This is the blog of Eric's Gourmet Root Beer site, one of the oldest root beer reviewing sites on the web and the only site to focus entirely on gourmet root beer. Eric has been reviewing gourmet root beers since 1998 but only recently added a blog. This blog will be updated with a new root beer review every Wednesday.
So Rocket Fizz is back with another new celebrity type root beer. They all have the same listed ingredients yet they all claim to be unique. Granted “natural flavors” can be wildly different, but I wish they’d go a bit of an extra mile to assure people like me. My doubts are beginning to grow to the point that I won’t review another of these until I have some hard evidence that it’s unique. I mean, going over my reviews it seems that they have all tasted different, but I’ll still probably have to dispatch Dr. Percival C. McGilliguddy … Anyhow. This is Kiss Army Root Beer. Load and Proud and dedicated to the Kiss Army. I must confess that I had no idea what the Kiss Army was, though I assumed it had something to do with the band Kiss ’cause I’m not that ignorant. Turns out it’s just their fan club. It’s odd that they would have the root beer devoted to the fan club and not the band, like if Faygo released a special Juggalo Root Beer (please do actually).
The Body is really dark with a lot of licorice flavor. There’s a bite of vanilla and it’s slightly creamy, yet there is also a hollowness to it, despite the copious amounts of licorice. The Bite is there. It’s got some spice and some carbonation. The Head is excellent! I’ll give them props for that. But the Aftertaste is really strong licorice, maybe a tad bit of wintergreen. It lasts too long and builds the more you drink. So I like it less and less.
I’m not a fan, no offense to the Kiss fan club, but this is one of my least favorite Rocket Fizz celebrity brews. I really don’t like this at all, yet it isn’t super horrible. Kiss fans, you should not be fooled by this, and demand a better drink to bear your name. See how it rates against other root beers.
After so many years, the Safeway brand is finally being bottled. I’ve been waiting for this moment since I first started seeking out gourmet root beer and Safeway was the only supermarket in my little town. The brand has changed from the old Cragmont days of my youth. This latest brand is Signature Select, but since you can read titles you already knew that. I still like the old Cragmont logos better than what they’ve got now, but it isn’t too bad a label, pretty much what you’d expect from a store brand. I found it in the local Safeway the month I was moving to Minnesota and it was the last brew I reviewed in the state of Washington before saying goodbye. I find it fitting that my final Washington brew should be the one I wished existed since the beginning of this quest of mine, nearly 20 years ago.
The Body is sweet and kind of creamy with a generic flavor. There’s some vanilla and some sour tinge to it as well. The Bite is harsh on carbonation and low on spices. The Head is tall, but goes fast. The Aftertaste is an herbal vanilla that’s not overly appealing.
I want to like this brew. I really, really want to like this, but I don’t. It’s just not very good. What a disappointment. But I guess that’s for the best, leaving the state and all, it would be problematic if there were a root beer holding me back. See how it rates against other root beers.
Back in Chicago this past week with a rental car and no coworkers coming with me to dinner. This was a perfect time to venture further off the beaten path in search of root beer excellence. About 40 miles south west of Chicago lies the city of Joliet, which I think is still technically a suburb. There, one can find the tiny Ace Drive-In, owned and operated by the same person for the past 38 years. This place is a classic root beer stand in every sense of the word. They still have car service, which was the first time I’ve ever had the waitresses come to my window with a tray. They still make their root beer in house, poured from a tap and served in frosty mugs. They only take cash and they don’t give receipts. The whole place is beautiful and wonderful and a true blast from the past.
This has a classic creamy root beer Body but with only a little spice and nothing prominent to jump out at you. It’s well balanced, but seems a little lacking. There is a similar situation with the Bite, which is mild yet also not overly smooth. Some more spices could really improve this. It also has a decent Head, both in height and frothiness, but alas, it is a little shorter and fizzes away a little faster than ideal. Such it is with the Aftertaste as well, which gives but the slightest bit of vanilla to remind you of what it could be.
So the root beer is good, but I guess disappointing because everything else here was so amazing, I was hoping for a blow-me-away-amazing brew, instead of a solid standard type. I ordered a Chicago style hot dog and cheese fries and they were delicious. I should have ordered a second dog probably because it wasn’t huge. All and all, this is a great place, well worth the trip, even though the root beer on it’s own doesn’t quite merit it.
Pierson’s Ace Drive-In. A classic root beer stand in every sense of the word.
The menu on the wall. I would love to try it all.
A happy root beer reviewer, getting car service for the first time in his life. Yummy hot dog and cheese fries with a frosty mug of brew.
Last week I was in sunny hot Phoenix for sales demos with some Phoenix companies. It was my very first time there (as with most of these trips of mine) and the thing I was amazed the most by were those saguaro cacti (catuses?). I’ve only really ever seen them in movies, and suddenly they were everywhere, just like in the old Western movies. What fun! But wait there’s more to this trip then just DERMS and cacti (cactuseses?). There was root beer! Several places actually showed up on my initial search, but time was limited (as was the patients of my coworkers I imagine), so I could only hit up one. I chose Sunup Brewing Co, the makers of many a brew and mead and Logan’s Root Beer. I don’t know why it’s called Logan’s, I didn’t ask and their website is devoid of any mention. I’ll postulate that Logan is some teetotaler or child who either made or inspired the creation of the brew. Either that or they just love Hugh Jackman movies… Anyhow, the root beer!
The Body is sour and fruity on the initial contact. Very fruity. After a bit that gives way to a rather generic creamy root beer flavor lacking in spices. The Bite is smooth and without much complexity. It has a nice Head that is very foamy and tall. The Aftertaste is some nice, smooth vanilla.
Ugh, that sour fruity. I can’t get past it. I mean, it’s a decent brew underneath that, but when the whole package is considered, that just ruins it. Sorry guys. We had some spicy artichoke dip and chips there, and it was yummy, but went elsewhere for our dinner so there’s nothing else to say about this place other than it’s got some character.
Some awesome barrel in front of their restaurant.
The Sunup Brewing Co. taps.
The Sunup Brewery. It’s pretty big. Hard to fit into one photo.
More Route 66 root beer, though this time they decided to dispense with the puns. They are probably all taken anyways. Mr. D’z is a diner on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona. They’ve been there since the year 2000 and they do all of the things you’d expect from a Route 66 diner like hosting car clubs, having a gift shop, and of course, making their own root beer. The label is an embodiment of the diner, with the classic food, cars, and root beer itself. The “D” is for somebody by the name of Dunton, from Dunton and Dunton, but the website doesn’t explain this connection. Additionally, I don’t know who actually bottles this stuff, as that detail has been left out as well. Many a mystery with this brew, perhaps it’s worth dispatching my favorite detective. My good pal Sagai, The Root Beer Tracker sent me a bottle to review, which is fortunate since it doesn’t appear to be sold online anywhere. And, though I love a good road trip for root beer, Arizona is a little too far.
The Body is creamy with a nice caramel flavor but also a hint of fruity. There’s a nice Bite from the spice that isn’t too assertive. The Head is short but not “two-second” so. The Aftertaste is a light vanilla with some caramel and fruity hints.
Shame about that fruity. It really takes away from a pretty decent brew. It’s not so bad as to make me recommend avoiding this altogether, but I think it’d be best to have this with your food down there. See how it rates against other root beers.
Boots Beverages was created by a man whose name was Boots (and no, he wasn’t a monkey that went exploring). Mr. Boots is not the man the label. His name is Ambrose and he came from Germany and purchased the Bellville Bottling Works in Texas. I think he’s Boots’ father, but I’m not sure. The text on the bottle doesn’t say, neither does their website. Anyhow, they had a bottling works so they made some sodas. Except this came from the Crown Valley Winery in Missouri, like the Fizzy Izzy Root Beer. Same shipping box and everything. I’m not sure if Boots does the bottling for Crown Valley or the other way around. I would like to point out that this is a root beer, not a sarsaparilla. The name clearly says Sarsaparilla Root Beer. I don’t review sarsaparillas, I review root beers. A sarsaparilla root beer is a subset of root beer. I’ve mentioned this before with Hosmer, but just in case you forgot.
The Body has a full fruity sarsaparilla flavor with some vanilla as well. It isn’t overly complex. The Bite has some nice spice but it overall smooth, as I prefer. The Head is tall and foamy and all around excellent. The Aftertaste is vanilla with sarsaparilla hints.
Well, flavor wise this is definitely more sarsaparilla than root beer. But since semantics must rule the day I’ll review it as a root beer. It’s a decent root beer. I mean, good enough to drink if I really need a root beer but want it to be sarsaparilla tasting but not be a sarsaparilla. I’ll admit, that isn’t very often. I think Hosmer pulled it off much better. See how it rates against other root beers.
I had already reviewed this in a growler a long time ago, and then they started bottling. This put me in a difficult position as to what to do. I like having a bottle for the collection, but I wasn’t sure if I should review it again. My Facebook followers were all of the opinion that I should review it since it is in a bottle it is a different root beer. Then I checked the recipe and realized it was different. If you remember my first Rogue review I mused over their inconsistency of whether they used 6 or 12 ingredients. This was due to their own site. With their new recipe they decided to take a nice happy medium of 9 ingredients to no doubt satisfy the dueling factions within the brewery. Two of those nine ingredients are just different types of honeys, and the only sweetener is brown sugar. They also added sarsaparilla flavor to it which was definitely not there before. The bottle itself is very cool; 22 ounces and painted. You almost never get painted bottles anymore.
The Body is dark and complex with licorice and a slight hint of vanilla. However, the dominant flavor is fruity sarsaparilla which is also a little sour. The Bite is spicy and sour, it is okay. The Head is excellent anyway you look at it. The Aftertaste is sour with a fruity sarsaparilla flavor
Yeah, I do not like this. It’s much worse than it was before. I think too much brown sugar but really it was too much sarsaparilla. I wish they had toned down the sarsaparilla in it. And where was the honey flavor? I mean if you put two different types of honey, you would think that it would be noticeable, but no. I suppose if you like sour sarsaparillas with licorice; this may just be the brew for you. I will pass. See how it rates against other root beers.
Way back in 2016 when I went on the Amazing Tesla Gigafactory Root Beer Road Trip, I found a supermarket near Sacramento named Raley’s. I noticed they had their own brand of bottled craft sodas but there was no root beer. I searched that display for around 20 minutes confirming this. I did get a sarsaparilla for a friend though. Later I learned that they did, in fact, carry a root beer, but it just wasn’t in stock at that time. The great Root Beer Tracker Sagi, came to the rescue, and sent me these bottles. What a pal. Now a great curiosity of this brew is that while Raley’s is headquartered in West Sacramento, the bottle says this is a product of Canada. So are they really making this up in the Mystic Land of the North and shipping it down to California? That seems a little absurd. Maybe the bottles are manufactured in Canada? Who knows? I could find out if I really tried but I just don’t feel like it. Instead I feel like drinking it.
The Body is sweet and creamy and minty with some birch flavor. It’s got a lot of nice vanilla in there as well. The Bite is nice and spicy but finishes smooth. The Head is tall and frothy. The Aftertaste is wintergreen and vanilla that is a little bitter.
This is lovely. I reminds me a lot of River City Root Beer, which makes sense seeing as they both are from Sacramento. But this is really from Canada and they have different ingredients, but I’m sure those Raley’s folks were influenced by it. This, of course is a good thing, because they made a top notch brew. See how it rates against other root beers.
Last week I was in Las Vegas! Yes, I was down there for work, cause I go places these days. I was staying at the Aria and had a very, very busy schedule with the company’s annual user conference, which included receptions, gala dinners, shows, and many technical sessions. Tuesday was our only free night and I already had my target, just a 30 minute walk (one Vegas strip block) away. I tried to gather up a merry band of travelers but could only grab one fine coworker to accompany me on my quest. Ellis Island Casino and Brewery is a little (in Vegas terms) hotel/casino/brewery a block off the strip that’s been operating for over 50 years. It’s got a far more old style feel then those massive casino resorts on the strip, and it’s way more affordable too, featuring lower minimum bet tables, free used decks of playing cards (presents for my kids), cheap eats, and of course, it’s own root beer (and other beers but I don’t care about those). They serve their root beer in nice 20 oz glasses as you can see.
The Body is mild, yet solid with a classic creamy flavor. There’s a little wintergreen but over all there’s nothing really distinct about it. The Bite is mild as well, without much spice. It has a nice smooth finish. The Head is short, but foamy and lingers. The Aftertaste is mild sassafras with a hint of wintergreen.
Yum! A solid, classic brew, though not quite Seal worthy, it’s better than average to be sure. The food there is amazing as well. I had a 50/50 burger. 50% Angus beef and 50% ground bacon, with 2 strips of bacon, and cheddar cheese on a pretzel bun. Sooooo good! One of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Their onion rings, calamari, and fish and chips (which my comrade ordered) were also on point. And the meal for two people plus tip was only $50. This place has won the “Best Cheap Eats” and I can see why. It’s not quite worth a pilgrimage just for the root beer, but taken all together, if you visit Vegas and not Ellis Island, you’re doing it wrong.
The 50/50 burger with onion rings and a tall, cold glass of root beer. Soooo good!
The brew vats. Does anyone know what a “Tax Determination Tank” is?
WBC’s “root” is in Goose Island. If you’ve been following the root beer world closely these last few years, you’d know that it used to be called WBC Goose Island Root Beer, and long before that, there was merely Goose Island Root Beer, without any WBC. The first version was made by the Goose Island Brewery in starting in 1988 and lasted into the early 2000’s when I got a hold of it and gave it a slightly above average review. Sometime later WBC, the WIT Beverage Company (got to love nested acronyms) took over production of the root beer and changed the labels. This continued until late 2014 when Goose Island was dropped entirely. This was done for two reasons. Number one was that minors were supposedly sneaking Goose Island beer into the root beer carriers and fooling the tellers. And the supposed reason two is that the licensing agreement for the Goose Island name had expired and why bother renewing it. The bottle says that they have remained true to the original recipe which is never pasteurized and continue in a tradition of quality and innovation. Part of that innovation has been changing the recipe from the original, as a comparison of the late 90’s Goose Island that I tried and this bottle reveal slightly different ingredients and nutrition. Let’s see how innovative they really were.
The Body is sweet and full with creamy vanilla and a caramelized sugar flavor. The Bite is rather smooth but there is some spice in there, giving a nice little nip. The Head is nice and frothy, though it could be taller, it is sufficient. The Aftertaste is a light vanilla flavor with some spiced cane sugar that lasts the right amount of time.
No one aspect stands out as amazing, but taken all together this brew is high quality. So they have innovated properly, and earned an extra half a keg over the original. Nicely done. See how it rates against other root beers.