Monday, October 31, 2011

A&W: The Official Root Beer of Halloween

Although the celebration and superstitions that surround Halloween began long before 1919 when A&W first hit the root beer market in Lodi, California we know one thing for sure, A&W was the first beverage to fully embrace it. Coca-Cola claimed Christmas very early on and so why not grab what was left? A&W tagged along with the root beer guzzling dog named Snoopy and his Peanuts Pals and claimed Halloween. After all many family Halloween traditions often include home made root beer. So over the years they have celebrated this ancient holiday in a variety of ways. Most recently they have introduced each Halloween Season with a new monster can.

Each year it is a suspenseful surprise when the annual can is released. Over the years they have used images from the Munsters (a classic television show), images of spooky scenes, and most recently costumed like monsters. So with all this said we highly recommend that you grab some cans of the festive standard and make this creepy night complete.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Old Dominion - Living the Root Beer Dream (factory tour and onsite review)

During my brewery tour extravaganza in the greater Philadelphia area I was very much looking forward to my very last stop of the tour. The Old Dominion Brewery is located south of Philly in Dover, Delaware.

I was already a fan of Dominion Root Beer from way back in the late 1990's when a friend of mine brought me a case from his home state of Virginia. Back in those days Dominion was actually brewed in Virginia and used local honey as a way to secure a very distinguished taste. I was very interested to see if this relocated brew had maintained that very distinguished flavor.

I quickly learned that in fact that Virginia Honey was easily maintained because they simply ship that same local honey all the way to Delaware in 5 gallon buckets. I also learned that the move occurred in 2009 soon after Jerry Bailey passed his brewing torch to the current owners. Jerry began way back 1989 when he first started experimenting with home brew kits (of the other beer) and quickly began dreaming about having his own brew pub. That dream became reality and Jerry not only had his own brew pub but he established a renowned brewery.

One tradition that the new owners of Old Dominion maintained was that constant search for a better brew. Their root beer (along with many of their other beers) have gone through a host of changes and improvements over the years. The current recipe of their root beer is believed to be their best yet. Two ingredients have remained the same however, that Virginia honey and pure cane sugar. They still refuse to use HFCS.

During my tour of the brewery I personally witnessed how all their root beer magic happens. It begins in this very large mixing vat where the honey and sugar are mixed with water. From here the mix is sent to even larger vats where the brew master carefully regulates the chemical soundness of the formula.

It was certainly an awesome experience to watch the brew master at work. I wished Mike could have been with me, he would have had really good questions to ask. Me, well I just stood and stared with amazement in my eyes....

Once the mix has reached its optimal goodness it is passed down the line where the root beer extract and carbonation is added. From there it is forced into long neck amber bottles and into Cornelius kegs. While watching this amazing fast process I was told that at this brewery, despite them having so many "other beer" varieties, root beer reigns king. They bottle/keg more root beer than any of their other selections!

Having thoroughly enjoyed my tour it was then time to truly investigate the issue at hand. I grabbed a cold standard from my car and they provided me a six-pack straight off the line and the root beer review began.

My first impression was the divine sweetness Dominion carried. The honey was subtle, and the cane sugar strong, together providing a perfected delectable introduction to this dreamy root beer. I was surprised by the subtle bite that grabbed me and softly landed me into a bed of tantalizing root beer extract. The flavor was distinct, indeed distinct, and slightly different than what I had remembered. Not bad or good different, just different. The color was similar to the standard and provided a moderate head. If a solid sweet brew is what your after, take a trip to the Mid-Atlantic states and ask for Dominion by name!!! I offer 4 Frosty Mugs to this root beer dream....

I also extend my deepest thanks to all of the staff at Old Dominion who were extremely welcoming of this displaced Rootbeer Brother..... they made me feel like I was right at home :)

p.s. I am also grateful for the opportunity they gave me in being able to take part in their tasting panel for their current effort to improve their ginger ale. That was so cool!!!!! I am not a huge fan of ginger ale.... but hey it was still awesome to be a part of that.... BIG THANK YOU for that!!!!


check out Old Dominion Brewery at

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oogave Review (Ooooo No More Please!)

My wife was complaining tonight that there’s too much rootbeer in the fridge and that I needed to get a review done or else!  Did you all notice?  I have a new mug.  It was also an anniversary present from my wife.  It is football season and yes I’m a Steelers fan that lives in Ohio.  Most Ohioans are Steelers fans anyway, right?.  Anyway, I have so much root beer to choose from and I saw this interesting looking bottle called oogave.  I remember that our younger brother Joe just recently did a review on it.  He gave it a pretty harsh review so I had to see what I thought about it.
I’d have to say he nailed it!

In my opinion, there was just a hint of root beer extract with what I call a Nutra-Sweet like sweetener that left an aftertaste.  Compared to the A&W sitting beside it, there is no comparison on the flavor or sweetness.  Kudos to the brewer for making it “good or you”.  98 Calories, no sodium, no cholesterol, no fat and no protein.  All that means to me is “No taste”.  Now if you’re into a healthier drink and want a root beer that tastes like “less than root beer”, OOGAVE is the drink for you.  The color was good but on the light side of the usual brown.  The bottle was a plus and simple design was nice.  All in all the drink went down with no problem but I don’t think you’ll find this brew in fridge if you visit.
I give it a 1.5 Frosty Mugs.  Points added for the bottle and the fact that it was beside a Steelers mug that allowed me to drink the brew even when I didn’t really want to.  Sorry “oogave”, keep the product in a health food store.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A-Treat Root Beer - Not Racist just Pennsylvania Dutch

I love root beer.... that goes without saying.... but I love root beer with a history even more! One day during my internship I came across a root beer in the break room fridge that I had never seen. The bottle was plain, generic looking, and was simply labeled "A-Treat". Surely this is a store brand I thought, but then my Brother Mike researched the brew and found something much more than an ordinary store brand. A-Treat had a very interesting past and was in fact NOT a store brand.

Back in 1918 in the striving city of Allentown, PA a father and his two sons began a beverage manufacturing company behind their house. The name "A-Treat" is short for Allentown Treat which would certainly be alot to place on a label. The Egizio family eventually grew out of the back yard and relocated in 1932 not far from their home on the eastside of Allentown. To this day A-Treat is still produced in that same location that they established back in 1932.

A-Treat was a huge hit in Pennsylvania Dutch Country and in the 1990's they decided to cross state lines and expand their market into New York. This proved to be a disaster. The previously established beverage companies in New York ignited a massive controversy when they accused A-Treat as being owned by the Arian racist group known as the Klu Klux Klan (KKK). They even went so far as to claim that A-Treat had additives that would sterilize African-American males. The FDA debunked these wild claims but the damage had been done, A-Treat was a tainted name and they retreated back to Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

It took me awhile to actually find a location to purchase A-Treat. I was surprised to find that it was priced similar to the store brands but the taste, I was happy to learn, easily exceeded the store brands. I first found it in cans in a small grocery chain. Later I of course found the newly labeled bottles at Capt Wiso's Crab Shack.

The head was very light and short lived. The color is slightly darker than the standard and carries a distinct aroma. This brew delivered a nicely sweetened bite, possessing a Barq's like flavor with minimal if any creaminess. A-Treat maintained a solid root beer flavor and is easily distinguishable from the standard. You really know it when you drink it, it carries this good bite with a welcoming root beer flavor to back it up. On the can there is a hex sign similar to the Amish Dutch signs I have seen in Lancaster but the over flowing frosty foamy mug of root beer is a stretch. Somewhat deceiving since the foam was so light and short lived. I do agree with my Brother Mark this Allentown Treat really is a nice TREAT. I would leave it in the can rather than poor it in the mug (or boot mug if your Mike) but all the same a good Pennsylvania brew …… and for the record, the root beer really doesn't seem racist to me either...... I offer this treat 3 Frosty Mugs.


check out the A-Treat Bottling Company, they do online mail order

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Root Beer Floats are Twice as Good at the Twins Days Festival

For the last three Summers I have found myself taking the very long drive to north-eastern Ohio where every year the largest gathering of Twins occurs. This small town of 17,000 people, appropriately named "Twinsburg", is literally invaded and ultimately overrun by around 2000 sets of Twins each year. I had never heard of this annual gathering until the birth of my twins back in 2008. My wonderful wife , who had wanted twins ever since we were married, enlightened me to the Twins Festival the Summer after our Twins birth. From our first visit I realized that our trek to Twinsburg would be an annual tradition.

This year our annual trek just happened to land on another very special occasion..... at least special for a Rootbeer Brother. It was August 6th also known as National Root Beer Float Day!!!! So as we made our way through the festivities I was very ecstatic to discover a food vendor soliciting Root Beer Floats. I had to grab 3, one for me and one for my Twins...

As I began to order I quickly recognized a root beer brand that I had not seen since childhood.... it was Ramblin' Root Beer!!! Now the fact of the matter is that Ramblin' disappeared from Coca-Cola's list of brands when they acquired the far more well known "Barq's" brand. This all happened around 1995. So I asked the guy what was up with the Ramblin' Root Beer and he just laughed. He explained that Coke wouldn't give him a new sticker for his fountain when they switched to Barq's and so he never changed it.

All the same me and my Twins, along with many other Twins, enjoyed some very cold and creamy root beer floats on National Root Beer Float Day in a small town in north-eastern Ohio. And in a very strange way these floats seemed to taste Twice as Good!!!


to learn more about the Twins Days Festival go to