Sunday, February 15, 2015

Empire root beer

Background information: They have no website which, in this day and age, is ridiculous.  What could they possibly be trying to hide?  A fleet of Star Destroyers?  I giant base the size of the moon?  The vicious Gungan Grand Army?

All I could find about this company is that it's family owned since the 1930's and that they have a physical location.  Looking it up on Google Maps shows a building with a semi-trailer blocking most of the front.  Very curious indeed.  What better place to stage a strike against the rebel scum?

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Empire Bottling Works, 61 Buttonwood, Bristol, RI 02809.  401-253-7117.  170 calories, 46g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top.

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

My thoughts: After a couple mediocre root beers, I'm hoping that the force is stronger with this one.  Even though I rooted for the rebellion, the Galactic Empire was pretty cool as well and if Darth Vader had brewed his own root beer, he probably would have named it Empire Root Beer, with a tagline of "Come to the dark side."  So, hopefully this drink is more Vader than it is Jar Jar.

My initial taste was full of root beer flavor, but it leans more towards the artificial side of things.  It seems very one-note, with no complexity to the formula.  Okay, technically it's more two-note, as there is a ton of mint flavor, as the root beer taste dies away and I'm left with a strong wintergreen mint aftertaste.  While I do like some wintergreen, this one veers more towards toothpaste territory.

Perhaps this one can be saved by it's other attributes?  Well, you remember how multi-layered and nuanced the performances were in the prequel trilogy?  Yeah, they fell flat, just like this root beer.  There's a little bit of fizz, but it's quite bland.  Sweetness seems fine, but for a drink as lacking in effervescence as this one, it doesn't seem particularly smooth, as it lacks any sort of creaminess.

If this was the kind of root beer that the Galactic Empire was cranking out, it's no wonder the people rebelled and blew up the Death Star.  This is the sort of drink I'd expect to find on a backwater bar in Mos Eisley, but not something wearing the Emperor's namesake.  No wonder that guy was so grumpy.  Now if only someone would make a Dagobah Draft Root Beer, I bet that Yoda guy could toss in some roots and spices and whip up a mean drink.  As it is, this ends of being the Stormtrooper of drinks, no matter how much it tries, it always misses.

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

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Dublin Texas root beer

Background information: (from the website): "The history of Dublin Bottling Works begins in 1891, but the real story begins a few years earlier and 80 miles to the east.

In 1885, the wild frontier town of Waco, Texas, was nicknamed “six-shooter junction.” Wade Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store was a prominent business and popular meeting place in downtown Waco. People came in for everything from flea powder to stationery, from cigars to fountain drinks.

One of Morrison’s employees, pharmacist Charles Alderton, noticed how customers loved the smell of the soda fountain with its many fruit, spice and berry aromas. He wanted to invent a drink that tasted the wonderful way the soda fountain smelled. After much experimentation he finally felt he had hit on “something different.” Patrons at the drug store agreed.

Soon other soda fountains were buying the syrup from Morrison and serving it. People loved the new unnamed drink and would order it by simply calling out “shoot me a Waco!” But Morrison named it Dr Pepper, after the father of a girl he had loved back in his home state of Virginia.

In 1891 Morrison and new partner Robert Lazenby organized the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company in order to sell Dr Pepper as well as other soft drinks.

That same year, while visiting Waco, a Texas businessman by the name of Sam Houston Prim tasted the fountain drink and knew he wanted to sell it through his new Dublin Bottling Works company. An agreement was made between Mr. Prim and Mr. Lazenby, and Dublin became home to the first facility to actually bottle Dr Pepper.

The soda enjoyed steady growth in sales and began to spread in popularity across the country. But it wasn’t until 1904 that Dr Pepper gained real national exposure. Along with other soon- to-be favorites like ice cream cones and hamburgers, Dr Pepper was introduced to the rest of the U.S. and the entire world at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

Over the years, Dublin Bottling Works became known for the Kloster family’s commitment to friendly service and quality products, including the distinctive taste of what came to be called “Dublin Dr Pepper” and a host of other fantastic sodas, all made with pure cane sugar. Although Dublin Bottling Works no longer produces Dr Pepper, we maintain a special relationship and legacy that’s rooted in the life and work ethic of W.P. Kloster."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Bottled under the authority of Dublin Bottling Works, Inc. Dublin, Texas 1-888-398-1024.  160 calories, 42g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top.

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

My thoughts: After making a recent business trip to Dallas, I thought it appropriate to review my Dublin Texas root beer.  Of all the root beers I've tried, this is the first to have an almost explosive effect upon opening the bottle.  It wasn't in danger of fizzing over, but instead made a popping sound as the cap came off.  This can only mean one thing: this root beer is eager to get into my mouth!

The initial flavor is certainly root beer flavored, though it reminds me of the sort of quality I get from a normal can, such as A&W.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but not that impressive either.  There isn't a whole lot of complexity going on.  The aftertaste is decent, a bit more of the typical root beer flavor.  Sometimes I think I detect an extremely subtle wintergreen, while other swallows I don't, so I'm not sure if it's just my imagination.

Despite the less than stellar flavor, I'm impressed with the other attributes.  The carbonation lives up to my very first impression as it's strong, but manages to be so without being harsh.  I'm pleased to report that it's also sweet without being syrupy.  Sometimes having very crisp carbonation causes the drinks to lose their smoothness, but this one manages to blend the two just right, with a pleasant creamy sensation as you drink it.

In the end, this root beer ended up as a mediocre root beer.  If they would only try to push the boundaries a bit more in the flavor department, they might come up with something truly worth writing home about.

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