Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A-Treat Rootbeer Review (Quite A Treat Actually)

I received this can from brother Adam. As for most people that enjoy root beer a bottle is superior to an aluminum can any day. To this brew, I can say it was quite enjoyable out of a can. It reminded me much of our standard A&W out of a can. The flavor I noticed the most was a black licorice flavor and was more overpowering than the others. It was a nice surprise for me personally. I’m not a big fan of black licorice but it was appropriate for this root beer. The color was typical “brown” and the aroma was similar to the average root beer. It was very smooth for me with the light carbonation. I drank the last half of the brew in just a few seconds with no burn at all. For me I have to give this brew Three Frosty Mugs. Points reduced for a can and for the high fructose syrup instead of real sugar. I’d say that A-Treat of Allentown, PA should be proud of this brew. I’d definitely buy some for my fridge!


Friday, June 24, 2011

BBQ with a side of Brew - The Swinging Door in Richmond Texas

I was first introduced to this brew inadvertently by my extreme brew critic Rootbeer Brother, Ray!! Now bear in mind we were going for the BBQ and NOT the root beer. Ray is far more apt to drive 100's of miles for some tasty food but he very well may skip a 1 mile detour for an unknown brew. With this in mind Ray serves a very important role for RBB.... he knows GOOD brew!!! In fact if he had his way that is all he would drink, which is why it is no surprise that he did not know that The Swinging Door had more to offer than just some amazing bbq. They offer their own brew in amber glass bottles kept ice cold in a very vintage coca-cola bottle vending machine.

I was taken back when I asked what kind of root beer they offered and the waitress simply stated "oh.... um I guess its our own"...... a BBQ joint that serves their OWN brew!!!!! I was in love!!!

The brew was not one that would necessarily warrant a 100 mile detour but combined with their mouth watering BBQ ribs and brisket..... 50 miles would certainly be a trip well spent.

The brew carried a very typical - Standard - flavor, it has moderate on carbonation and heavy on root beer extract. There were no frills but still distinguishable above most store brands. It is a solid root beer! Served cold in a labeled bottle (which matches the art work of their very unique and simple menu) aside their food was a wonderful combination in this tiny dusty Texas town. In regards to their menu and root beer label which carries the very obvious impression that it was hand drawn.... when you have good brew to serve with your very good bbq... your menu could be written with chalk on a green slate board and people would still line up with watering mouths!!! I highly recommend that if you ever find yourself in this neck of the desert that you stop in and swing these doors..... you will be very happy you did.

3 Frosty Mugs

check out The Swinging Door:


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Olde Heritage Rootbeer - Amish Farm Brew Lancaster County

Ok.  My big brother Adam wrote a review on this rootbeer.  He gave me this bottle and said to drink it for a review.  Adam wrote his review and was quite kind with his words.  I don't think that I can be so. 

At first this rootbeer as shown appears harmless.  The bottle looked nice and as always, glass is a plus.  My brew, once I turned upside down and back upright again to mix the contents that had settled looked typical of a home-made brew.  The adventure started when I popped the top. I gave my aroma test and at the first whiff it did have a hint of rootbeer.  The other smell was on the order chewed Copenhagen spit juice.  Actually I think a mix of body odor and cow manure was in there too.  From there I became a little leery of the taste test.  I couldn't help myself.  I thought, how bad can it be.  they've been selling this stuff to tourists for some time.  I never heard of anybody dying due to rootbeer yet.  I pressed the bottle to my lips, I didn't want to taint my mug just in case it was terminal,  and I tasted the brew.  I tasted sweetness mixed with a hint of rootbeer and "spit juice", with a mix of some kind of solvent.  I believe a more accurate assessment is spit juice fermentation.  Yes, that's it. 

I can't say much more.  I have to give this brew a 1/2 Frost Mug since there isn't a 10th of a Frosty Mug. The 10th was due to the look of the bottle. If this is heritage rootbeer, I feel sorry for all those pioneers that drank it.  I thinks it's honestly my least favorite drink I ever had the opportunity to drink. Of course, it could be that the day this brew was made or bought, there was a major farm accident.  Probably not.  Sorry for the harshness of this review but I did report the truth according to me.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Kid Brother Joe Joins The Rootbeer Brothers: a 6-pack is achieved!!

Our kid brother Joe has been biting at the bit to get access to our RBB blog for a long time. But we made him wait.... not because he wasn't ready but because we could. He is the youngest of the brothers and is fresh out of the university and earned himself a literature degree. We older brothers talked about it and decided Joe could benefit the blog with all of his past writing experience. He has been a journalist out West and even did some editorial work and we think he even may have written some beverage related poetry but he is in denial about that one.... something about being dehydrated and having to finish a final literature project..... these journalists are a strange bunch.... if you know what I mean. So now that he has earned his degree he has finally convinced us to let him IN. We do look forward to his FANCY posts.... at least they should be fancy.... the rest of us have no formal training in writing...... so look for Joe's posts and he has even agreed to help us write a book..... some day :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Franklin Fountain – In the Heart of Root Beer’s Hometown

In 1876 Charles Hires first began selling his carbonated wonder beverage known as “root beer” in Philadelphia. It just so happens that over 130 years later, not far from the very site where Hires sold his brew, a pair of brothers have carried on that very tradition in a most “traditional” way.
The Franklin Fountain sells both old fashioned ice cream and old fashioned soda. Now it is one thing to sell soda and ice cream but it is a horse of a different color to sell olde fashioned products in the olde fashioned way. Where better to pull off this feat than the Olde City of Philadelphia?
Since the Summer of 2004 Eric & Ryan Berley has been serving up their old fashioned made ice cream and sodas from their drug store like boutique not far from all the historic sites in America’s first capitol city. When Ray and I arrived we were happily greeted by two young men perfectly clad in attire form years gone by. Behind them was a vintage menu offering a variety of ice cream confections and carbonated beverages. Among the list was of course our beloved root beer. Also available was Ice Cream Soda which as I have mentioned in the past is what we now call a Root Beer Float.

Having full intentions of doing an onsite review we asked if they were okay with us bringing in a can of A&W and explained our purpose. They laughed and said that it was okay with them. So with a couple of glasses of brew poured fresh from their barrel.... Yes from their "barrel", we were on our way to olde fashioned root beer bliss, I should mention that it was served with a paper straw, yes and olde fashioned paper straw!!! On a side note we also grabbed a very, very tall root beer float which was worth every penny!!

I found the brew to be shocking!! It has not been often that I have enjoyed the full flavor of a very traditional root beer. In many ways our modern “natural” root beers are similar to those of Charles Hires day. This is like those modern natural root beers with a slight twist. The taste is as earthy as would be expected. Lots of flavor, that is certain, I should say many distinct flavors all at once, some good, some NOT, but somehow they all flow together in a pleasant, yet bitter, root beer that I happily enjoyed. In fact I enjoyed more than just my glass…. You know Ray????? (I just couldn't let good brew go to waste.) The twist comes in how it is served, or should I say where it is served. It would be one thing if this bitter brew was bottled and sent across the country and I was sitting in my office when we conducted this review.

I admit that if that was the case I am not sure I could have gotten Ray to try it. The reality is that the olde fashioned flavor is only conducive to the olde fashioned environment from which it was served. Please do not get me wrong, the brew is good. Very light on carbonation, in fact almost none at all, dark, very dark, flavorful with lots of wintergreen, and most importantly a distinct root beer extract foundation. But all of that is perfectly complimented by the vintage drug store atmosphere and that is what drives this brew home for me. I extend a warning to novice brew lovers, do not approach this brew lightly, it’s not A&W!!! Picture Charles Hires literally brewing a bunch of leaves, roots, and bark in a big cast iron kettle. That my friends is what awaits you at the Franklin Fountain. Now some might think I say this in a negative way…. Please do not misunderstand me, I love this brew!! The fact is however, that I love this brew for what it is, I love it for being an olde fashioned brew. If all of this wasn’t enough those brothers made this statement on their website:

“The Franklin Fountain aims to serve an experience steeped in ideals, drizzled with drollery, and sprinkled with the forgotten flavors of the American past.”

I assure you my friends they do this and so much more!!! For their very unique and truly olde fashioned flavor served from a barrel and in a drug store atmosphere I grant Franklin Fountain Root Beer Sod
4.5 Frosty Mugs
Check out the Franklin Soda Fountain for yourself:

Whoa!! Whoa!! Whooa!!! It’s time for my 2 cents on this outing. You can guess who the slacker is on this co-op review. At the rate of inflation though my 2 cents might now be worth a whole quarter compared to when Adam finished his part of the review. And with the additive effects of the bearish stock market, increased energy prices, and the falling dollar, my input might be worth a whole dollar. All supposition to highlight my tardiness.

Back to the matter at hand, us rootbeer brothers are not only of diverse taste but live in different locations. Hence it is rare when any two of us, much less all, find ourselves together for a root beer evaluation. As a side note, all of us have never been in one location together before, which might be a blessing.

Since Adam wrote a story and a half, I’ll keep “my“ half to a manageable amount. First off i love this place. From it’s old time feel to the delicious ice cream and concoctions. It’s totally engrossing because I love those unique places that can transport you to another time or place. And then Franklin seals the deal with great tasting stuff. Just remember without the goods all the bells and whistle will only bring them in once. I have been to this Philly place twice already in the past year and I’m from Texas!

On to the Franklin Fountain root beer! Yes it came from a barrel, which was my first. I gotta admit, it was kinda cool and kinda freaky, from a sanitary point of view. Between the root beers and the root beer float, it was a most unique drinking experience. I actually enjoyed the first few sips because quite frankly the atmosphere put me in a good mood (and the butter pecan ice cream cone didn’t hurt either).

But after the initial taste it was hard to take anymore. Not as sweet, carbonated, or creamy as A&W. The taste is quite distinctive with lots of “character” compared to most of the other root beers I have drank up to this point. Good thing Adam was there to finish my glass. Based on my select palette I am sure I will not be asking for their root beer again. If I can make it back that is, but it is worth an experience. Franklin Fountain is a winner and a must stop for any foodie.

2 frosty mugs

ps- remember to bring cash. they do not take credit card or out of state checks :]


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Olde Heritage Rootbeer - Amish Farm Brew Lancaster County

On a back road in Lancaster County Pennsylvania it was rumored that an Amish farm was famous for making homemade root beer. Through the help of my brother Mike I was able to track this elusive farm brew down and found myself in the heart of Pennsylvania Amish Country. The farm was identified by a very unique hand painted sign of a frosty mug of root beer that clearly outlined “No Sunday Sales”. The long drive brought me to a tool shed behind the farm house where a sign instructed me to “Stop Here For Root Beer”. Inside the tool shed I discovered many pickled veggies and baked goodies. They even had some root beer candles and mini tin signs like the one at the threshold of their driveway. Although I was very tempted to indulge in the pies, cakes, and breads…. I was not here for baked goods. I was here for Amish Root Beer!!!!

I talked to the very bright and cheerful young lady behind the counter and asked her about the root beer and the farm. Her name was Lillian and she explained that one day a week she works on this farm helping the owners sell their root beer. She told me the farm is owned by Elam Jr. & Naomi Ann Fisher and that they began making root beer a few years ago. She said that during the summer she stays very busy greeting the tourist and passing them cold bottles of the Fisher brew. Officially it is known as Olde Heritage Root Beer but on this particular day all of the bottles were without labels. I very much enjoyed talking with Lillian and provided her one of our bottle cap magnets as a token of my appreciation, she happily accepted it.

As you can imagine I could not wait to pop this top. I bought a cold single for me, a single for Marc, and as requested a gallon jug for Mike. The prices were not too outrageous for homemade brew. The single 20oz glass bottles were $2 and the gallon glass jug was $6. As I began to drink I quickly realized that something was not making sense!! While I was there talking with Lillian and taking pictures at least 12 people stopped in and bought bottles of this farm brew. I was only there 20 minutes. My problem was figuring out why so many people were drawn to this so called homemade root beer. The real issue I had was the unmistakable gut wrenching flavor that was awarded me with each swig of this Amish root beer.

I kept trying to find the flavor that was drawing so many people down the long drive way in the middle of Pennsylvania Dutch Country but I found nothing but some swill that will make you ill. I am not joking about that…. I felt very ill for a long time after consuming this remarkably UNIQUE root beer!! It was unique because I am certain it is the only brew I have ever tasted the very profound flavor of cow manure. YES…. You read this post correctly…. MENURE!!!!!! I love the Amish people, I love their religious expression and their conviction to their way of life…. But seriously this root beer….. its not the kind of expression I appreciate.

So again I must remind you that 12 people lined up for this “Homemade Root Beer” in the short time I was there. The only way I could understand it was to frame all of this within the context from which it is being sold. Tourists crowd this area yearly seeking for all things Amish. There is even a store nearby that sells “Amish Outhouses” and they sell many. The reality is people come here to experience Amish life, they get horse & buggy rides, they eat the baked goods, buy the hand stitched quilts, and stock up on the handmade furniture. Why would root beer be any different? So what if there is a very obvious FARM flavor… that’s what we came for!!!! It was from this context that I was compelled to perform my review. So the glass jug was a huge plus…. very nostalgic!! A gallon of brew for $6 is a sweet deal especially when it’s in GLASS….. you will not find that anywhere else!! The very cheerful Lillian dressed in her traditional Amish dress and lending me amazing courtesy by answering all my questions was certainly what all tourists want. The flavor did carry more than just natural manure, I could also identify wintergreen and some liquorish, in fact minus the manure it was quite tolerable… The carbonation was light and old school as you could guess, achieved through yeast which left the expected sentiment at the bottom. The odor was heavy on the manure but you could catch an occasional glimpse of root beer extract. The cool sign on the road was also something I value greatly!! With all things considered, and certainly not just judging on taste alone, I grant this Farm Brew 2.5 Frosty Mugs….. it was well worth the Amish experience… at least once!!!

On a side note Mike could not wait for his gallon glass jug to cool in the fridge and had to pop that top as soon as I brought it into his house…. The results were disastrous!!!! I will let him finish this story however…. But the photos are posted on facebook!!!!

If you are ever in Lancaster County it is well worth the stop to grab some Homemade Root Beer… if not for the taste at least for the experience and to say hello to Lillian!!!

Stop in at the Fisher Farm but NOT on Sunday: 3217 Old Philadelphia Pike Ronks, PA 17572


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Root Beer Layover in Chicago Airport - Berghoff Cafe

During a recent layover in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport I came across an old friend. In fact it was a friend that I had thought had long left this area but nope here he was in his old hometown. The friend I speak of is none other than Berghoff Root Beer which was originally sold in a very nice tavern/restaurant (of the same name) in downtown of the Windy City. It had been a benchmark for Chicago for over 100 years and played an important role for many major events within this historic city. During prohibition they began brewing root beer which they continued to serve after they obtained liquor license #1 at the repeal of prohibition.

In 2006 the old tavern finally closed its doors for good. And thus I had believed the story ended. During my short layover I learned that the Berghoff Family reopened the basement cafe of the old tavern where they continue to serve the root beer along with lots of tasty lunch fare. Soon after they also re-opened the original tavern along with the airport location which I discovered in person. So once again Chicago is flowing well with fresh root beer.

With plenty of Berghoff Root Beer on hand Chicago quickly became " My Kinda Town"!!!! Too bad the layover didn't last longer.....

check out the Berghoff:


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Recycle Your Bottle Caps with RBB

The Rootbeer Brothers are always looking for ways to help our Great Mother Earth and recently identified a way to contribute in a our own small way. We have developed a process to recycle bottle caps... well more like Re-Use them!!!

We are turning them into refrigerator magnets that are sporting our sweet logo which was originally designed by Jeff way back when we first got started. We love our logo and we want to share it with everyone.... and even save the planet to boot (Mike's boot mug that is)!!

We are beginning a trade-in program where our fans can send us 24 metal bottle caps and we will send them in return 4 of our magnets!!! I am calling it the 4 for 24 program!!! So please follow the instructions on the sidebar and send us your tops!!!! Keep your used bottle caps out of the landfill and decorate your fridge in sweet RBB magnets!!!

Save the Planet!!!!