Saturday, February 11, 2017
Product details: 12 fl. oz. Frostie is a registered trademark of Frostie Root Beer Co. LLC, Detroit, MI 48234 Glass bottle with twist off top. http://www.frostie.biz/
Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Pure Cane Sugar, Caramel Color, Sodium Benzoate (a preservative), Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavors.
My thoughts: Having tried the non-vanilla version of Frostie's root beer (review here), I'm curious how this one will compare. As a general rule, I like vanilla in my root beer, so if that continues to hold true, all other things being equal, I suspect I'll like this vanilla version even more. Considering that the regular version got one of my worst scores so far, it wouldn't take much to top the original one.
My initial impression is that the vanilla overwhelms the root beer taste. I'd describe the rootiness as "anemic", leaving me with the feeling that it's watered down. The flavor is a pretty simple affair, with little distinguishing characteristics to make any spices apparent. The aftertaste is more of the same, with a bit of wintergreen leaving a slightly minty feel. One interesting note is that a minute or so later the vanilla aftertaste was hanging in strong, which is something I like.
Sweetness is fine, though I've found that particular aspect is hard to screw up too bad. My mouth was left a little on the sugary side, but part of that feeling may stem from the lack of carbonation to draw my attention away from the sugar aspect. The first few sips out of the bottle were okay, though nothing amazing. It quickly went downhill and devolved into pretty dang flat. No bubble dancing on my tongue makes me an unhappy root beer consumer. Despite the flatness, I wouldn't call this particularly smooth. Sure, it doesn't crackle and tickle the tongue, making it seem smooth, but it lacks any sort of creaminess and froth.
Well, I'm not impressed. I certainly appreciate the added benefits of the vanilla boost, but besides that, this drink continues to be a letdown. I purposely didn't read my previous review from five years ago while writing this review, but now that I can go back and look at it, it seems this is more or less the same one dimensional root beer with a kick of vanilla to give it a little variation (and slight improvements to the flavor score).
Saturday, February 4, 2017
(from the bottle) "River City Root Beer brings back memories of a time gone by -- when the sky was bluer and the clouds whiter and the breeze off the river kept you cooler. Enjoy doggone good soda pop the way it used to be!"
Product details: 12 fl. oz. Produced by Blue Dog Beverage, LLC, Sacramento, CA. 180 calories, 46g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top. http://www.bluedogbeverage.com
Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Caramel Color, Natural Flavor, Quillaia Extract, Phosphoric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Potassium Sorbate.
My thoughts: With only a single "A" grade root beer for quite some while, I was ready for something to wow me. The bottle claims it's "made in small batches with the finest ingredients" so I'm hoping for something special. Popping off the top, I'm greeting with a pleasant whiff of rootiness, and my first taste is exactly what I had been hoping for: pure natural root beer flavor. It's been a while since I've had something with a strong sassafras flavor and this delivers. There's some obvious vanilla and the aftertaste leaves an interesting "dry" sensation in my mouth.
Sweetness is spot on, as have been a lot of root beers. It's hard to mess that one up too bad. The carbonation is nice and crisp, with small, lively bubbles giving it a nice effervescence. But one of my favorite parts of this root beer is the smoothness. I can't remember the last time I've had a root beer that felt this creamy. In some ways, it reminds me of a root beer float. I'm guessing the ingredient of Quillaia extract is contributing strongly to this aspect.
Having consumed a wide variety of root beers, I sometimes feel like I'm getting a bit tired of the drink. This one is the first in quite some time to make me excited about root beer again. They absolutely nail the amount of carbonation and creaminess, and the flavor is excellent and natural tasting, with the only knock on it being that I feel like it could be slightly more complex, offering a hint of another spice or two. But I'm just nitpicking at that point. This turned out to be one of my favorite root beers so far.
Friday, January 20, 2017
Product details: 12 fl. oz. O-So Delicious is a trademark of Orca Beverage Inc., Mukilteo, WA 98275 425-349-5655. 170 calories, 43g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top. http://www.orcabeverage.com
Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Caramel Color, Vanilla Extract, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (a preservative).
My thoughts: Having reviewed the O-So Vanilla Butterscotch root beer about two and a half years ago, I can't exactly recall what it tasted like, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this "non-vanilla" butterscotch root beer is the same drink, minus the "vanilla" in the title. I'll skip looking at my review from then (so as to not influence the outcome of this one) and then go and compare this to the old review after composing my thoughts.
Now, as I was then then, I'm a fan of butterscotch root beers. On the butterscotch front, this doesn't disappoint. There is a very strong butterscotch component to this drink, with that flavor perhaps overwhelming the usual sassafras flavor that root beer is known for and leaving me wanting a bit more rootiness. I feel like the vanilla gets a bit outdone as well, but is still noticeable. After the initial flavor, which quickly fades, I'm left with predominately a lingering of the butterscotch taste, and nary a hint of sassafras. After some time, I feel that I can also detect a lingering hint of coolness that is normally a side effect of wintergreen, though I'm not noticing any sort of the flavor.
The drink feels excellently sweetened, tasting nice and sweet (butterscotch does benefit from a slightly candy-like sweetness), but without leaving a syrupy coating of sugar in my mouth. They seem to have struck just the right balance with this. In full disclosure on carbonation, I've had this bottle sitting around for quite a while, so perhaps the carbonation has decreased from when it was fresher (I don't know if carbonation decreasing is a thing as drinks sit unopened), but it's pretty flat. Not much fizz or bite to the carbonation. I can hear the bubbles, but don't really feel them. Smoothness is a mixed bag, as the lack of carbonation makes it fairly smooth, but it also lacks the punch to generate a creamy foam. I think some extra carbonation would go a long way to improving the consumption experience.
So, now I'll go look at my "vanilla butterscotch" review and see how they compare...
Seems like the flavor has stayed more or less the same, with a weaker root beer flavor than I generally like. Interestingly, my carbonation experience last time was vastly different than this go-around. Did I let my bottle sit too long? Did I get a bottle from a badly carbonated batch this time? Was the last one from an exceptionally carbonated batch? It's hard to tell without going out and finding a third bottle to see which side of the equation it falls on. I'm going to err on the side of caution with my ratings and consider the carbonation and smoothness scores a little less than I normally would. At the end of the day, however, I think this is the same formula as the previously tested "vanilla butterscotch".
Friday, January 6, 2017
And it all started with this one simple question.
In 1981, Ginseng UP company set about crafting a soda packed with premium ginseng, in pursuit of bringing this beneficial root to many in a convenient way. Specializing in the finest Korean ginseng, we set about infusing ginseng with high standard of quality ingredients combined with triple filtered water, all carefully packed into a single bottle. With uncompromised standard in taste and quality, Ginseng UP Original soda was born.
Since then, the company has innovated to offer a full line of craft sodas and drinks, made without preservatives or high fructose corn syrup, in all the favorite flavors. As we continue to craft premium soda in our own bottling plant in Massachusetts, we are committed to continually develop our flavors; and invite you to join in our journey of spreading Ginseng UP to the world."
Product details: 12 fl. oz. Ginseng Up Corp, Worcester, MA 01604. (508) 799-6178. 150 calories, 45g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top. http://www.ginsengup.com
Ingredients: Triple Filtered Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Wintergreen, Oil of Cloves & Other Natural Flavors, Gum Acacia, Caramel Color (From Caramelized Cane Sugar), Korean Ginseng Extract.
My thoughts: After a not-so-brief time away from reviewing root beer, I'm back with a "100% all natural" root beer. I tend to like my naturally flavored root beers, so look forward to seeing what this drink has to offer.
Right off the bat, this has a very strong root beer flavor, with sassafras to spare. Though wintergreen is listed fairly high on the ingredients list, it isn't nearly as strong as I would have thought. While present, it doesn't leave an overly minty feel in my mouth. Vanilla, as is normal, makes itself known, along with some other spice sensations that I can't quite identify, though one of the flavors I suspect is clove. The aftertaste brings a little more of the wintergreen to the front, but nothing to egregious.
While obviously a sugary drink, as all decent sodas are, it feels right on par with what I expect from a carbonated beverage such as this. No overwhelmingly sugary coating is left in my mouth, just the normal amount. Carbonation is moderate, if a little on the weak side. I prefer a bit of bite to my bubbles, and this one didn't quite get there. As such, it is fairly smooth, but is missing the creamy foam that some of the more frothy root beers produce.
By the end of the bottle, I had to admit that it was an admirably tasty drink, though one with a couple shortcomings. The natural taste was slightly undone by falling a bit flat on carbonation and froth, keeping it from being a truly great root beer. I wouldn't hesitate to drink it again, but don't plan on making this one of my go-to root beers.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
(from the bottle) "The contents of this bottle are crafted using a traditional recipe and original technique to create its unique and refreshing flavor experience."
Product details: 12 fl. oz. Created by the fine people at Columbus Brands, Los Angeles, CA 90640 150 calories, 45g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top. http://www.crookedoak.net
Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, caramel color, citric acid, sodium benzoate, natural flavors.
My thoughts: The bottle adorned with buzzwords such as "handcrafted", "single batch", and "limited production", I have lofty expectations for this particular root beer. It sounds very fancy, but was this merely an exercise in marketing gone wild, or do the contents live up to the bravado of the label? Tune in next time, in the next paragraph where all will be revealed!
One thing is for certain, this isn't a generic root beer. It's definitely a root beer and exhibits the expected sassafras flavor, but there is a nice mixture of spices floating in there as well. It a very harmonious blend, with all the flavors meshing together to make it hard to pick out the individual flavors. I can't quite figure out what all I'm tasting and, judging by the three completely different sets of flavors picked out by other reviewers, there is no consensus from them either. I don't think I've ever had such a hard time picking out individual spices. Suffice it to say, there is a hint of sourness to it (extremely subtle) and maybe the barest hint of wintergreen in the aftertaste. Overall, it has a very natural feel to the flavor.
Sweetness is well regulated, leaving a slightly less than average sugary feeling behind. This drink is extremely smooth, though could stand to be a little more creamy. I think the smoothness is a combination of the flavor as well as the very non-aggressive carbonation. The bubbles seem small, though they do a pretty good job of keeping the drink carbonated, but I personally prefer just a bit more bite out of my carbonation.
While this drink does a lot right (very natural tasting, interesting blend of spices, good sweetness), I feel that the flavor could use a little more separation and that the carbonation could be more aggressive. Back to the label jargon, I think this root beer has the traits I'd expect from such descriptors. This is a really good root beer that I don't hesitate to recommend, but it just missed the cut from the very best tier of root beers.
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Product details: 12 fl. oz. Bottled by the Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shops, LLC. PO Box 3663, Camarillo, CA 93011. 170 calories, 42g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top. http://www.rocketfizz.com
Ingredients: Spring water, cane sugar, citric acid, caramel color, gum acacia & natural flavors.
My thoughts: I do like my butterscotch, so how does it mesh with this root beer? Well, unlike the camouflaged, gun toting redneck on the bottle, the butterscotch is very subtle. In fact, if the bottle hadn't said "butterscotch" on it, I may never have guessed it was an attribute. The root beer factor is mediocre, with a moderately rooty flavor that quickly feels a bit thin. The aftertaste has some minty wintergreen to it with a very very slight hint of butterscotch, which I find an odd combination. Part way through the bottle, I felt like perhaps there was just a little bit of black licorice showing through, but extremely subtle.
Maybe it's just the lack of sassafras punch, but the sugar content seems to play just slightly too much of a role, as it's a pinch too sweet for the amount of flavor. It's still pretty decent, but worth noting. Carbonation is nice, with a bit of bite, though the last third of the bottle started to feel weak. It also didn't feel particularly creamy or smooth and could have used a little more froth.
Well, the redneck lifestyle has never particularly appealed to me and neither does this root beer. Really, I feel the same way about both: indifferent. The butterscotch failed to elevate this decidedly mediocre root beer and it had no particularly outstanding traits. There are much better options out there.
Friday, July 29, 2016
Deadworld Zombie Soda is a premium beverage line conceived, marketed and sold by Caprice Brands LLC based in Livonia Michigan. The premium bottled drinks are manufactured by Intrastate Distributors located in Detroit Michigan. Intrastate Distributors is one of Michigan's largest beverage bottlers with brands such as Frostie Root Beer and Towne Club.
Currently the Deadworld Zombie Soda beverages are available in 12 flavors. What makes the zombie sodas unique is our partnership with various comic book artists who have provided their own creative spin to the bottle labels with depictions of various zombie images. Primarily based on the characters and events that take place in Deadworld comic book universe."
(from the bottle) "All natural flavors for un-natural tastes."
Product details: 12 fl. oz. Bottled by Intrastate Distributors Inc., 20021 Exeter St., Detroit, MI 48203. 144 calories, 382g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top. http://www.deadworldzombiesoda.com/
Ingredients: Carbonated water, pure cane sugar, caramel color, sodium benzoate (a preservative), citric acid, natural flavor.
My thoughts: Having just recently reviewed Deadworld's regular root beer, I'm curious to see what the "vanilla" version brings to the table. I can tell you one thing (okay, I can tell you many things, but I'll start with this one thing), this is an entirely different taste than their regular root beer. In fact, it hardly tastes like a root beer at all. If I was handed this drink without being told what it was, based on the flavor, I would have said it's a cream soda. No root beer involved. But dang, it's one fine cream soda. Is there some root beer components in there? That's hard to say, as the strong, delicious vanilla flavor overpowers everything else. Complimenting this vanilla is ample amounts of butterscotch. The aftertaste is just more vanilla/butterscotch.
Like it's root beer counterpart, Deadworld absolutely nails the sugar content. A typical bottle runs around 42g of sugar, while this one gets by with 37g and doesn't feel at all like it's lacking for it. This one is also nice and carbonated, with a strong fizz. Like it's rooty counterpart, however, the last bit of the bottle tends to run a little flat. Even though it's probably just as equal in effervescence, somehow the vanilla aspect makes the lack of carbonation towards the end not quite as egregious as it seems on a root beer. And boy, is this a smooth drink. It seems so creamy, the sensation, no doubt, aided by the vanilla taste.
So, how do I rate a root beer that doesn't taste like a root beer? Well, in this case I'm going to rate it high, as I was thoroughly impressed with the drink, with the caveat emptor that this is more a cream soda, and not really a root beer in my book. If you have a hankering for specifically a root beer, look elsewhere. If you enjoy a high quality cream soda, like myself, then you'd be hard pressed to pick up a better example. I'd be curious to try this side by side with Deadworld's cream soda and vanilla cream soda to see what the differences are.