Sunday, November 9, 2014

Barrel Brothers Creamy Vanilla root beer

Background information: (from the bottle): "From the Rocky Mountains a creamy new twist on an American Classic."

*note: the website briefly covers Apple Beer, but makes no mention of their root beer.

(info from a distributor): "Barrel Brothers Root Beer is brewed with the tradition of old-time homebrews in mind. Its long-lasting, foamy head and aroma of vanilla is matched with a creaminess and body that exude a draft root beer tone. And, it’s brewed with vitamin C and calcium! Over a century ago, home-brewed sassafras gave birth to root beer as a popular cure-all. Now the Barrel Brothers have introduced a 19th-century tradition into the 21st with a root beer that satisfies body and soul like the old-time homebrews. So blow the foam and savor a cold draft of Barrel Brothers’ creamy dark blend!"

*additional note: it seems that Barrel Brothers used to produce a regular root beer that has since been suplanted by this "Creamy Vanilla" version, and they taste different.

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Apple Beer Corp., S.L.C., UT 84117.  170 calories, 43g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Water, High Fructose Corn Sweetener, Natural and Artificial flavors, Quillaja Extract, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate as preservatives.

My thoughts: As a big fan of Apple Beer Corporation's other soda offering, appropriately entitled "Apple Beer", I had high expectations for their take on root beer.  Also, having never heard of "Quillaja Extract" before, I did a little research to see what it was.  According to Wikipedia, it's an Evergreen tree (also known as a soap bark tree) whose bark contains quillaia, a food additive that creates "foaming for drinks."

The bottle claims to be "creamy vanilla" and in that aspect I was not in the least bit disappointed.  Initially, there is a very strong vanilla flavor with a weak showing of rooty sassafras.  There may be some other flavors in play, but the vanilla is so overwhelming that I can't pick anything else out.

As far as aftertaste is concerned, it too is dominated by vanilla.  Good thing I like vanilla.  It is a pretty sweet drink and does leave a sugary residue behind.  Not terrible, mind you, but a just bit more than I usually care for.  This drink is nice and smooth, even creamy, so it seems that the Quillaja is doing the trick.  Carbonation is well balanced; not too sharp and just enough bubble to it.

My overall feelings are a bit mixed.  I like this root beer, but it unfortunately falls a bit short in the "root" department, feeling more like a cream soda (another favorite soda of mine) than anything else.  While I'd love to give this a higher score, I'm gonna have to dock it a bit for not quite living up to the full potential of the root beer moniker.  It is, however, a beverage that I would be more than happy to consume again, keeping in mind that my ratings are based on rankings as a root beer, and not as a soda in general.

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