Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tommyknocker root beer

Background information: (from the bottle): "Tommyknockers slipped into Colorado gold camps with the immigrating Cornish miners during the 1859 rush.  These mischievous elves guided many a fortunate miner to the "Motherlode".  Renew the legend - share a Tommyknocker Root Beer with a friend."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Tommyknocker Brewery, Idaho Springs, CO 80452.  160 calories, 42g sugar. Glass bottle with pry off top. http://www.tommyknocker.com/

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Pure Cane Sugar, Organic Root Beer Flavor, Aged Organic Vanilla Extract, Pure Maple Syrup, Caramel Color, Citric Acid.

My thoughts: So, here's a drink that isn't afraid to go au naturel.  Fortunately, the elf mascot isn't having any of that and is fully clothed.  My first whiff of this aromatic root beer is interesting, as there seems to be a lot of spices wafting around in the bottle, with a very earthy spice scent dominating my nostrils.

The first taste is very strong.  I'm not used to root beer tasting anything like this and I'm not sure whether it's bad or good.  There's certainly some root beer in there, but a lot of other spices are vying for attention, and I'm not sure what they all are.  One of them reminds me of dark molasses and another of grain (like wheat or barley or something).  The aftertaste isn't particularly pleasant, as it has a slight sour tinge to it.  I'm doing a terrible job of describing the flavor, as it's so unlike any other root beer that I'm not quite certain where a lot of the flavors are coming from.  It certainly feels complex and, stealing an adjective from the ingredients list, seems "aged".

Now on to things that I can better assess: the carbonation is great, nice and bubbly, with just the right amount of kick.  It feels nice and creamy and goes down very smoothly.  Sugar feels spot on, as it is sweet without leaving an overly sugary residue behind.

I'm at odds with this.  First and foremost, I'm not a huge fan of the overall flavor.  In fact, I can't quite decide whether it's gross or whether I like it.  While it doesn't make me want to go pick up a six pack, I find myself oddly intrigued with its flavor.  There have been a few root beers that I didn't like and wouldn't have felt bad if I had never sampled that particular flavor before, but this one leaves me feeling glad that I had the opportunity to try something so different, even if it wasn't the most pleasant experience.  I'd recommend giving this a try just for the experience, even though my score may not reflect that sentiment that well.

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

Monday, January 19, 2015

Rocket Fizz root beer float

Background information: (from the website): "The Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shops, LLC was founded in 2007 by Robert (Rob) Powells and Ryan Morgan and in 2012 Rich Shane became the company CEO. The original "flagship" store located in Camarillo, California opened in 2009. The Camarillo and Sherman Oaks, California locations are company-owned. In under five years the Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shops has become the largest and fastest growing soda pop and candy shop franchise brand in America.

Besides the two company owned stores all of the other Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop locations throughout the U.S.A. are franchised and are independently owned and operated. As the creators and co-owners of the entire Rocket Fizz system, Rob and Ryan carefully select each Rocket Fizz franchise store operator. Any questions or comments regarding the Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shops company, its history, its future, or its founders and owners Rob and Ryan, must be directed to the Rocket Fizz company at info@rocketfizz.com. Thank you and we hope your day is a BLAST-off!"

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Intellectual property of and bottled by: Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shops, LLC. P.O. Box 3663, Camarillo, CA 93011.  170 calories, 42g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top. http://www.rocketfizz.com/

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, citric acid, caramel color. sodium benzoate (preservative), gum acacia, natural & artificial flavor.

My thoughts: I like root beer.  I also like ice cream.  Combine the two and you have one of the most delicious concoctions on the face of the earth.  So when you have a rocket as part of your logo and name, it tells me that this concoction should be one of the most delicious things not only on the face of earth, but anywhere in space as well.  So, is this drink more SpaceX or Orbital Science?

This is sort of an odd root beer.  The initial flavor is moderately rooty, but there is a dominating creamy flavored overtone.  I'm not sure what the exact flavor is that I'm tasting; it's odd, but interesting.  Aftertaste reminds me a bit of the butterscotch root beers I've tried, but I'm not entirely certain that butterscotch is quite the right name for the flavor.  The website offers no insight into what these flavors might be.

Rocket Fizz root beer float is a pretty sweet drink, sort of reminding me of candy.  I'm left with a moderately sugary feeling in my mouth, a bit more than I care for.  This is probably due to trying to replicate the ice cream part of the float, something that's difficult to pull off without having chunks of the frozen goodness.  Carbonation is okay, but could certainly use a little more "fizz" to it.  This is a pretty creamy drink, though, and goes down nice and smooth.

Normally, I only go through about half a bottle figuring out my thoughts (and then I just finish off the other half while filling out the technical details such as product details, ingredients, and background info).  This drink was different enough that I drank the whole bottle just to compile this "my thoughts" section.  I don't necessarily love it, as it's a bit too candy-like, but it isn't a total disaster either.  In the end, it's an interesting root beer that offers something a bit different than I'm used to, for better or worse.  It's neither the SpaceX of root beers, nor is it the complete disaster of Orbital Science (note to self, don't buy old Russian rocket engines that were built well before I was born).  If you're looking for a root beer that is out of this world, you'll have to look elsewhere.

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

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A&W root beer

Background information: (from the website): "In 1919, at a parade honoring returning World War I veterans in Lodi, California, Roy Allen set up a roadside drink stand to offer a new thick and creamy drink, root beer. His creation was such a success, he decided to take on a partner, Frank Wright. In 1922, Allen and Wright combined their initials to name the beverage A&W Root Beer."

"Allen wasted no time opening his first permanent root beer stand in Lodi, followed by a second one in Sacramento. It featured the first "drive-in" concept with "tray-boys" for curbside service. Then, in 1924 Allen bought out Wright to pursue a franchising program, which became America's first franchised restaurant chain. He sold A&W Root Beer concentrate exclusively to these franchises to ensure quality. By 1933, more than 170 outlets were franchised."

*more history can be read on the A&W website

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Distributed by: Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, inc. Plano, TX 75024.  170 calories, 45g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top. http://www.rootbeer.com/

Ingredients: Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sodium benzoate (preservative), natural and artificial flavors.

My thoughts: Ahhh, the old stalwart A&W root beer, available pretty much anywhere.  This is the root beer that many are familiar with, as its ubiquity makes it widely accessible.  From cans and 2-liter bottles, to candy and from the tap, it's an iconic flavor.  Since most people drink it from the can, this was more or less the one that I established as my average (or "C" level) root beer.  I've eaten at the A&W restaurant before, where they serve it in frosy mugs straight from the tap.  I have to say that I found it to taste better that way than its canned counterpart.  So how does it hold up when it comes in a glass bottle?

Well, it certainly has a nice strong rooty taste to it, leaning a little towards the artificial side, but still retaining some of its classic roots.  Nothing too complex.  As the initial flavor subsides, I'm left with an aftertaste that is quite similar to the main flavor, though I detect a little vanilla and perhaps a tad of wintergreen.

I like that after I drink it, there isn't a super sugary coating in my mouth.  While it uses high fructose corn syrup instead of cane sugar, I didn't find it objectionable.  Carbonation is moderate, and could use a little more pizazz to it.  It certainly went down smooth, with a little creaminess.  Nothing too crazy, but not exactly reaching for a higher bar.

In the end, A&W delivers a solid root beer that is neither a standout nor a disappointment.  The canned version was always a solid choice and I think I prefer it slightly in a bottle.  It's a good root beer that I would drink again, but I wouldn't necessarily spend the extra money to get it in a glass bottle instead of a much cheaper 2-liter or can.

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

Friday, January 9, 2015

Root Beer win!

At the behest of a friend, I visited Rocket Fizz today to see if they had any root beers that I have not yet tried.  I expected to find one or two, so was pleasantly surprised to find eleven new root beers!  Combined with the other three I had acquired from Galco's, it seems that now I've got enough to keep me busy for a while.

Speaking of Rocket Fizz, that place has some very strange sodas.  A few that I can recall: bacon, peanut butter and jelly, ranch, and chocolate.  Some of the flavors sounded interesting, others downright disgusting.  But if you're in the market for a variety of strange carbonated beverages, Rocket Fizz is hard to beat!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New year, new root beer!

My root beer reviews have been slowing down as time moves on.  I seem to have tried most of the root beers that are available at the stores I shop.  Fortunately, the last time I was at Galco's they had three new root beers in that I haven't reviewed yet, so I'll have those coming up soon.  I'm still on the lookout for any other places that might carry root beers that I haven't found yet.  A friend just recommended a new place to me recently, so I'm going to drop by there today and hopefully find more drinks for my blog!