Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Crooked Oak root beer

Background information: The website, as I've noticed with many other root beer/soda sites, is pretty much pointless. This one has no information at all about the product and instead focuses on the feel they're trying to invoke, with a picket fenced house and rolling fields of green grass. Completely useless in learning more about the drinks they sell.

(from the bottle) "The contents of this bottle are crafted using a traditional recipe and original technique to create its unique and refreshing flavor experience."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Created by the fine people at Columbus Brands, Los Angeles, CA 90640 150 calories, 45g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, caramel color, citric acid, sodium benzoate, natural flavors.

My thoughts: The bottle adorned with buzzwords such as "handcrafted", "single batch", and "limited production", I have lofty expectations for this particular root beer. It sounds very fancy, but was this merely an exercise in marketing gone wild, or do the contents live up to the bravado of the label? Tune in next time, in the next paragraph where all will be revealed!

One thing is for certain, this isn't a generic root beer. It's definitely a root beer and exhibits the expected sassafras flavor, but there is a nice mixture of spices floating in there as well. It a very harmonious blend, with all the flavors meshing together to make it hard to pick out the individual flavors. I can't quite figure out what all I'm tasting and, judging by the three completely different sets of flavors picked out by other reviewers, there is no consensus from them either. I don't think I've ever had such a hard time picking out individual spices. Suffice it to say, there is a hint of sourness to it (extremely subtle) and maybe the barest hint of wintergreen in the aftertaste. Overall, it has a very natural feel to the flavor.

Sweetness is well regulated, leaving a slightly less than average sugary feeling behind. This drink is extremely smooth, though could stand to be a little more creamy. I think the smoothness is a combination of the flavor as well as the very non-aggressive carbonation. The bubbles seem small, though they do a pretty good job of keeping the drink carbonated, but I personally prefer just a bit more bite out of my carbonation.

While this drink does a lot right (very natural tasting, interesting blend of spices, good sweetness), I feel that the flavor could use a little more separation and that the carbonation could be more aggressive. Back to the label jargon, I think this root beer has the traits I'd expect from such descriptors. This is a really good root beer that I don't hesitate to recommend, but it just missed the cut from the very best tier of root beers.

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

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dad-Gum-It! butterscotch root beer

Background information: You know what? I couldn't find anything about this root beer on the internet other than a couple other reviews. Perhaps, in a bid to be authentic, this root beer is like the stereotypical shotgun toting redneck and comes out of a double wide trailer in a swamp where they have no internet. Whatever it is, there isn't any info about this on the Rocket Fizz site either, even though they produce it.

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Bottled by the Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shops, LLC. PO Box 3663, Camarillo, CA 93011. 170 calories, 42g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Spring water, cane sugar, citric acid, caramel color, gum acacia & natural flavors.

My thoughts: I do like my butterscotch, so how does it mesh with this root beer? Well, unlike the camouflaged, gun toting redneck on the bottle, the butterscotch is very subtle. In fact, if the bottle hadn't said "butterscotch" on it, I may never have guessed it was an attribute. The root beer factor is mediocre, with a moderately rooty flavor that quickly feels a bit thin. The aftertaste has some minty wintergreen to it with a very very slight hint of butterscotch, which I find an odd combination. Part way through the bottle, I felt like perhaps there was just a little bit of black licorice showing through, but extremely subtle.

Maybe it's just the lack of sassafras punch, but the sugar content seems to play just slightly too much of a role, as it's a pinch too sweet for the amount of flavor. It's still pretty decent, but worth noting. Carbonation is nice, with a bit of bite, though the last third of the bottle started to feel weak. It also didn't feel particularly creamy or smooth and could have used a little more froth.

Well, the redneck lifestyle has never particularly appealed to me and neither does this root beer. Really, I feel the same way about both: indifferent. The butterscotch failed to elevate this decidedly mediocre root beer and it had no particularly outstanding traits. There are much better options out there.

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