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.
I’ve seen root beer bottles with many different types of animals on them, but this is the first rabbit. My daughter saw it and said it is an Easter Bunny root beer. Actually, it’s made by Rabbit Ridge Winery’s spin off soda line, Paso Pure, so the rabbit is from that. The sodas were developed in 2015 for all the children and designated drivers that come out wine tasting, which means that people must drink way too much out there if they need designated drivers. The line is called Paso Pure because they use pure ingredients and they’re located in Paso Robles. It’s run by the daughter of the winery owners. The label is a bit perplexing since “Rabbit Ridge” is far more prominent than “Paso Pure.” I suspect that’s the parents reminding their daughter who’s really in charge. They also make sure to say “Soda Pop” to both frustrate and placate both sides of the soda vs. pop nomenclature war.
This has a rich, creamy Body that’s full of classic sassafras flavor. Bits of vanilla and wintergreen are present as well. The abundance of spices give a pronounced Bite that isn’t overbearing and finishes silky smooth. The Head is just perfect, tall and frothy and I couldn’t ask for more. The Aftertaste is creamy vanilla with ending notes of wintergreen and clove.
What a masterful brew! Seriously, this stuff is amazing! It’s one of the best brews that I’ve reviewed in awhile. I’m proud to award this my Seal of Approval. With stuff like this on their tasting tour, I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone was volunteering to be designated driver. See how it rates against other root beers.
The craft soda resurgence is in full swing, and that means more and more people and bucking the big companies and getting their liquid refreshment from the smaller, perhaps local, manufacturers. This decrease in market share has not gone unnoticed by the the major brands, and they’re trying to fight back. To that end, PepsiCo launched Stubborn Soda in 2015. It was originally an fountain only line, with a tap like dispenser to give consumers a “different perspective” on soft drinks. Or they could just go to an A&W and get their root beer from a tap, but I digress. Following the “success”? of the fountains, they began bottling and distributing in select markets. The marketing for this has nothing to do with PepsiCo, and for some reason it is a registered trademark of “The Concentrate Manufacturing Company of Ireland” Very strange. There was none near me, but a fan sent me some on trade. Then my parents found some a month later in Idaho and brought me some more. It tried one bottle from each batch, just to make sure I was getting a proper sampling.
The Body is soapy and sour with an unpleasant stevia flavor as well. Hidden behind all of that is the slightest bit of traditional root beer. The Bite is acidic and prickly, the worst kind. The Head is medium height but fizzes down too fast. The Aftertaste is chemical that fades into stevia.
Oh what is terribleness! What were they thinking? Were they so stubborn that they wouldn’t believe anyone who told them that their recipe was garbage? Why do this? This is without a doubt the worst brew I’ve had for some time. I’ll give you some advice, PepsiCo, free advice. If you want to get in with the craft root beer crowd, just sell Mug in glass bottles in more locations. It’s orders of magnitude better than this. Seriously, this is just yuck, but it does have a pretty bottle. See how it rates against other root beers.
Country Folk Soda is a recent company to pop up. It’s brewed and bottled for Crown Valley Branson, which is a distillery with bistro and there’s a winery there too. The winery is where the Fizzy Izzy comes from. If it seems a bit confusing, its because the websites for this place are various, and the particular website listed on the bottle of this Country Folk doesn’t even work. Alas! The soda line itself says its “an old fashioned soda for downhome country folks.” There are eight flavors and each one has a different folk on it. The root beer’s is a one Bobby Joe. He’s described as “a good ol’ boy who loves to have fun and get rowdy.” He’s also afraid of critters, evidently. I don’t know if this is based on any real person or not. So many questions, so few answers. And I know that your only question is really, “how does this rate as a root beer?” I’m getting to it.
The Body is sweet and spicy and fruity with vanilla, kind of a sarsaparilla fruity. It’s an odd combination but it works surprisingly well. There is a nice zippy Bite from the spices a plenty. The Head is excellent! It’s what a root beer Head should be. The Aftertaste is more of the fruity sarsaparilla and vanilla.
Yeah, um, this is kind of weird as a root beer but I guess fine as a soda. So I wouldn’t drink it if I were in the mood for a root beer, but if you poured it into a glass and didn’t tell me what it was supposed to be, I’d probably enjoy it well enough. See how it rates against other root beers.
Heathen Brewing is a small craft brewery in Vancouver, WA, just across the river from Portland. The brewery says they are “created from the soul of home brewing” I’m not sure what the soul of home brewing is, and why that’s preferable over the soul of craft brewing, but either way, they want to free themselves and all of us from the corporate stronghold on the beer/soda industry. Just like everybody else it seems. More root beers for me to try. Interestingly, though I’d driven past it on several occasions, I didn’t actually know it was there. But it just started in 2014 so I’m to be excused again. Plus the last time I was down there I did get a new brew so it’s not like I’ve been slacking. Anyways, that wonderful Root Beer Tracker grabbed me this growler as he swung through the state about a year ago, so I didn’t have to go down there.
The Body is very minty and kind of bitter but with a decent amount of vanilla. The Bite is mild and kind of smooth, expected more spice. The Aftertaste is vanilla and wintergreen, which is pretty nice.
This is okay, but a little too bitter and mild and not enough sweet. The Aftertaste saved it though, so I think it’d be worth drinking with some food. It also had an amazing Head, but I don’t rate Head on growler brews because it’s too hard to maintain consistency. So yeah, drinkable stuff.
Bandit Beverages is a soda pop company in Northern Utah. They are focused on old fashioned soda flavors, especially IronPort. IronPort is a soda you can find in Utah, but mostly in soda fountains. They claim to be the only ones who sell bottled IronPort but I swear I’ve seen it bottled somewhere else. And yet, as I search the web (at the time of this writing) I can only find it at Bandit. But I don’t review IronPort so I don’t care that much. I do care about root beer, and no purveyor of old fashioned sodas would be complete if they didn’t have root beer, which Bandit does. They have six other flavors as well. I don’t know why they like bandits so much, but they do. Their tag lines are “Live your life on the run.” and “Drink like a bandit” They even say their website is run by “Bandit Beverage Bandits”. The label with the bull head silhouette makes me think they are going for old-timey Western six-shooter type bandits, which fits their flavor themes well.
The Body is rich and dark and spicy with vanilla and molasses flavors. There’s a lot of wintergreen as well but it’s a little bitter. The Bite is solid and spicy. Just like I like it. The Head is medium tall with average staying power. The Aftertaste is vanilla and wintergreen which is a little bitter.
Well, they nailed the classic old fashioned flavor alright. It reminds you of those old root beer barrel candies. I even gave a bottle to my parents and they thought the same. Overall it’ pretty good, yet a little too dark and bitter for my tastes. Would make a mean float, that’s for sure. See how it rates against other root beers.
So two weeks ago I was down in San Antonio for DistribuTECH 2018! And yes, that means I flew out just a few days after getting back from Chicago. I’m movin’ these days. That’s for sure. Devoted followers will remember that San Antonio is home to one of the best brews I know of, Schilo’s, so I was pleased with the knowledge that even if I didn’t get anything new, I was going to be getting something amazing. Nevertheless, when I hit the ground I started my searching and discovered The Granary ‘Cue and Brew, a brewery that does barbecue and makes their own root beer. So on my second night, after a wonderful team dinner at some Tex Mex (a must in San Antonio) I went a questing for my brew. I invited many of my colleagues but they all declined. Their loss, in my opinion, for delicious brews awaited! The Granary evidently has really delicious barbecue, but I had no appetite to try after dinner, just ordered my pint and got to reviewing.
The Body is sour and herbal with sweetness and strangeness. It doesn’t taste like a root beer at all. Also the strange flavor mixture isn’t good. The Bite is sharp with spicy sourness. The Head is nice. Decent height and staying power. The Aftertaste is bizarre and bitter.
Bletch! Gross! Not root beer. At best it can kind of be described as one of those herbal tea root beers, but it’s way off and nasty. I told the bar keeper “I’ve never had a root beer like this before” to which he responded that there’s no artificial anything, just roots and sweetener. I can agree with the “just roots and sweetener” no recipe, no trying to make it taste good, no research or care, just chuck some roots in a vat, boil them, add sugar, and serve. This is without a doubt the worst root beer I’ve had in a long time. So I guess my colleagues were right to stay away. San Antonio is an amazing city in that within 2 miles of each other is one of my top five all time favorite brews and one of the bottom five worst ever.
The bar of The Granary ‘Cue and Brew. I needed a break from choking down that swill.
On the last day of my Chicago trip our meetings ended early and we had a few hours so I jokingly suggested to my colleagues that we could get another root beer. They said if I could find another place we could go by, so I plowed into Google and quickly found Exit Strategy Brewing Company. It’s on the same street as Brown Cow, interestingly enough, though about eight blocks away. It was started only a couple of years ago and became the “exit strategy” of the owners who quit their “real jobs” to devote themselves to their true passion. That passion has also included their own root beer, which shows how seriously they really get behind the craft brewery movement. I mean, if you don’t have a root beer, you’re not really all in. They serve their root beers in glasses shaped like cans, which I absolutely adore. I just wish someone would take this one step further and make sealed glass cans that can open like a bottle. Take a type of root beer I won’t drink (canned), and make it proper (in glass).
The Body is sweet with caramel notes and a little vanilla. It’s on the mild side though the flavor profile is spot on. The Bite is very mild with low carbonation. Nevertheless, and notwithstanding the low carbonation, it builds a mighty Head when poured which has a decent amount of staying power. The Aftertaste is a little dark, a little vanilla, and a little gone too quickly.
Not bad at all. I wish it were a little stronger and spicier and had more carbonation lingering after the Head, but it’s still a solid brew, not a Seal, but solid. It was a shame that I didn’t have time to get a meal there, as I’m sure their food would also be on point. My biggest complaint is that their sign is a rusty metal letters against a red brick building, so it was difficult to find it while staring right at it. But if you can find it, it’s worth dropping in.
The soda taps, they also make other flavors besides root beer.
The Exit Strategy Brewing Company vats. I wonder which one is for the root beer.
This past week I was in Chicago on a business trip doing my businesy things and meetings all day but as normal, I had root beer on my mind as soon as we were going back to the hotel and looking for dinner. Plus I’ve got that whole New Year’s resolution of 52 brews this year, since last year I fell a little behind, what with the move and all. My searching found the Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor, which makes all manner of tasty desserts and has an old fashioned soda fountain with their homemade pops, including root beer. I’ve long wondered about how to categorize old fashioned soda fountain root beers. I’ve seen the fountains before but none I’d visited had their own root beer. Now that I had one sitting before me, I have decided to make it its own category of gourmet root beer. Old Fashioned Fountain Root Beers. Yup. If you don’t know, at an old fashioned soda fountain they put the syrup in the glass and then mix with the soda water, sometimes they mix the carbonating chemicals, like phosphate in separately. So here’s the first of what hopes to be many a fountain and phosphate reviews.
The Body is minty and mild; sweet with some bitter hints to it. It’s also a rather generic flavor profile. The Bite is a little spicy with decent carbonation, but there is no Head at all, despite my telling them to make a lot. The Aftertaste is wintergreen that ends on bitter notes.
Not bad. It could be a little stronger and I really wish they could make a foamy Head on it. There’s no reason for it not to have one, just need to put a foaming agent in there. Though they focus more on their very elaborate root beer floats, so that may be why they purposely kept it not foamy. Well, It hurts them in the review, but I think they would probably have an amazing float, so if you’re out in the west side of Chicago, check this place out.
The Brown Cow’s Soda Fountain. I wish I had gotten better pictures of the rest of the parlor.
Frost Creek Beverage is from Texas has been around for over 15 years. They recently have turned their flavor expertise to craft sodas and make a line of seven flavors including their root beer. They use only triple filtered water and pure cane sugar, no HFCS. I was thrown off at first, since the label seems to be the same dimensions and materials as some of the private label stuff. Contacting the company revealed that the sodas are all their own formulae, but they are mixed and bottled by two different bottlers, depending on the region. That makes sense, a lot of guys do it that way. They’ve got a nice and simple, yet classic looking label, which I really like.
The Body is sweet and rich with creamy vanilla wrapped around a spicy sassafras core. There’s even a hint of wintergreen. The Bite is spicy, but not too much so. It finishes smooth too, so it’s about a perfect Bite. The Head is short, unfortunately, and doesn’t last long. But it isn’t too short and doesn’t fizz away too quickly. The Aftertaste is sweet vanilla; lovely, lovely vanilla.
This is a wonderful brew. I love that spicy and that smooth, sweet vanilla. I wish it were a bit foamier, but it’s still more than enough in all departments. I’m proud to give this one my Seal of Approval. See how it rates against other root beers.
Tractor Soda Company is a fairly new company out of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Like a lot of new entrants to the soda market, they are focusing on only organic and non-GMO ingredients with no HFCS. Somehow they even manage to use organic sassafras in this brew, which I thought was against some FDA rules. They demand everything is responsibly sourced as well to have minimal environmental impact. So much do they want to reduce their impact, that they’ve discontinued bottling in favor of only shipping syrups to various soda fountains. This is, actually, more environmentally friendly, but not as much fun for a root beer gourmet like myself who doesn’t do soda fountains. Luckily, after they had discontinued bottling, I found a couple at the Seattle Rocket Fizz store, and was able to grab four. Very lucky indeed.
The Body is rich and complex, with sassafras, birch, wintergreen, and other herbs mixing together for an elaborate take on the archetypal root beer flavor. Then aged vanilla surfaces to steal the show. It isn’t overly sweet though, and there’s a dark molasses flavor as well that’s a bit out of place. The Bite is near perfect with the right amount of cinnamon and nutmeg and carbonation mixing together for a tasty burn. The Head is nice and tall and foamy. The Aftertaste is aged bourbon vanilla. I love that flavor.
Delicious! … and complex, and wonderful. This is a solid brew by any measure. I wish it were a little bit sweeter, and not so much molasses, but those are minor complaints on arguably the best organic brew I’ve had so far. What a shame they don’t bottle it anymore. Maybe someone near by will get it on draft. See how it rates against other root beers.
Read Full Article
Read for later
Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
Scroll to Top
Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.