Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Pop Shoppe root beer

Background information: (from the website) "1969 - The summer of love: Two straight-laced business guys from London, Ontario who are clearly not into music have a great idea. They make their own pop and sell it out of their own stores. They figure that without a middleman, they can sell their amazing pop at an even more amazing price to their customers and bam! “The Pop Shoppe” is born. So they miss Woodstock and probably all of the most legendary summer in history. Big deal. From the returnable bottles affectionately called stubbies to mixing and matching from original flavours Lime Ricky, Black Cherry, Sparkle Up and Festival Dry, their great idea and personal choice not to attend a really cool concert creates a North American cultural icon that will become synonymous with growing up."

(from the bottle) "Dad's favorite pop. Somehow the flavour blast of The Pop Shoppe Root Beer takes socks, sandals, comb-overs, lame jokes, wearing your pants too high, mowing the lawn and bundles them up together in one surprisingly cool package. Hey, how did the hot dog vendor tackle his job? With relish!"

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Distributed by LA Bottleworks, Los Angeles, CA 90640, USA. 180 calories, 46g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, caramel color, citric acid, sodium benzoate (preservative), propylene glycol, natural and artificial flavors, phosphoric acid.

My thoughts: Some of my earlier memories involve going to the store and buying Pop Shoppe soda pop. Back then, you'd get a plastic crate that held 12 or 24 bottles (I don't recall precisely) and you could mix and match bottles of all the available flavors. Once you drank them, you'd bring back the empty bottles for credit towards the new ones. Pop Shoppe was discontinued in 1983, but several stores kept it around for a few more years. I was so young that I don't recall how the root beer tasted, so I can't say if the current flavor is similar to the one I drank back in the 80s, but when it came back in 2002, "Great pains are taken to recreate each and every flavour exactly as it existed nearly 20 years ago."

So how does it taste now? Well, it has a strong root beer flavor. It's pretty basic, with a little bit of wintergreen, but not much else stands out. The aftertaste isn't much different, and the flavor just slowly fades away without revealing anything else.

It doesn't feel overly sugary, with just the typical amount of sugar coating left behind in my mouth, though perhaps feeling slightly cleaner than the average root beer. This surprised me, as the sugar content is a little higher than average, so I was expecting more of a sugary feeling. Carbonation is average. I would have preferred more pizzazz and bubbles. Because of the less than aggressive carbonation, if goes down fairly smooth, with a small hint of creaminess. Again, pretty mediocre.

Well, all around this is just a run of the mill root beer. It doesn't go out of the way to try anything other than appealing to the mass market, playing it safe with a decent, but unremarkable take on root beer. While it, on it's own, doesn't really warrant the nostalgia I feel when drinking the sweet nectar, it doesn't necessarily negate the positive feeling I have about the brand. At the end of the day, it only deserves an average score.

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

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

O-Zell root beer float

Background information: Normally, I would include a brief summary of the history behind the drink. But this one, which involves the Disney family (specifically Walt's father) is interesting enough to warrant reading the whole history, which can be found here:

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  The O-Zell Company, Silverlake, CA|Chicago, IL 323-663-7878. 140 calories, 35g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Hawaiian Cane Sugar Blend, Caramel Color, Natural Flavor, and Phosphoric Acid.

My thoughts: Since my last root beer was a "float", I figured I'd follow it up with another float to better compare the two. Kind of makes me want to attend a parade. Speaking of parades, I hate to rain on this one, but this is a completely different experience than the last root beer. Gone is the dominate vanilla. Instead, this root beer exhibits one of my least liked flavor traits, the dreaded sour note. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but I don't know why some of these root beers have a tangy, sour flavor to them. It's not pleasant. This drink isn't particularly rooty, or at least in the sense that one expects from a root beer. I can definitely taste some very natural, plant based flavor, but can't quite put my finger on what it is. It's not bad, but combined with the root beer flavor, it leaves an aftertaste that reminds me of licking the wooden stick in a frozen root beer popsicle: part root beer, part woody -though subtly reminiscent of an apple as well- kind of taste. Weird.

This isn't an overly sweet feeling drink and doesn't seem to leave an egregious sugary coating behind. I like where it's at. Carbonation started out fine, but by halfway through the bottle it had fizzled out, leaving behind only very weak bubbles. It's not particularly smooth or creamy, which is a disappointment.

If I were attending a parade and needed a root beer float to satiate my thirst, alas, this would not be a consideration. Seeing as how the Disney family was originally involved in the company, I would have hoped for a bit more magic in the bottle. It was not meant to be, so I'd have to recommend passing on this one.

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