Thursday, October 29, 2015

Frostop root beer

Background information: (from the website) "Ever since L.S. Harvey opened his first root beer stand in Springfield, Ohio in 1926 the name Frostop has stood for the creamiest and tastiest root beer in America.

From the twenties to the outbreak of World War II, Frostop root beer stands covered the landscape.  high school sweethearts, families and anyone looking for a refreshing treat would stop at their local Frostop to grab an ice cold mug full.

With the war over, Frostop soda shops once again opened their doors and became the place to go to enjoy the rich vanilla taste of the best root beer you could buy.  By 1958 there was at least one Frostop Soda Shop in every state in The United States!

Today, we are still in Ohio and we are still making the creamiest and tastiest root beer in America.  We ship our root beer and all of our great soda flavors all over the United States and have even sent it to our armed forces in Afghanistan!  And with the addition of Frostop Direct and Frostop Catering to our corporate family, we can now provide our products over the web or as part of our on-site catering service.

Times have changed, but we still serve our refreshing treats in the big brown bottle, and we still make our root beer, and all of our sodas, using the finest natural ingredients available.  And just like back in 1926 when Mr. Harvey was running the store, when it comes to taste, NOTHING TOPS FROSTOP BUT THE FOAM!"

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Distributed under authority of trademark owner: Frostop Beverages, Inc., Columbus, OH by C-B Beverage Corp, Hopkins MN 55343, USA. 1650 calories, 48g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Corn Syrup, Pure Cane Sugar, Caramel Color, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Phosphoric Acid and less than 1/10 of 1% of Sodium Benzoate to preserve freshness.

My thoughts: The root beer flavor is very up front and center, delivering a strong but artificial flavor, sort of halfway between root beer candy and a more natural tasting root beer. But underneath, there seems to be a little more going on, with vanilla making quite the showing. I like it, but at the same time I don't really like it a ton. Sure, it's got a bold flavor, but it feels very two note, with no additional spices that I can detect.

What really caught me off guard was the sweetness. It might just be my imagination, but I swear I can even taste the flavor of sugar. This guy goes overboard on sweetness, with the sensation bearing out the greater than normal sugar content listed on the label. But all is not mediocre, as the carbonation is pleasant, delivering a nice fizzy drink that doesn't feel harsh. As such, this drink goes down smooth. It's not super creamy, so could still stand to improve in that aspect of smoothness, but it's not bad.

This root beer would probably make a good float, as the bold flavor would be nicely balanced by the ice cream (which tends to mask subtler spices anyway). But as a straight-up beverage, it has definite room for improvement, but isn't a bad drink. I'd drink it again, but won't go out of my way to procure it again.

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Rat Bastard root beer

Background information: I couldn't find any information on the website relating to this root beer. In fact, the website looks like it was designed to be a Geocities page in the 90's and never updated.

(from the bottle) "Quit being a dick   drink it."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Real Soda in Real Bottles, Ltd. 190 calories, 40g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Molasses, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Caffeine, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Herbs: (American, Siberian & Korean Ginseng; Jasmine; Clove; Dong Quai - Angelica; Skullcap (Mud Dog Weed); African Capsicum; Ginko Biloba; Gotu Kola; Goldenseal; Echinacea; Reishi & Shitake Cordyceps); Sodium Benzoate (to preserve freshness).

My thoughts: As one of the odder ingredient lists of all root beers, I had no idea what to expect. Most of them, however, aren't the usual suspects. The label says "It's us against them." I aim to see whether I'm on team "us" or team "them".

I was a bit worried that with all the random ingredients, the flavor would be substantially compromised. My worrying was in vain, however, as this tastes like a run-of-the-mill root beer. It has a bit of sassafras taste and some vanilla, but not a whole lot else. The aftertaste is sort of the same, the flavor slowly fading away. Burping (excuse me!), however, brought forth an unpleasant taste/smell.

This drink seems a bit on the sweet side. It leaves more of a sugary feeling than I care for, but not terribly so. Where it really let me down was the carbonation, falling flat quickly. I think this lack of carbonation also contributes to the syrupy consistency that makes it seem sugary. It's hard to rate smoothness, as the lack of carbonation makes it hard to compare to a properly carbonated beverage, but it's probably average.

Overall, the flavor was more average than I expected from all the weird ingredients, but it was fairly lackluster. The lack of carbonation was a major letdown and probably the single biggest negative influence on my final rating. There are much better root beers out there, so I can't really recommend this one.

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

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sea Dog root beer

Background information: The Sea Dog site has nothing to say at all about this drink, as they instead advertise their various beers. It seems, though, that Sea Dog root beer is somehow connected to Cap'n Eli's root beer, as they both feature the same dog mascot (who appears in the Cap'n Eli comic books).

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Sea Dog Brewing Co., Portland, Maine. ? calories, ?g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top. (must be 21 or older to visit site due to alcohol-related material) (root beer site)

Ingredients: Water, cane sugar, caramel coloring, natural & artificial flavors including wintergreen oil, anise, and vanilla, spices, herbs, citric acid, and sodium benzoate as a preservative.

My thoughts: After a particularly long week of work, I felt a bit like a dog put out to sea. Hoping to make life better, I reached for my next root beer who sounds like it could empathize with my plight. Unlike a sea dog, who would presumably be wet and smelly from hanging out in the salt water all day, this drink was pretty pleasant. There is a nice strong rooty taste, with a nice mix of spices. With so much going on, though harmoniously, it takes multiple swigs to figure out all the flavors in there. A bit of wintergreen, some vanilla, a hint of licorice. Good stuff. The aftertaste is also very good, with the flavors maintaining their ratios and slowly tapering off. The long term aftertaste is a little off, hard to describe, but not entirely pleasant.

Sweetness is pretty good, maybe just the slightest bit more sugary than perfect, but only a minor complaint. The carbonation is interesting. It's strong, but usually that means that I can feel big carbonation bubbles popping around in my mouth. This, however, feels like super small, but concentrated, bubbles with a sort of sharpness to them. The carbonation can feel a bit harsh, almost stinging, but in a way I like it. It may not be a sensation that all will enjoy. In spite of this, the drink actually feels pretty creamy, perhaps aided by the smallness of the carbonation bubbles. This makes a pleasant contrast to the bite of the carbonation.

Going in, I didn't have the highest expectations, seeing as how a lot of my root beers lately have been mediocre. But this did the trick, topping off a week of hard work with some delicious root beer nectar. I'll certainly add this to my list of root beers to drink again.

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