Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Point Premium Root Beer - you will get the point!!

About 3 years ago a professor of mine in my graduate school gave me some of his hometown brew to review. Due to some very heavy binge drinking on my part and final exams on his part, I consumed the brew without doing the review. When I finally woke up I realized my dilemma and have sought out another sample of Point Premium Root Beer ever since. It took 3 years but finally I have found another sample.

I must admit, that as I began going into this review I attempted to draw back a memory, any memory, of that binging escapade, but none materialized. So I literally went into this review raw... which might be a good thing since those final exams were some of the toughest I have ever taken. Can you imagine the negative influence that may have occurred regarding my relationship with this Wisconsin brew.

Stevens Point holds the honor of being the 5th largest private owned brewery in the country. Their primary beverage is the "other" beer but they do have a modest lineup of premium sodas. The history of Stevens Point is extesnive beginning in 1857 when two guys named Frank and George started brewing Point Beer in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. The brewery has endured many trials over the years including prohibition which ultimately led to the soda line however it wasn't until 2002 that they introduced their root beer. Over the years and due to their "sticking-with-it-ness" they have expanded their distribution through the entire Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states. They sport a very unique mascot, an image an older guy with a pointy head that would make the Coneheads jealous. The cap also displays the image of this extra-terrestrial brew maker.

This brew is officially an award winner, having secured a Gold Medal from the Beverage Testing Institute in 2003.
Stevens Point Brewery offers tours of their bottle works where samples of their soda, including the root beer of course, is readily offered along with samples of their "other" brew.

So the long awaited review. My professor has waited long enough thus I will begin with my rating - 4.5 Frosty Mugs - now the why???

The brew begins with a very creamy introduction quickly followed by a splash of Wisconsin Honey that has been carefully mixed with cane sugar providing a mildly sweet and distinct flavor that is well supported by a certain root beer extract flavor. The brew is smooth throughout, the carbonation is moderate with a hearty head. The aroma of this brew is strong of typical root beer goodness. The amber bottle seemed to empty way too fast which reminding me of the last time I consumed this tasty pointy bottle of indulgence. I am a huge fan of this brew and hope to one day visit my professor's hometown to see for myself this brewery ..... and get those samples!!!

check out Stevens Point Brewery


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Which Root Beer Would be the Best to Drink Before the Rapture?

According to Harold Camping of Family Radio tonight in Philly and throughout the world the Rapture will occur. The Rapture is a belief held by many Christian sects that marks the day that Jesus Christ will gather his faithful followers just prior to the very end of days which will be filled with great turmoil and a time of repentance for those that had not been gathered up. There has been a national campaign by Family Radio to spread the message about Judgement Day - May 21, 2011 and extend the call of warning. For many adherents of Harold Camping and Family Radio TODAY is certainly viewed as the MOST IMPORTANT DAY ever!!!!

As I contemplated the implications of the Rapture I couldn't help but ask myself what root beer would I want if it was to be my last??

I extend my appreciation and respect for Harold Camping and all those who adhere to his warnings. I am in no position nor do I intend to dispute or condemn their religious beliefs. Due to my own religious belief system I hold a special place in my heart for all religious and spiritual expressions regardless of their similarities or differences from my own. Although I am not an adherent of the stated claims of Harold Camping I can appreciate that if today proved to be my last as a mortal on this Earth I would want to make sure I enjoyed one more root beer. I certainly like to humor the notion that root beer will be available in the life here after. However, I always redirect these thoughts by recognizing that in the life here after, root beer will be one of millions of things we will no longer need. Thus, what would be my last root beer??

We Brothers have been fortunate to have sampled some of the best brew this world offers (and some of the worst too). I have always recognized that if dirty dish water slightly tasted like root beer I would probably drink it. I and my brothers LOVE root beer (even Ray, but he has a much higher expectation than the rest of us)!!! From store brands to top-shelf brands, I could drink it all day. Although I know most would want their last to be the brew they considered the best I see it from a different angle.

I consider each brand of root beer as if they were my friends. Now I am not having any delusions or thought disorders here, just extrapolating, so please don't hospitalize me. But just as in life you have different depths of the relationship with each friend, so to is my relationship with each brew. I have those brews that are more associates than friends, something like co-workers, you talk and hangout because you work together. For me this is like the store brands, I drink them because that is my job. There are other friends that are very popular and that you hardly spend time with. However, these are the friends that you absolutely love spending time with because they are the life of the party!!! You drop their name in mixed crowds and act like you are much closer with them than what you really are. These are the premium and gourmet brews, like Fitz's, Virgil's, Hank's, and Henry Weinhard's. The problem is that these are not the friends you would ever share your aspirations with, or your secrets, and even your fears. No that type of friend is always there, a friend who is as happy that you stopped by as you are. This is the friend that talks you off the ledge... every week, or through a horrible break up..... from their sister, and a friend that listens to you, not passively but actively... as if they are just as invested in your idea as you are. That is the type of friend I want with me if I get called up as a true believer, or if I get left behind.... so to speak. For me, when it comes to root beer, that BFF has always been A&W on Draft in a cold Frosty Mug.

I am fortunate that in life I have been blessed with actual friends that I am proud to compare with Draft A&W. I have had many other friends throughout my life that have fallen in as store brand and gourmet. All have played an important role, and I am grateful for each. I have ultimately found my perpetually Frosty Mug of A&W within my angel wife, who not only tolerates my love of root beer, but my many other quirky approaches to life. So with that in mind, if it was my last, I would want my sweetheart and a cold frosty mug of The Rootbeer Brother's Standard.... on draft please.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fitz's, Meet me in St. Louis!

I have had this brew a few times. Many of the times have been on visits to my good buddy and fellow Rootbeer brother Adam's place while he lived in Missouri. He has given me a few over the years and I have even bought a couple from Jungle Jim's which is THE place in Ohio to get your micro brew Rootbeer fixes.

The taste of this distinct brew is somewhere between A&W and Mug in a little place I like to call AMERICA. It has all of the qualities of both with an olde fashioned flair. Not to mention a hint of Apple Pie, 4th of July Fireworks and cool summer breezes. I am not sure how they managed to get all of that in there but they did and BOY! Does it taste GREAT! The word "Premium" doesn't even cut it. Cane sugar makes this a good choice in my book as well as the long-neck brown glass bottle. Those are two are bottom line, must haves for good marks from me.
The head lasts for a reasonable amount of time and the carbonation is just a medium amount with just enough to get a good loud belch from. (Hey we are the Rootbeer BROTHERS right?) Otherwise, this brew goes down easy and enjoyably. Would definitely recommend this one for just about any meal or a good sit out on the porch-swing talkin' with the neighbors. Good brew, good times. I always look forward to going to St. Louis and visiting their restaurant and watching them make and bottle their own brew in-house. Of course, a bottomless mug of that same brew ain't a bad thing either!

For all that above, Fitz's gets 4 frosty mugs. **Disclaimer** I am stuck between 3.5 and 4 here but we have "standards" so I am rounding up! GREAT brew but based upon previous ratings, there are other "4's" I would rather have than Fitz's. Given a choice, I would drink BOTH.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sprecher "Fire Brewed" Root Beer

I was out at my local Menard's in Ohio and at the checkout to my surprise was a cooler full of soda and at the top was this interesting looking brew. They offered a regular and a "lo cal". I opted for the regular of course. I never tried this brew so I looked forward to get it. Only a $1.28 for 16oz. Not just your average 12oz. That's a big plus. Upon opening the bottle there was a pleasant aroma and the first taste was absolutely delicious. Much like most of my favorite brews, the carbonation was just right. This is an easy brew to down in a single drink on a hot day. No burn like other heavier carbonated brews. Before I read the ingredients I tasted a sweetness that was familiar but I couldn't put my finger on it. I read the label and saw that Wisconsin honey is in the brew! That was it. Honey. It's subtle but you can taste it. I recommend this brew for you, the root beer enthusiast. I have to give 4 frosty mugs and just shy of 4.5 because it wasn't unique enough in flavor that would have made me say WOW!


Friday, May 13, 2011

The A&W Root Beer Standard - but why????

We have often been asked why we use A&W as our standard? We Rootbeer Brothers literally drink an A&W along with the brew we are reviewing to actually make a comparison. Although each of us brothers evaluate root beer very differently we all begin with A&W. Having A&W as a starting point helps guide us as we attempt to make a very informed review. But why A&W????

When Jeff and I first began we both decided that this review approach would be the best way for us at RBB. We certainly appreciate and enjoy reading the reviews from Anthony's Root Beer Barrell, Thirsty Dude's, Cosmo's Root Beer Reviews, and Root Beer Reviews For The Rest Of Us all of whom have a very particular and individual way they approach their critiques. Some are very scientific and standardized others are more free form and literary. We wanted to be a little bit of both.

Over the last 4 years we have often been told that we chose the wrong root beer to be our "top" standard. This I often correct to the fan and explain that we do not view A&W as the top brew, but the brew that sets the line between standard and substandard. We appointed A&W with 3 out of 5 frosty mugs within our rating system. Thus it was right in the middle.

There is an old psychology theorist, Donald Winnicott, who termed the phrase "good-enough mother". His point was not that a good enough mother was substandard, in fact in his eyes this was ideal. A passive mother allows their children to run free and learns no responsibility or discipline. The over bearing mother shelters her children and does everything for them, thus robbing them of their independence. The good enough mother balances passivity and overbearance to foster a well adjusted child. A&W is the "good enough root beer"!!!

A&W is cheap, you can buy it by the case at half the cost of some of the more snooty root beer. A&W is way better tasting than the other store brand and economic choices. A balance so to speak.

We also appreciate the history of Allen & Wright and the way they carefully branded their brew to become a household name. The fact that A&W diners now polka dot America is a testament of their innovative spirit being carried on nearly a hundred years later.

The fact that it is and has been the #1 selling root beer is also a big reason!!!!! That and the fact that they own the domain name speaks volumes to the worthiness of A&W!!!!

Yes we may continue to be asked why we use A&W as our standard but trust me, we have our reasons!!!!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Olde Philadelphia Root Beer Soda

Today was a hot "muggy" day here in west central Ohio! I was extra thirsty and I saw this ice cold bottle of root beer that I knew would hit the spot. Got out my A&W and a 12oz bottle of Olde Philadelphia to do a review.

I opened up the bottle and did my "sniff-like" aroma test. Compared to the A&W, it was a bit lighter. Color was nice and dark. Poured a small amount in my glass and saw the head was very light as well. For me this is a plus as I hate to wait for the head to subside to get at the brew. Most of the time I just down the bottle in about 10 seconds. For review purposes I won't. The flavor is as expected. To me it has a good sweetness probably due to the cane sugar. It's very smooth and could be drank easily with the light carbonation. Many sodas have a burn. This one didn't.

This soda isn't flashy and for "olde" folks like me the label was hard to read. White label on a clear bottle with extra small print. I google'd the brewery and Lion Brewery makes this. They also make their own name brand which I look forward to trying in the future. I hope it's much better. I'm going to give 2.5 Frosty Mugs as the score.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rootbeer Stands Update

We've added a new feature to the site that will now let us report the locations of operating rootbeer stands in the good ol' USA. Navigate to the "Root Beer Stands" page and select the state you live in or are wanting to visit and see if a local stand is nearby. Right now we have just one stand listed in Ohio. We need more of your feedback to post a complete list.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Our Eldest Brother - Marc joins in the fun

When Jeff and I first began this blog we had no idea where it would go.... and for that matter where we would go. Jeff is currently off on assignment in some foreign land and I landed in Philly for a year. We at times have been very, very busy, to the point that RBB has greatly suffered. In January we invited a couple of our brothers to join in the fun. Mike and Ray have brought with them a wealth of additional personality along with their reviews and commentary. At first we thought that four root beer drinking brothers should be able to handle the demand from our Fanship (our fans on facebook and this blog)..... but demands have continued to exceed our expectations!!!!! We find ourselves being bombarded with requests for reviews of everyones fav brew. We are being pitched ideas about youtube videos and twitter parties constantly ..... so much more than we expected!!!!

So to help manage these demands and add yet another personality to the mix, we are pleased to introduce our eldest brother, Marc!!!! (its a good thing our Mom had lots of boys!!)

Marc is the family DJ and is often seen slamming down brew at his many gigs. He mostly does the tame stuff... school dances, wedding receptions, Mitzvahs, and sometimes even private parties (those do get a little out of hand at times) !!!! More recently (we believe due to old age) he has been toning things down by focusing on up-lighting. As with the rest of us brothers, Marc has been an avid root beer connoisseur his whole life. He is very excited about this opportunity (hopefully not too excited.... his heart condition and all) and we look forward to his addition to RBB!!!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Cheesesteaks & Hank's

In 1933 Pat Olivieri began serving what would become one of the most well known foods of the Old City of Philadelphia. Pat's King of Steaks is credited for being the home of the original cheesesteak sandwich, or what they refer to as a cheesesteak hoagie. Thinly sliced chopped steak fried with onions placed on a sub roll and smothered in Cheese Whiz is the most common recipe. For those who prefer they offer sweet peppers as an additional topping (at no extra cost). In most parts of the country one might be able to buy a Philly Cheesesteak..... things to know: In Philly you don't ask for a "Philly" Cheesesteak...... trust me, simply saying cheesesteak will save you some embarrassment; whiz over provolone (sounds weird but trust Pat.... he is a King); get the sweet peppers; and no where makes em like they do in Philly.... No Where!!!! The thing is this, they do not use bell peppers, provolone is for squimish wimps afraid of trying something new, and why call it Philly when your in Philly?

What does this have to do with Root Beer? In my opinion we need to consider this fact... root beer was being served in Philly over 50 years before cheesesteaks..... 50 YEARS!!!!!!! Why do we not call it "Philly Root Beer"????? And another thing, if you really want a Philly experience don't you think that it should include root beer?????? My suggestion is this, grab some Hank's Gourmet "Philadelphia" Recipe Root Beer and head to Pat's or any of the fine cheesesteak establishments in the Old City. Ask for "Wit" (means with onions) & Whiz, add the sweet peppers, and enjoy a real Philly experience!!!!!

Now I certainly recognize that all are not able to just head to Philly. So for those of you that may now or sometime in the future have a layover in the Philly Airport I have a suggestion, head to the United concourse and locate the cheesesteak place..... if you look in the photo you will see that they serve ice cold Hank's!!! ("Cheesesteak, wit, whiz, and a Hank's please")


Monday, May 2, 2011

Sparky’s Fresh Draft – An Inspiration to Root Beer Makers Everywhere

What first impressed me about this brew was a phrase that is found both on the label and the cap, “Leading the Root Beer Revival”. An amazing image flowed into my mind’s eye, of people caught up in the movement of root beer throughout the country. Crowds of people throwing cola’s and citrus drinks into massive fires and chanting “Root Beer!!! Root Beer!! Root Beer!!”. My imagination may have run a bit wild with this one, but none the less, a root beer revival on any level would be one I want to be involved. For now however I will take part in this microbrew version of the revival. Sparky’s claims that this “fresh” crafted brew has been made for many years within the Knox family. I have never met Kevin and Carol Knox but it would certainly be an honor. What an achievement it is to take a family recipe and realize its full potential by marketing it across America. They are certainly an inspiration to home brewers everywhere.

Being a microbrewer one would not expect Sparky’s to deliver anything spectacular with their packaging. The fact that it’s in glass is a merit to the Knox’s. The label is what would be expected, not too fancy; in fact using the word basic may be a compliment. However, the cap is something I was very impressed with!! A customized cap is not typical of microbrewers but Sparky’s has got one! Winding red strips with “Sparky’s” in the center. Around the side of the cap they list their web site, city, and their “revival” phrase. That is some great use of space, if you ask me. I like the color, that is rare on a cap, in my book, caps are just as important as the bottle, and I am happy to see the Knox’s share this perspective.

So moving on to this California brew, to begin with it is a natural sweetened root beer using both cane sugar and honey. This tends to be a great combination if done carefully. The other ingredients include both natural and “imitation” flavors and “spices”. The flavor is light but distinct, it has a clear root beer extract aroma, and it carries a certain tantalizing light liquorish finish. I am not a fan of black liquorish but when that flavor is balanced well with other common flavors in root beer I find myself overtaken with desire. The carbonation is light and overall the brew is very smooth and no byte to note. It would be a great brew

for burgers, or for watching a UFC fight, it’s a brew that won’t distract from your other activities but at the end of the night you will think, “hey that was some pretty good root beer”.

I extend my thanks and admiration to Kevin & Carol for sharing their family brew with the rest of us and realizing the American “Root Beer” Dream. I present Sparky’s with a respectful 4 Frosty Mugs

Check out Sparky’s for yourself