname could be A&W's older brother. You have to wonder where Roy Allen, the creator of A&W, got his recipe back in 1919......... good stuff for sure, I grant this as another standard root beer with 3 Frosty Mugs of course.

-Adam

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Doors Open to the Rootbeer Cellar

The doors have finally opened and the first brew has been stocked in our official Rootbeer Cellar.

This cellar will be our way of designating those exceptional brews that we come across. Exceptional brews will be indicated by receiving a Frosty Mug rating of at least 4 from both Jeff & Adam. The amount we stock will be indicative of how exceptional we found the brew to be in comparison of other brews in the cellar.

With that we welcome a 1 gallon Party Keg of Virgil's Root Beer to the Rootbeer Cellar.

The Rootbeer Cellar can be located at the very bottom of the left hand column of the Rootbeer Brothers website. So let us get back to stocking the cellar......

Virgil's Root Beer: Possibly a Pearly Gates Brew

Maybe it is the all natural ingredients, or just the cane sugar, I'm not sure, but whatever it is, I can't get enough of it. The bottle of Virgil's indicates that you would swear it was made in Heaven, if there was root beer in Heaven I would be willing to bet that the label would read Virgil's.

To begin with, the pop of this amber bottle delivers a very sweet root beer aroma. The foam is limited and short lived but the color of this brew is noticeably darker than our standard brew. The label displays a burly looking guy (who one would be safe to assume is Virgil) serving up a platter of root beer to a couple of anxiously awaiting kids sitting at a table. Having indulged in Virgil's prior to the establishment of this website I too felt just like those kids, in anxious waiting.

The flavor is smooth, sweet, and yet distinctly root beer. It is hard to describe the flavor of Virgil's, it is best if you go out and pop a bottle yourself.

I thoroughly enjoyed this bottle of brew, I did feel the foam was a bit lacking and I do prefer a more stout brew over a sweet brew, but this was no brew to be taken lightly. Having evaluated a few brews now with Jeff I have found that him and I vary in this respect, he prefers the sweet brew and I the stout brew. But in Virgil's we certainly have found some common ground. Although this not on the top of my list, Virgil's certainly ranks high. I grant this worthy brew 4 Frosty Mugs.

On a side note one aspect of Virgil's that any root beer lover can appreciate is the fact that they sell this brew in a 1 gallon party keg. A gallon of brew, now that's a party to go. Check out their website to learn more http://www.virgils.com/

As far as MOXIE goes, Jeff is certainly correct, it ain't no ordinary cola, one day we may need to pay some proper homage to Maine's very own brew.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Virgil's Root Beer: A Slice of Heaven

Well let me start with this diclaimer: I AM A HUGE, HUGE FAN OF MOXIE SODA. In fact, I know of only another man who has an even greater love of Moxie than mine. That would be Adam.

Why did I tell you that? Virgil's is no ordinary root beer. In fact, calling it a root beer is a stretch in my book. It is more like a Moxie. Moxie claims to be a cola, but that is a stretch for me as well. They are in a class all their own. Let's examine Virgil's bottle.

Virgil's says:

"Using natural ingredients,
We brew a root beer so pure,
So rich and creamy,
You'll swear it's made in heaven"

"Using natural ingredients....."
The ingredient list is so large and complete, I do not want to list them all here (they are tagged below). Every flavor that is mixed within in this bottle compliments the other perfectly to give a wonderfully unique flavor. I got to tell you, this is the second brew that had cane sugar as the sweetner. It works.

"We brew a root beer so pure..."

The licorice and anise take over in this brew and annihilate any chance of a root beer aroma or taste from being experienced. The color is dark and brilliant like in a good root beer, but the head disappears within 5 seconds; maybe even 3 seconds. So again, it is not a root beer in my book.

"So rich and creamy...."

This is a very rich brew. The flavors do not leave your tongue for a good while after taking a drink. Trust me, you will not want them to leave. It wasn't creamy - not at all - BUT it didn't need to be. I think that line was just the good 'ol boys from the brewery showing their poetic talents.

"You'll swear it's made in heaven"

I do swear. And I dare you to swear too. This brew is on the top of my list of drinks to drink. If you like Moxie or are up to the challenge of drinking something new, fresh, and different - THIS IS IT!

Easily, 5 Frosty Mugs.

--Jeff

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tommy Knocker Root Beer: Good Soda, Not Exactly a Good Root Beer

As Jeff indicated, this was once one of our favorites. I remember sending some to Jeff from Arizona and he bringing me back some from a trip to California. How I looked forward to the smooth crisp taste of a Tommy Knocker. As Jeff has indicated however, we never compared brews back then, we just enjoyed them. I must admit I was at first very surprised by Jeff's comments regarding our old favorite. That surprise was surpassed however when I popped the top.

The initial spritz was very weak, the color was slightly darker, and the pour was uneventful regarding foam. The bottle however was very cool, a long-neck amber bottle wrapped in a label any root beer lover could appreciate. An old long bearded miner wearing a lamp hard hat and holding a full frosty mug of brew. The label was awesome and one of the best I have seen, but the brew really fell short.

The taste was as Jeff described, a distinct hint of carmel, but it was very creamy and so smooth. The taste, although not root beer extract, was so inviting and flavorful that it alone places it on a distinct list of soda pop. But soda pop is not what the Rootbeer Brothers are here to evaluate. The fact that it is passed off as a root beer is kinda mind boggling. Tommy Knockers carries so many other varieties of flavors that one must wonder why they simply didn't just label this one Carmel Creme or something. So I love this soda but as a brew I am not impressed and in fact rather disappointed. There is a slight twist of root beer extract well below the creamy carmel so they have it in there but in far too short supply. They gain some ground with their very awesome label and long-necked bottle. I therefore rank this root beer with 2.5 Frosty Mugs.

-Adam

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tommy Knocker Root Beer: One for Caramel Lovers

When Adam sent me my last shipment one of the root beer bottles was busted. Fortunately, one Tommy Knocker survived.

I couldn't wait to re-try this root beer. This is one that Adam and I had enjoyed in the past. For the life of me, I couldn't remember what it tasted like. In the past we drank root beer for the shear enjoyment of the root beer flavor, but since the start of this blog, we are now forced to rate root beers against each other.

When I opened the "Tommy" there was relatively little spritz...almost none, but it did produce a descent head. Why was there very little spritz but descent foam? That was my question.... Hold that thought.

The root beer aroma that usually comes out of a good root beer was next to gone, instead it was replaced with a unique caramel smell. The color of the brew mimics most other root beers; again, not too light - not too dark. Drinking the Tommy is smooth, but still doesn't give a good, crisp root beer flavor; rather, it tastes more like caramel. Nothing on the ingredients would lead you to believe there are any other unique flavors added.

So back to the original question: No Spritz, but good foam and tastes like caramel.

I believe all of these have to do with their brewing process. Caramel is simply supersaturated sugar water heated over time. I believe this flavoring is actually added as a syrup of caramel and the consisitency of the it makes the carbonation stay trapped within the brew until poured, once poured it traps the carbonation into a nice foam. Obviously, I have no idea how they brew their soda - just a mere guess.

Overall, "Tommy" didn't provide me with what I wanted in a good brew - mostly because it tasted like a caramel soda instead of a root beer. But, if I was ever in Idaho Springs, CO I would definately want to stop by and tour the brewery. Maybe even pick up a free sample. 2 Frosty Mugs

--Jeff

Monday, May 14, 2007

Berghoff Famous Rootbeer: Big Bottle for a Big Brew


Berghoff is made in the heart of Chicago especially for the Berghoff Cafe and as one can expect, a big city like Chicago demands a big root beer. Not only does this root beer itself have big taste, the bottle is BIG too! As Jeff mentioned this brew comes wrapped up in a 32oz amber bottle, which alone can win the heart of most root beer lovers. I mean that much root beer in one place must be a good thing. To clarify I found this bottle also in the HEB in College Station, Texas.....sure is a long way from Chicago.

So my review, the bottle certainly wins some points, the taste, well the taste was interesting. I must admit after staring down this huge bottle for a few weeks I created some great expectations. What I was presented with however, fell a bit short. Don't get me wrong however, this draft is worth it's weight in gold (and that bottle isn't very light). The aroma came up short, didn't exactly send out the spritz of invitation one would expect. The color was that of A&W, not dark but not too light. The taste was better than the standard however, it had a much smoother taste, maybe less carbonation or more vanilla, regardless however it was a smooth full root beer taste. A very high quality root beer taste I might add. I think that high quality impression may have been achieved through the use of the pure cane sugar as Jeff mentioned, it had a very unique sweetness. For the most part this is a root beer worth keeping your eye out for, but not exactly worth driving 600 miles for or how ever far it might be for you to get to the windy city.
3.5 Frosty Mugs

-Adam

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Berghoff Famous Rootbeer - Homerun

Tis' the season for baseball and this root beer is perfect for the season. One of the things I like about this brew is that it is packaged in the large 32 oz "Family-Size" bottle. It's label is distinct, but simple - so take a good look now so you will be able to spot it on the shelf in the future.

Berghoff does not knock your socks off with root beer smell when you open the bottle, but you do know it is a root beer. It pours smooth and has a deep - not dark - brown color. The head is high, thick and stays around longer than many other root beers you will try.

When looking at the ingredients, the only one that jumps out at you as unique is pure cane sugar as the sweetner. In fact, they make sure you do not miss it by printing it in BOLD typeface. I believe sweetening with pure cane sugar really pulls Berghoff out ahead of most other root beers you will find. With tha being said, if you want to score and score big this baseball season pull up a chair with a tall frosty mug of Berghoff and you will hit a homerun. 4 Frosty Mugs.


--Jeff

Monday, May 7, 2007

Hill Country Fare Root Beer Soda - ehhhhhhh. Well, at least it's cheap.

Well, I actually recieved this root beer quite a while ago, but due to one thing or another it has sat chilling in the refrigerator ever since. I apologize to anyone who has been desperately waiting my review. :0)

Let me first start off, that it was definatly not worth the wait.

As you can see from the picture the marketing department did not splurge on can design, but as Adam mentioned this is expected from generic sodas and helps root beer lovers like us to be able to buy more of it at a cheaper price.

This was really a tricky mug for me to judge because when you open up this can of root beer and pour it into a frosty mug it really looks appealing. It has a strong root beer aroma and a really exceptional dark root beer color. The head after the pour is rather large, but very short lived.

Then the first taste.....

Although it was "aged" in the chill box for a good 2-3 weeks, it did not improve the flavor. I felt it to be a rather "watered-down" root beer taste. In fact, because of the original presentation of the root beer following the pour into my mug, I had to take another judging swill to ensure that it was a true watered-down flavor that I was experiencing. I am still not 100% sure if that is what I was tasting, but regardless, it did not register as a quality root beer. 1 Frosty Mug
--Jeff

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hill Country Fare Root Beer Soda (HEB Store Brand) – Cheap in Price not in Flavor

Generic root beer is just that, generic. One would not want to hold any such root beer to normal standards but this particular generic may have defiled this pattern. Now I am not saying that this an exceptional root beer but for a generic it certainly can hold it’s own. I picked up a six-pack of this brew while visiting a friend in College Station, Texas at the local HEB grocery store (the best grocery store I have ever visited but that is for a different blog all together). Needless to say I wasn’t expecting too much from this generic. I sent one can to Jeff and decided to drink a few prior to actually sitting down and doing a proper comparison with A&W. I was instantly surprised by how tasty it turned out to be.

As with most generic brews this was in a 12 oz can with a very lame if not child like design all over it. With a pop of the top however I was immediately surprised with a strong inviting aroma of root beer extract. The taste was also very surprisingly full of that same extract, no frills, no foam, but full of flavor and color. Yes, this generic brew was actually much darker than A&W and the flavor was almost comparable. For a generic, full flavor is quite a challenge, a challenge that Hill Country easily overcomes.
So with low to nonexistent foam, very poor packaging, and with no real frills, Hill Country may fall in with the slew of many other generics. Where this particular brew finds ground is with a full hearty flavor with the complimentary dark color. It is my opinion that normal generic root beer should receive 1.5 Frosty Mugs, but not this generic which lands one-half of a Frosty mug higher on the ranks list. Hill Country a generic unlike generics- 2 Frosty Mugs

-Adam

Friday, March 30, 2007

Stewart's Fountain Classics Root Beer: Keep One Near You.

Stewart's root beer is one of those root beers that most people have heard of. The label, although very simplistic, is very recognizable when walking the soda aisle at your favorite grocery store. Stewart's is another one of those companies that has a plethera of other sodas in unique flavors - even a black cherry - YUM.

This soda has an unbelievable root beer taste without any other flavors getting in the way. Because it is packaged in a bottle, it pours easily and goes great over a dollop of ice cream making a perfect root beer float. Ice cream, as most root beer lovers know, enhances the head of the root beer. This root beer needs it. Although Stewart's has a flavor that all root beers should try to capture, it lacks on the ability to make a good head.

For some reason, I am lacking much more to say about this root beer. It is one of those root beers that really speaks for itself. If you haven't tried it - you are missing out.


I give this a hefty 4 Frosty Mugs. I am hesistant to give it a higher rating because it is very early in the evaluation process. However, I really like this root beer. The only thing that could be improved, in my book, is a little more head. I have a feeling I will be constantly referring back to Stewart's in the months to come.

--Jeff

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Stewart's Fountain Classic Root Beer - The Standard in a Glass Bottle

I received my bottle of Stewart's from Jeff in the official Rootbeer Brothers mailing tube which is working great by the way. My first impression of this brew is that the logo is pretty cool, a root beer barrel shaped frosty mug filled to the brim with brew and foam. This cool logo and the fact that it is in a glass bottle makes for what we call in the world of psychology "good face validity". Another words the very appearance of the bottle gives the impression that a great root beer is stored inside.

As I opened the bottle the aroma from the spritz reminded me of another very familiar root beer, A&W to be exact. I know this without a doubt because when I evaluate a root beer for the ranks list I actually do a direct comparison with A&W. Another words I opened a bottle of A&W right after the Stewart's. The aroma was identical. In fact as I continued with the evaluation and indulgence of these two brews it was very difficult to tell them apart.


The color, scent, and taste was almost indistinguishable. I did notice a slight difference in carbonation, Stewart's presented with slightly less which was a plus but on the same note when poured into a frosty mug it came up slightly less in foam as well. Stewart's Root Beer is certainly a good root beer, in fact it meets the standard perfectly. This however is concerning for me simply because Stewart's is normally more expensive than A&W and I have found that it carries slightly a better reputation as well. However, the only real difference that I have experienced is the fact that it is in a glass bottle, which isn't something I take lightly. Every good root beer belongs in glass, plain and simple. So with all that in mind I award Stewart's 3.5 Frosty Mugs, the additional half over A&W is simply because it is appropriately in glass. But on that same note if it came down to value I still think A&W gives the most for your money. But if it came down to preference, I like root beer in a bottle so maybe the extra money is worth it.... quite a toss up best answered on an individual basis based on the situation you are in.


-Adam

Monday, March 19, 2007

Root Beer Festival in Alto Pass, Illinois


-photo obtained from Root Beer Saloon Website

I did a search for root beer festivals in this great land and came across only one. It is hosted by the "Root Beer Saloon" located in Alto Pass, Illinois. This year the festival is scheduled for August 18th and 19th. The saloon it self looks pretty cool and ironically enough they serve Sprecher Root Beer Soda on tap along with two other micro-brews. If anyone plans to attend this one or knows of any other root beer festivals please let us know. Right now I'm thinking I might need to take a drive to Alto Pass this summer. Check out the Root Beer Saloon at http://www.northwestpassage2001.net/saloonpg1.html

-Adam

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Root Beer Cellar - Coming Soon

Adam's last post made reference to a root beer cellar. Isn't that a fanastic concept? I think so.

So in the spirit of keeping things fun and fresh the root beer cellar will be adapted in some way, shape, or form within this blog. I forsee only the best of the best of root beers can be admitted in to the cellar - similar to a sports hall of fame or a star on sunset boulavard.

The details will be worked out between us and we will let you know.

As always, if you have a favorite....let us know.

--Jeff

Sprecher Root Beer Soda

Well I had the opportunity to sample this frosty beverage about a week ago, but it has taken me until now to really decifer what I liked and disliked about this root beer. This root beer arrived in my mailbox in a bottle. Bottle brews go a long way in my book. For some reason, a beverage stores and pours better from a glass bottle.


I will agree with Adam, the label is very unique and does lend to the appeal. The Sprecher Root Beer mascot, Rooty, has a tight grip on his frosty mug and holds a bottle of Sprecher as if to say "This is what it is, now go get your own". For more information on Rooty send a SASE to 701 W. Glendale Ave, Glendale, WI 53209.

As far as taste, I never really got the great taste of root beer that is so apparent in A&W, but there is another taste that really is the trademark for this brand of root beer. The key to the flavor is the blend of Wisconsin Honey and vanilla. This flavor is very distinct, but not my favorite - not bad, just not my favorite.

I also think the amount of honey in the recipe hinders the amount of head this root beer produces when poured into a frosty mug. I don't like a lot of carbonation, but I do need enough to give a descent head when poured (the actual head is no where near that shown in the above picture).

Sprecher is marketed as a root beer, but it is not a great root beer. It does not live up to the standards set by A&W. I give Sprecher Root Beer - 2.5 Frosty Mugs.

This blog is primarily a root beer rating forum, but there is no guarantee that other sodas will not find their way across our palate and onto this blog. The Sprecher Brewing Company has many other unique soda flavors available that might be worth trying.

--Jeff

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sprecher Root Beer Soda – Not just for the Blackbirds

Upon popping the top to this 16oz dark glass bottle you are immediately given a sweet invitation to dive into this very creamy and smooth root beer that was nicely balanced with much less carbonation than A&W. Sprecher carries a very distinct taste of root beer extract with a unmistakable hint of honey. This flavor is just as refreshing as the very unique logo of a blackbird holding a bottle of the brew in one hand and a full frosty mug in the other. On the down side Sprecher came up short on foam, when poured into a frosty mug the foam although was thick but was also shallow and very short lived. This is unlike A&W which although produces thin foam it is very deep and long lasting. The color which some may consider less important, was somewhat darker than A&W but not by much.

So my evaluation of Sprecher found that in areas of smell, taste and especially packaging a very solid 4 out of 5 was appropriate. In areas of foam and color Sprecher fell to a 3.5 out of 5. For me, what brought this root beer over the top was the distinct honey flavor, the fact that it is in a glass bottle and the very unique logo. So I hesitantly award Sprecher with 4 frosty mugs.

All and all this is a good root beer that is certainly worth the occasional $1.79 splurge but not exactly something that I would stock the root beer cellar with. But a root beer cellar stocked with any brand would be cool to have now wouldn't it?

-Adam

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Rootbeer Float Cupcakes

I thought all of us root beer enthusiasts could appreciate this recipe. If any of you make it please let us know how it goes.

RootBeer Float Cupcakes


Ingredients:
-1 Cup Rootbeer Soda
-1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
-3/4 Cup Sugar
-1/3 Cup Canola Oil
-1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
-2 Teaspoons Rootbeer Extract
-1 1/3 Cups Flour
-3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
-1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
-Pinch of Salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a dozen cupcake tins with papers.
Combine the soda and vinegar and let stand for a few minutes. Add in the sugar and oil, whisking vigorously until slightly frothy. Integrate your extracts, and gently introduce the flour, along with the baking powder / soda, and salt, being careful not to over mix. Distributing the batter evenly between the prepared tins, fill cupcake liners approximately 3/4 of the way to the top. Bake for about 18 - 22 minutes. Allow them to cool completely before proceeding to the ganache.

Ganache
-5 Oz. Dark Chocolate
-1/4 Cup Soymilk
-1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup

Combine the above in a microwave-safe container and nuke for about a minute. Stir thoroughly even if it doesn’t look completely melted - It should come together after a bit of agitation, but if the chocolate still isn’t entirely smooth, return to the microwave for 15-30 seconds at a time, watching carefully to ensure that it doesn’t burn. Drizzle ganache in squiggles over the tops of the cupcakes. [You’ll probably have plenty of left over ganache, but is that a particularly bad thing?] Allow ganache squiggles to fully cool and dry before preparing the frosting.

Frosting
-1 Cup Vegetable Shortening

-3 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar

-2 Tablespoons Vanilla Soymilk

-2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract


Throw room temperature shortening into your mixer, and beat thoroughly until creamed. Add in sugar and start on a low speed so as not to spray powder everywhere. Incorporate soymilk and extract, and combine thoroughly. Apply to cupcakes as desired.


recipe and photos obtained from BitterSweet

The Root Beer Ranks

Since one of the main goals of The Rootbeer Brothers is to compare the many hundreds and maybe thousands of brands of root beer it is very important for us to have a ranking system. In our earlier posts we identified a standard to compare all other root beer to. Although Jeff and I have differing reasons for doing so, he and I both agreed that A&W Root Beer would serve as the most appropriate standard. Thus, during our future taste tests of other root beer the basis of our judgements will be in comparison to A&W. This leads us to the Rootbeer Brothers ranking system.

The Root Beer Ranks will list each root beer that we evaluate and through our posts we will discuss our impressions, which could include taste, foam, carbonation, after-taste, smell, packaging...etc. From our impression Jeff and I will each provide a ranking which will be established based on a direct comparison between the evaluated root beer and A&W Root Beer. The rankings can range between one half of a frosty mug of root beer to 5 frosty mugs of root beer, in half increments. With this in mind A&W, being the standard, is ranked with 3 frosty mugs of root beer which will allow room for much better root beer and much worse root beer on the ranking scale. We intend to make our first evaluation very soon of a Springfield, Missouri favorite "Sprecher Root Beer Soda" so sit back and pour a smooth one and lets enjoy some root beer.

-Adam

Monday, March 5, 2007

The Standard: A&W Root Beer

Adam is right. Whenever you have to decide if you like one thing over another, there must be something to compare it to - a standard. I see no better choice than to have A&W Root Beer as the Rootbeer Brothers standard.

I feel somewhat differently than Adam on my decision to have it as the standard. As soon as you open a bottle of A&W you know you have a root beer. The spritz of aroma that leaves the bottle smells just like those little root beer barrel candies that you can grab a handfull of at the Claim Jumper. He is also right about the taste. It too tastes strong and crisp of root beer extract. I, however, am not a fan of extreme carbonation. A&W is too rich in the bubbles for me, but that still doesn't block the fact that it tastes good. Perhaps the main reason I feel so strongly why this root beer should be the standard is the fact that almost every American can associate with it. Most have tried one or at least seen one of the A&W drive-thrus that polka-dot the entire United States.

Let us know if you feel we are way off the mark on our standard. Also, please feel free to recommend root beer that you think will surprise the Rootbeer Brothers taste buds.

Bring on the root beer!

--Jeff

Friday, March 2, 2007

The Need for a Standard: A&W Root Beer



As in any situation of comparison there is a need to establish a standard, something for which all others will be compared. In regards to root beer there are some obvious front runners for this position. Hires of course has been around longer than all of them but so it was with regular-leaded gasoline. But just as leaded gasoline was upgraded and improved to a new standard of unleaded so was root beer. Hires certainly will hold a permanent place in the world of root beer but over the years it has certainly been improved upon. Thus we are encouraged to identify a more appropriate standard. This standard should not be the greatest or the worst root beer but rather one that simply sets the line between satisfaction and substandard quality. For me A&W has been the root beer that I have compared all others to. I am not sure how Jeff feels about this but I think it would be a great initial conversation for our blog. So let us discuss by what standard the Rootbeer Brothers will compare all other root beer to.
-Adam