Tuesday, April 28, 2015

IBC root beer

Background information: (from the website): "The smooth, creamy refreshment of IBC Root Beer began in 1919 with the Griesedieck family and the Independent Breweries Company in St. Louis, hence the name of IBC Root Beer. Development as an alternative to alcoholic beverages during prohibition, IBC Root Beer became renowned for its quality, richness and great taste.

When the independent Breweries Company closed, the Kranzberg family purchased the trademark and distributed IBC Root Beer at their North-western Bottling Company, its popularity grew during the 1920s, and it was soon available at many top restaurants. In the late '30s the Kranzberg sold the IBC trademark and formula to the National Bottling Company owned by the Shucart family.

After World War II, Marketing and production methods changed and IBC Root Beer's revival began after the seven-up company purchased Taylor Beverages in 1980 and increased sales and distribution throughout the Midwest and the south."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Manufactured for Mott's LLP, Rye Brook, NY 10573 USA.  160 calories, 43g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top. http://www.ibcrootbeer.com/

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

My thoughts: I'm sure most people are familiar with grocery store stalwart IBC root beer, as it seems to be the "step-up" root beer of choice on their shelves.  Is this drink worthy of it's iconic status?  That's what I hope to ascertain.

The typical root beer flavor is strong with this one.  This is obviously designed to have the classic root beer taste that people are familiar with and IBC doesn't try to stray from that formula.  It's good, but there isn't anything particularly special about this drink.  The aftertaste provides more of the same, with no reveal of any deeper flavors.

Carbonation is nice, not too flat, but not too crispy.  Some of the more effervescent root beers will continue to crackle a little bit after you swallow it, but this one vanishes with the rest of the drink.  Not bad, but not great.  Despite using high fructose corn syrup instead of cane sugar, this one doesn't come off as too sweet and doesn't leave a particularly sugary coating behind, which is a pleasant surprise.  It does froth up just a little bit in my mouth, but once again isn't exactly a standout in terms of creaminess and smoothness.

At the end of the day, IBC is a good root beer that just manages to squeak by the average can of root beer.  I don't believe it's particularly worthy of it's status as the go-to "fancy" root beer for almost every grocery store, but's it's a safe bet that just slightly outdoes the usual root beer mediocrity that adorns many a shelf at the store.  It won't win any legitimate "best of" competitions, but I'd drink it over the usual canned counterparts if I were offered the two.

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

Monday, April 20, 2015

Oogavé root beer

Background information: (from the website): "The subtle yet well-defined flavors of our agave sweetened organic soda pair well with the variety of botanicals found in every bottle. With notes of sarsaparilla, vanilla, and horehound, this is an honest-to-goodness soda fountain favorite. Did we mention it's all natural?"

(from the bottle): "Gluten-free, caffeine-free, low-glycemic and vegan"

*note: Are they trying to convince me not to drink it, because this description on the bottle is doing a great job at exactly that! ;)

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Oogavé Sodas, 4420 Glencoe Street, Denver, Colorado 80216.  100 calories, 24g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top. http://www.oogave.com/

Ingredients: Purified Carbonated Water, Organic Agave Nectar, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors and Caramel for Color.

My thoughts: Okay, it's an "all-natural" root beer sweetened with agave nectar instead of cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup.  I tend to be leery of these alternative sweeteners, as my experiences with them aren't positive.  In fact, I'll just come right out and say I hate diet sodas.  Except diet Dr. Pepper.  I'm not sure what magical elixir they mix in there, but it's good.

I worked on a Stevia commercial a couple years back and they provided cases and cases of free soda.  I tried a couple and they were absolutely disgusting.  So we left several cases with the sound stage when we were finished.  A couple months later I was once again shooting at the same place, and they still hadn't managed to dispose of all the drinks we gave them, so apparently it wasn't much of a hit.

Moving on to this drink, it smells pretty good.  I'm expecting it to be pretty gross and...hey, it's not half bad!  It doesn't have any of that terrible aspartame or diet flavor that most sugar-free drinks suffer from.  The flavor is nice and crisp, feeling a bit lighter than I'm used to with notes of vanilla.  It's actually a refreshing change from the usual soda I drink.  The aftertaste seems to come compliments of horehound (which the website says it has), as it's a little bitter.  The aftertaste seems a bit medicinal as well, and about 10 minutes into drinking it and with a quarter of the bottle remaining,  I feel a little gross, as if there's a distasteful flavor wafting around in my belly.  For some reason, it sort of reminds me of the sensation I had when I was a kid and I'd go swimming in a pool and accidentally swallow some of chlorine water and then I'd have this odd chlorine feel in my stomach.  Not that this tastes like chlorine, but the sensation is bringing back those memories.

Sweetness is just about right on, leaving my mouth free of any lingering syrupy feeling.  The taste, however, seems to be missing just a little bit of something that I get with sugared drinks, but it's nothing major.  Carbonation is excellent, with a nice bite to it.  It still goes down smoothly, with a bit of froth.

I was all ready to hate on this root beer, but it ended up being fairly decent.  It won't make it into my favorite root beer list, but it's certainly a worthy alternative for those looking to cut back on sugars.  Unfortunately, it seems that Oogavé has another lineup of beverages that contains both agave and Stevia (boo! hiss!), which likely won't taste as good.  If my previous Stevia experience is any indicator, you should avoid those like the plague.  But as long as this one remains Stevia free, I can certainly recommend it to those avoiding sugar, however, if you're fine with your root beer being all sugary, I'd suggest sticking with those instead.

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