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.
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.
Riley’s Brewing Company started as a home brewing hobby in a garage of a guy named Daniel. He came from a long line of home brewers and would have monthly gatherings with friends and family as he perfected his craft. But one day he left a fermenting carboy in the pantry which exploded and his wife had had enough. So he started his own brewery in Madera California, and it grew and grew, and he added sodas because why not, and he made a root beer, because he is a wise man of exquisite tastes who knows that if you have a brewery without a root beer you’re not doing it right. His root beer is handcrafted and uses a wonderful mixture of raw roots and spices and herbs and extracts and should probably be amazing if he mixed them on the right ratios.
The Body is not very sweet, but it’s rich and complex. Various root flavors mingle with vanilla, honey, molasses, and spices yet they don’t quite hit that perfect mix. It’s still quite good though. The Bite is nice and spicy. The Head is just, wow, so impressively tall, and it lingers too. The Aftertaste is vanilla and honey.
This is almost there, but just doesn’t quite do it for me despite all of the quality ingredients. It’s not sweet enough for one. I mean, despite cane sugar, honey, and molasses, it has around 25% less sugar than the average root beer, and unfortunately it shows. Add that to a not quite perfect mix, and you have a very near miss, but still a good effort. See how it rates against other root beers.
Last week I was traveling again. Again? You ask incredulously, do you just travel all the time, where were you? No, I don’t travel all the time. I went back to New Jersey, yes, my work there wasn’t finished, nor is it, but that’s another tale. In addition to meeting up with the one and only anthony and trading some bottles, I found another root beer to review, Stewart’s Drive-In in Franklin Park. Yes, I know, I’ve already reviewed Stewart’s (twice actually), but this is once again a different recipe, as the bottled Stewart’s has long since been sold to a major conglomerate. The Stewart’s root beer stands were started in the 1920’s, along with many others. This one’s been there since the 1960’s, a relic of a bygone era, serving up nostalgia, one frosty mug at a time. While some of the others have switched to paper cups, this one remains true to their frosty mugs. The stand even has it’s own well, so it’s water isn’t chlorinated.
The Body is a classic root beer stand taste, some creamy vanilla and spices and not overly strong. It’s nice and crisp too, with no unpleasantness. The Bite is good too from those aforementioned spices. The Head is tall and foamy and the Aftertaste is nice a and sweet, faint vanilla.
It’s solid and yummy, but, just, isn’t quite there. It’s not like there’s anything wrong with it, it could just use a little more. A little more spice, a little more vanilla, a little more Aftertaste, to push it over the edge. They got some great food there. I had a pizza burger, but, I think I would have been better off getting a dog. I’d already had pizza that day so after my first bite, I realized I wasn’t in the mood. The cheese fries were wonderful. So stop by and give this classic drive in a try. You won’t regret it.
A pizza burger, cheese fries, and a frosty mug. Such bliss.
Such a cute little drive-in. They don’t make them like this anymore.
So some of my coworkers learned about my root beer infatuation, and went to look up where they could get some of the top brews. Last week one of them triumphantly announced that he’d found the best at a hardware store and bought a whole case of it. “Hank’s?” I asked. He replied yes, the one with the guy on the label. Guy on the label? Hanks doesn’t have a guy on the label, what was he talking about. The next day he brought me a four pack and sure enough, there was a guy on the label. Some hardware store guy. I had to figure out what was going on.
So I got in touch with my friends at Hank’s. Turns out around 20 years ago, when they were expanding into the mid west, they go in contact with Hardware Hank a chain headquartered in Plymouth, MN, where I currently live coincidentally . The Hardware Hank marketing guys liked the idea of a tie in soda, and have featured Hank’s Root Beer (and other flavors) in their stores ever since. It’s been a big hit when they have tent sales and other events and has been mutually beneficial for both brands. The year 2017 happened to be Hardware Hank’s 60th anniversary, so Hank’s Root Beer made a special neck label to celebrate for their loyal customer. Some three trailers were produced and were sold exclusively in the Hardware Hank stores during their anniversary sales events. There’s still some floating around it seems, which caused all the confusion with me and my coworker. If you’re a collector of root beer bottles, you may want to try and snag one while they still can be found, or if you just want to drink the best root beer ever, you may just want to drop by Hardware Hank.
Awhile back I got in touch with another Seattle reviewer, The SodaFry, who reviews all sodas as well as french fries and french fry dishes, which includes fried green tomatoes evidently. Anyways he went up to Canada to find sodas and fries and brought back a few extra bottles of this stuff for which I traded him some extra, hard to find brews that I had. It all went down in the underground bus tunnel at Westlake and kind of felt like some black market deal. Bull’s Head is a Quebecois beverage company that started in 1896 making ginger ale. It has a long and storied history with their ginger ale, while the root beer is a more recent edition. It has a really cool stubby little bottle that few other root beers have every come in. The label also looks old fashioned, like it might have back in the 1890s, and coupled with the stubby bottle, gives the brew a very unique and sort of special feel. It’s also 100% natural for people who care about that sort of thing.
The Body is mild with vanilla as the prominent flavor. It isn’t a very sweet brew, but it is well balanced. The Bite is mild as well with only a little spice. The Head has good height but dissipates quickly. The Aftertaste is light vanilla with some bitter hints.
All in all this is a pleasant and refreshing brew. While it has great potential, it just doesn’t deliver enough. It just needs a bit more oomph in all departments. See how it rates against other root beers.
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