Friday, November 23, 2012

Jones root beer

Background information: (from the website) "As of August 1st, 2000, Urban Juice and Soda Company Ltd. officially changed its name to Jones Soda Co ("JONES"). The story of the company began in 1987 when company founder Peter van Stolk recognized the potential of emerging "alternative" products in the beverage industry.

The company's start in the beverage world was not as a manufacturer of its own brand, but as a distributor in western Canada of other successful lines, including Just Pik't Juices, Arizona Iced Tea and Thomas Kemper sodas. By 1994, Jones was firmly established as a full line beverage distributor in western Canada, with a reputation for picking winners."

(from the bottle) "If you're like us, you think for yourself.  Come they really believe we'll fall for flashy ad campaigns that cost more than a solid gold private jet?  Don't expect to find any of that here - we let what we do speak for itself.  At Jones, we're just regular people who make good soda.  While we can't promise you more popularity or better hair, if we like your photo, we'll put it on a bottle.  Jones Soda, independent since 1996.  Your photo.  Your soda.  Your brand."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Bottled under the authority of Jones Soda Co., 1000 1st Ave. S, Suite 100, Seattle, WA 98134.  180 calories, 46g sugar.  Glass bottle with easy twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated water, inverted cane sugar, caramel color, natural flavors, sodium benzoate (as preservative), gum acacia, phosphoric acid, calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor).

My thoughts: "Pass me a bottle, Mr. Jones" - The Counting Crows.  I like that the bottles feature photography submitted by fans and was hoping their approach to making the actual root beer would be similarly innovative.  Jones has an average root beer extract flavor, seeming very artificial and not at all complex.  Pretty much the flavor you would expect from a generic, off-the-shelf can of root beer.  Aftertaste is exactly the same, with maybe a little bit of wintergreen stepping forward.  Carbonation is decent, but could use a little more zest and bubble.  The drink feels a bit sweet, as there is only the syrupy extract to mingle with, so the whole thing ends up feeling a bit syrupy and candy-like.  This root beer is alright, but not any better the cheaper run-of-the-mill root beer in a can.  Decisively average.

Rating: C
flavor: C
aftertaste: C
sweetness: C-
smoothness: B
carbonation: C-

30 Days of Root Beer - Mission: Accomplished

After thirty consecutive days of new root beers, I've learned a lot about the varying flavors, spices, and potential deviations from the usual.  I've taken a little break since hitting #30 about a week and a half ago, so as to not overdose on this delicious (or on certain occasions, not so delicious) nectar.  It's pretty impressive just how many root beers there are out there and I look forward to sampling the other brands I come across in the future.  I will continue to post reviews from time to time, but with the upcoming holiday work crunch, I won't have nearly as much time to locate, drink, and write.  But fear not, more will be upcoming.  Bottoms up!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Berghoff root beer

Background information: (from the website) "The Berghoff story begins with Herman Joseph Berghoff. It's the quintessential American success story of an immigrant who built a hugely successful business that has stayed in one family for more than a century.

Herman left his native Dortmund, Germany, at age 17 and landed penniless in Brooklyn in 1870. Barely 12 years later he founded his namesake brewery in Fort Wayne, IN. The beer was well-received, inspiring Herman to open a café in Chicago to showcase Berghoff's Dortmunder-style beer. It sold for a nickel a glass, a dime for a stein, and sandwiches were offered for free.

The bar remained open even through Prohibition by selling near-beer and Bergo soda pop and became a full-service restaurant that still carries the Berghoff name. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933 the city issued liquor license No. 1 to the Berghoff and has done so each year ever since."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Prepared and bottled under the authority of The Berghoff Restaurant Co., Chicago, IL 60603.  The Berghoff Brewery Inc., Monroe, WI.  125 calories, 31g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, caramel color, natural flavoring, yucca extract, ethyl alcohol, propylene glycol alginate and triethyl citrate, preserved with citric acid and sodium benzoate.

My thoughts: Another root beer with a German-sounding name, though this one actually has authentic German origins.  "Berghoff" must be German for candy* because this root beer tastes more like liquid candy than it does a serious beverage.  The root beer flavor is a joke, strong but not very rooty.  Aftertaste has some wintergreen flavor; again, very candy-like.  The carbonation shares one particular characteristic with Hitler: dead.  There is absolutely no life to this aspect.  Despite the candy-nature artificial flavor of this drink, sweetness isn't awful, as there isn't a particularly sugary coating left in my mouth. If this "old fashioned" root beer is indicative of the "old fashioned" power of the Germans, it's no wonder they got their asses handed to them during WWI and (eventually) WWII.  In fact, after holding out for so long on joining the war effort, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was given one of these root beers while taking a leisurely afternoon respite from the day's hard labors.  But after tasting it, he leaped off his laurels and suddenly declared, "F*ck it gentlemen!  Any country responsible for producing the sort of twisted man who could make such a terrible blight of the sacred beverage of root beer deserves to be be wiped off the map.  To War!  To war!"**  Unfortunately for Hitler and his fellow Third Reich compatriots, Roosevelt didn't realize that Berghoff had abandoned Germany back in 1870 and that the then-current-Nazi-Party was in no way responsible for this particular beverage, but the mistake came to light too late and the U.S of A. had already plunged themselves into the war.  The rest, they say, is history.

Rating: D-
flavor: D-
aftertaste: D
sweetness: B
smoothness: C
carbonation: F
*Süßigkeiten is actually the correct German word.
**I'll bet they didn't teach you that in history class!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dad's root beer

Background information: (from the website) "Dad's Root Beer, one of America's most popular soft drinks, was developed in the 1930s by partners Barney Berns and Ely Klapman in the basement of Klapman's Chicago-area home. The first trademark registration was filed on September 24, 1938, granted on February 14, 1939 to The Dad's Root Beer Company of Chicago, and alleged use since February, 1937. Dad's unique and delicious flavor earned a loyal following. The Dad's Root Beer brand was famous throughout the Midwest and by the late 1940s, was one of the most consumed brands of root beer throughout the United States. Jules Klapman, son of co-founder Ely, successfully took the Dad's brand international. The name Dad's Old Fashioned Root Beer was selected in honor of Ely Klapman's father, and other fathers, who used to make root beer at home for their families (popular in the early 20th Century)."

(from the bottle) "Orca Beverage Soda Works.  Manufacturer of nostalgic and gourmet glass bottle sodas.  See our authentic 50's style bottling plant at"

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Produced under the authority of the Dad's Root Beer Company, LLC, Jasper, IN 47546.  160 calories, 40g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top. and

Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, caramel color, sodium benzoate (a preservative), citric acid, natural and artificial flavors.

My thoughts: "Oh yeah?!  My Dad's can beat up your Dad's!"  Okay, maybe not.  Either way, this root beer may not be worth beating anybody up for, even though it tastes somewhat good.  The initial flavor is a fairly sweet, moderately rooty taste, with hints of other flavors.  These other flavors develop a little, but remain somewhat vague in the aftertaste, though there's certainly some wintergreen in there and a bit of the soda water flavor makes itself present as well.  I initially thought I may have detected some licorice too, but am not quite so sure now.  Carbonation is slightly sub par and could use a bit more kick to it.  So does Dad's win the father of the year award?  Not quite.  Turns out this Dad's is only about average.

Rating: C-
flavor: C
aftertaste: C-
sweetness: B
smoothness: C
carbonation: C-

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Faygo root beer

Background information: (from the website) "Ben and Perry Feigenson, who were bakers in Russia, opened the Feigenson Brothers Bottle Works of November 4, 1907.  Their original flavors, grape, strawberry and fruit punch were based on their own cake frosting recipes."

Product details: 12 fl. oz. Faygo Beverages, Inc., a National Beverage Co., Detroit MI 48207.  170 calories, 43g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, caramel color, potassium benzoate (as preservative), citric acid, natural and artificial flavor, gum acacia.

My thoughts: My favorite scene in Faygo is when Gaear (Peter Stormare) is finishing up his job wood-chipping Carl (Steve Buscemi) and the foot is sticking out of the machine.  Oh wait, I was thinking of Fargo, the brilliant 1996 film by Joel and Ethan Coen.  Faygo, on the other hand, is decidedly not brilliant.  The root beer flavor is boring and bland, just your typical artificial root beer extract taste with some cooling, wintergreen flavor mixed in.  Aftertaste is just like Fargo's expansive, ice covered landscape; more of the same and cool.  Just as Gaear is caught flat-footed at the wood chipper by police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), so too is this drink caught flat, but in a literal sense.  Carbonation is abysmal, with only the minutest hints of CO2.  Sweetness is okay, but not exceptional.  While I heartily recommend Fargo, I say "go far" away from Faygo, as it's not a root beer worth drinking.

Rating: D
flavor: C-
aftertaste: D
sweetness: C+
smoothness: B-
carbonation: F

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Frostie root beer

Background information: (from the website) "Frostie Old Fashioned Root Beer was first bottled in 1939 in Catonsville, Maryland near Baltimore.  George Rackensperger, then president of The Frostie Company rented an abandoned jailhouse to launch his Frostie operation.  A garage formerly housing the police wagon was used for bottling equipment and jail cells were employed to store sugar, crowns and other supplies."

(from the bottle) "Orca Beverage Soda Works - manufacturer of nostalgic and gourmet glass bottle sodas.  See our authentic 50's style plant at"

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Produced under the authority of Leading Edge Brands, Temple, TX 76504.  160 calories, 40g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top. and

Ingredients: Carbonated water, pure cane sugar, caramel color, sodium benzoate (a preservative), citric acid, natural and artificial flavors.

My thoughts: With a name like "Frostie" and a Santa Claus-like bearded man adorning the label, I expect something that reminds me of the holidays; the smell and taste of spices and herbs; the sweet smell of baking treats; a new pack of underwear from Aunt Deanna.  Sadly, the snow (which also graces the label) better reflects this disappointing brew, which left me cold (emotionally as well as physically).  Maybe I was just naughty this year, so Santa delivered me a root beerish lump of coal.  The initial root beer flavor is strong, but artificial; sort of like "root beer barrel" candy.  Not a good thing.  The aftertaste is more of the same, with a sugary, candy-like taste that drops off fairly rapidly but leaves the sugar coating behind.  The carbonation is interesting, as it doesn't seem to bubble so much on my tongue as it does against the roof of my mouth.  A very peculiar sensation that I've yet to encounter in another root beer and my favorite aspect of this root beer (though that isn't too difficult of a feat, as the bar has been set pretty low).  Unfortunately, since the bubbles don't make themselves known on my tongue, I get an impression that the drink is slightly flatter than it should be.  I gotta make sure I get on Santa's good list so that he doesn't leave any of this bummer of a soda in my stocking this year.

Rating: D
flavor: D
aftertaste: D-
sweetness: C-
smoothness: C
carbonation: C

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sioux City root beer

Background information: (from the website) "Sioux City embossed bottles were developed in 1987 and were one of the first western-themed soft drink brands in the country. This premium line of drinks boasts the leading sarsaparilla drink and other unique flavors that capture the flavor of the Old West using brightly colored ACL graphics and in either amber or flint glass. When you’re ready to belly up to the bar, reach for a thirst-quenching Sioux City."

(from the bottle) "Orca Beverage Soda Works.  Manufacturer of nostalgic gourmet glass bottle sodas.  See our authentic 50's style plant at"

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Bottled under the authority of White Rock Products Corp., NY 11357.  160 calories, 43g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top. or

Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, caramel color, sodium benzoate (a preservative), natural and artificial flavor, citric acid.

My thoughts: I'll keep this one short and simple, as this root beer does nothing particularly wrong nor right to merit much discussion.  Flavor kicks off with a strong, though moderately artificial root beer flavor.  It follows that up with...nothing else.  There are no hints of extra spices or flavors.  Carbonation is good.  A bit sweet, leaving a faint syrupy sugar coating in my mouth.  Just your run-of-the-mill root beer, though at slightly higher than run-of-the-mill prices.

Rating: C
flavor: C
aftertaste: C-
sweetness: C
smoothness: C
carbonation: B

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Brownie caramel cream root beer

Background information: (from the internet) "Brownie Root Beer was one of the many carbonated beverages made by the Atlas Beverage Company. Atlas was started in Detroit, Michigan in 1929 by a Polish immigrant named Tomaszewski. When he retired, he passed the business to his sons, Walter and Butch. They ran the company together until Walter retired and Butch bought his share of the business. Atlas Beverages closed about 1996 and the building was sold around 2003."

(from the bottle) "With a Sprite on the label, it's easy to see how this mischievous and delicious blend of root beer & caramel came about.  Produced with care in small batches, Brownie has been enjoyed since 1929."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Bottled by & under the authroity of Orca Beverage Soda Works, Mukilteo, WA 98275.  170 calories, 43g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Pure Cane Sugar, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (a preservative).

My thoughts: Popping off the twist off top, I'm greeted by the aggressive crackling of carbonation.  So it comes as a bit of a surprise when I find out that the carbonation is mostly bark and not as much bite.  Not that it's bad, but it does run a little bit flat.  On the other hand, the flavor makes up for the lack of gas, coming on strong and hearty.  There is a very straightforward root beer taste and the "caramel cream" designation lives up to its claims, having a noticeable vanilla caramel flavor, which holds on into the aftertaste.  This is one of the creamiest root beers I've had so far and is probably partly related to the warning on the bottle: CONTAINS MILK.  The after-aftertaste is hard to describe, but feels once again like it may have to do with the aforementioned milk warning, as it has dairy overtones to it, but with a bit of tang.  Not really a plus, but it's there.  While initial sweetness seems fine, it leaves a slightly over-sugary coating in my mouth afterward, something that other drinks manage to not do.  Overall, I was moderately disappointed by the undelivered promise of carbonation, but the taste is a winner in my book.  If they just get that fizz upped a little bit and figure out how to reduce the sugary coating feeling, then they'll have a more well rounded root beer capable of contending with the highest ranks.

Rating: B
flavor: A-
aftertaste: B+
sweetness: C+
smoothness: A
carbonation: C-

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hank's root beer

Background information: (from the website) "The Hank’s Beverage Company is a privately held, Philadelphia based Company, with a history in the beverage business that goes back over 40 years.  Hank’s Root Beer  was first introduced in 1996.  Hank’s initial success was in the restaurant trade in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Consumer demand drove expansion into all types of accounts, from chain and upscale restaurants, to deli’s, supermarkets chains, and hotels.  Currently, Hank’s is a national beverage company producing products on the east and west coast,  as well as the mid west.  Hank’s offers a full line of  gourmet flavor premium beverages, and is sold in over 40 states in every region of the nation."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Manufactured by Hank's Beverage Co., Trevose, PA 19053.  180 calories, 44g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Filtered carbonated water, cane sugar, caramel color, natural and artificial flavor, sodium benzoate (to protect flavor), yucca extract, citric acid and acacia.

My thoughts: The bottle looks like it would provide a thick, hearty root beer and that is exactly what this drink delivers.  It has an interesting and strong root beer flavor, with some sort of taste that I can't quite identify and maybe some vanilla.  This is one smooth drink, with an aftertaste very similar to the initial flavor, but extremely creamy feeling, as if there were a layer of cream left behind on my tongue.  The extra creaminess helps this root beer to go down extremely smoothly.  While I don't specifically taste wintergreen, there seems to be a slight minty-cooling effect going on as well.  I've read some other older reviews on this root beer and they complained of way too much wintergreen and a syrupy consistency.  It seems Hank's has significantly reformulated since then, as they replaced the HFCS with cane sugar (making it pleasantly sweet without being syrupy) and turning the wintergreen down so far that I'm not even sure if it is there any more.  Carbonation is dialed in just right, providing just the right amount of crispness without leaving any hint of soda water flavor.  With all the root beers I've been drinking lately, usually by the time I've finished off a bottle I've had enough.  After drinking down this one, however, I wished I had another bottle because I wanted another!

Rating: A
flavor: A
aftertaste: A
sweetness: A
smoothness: A
carbonation: A-

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

White Rose root beer

Background information: (from this website) "Galco’s White Rose soda brand pays homage to the history of the Los Angeles’ Highland Park neighborhood in and outside of the bottle.

The re-created White Rose label is based on a 1930s-era label from a water and soda bottling company that began in Highland Park in the early 1900s. The Rose Springs Water and White Rose Soda were bottled up until the late 1960s on Figueroa Street (near Sycamore Grove Park) at the base of the Southwest Museum.  As part of Highland Park’s water legacy, many water companies used the creeks and springs that fed into the nearby Arroyo Seco River. Interestingly enough, North Branch Creek also ran just behind where Galco’s is located today further interlinking these two places and two histories.

Bottled for Galco’s Soda Pop Stop, White Rose Root Beer and Cream Soda are extremely limited editions.  Additional soda flavors will be produced for this new line of “Highland Park’s Own” sodas in the near future."

(also from the website) "White Rose Root Beer is the latest from Galco’s own private line of sodas. Commissioned by owner John Nese – who helped direct the flavor – White Rose Root Beer is a full-bodied root beer with more of a sarsaparilla than sugary finish, which, as John says, will take you back to the “good old days.”

This is a root beer without a foamy top, but rather, a flavor that deliciously lingers in your mouth. Refreshing and satisfying!"

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  White Rose Springs Bottled for Soda Pop Stop.  120 calories, 30g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Filtered Carbonated Water, Pure Cane Sugar, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Caramel Color.

My thoughts: I'm having a really hard time nailing down the flavor of this drink.  It has a pleasantly medium root beer flavor, but could use a little more strength.  The aftertaste is puzzling.  I can sense some vanilla in there, but it has something else going on as well (it may be the sarsaparilla taste the company claims).  There is also a hint of the carbonated water aftertaste I don't like.  The sugar content is one of the lowest I've seen so far, but the sweetness feels right on and the beverage feels light and airy. Carbonation is spot on and this root beer goes down smooth.  While I feel that the initial flavor could use some help, and the carbonated water aftertaste could stand some covering up, I like where this root beer is going.  It was a nice and refreshing change from some of the heavier root beers I've been drinking lately.

Rating: B-
flavor: C+
aftertaste: B-
sweetness: A
smoothness: B
carbonation: B+

Monday, November 5, 2012

Squamscot root beer

Background information: (from the website) "The Conner family has continued a time honored tradition that dates back to the Civil War.  From the landmark Conner Bottling Works, in Newfields, New Hampshire, the Conner Family has for the past five generations been producing and bottling "Squamscot Old Fashioned Beverages". Known more commonly today as a tonic or soda, the many flavors of Squamscot Beverages has been quenching the thirst of New Englander's for more than one hundred and forty one years."

(from the bottle) "Experience the Past...One Sip at a Time."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Produced by Conner Bottling Works, Newfields, NH 03856.  1-877-4NH-SODA.  ? calories, ?g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Pure Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Natural Flavorings, Citric Acid, Clove Oil, and Caramel Color.  Preserved with Sodium Benzoate.

My thoughts: I'm having a hard time finding anything nice to say.  The flavor is uninspiring, with a mediocre-at-best root beer taste.  The aftertaste is strange, with the flavor reminding me of the taste of the wooden sticks that Popsicles come on intermingled with a slightly metallic cooling sensation (possibly an effect of the clove oil?).  Carbonation is piss-poor.  This is one flat drink with only the slightest cues of carbonation.  Yuck.  On a brighter note, the sweetness is good, providing just the right amount without feeling syrupy.  This drink is a mess.  The name of the drink makes me think of a Sasquatch that is squatting  and this beverage might be what is left behind on the ground after said Sasquatch has finished his (or her) squatting session.  Squamscot, a good drink you're not.

Rating: F+
flavor: F+
aftertaste: D
sweetness: B
smoothness: C
carbonation: F

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Kutztown root beer

Background information: (from the website) "The KUTZTOWN BOTTLING WORKS INC. has the distinction of being one of Kutztown's oldest continually operated businesses. In 1851, Ed Immel began bottling beverages from an excellent spring near Main St. & Constitution Blvd. until 1888, when he sold the business to Cyrus Rhode and his son John."

(from the bottle - and yes, I spelled it exactly as shown on the bottle) "When you're bad for something mighty good, reach for a foamy mug of Kutztown Root Beer!  Tastes chust like old-fashioned, 'cause you know we make it that way.  Drink 'til you ouch, there's more back."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Bottled under the authority of Kutztown Soda works, Kutztown, PA 19530.  160 calories, 39g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Triple-filtered carbonated water, pure cane sugar, caramel color, natural and artificial flavo, citric acid, sodium benzoate (a preservative), yucca extractives and acacia.

My thoughts: In life, there are winners and losers.  And then there are those that fall somewhere in between, quickly fading from memory.  That's how I feel about this root beer.  It has a so-so root beer taste, moderately artificial and of average strength.  Hints of additional herbs, spices, or flavorings are completely absent.  The flavor falls off pretty rapidly, with no aftertaste other than a smidgen of soda water flavor.  Sweetness is likewise just as blah and the carbonation, which shouldn't be a surprise considering the precedence set by the other attributes, is perfectly mediocre.  For some reason, all the average plainness adds up to a decidedly less than average experience.  At least most of the less-than-good root beers I've had failed because they were trying to do something different or extraordinary, but it just didn't work out.  This root beer is worse for not even attempting to achieve greatness, instead settling for being a nobody in the world of root beers.

Rating: D
flavor: D+
aftertaste: F+
sweetness: C
smoothness: C-
carbonation: C

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gale's root beer

Background information: (from the website and the bottle) "I love root beer!” While cooking in England some years ago, my root beer sources dried up and I was forced to do without. So I got a little brown terrier puppy and named him Rootie. When Rootie and I got back to the United States I started making my own root beer to serve in my restaurants. Now I’m pleased to present my best batch ever! Rootie and I know you’ll love it. Enjoy!"

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Distributed by Gale's Bread and Butter, Inc., Riverwoods, IL 60015.  160 calories, 41g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, caramel color, natural and artificial flavoring, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla extract, phosphoric acid, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate added as preservatives.

My thoughts: Not a very root beery taste, but is an interesting mix of flavors.  The initial flavor has slight root beer connotations, with some ginger mixed in, giving a subdued taste that lacks some of the punch I prefer.  The aftertaste is equally downplayed, with the ginger giving way to the vanilla and cinnamon.  While I would have preferred a little more strength, I really ended up liking what the cinnamon brings to the table.  Sweetness is perfect and didn't leave a sugary residue in my mouth.  Carbonation, like the flavor intensity, could stand to be dialed up a notch.  Or two.  Overall, I wish I liked this root beer better.  I enjoy the different elements it brings to my palate, but they are lacking in intensity, especially the root beer flavor.  This drink is an interesting departure from the usual mix of flavors, however it didn't really blow my skirt back.  Not that I wear a skirt.  But if I did it would be called a "kilt" and it still wouldn't be blown back by this root beer's taste.

Rating: C
flavor: C
aftertaste: C
sweetness: A
smoothness: B
carbonation: C

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thomas Kemper root beer

Background information: (from the website) "The first Thomas Kemper Root Beer was brewed by Andy Thomas and Will Kemper (local Northwest beermeisters) back in 1990. They wanted to serve a cool alternative to beer at their Oktoberfest celebration. It quickly became so popular they had to invent Novemberfest. Now you’ll find Thomas Kemper all over the West (and everywhere else if you look hard enough) – thanks to a lot of great stores and restaurants that share the best of taste."

(from the bottle) "One honey of a Root Beer.  This wonderfully rich and complex Root Beer was first brewed for our company Oktoberfest back in 1990.  It quickly became such a hit that we invented Novemberfest."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Manufactured by Thomas Kemper Soda Co., Portland, OR 97208.  160 calories, 40g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, maltodextrin, honey, caramel color, natural flavor, sodium benzoate (for freshness), gum acacia, phosphoric acid, salt, and vanilla extract.

My thoughts: As a kid, I remember watching the movie The Goonies and being incredibly jealous of the Asian kid with his bed that made itself.  Mix that in with his automated punching glove and oil-slick shoes and you have an incredible childhood idol!  Alas, unlike Jonathan Ka Quan, there's nothing too incredible to see here with this root beer.  There is a pleasantly strong root beer flavor that is nicely sweetened, but not a whole lot else in the flavor department.  No subtle hints of other spices are noticeable and the flavor quickly drops away, leaving virtually no aftertaste.  Despite the higher level of carbonation (one of the highest I've sampled to date) and the absence of aftertaste, there is not a hint of the dreaded 'soda water' flavor.  Interestingly enough, the carbonation seems very intense on the front of my tongue, but quickly smooths out. This is probably one of my favorite root beers as far as carbonation goes, both in its initial strength, lack of soda water flavor, and how quickly it becomes smooth, as highly carbonated beverages can feel harsh on the throat.  It's too bad that in all other aspects, it's just a mediocre root beer.

Rating: C+
flavor: C
aftertaste: C-
sweetness: A
smoothness: B
carbonation: A+

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Olde Rhode Island molasses root beer

Background information: (from the website) "“Take a look at this! This whole empire started in a backpack!”…that’s what an old high school friend of Real Soda’s founder Danny Ginsburg said when he visited the central warehouse with his wife and baby recently. And in fact... what is today perhaps unquestionably the most substantial purveyor of glass-bottled soft drinks in the USA had its origins with a bottle cap collection, a dream, and a desire and drive of immense proportions which all synergized to create the magic which is REAL SODA IN REAL BOTTLES.

"Real Soda" is essentially a name that was coined by original partakers. The concept of Real Soda was conceived in the 1980's by Ginsburg who had been collecting bottle caps since he was four years old and who could not accept the invasion of cans and plastic to the detriment of all of the great sodas that had once been available."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Bottled by Empire Bottling Works, - Bristol, RI for Real Soda In Real Bottles, Ltd.  170 calories, 46g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Natural artisan spring water, made with 100% cane sugar, natural and/or artificial flavor extracts, citric acid, sodium benzoate (preservative).

My thoughts: Upon catching a brief whiff of this root beer, I was excited.  A whirlwind of root beer scent indicates a thick, full bodied root beer beneath.  Alas, I was quickly stricken with disappointment, for beneath this brew's powerful facade lies something else all together.  The initial root beer is great and powerful, but as soon as the drink rolls off the tongue, in a flash, the curtain is pulled back to reveal that Oz the great and powerful is neither one nor the other.  The instant this root beer is swallowed, the flavor vanishes and is replaced by the dull taste of soda water, with just the weakest hint of vanilla.  It's sad, really, as the flavor is excellent (it would be better if it stuck around longer), the amount of carbonation is perfect--the bubbles dancing a little "Lollypop Guild" jig down my tongue--and it exudes a sweetness worthy of Glinda herself; yet the briefness of the taste makes it hard to recommend.  If you ever find yourself with a bottle of this, try tossing Toto's "Africa" on the record player, pull on your ruby slippers (c'mon guys, I know you secretly have a pair) and clicking your heels together three times and maybe a better root beer will appear.  At the very least, you'll provide some entertainment for your peeping Tom neighbor as he watches you through his binoculars while wondering why you are dressing in girls clothing and doing such a silly dance.

Rating: C
flavor: C
aftertaste: D
sweetness: B+
smoothness: C
carbonation: A