Monday, June 8, 2015

Jonnie Ryan root beer

Background information: (from the website): "In 1935, the Janik brothers (Stephen, Walter and John) founded the Johnnie Ryan Bottling Company in Niagara Falls, New York. Taking pride in their soft drinks and only using the finest ingredients available, quickly made Johnnie Ryan beverages a hometown "family favorite".

Today, many old memories return and some new ones will be made when you enjoy a bottle of our premium soda. Johnnie Ryan beverages are made of the finest extracts and flavorings available, and still sweetened with 100% pure cane sugar, just like our grandfather and his two brothers did, over seventy years ago.

We also package our premiums in a classic glass bottle to preserve freshness, great taste and carbonation. No expenses are spared in the manufacturing of this product, making it still a genuine "family favorite."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  The Johnnie Ryan Co. Inc, Niagra Falls, New York.  180 calories, 45g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, citric acid, sodium benzoate (used as a preservative), natural and artificial flavour, caramel colour.

My thoughts: Before even opening this bottle, I'm a bit predisposed to liking it. Something about the bottle design is very appealing to me, so kudos to the graphic design person who came up with this.  On the flip side, having citric acid listed as the third ingredient makes me worry, as it's usually one of the last ingredients and makes me wonder why there is more citric acid than there is flavor ingredients?

My initial impression is that it tastes like root beer...candy.  It is rooty, but very much leaning towards a more artificial flavor.  There's a bit of vanilla in there that becomes more predominate as an aftertaste.  Speaking of the aftertaste, it's still a little rooty, but toned down enough that the "candy" aspect of it fades away leaving a wintergreen vanilla taste in its wake.

As far as sweetness, I was pleasantly surprised that it was pretty good.  Perhaps I was expecting a candy-like sugar coating to match the flavor, but was left with a fresher feeling.  Carbonation is good, providing a nice sparkle on my tongue while not veering off into over-aggressiveness.  The carbonation helps build up a decent froth in the mouth, making for a fairly smooth experience.  I've had plenty of root beers where the carbonation is gone by half way through the bottle, but this one stuck around until the end (even though it was certainly subdued by the bottom of the bottle).

By the end of the bottle, I was enjoying the bottle more than at the beginning.  Perhaps I was starting to forgive it of it's slightly candy-like rootiness, but this drink has so much more going for it that the other criteria helped it to surmount my initial flavor impression.  If they got the rooty flavor a little more dialed in, perhaps using some more natural spices instead, then that would really help this one vault up the the "A" catagory.

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

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