Monday, June 15, 2015

Capt'n Eli's Root Beer

I came across this fortuitously at my local grocery store and as such had modest expectations. Capt'n Eli's is made in Maine so it's relatively local, so I was surprised that I hadn't seen it before.

A satisfying puff of vapor greets you when you twist off the cap. The smell is sweet and faintly of anise and vanilla, sweetened with cane and brown sugar. It has just the right amount of head and carbonation.
The makers have avoided the pitfalls of over-sweetness and overzealous use of vanilla (that sometimes leaves a bitter aftertaste). Again, they have hit upon a winning combination with this brew that rivals my favorite root beers and has become a go-to for me in my new home in New England.
Grade: 9
165 calories per 12 oz bottle

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sioux City Root Beer with pure cane sugar

I had high hopes for the Sioux City brand, makers of the preferred sarsaparilla of Sam Elliott's cowboy character in the Coen brothers' The Big Lebowski (one of my favorite films). The bottle I sampled had "pure cane sugar" stamped on the label, though it is apparently also available in a high fructose corn syrup variety.

There was an unsettling silence when I first twisted off the cap. Had I done something wrong? I don't usually expect to feel guilt when I'm about to enjoy a beverage. At any rate, I did expect--and got--a flimsy head with a dissapointingly meager bite. What was most unsatisfying about it, however, was the almost watered-down body. The essential flavors are there, but nothing extra, nothing surprising or even memorable. In fact, had this drink been built a bit more robustly, I think it would've made a good root beer as it is not too sweet and has a pleasant aftertaste. I would still try it again in case I just had a bad bottle, but I was nonetheless a little let down after all these years of hearing Sam Elliott drawl, 'Say, friend, got any more of that good sarsaparilla?' I'd still try it, though. The sarsaparilla, that is.

Grade: 3

160 calories per 12-oz bottle (13.3 calories/oz).

Thanks to Badger for sending me this root beer along with several others that I will be reviewing as I try them one by one.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blue Sky Creamy Root Beer

[IMAGE PENDING]Blue Sky Creamy Root Beer comes in a can, which frankly, leaves me a bit dubious form the start. Cans are metal, of course - not inert, whereas glass is inert. Which is another way of saying that metal may interact with the soda, altering its taste (and not in the good way that, say, an oak barrel influences the taste of wine aged within it). Glass, being inert, doesn't interact and so doesn't alter the taste.

But enough on that. Blue Sky root beer is creamy - vanillay, if you will, but without much else. There is a smell of vanilla on opening the can, and there is a bit of a good, earthy aftertaste, but not much. No liquorice, no ginger, nothing else. The soda is crisp, non-syrupy, properly carbonated, and enjoyable in its own right, but I hesitate to call it a root beer. If not for the earthiness of the aftertaste, I'd call it a cream soda.

Grade: 7

NOTE: Now through the end of 2011, Blue Sky will donate 5¢ to for every one of their can tbs that you send them:

170 Calories per 12 oz can = 14.2 calories per oz

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bundaberg Australian Root Beer

Bundaberg Australian Root Beer comes to us from the country down under, in stout brown glass bottles capped with a cross between a standard crimp-on bottle cap and a 1970s' style soda can pull tab. Kind of neat, actually - the top has a ring attached that you pull out, then up, pulling off the top.

As I've said previously, the bottle cap doesn't make the root beer. Unlike the last time I said that, though, in this case the cap is on a good drink. On opening the bottle I detected a faint smell of liquorice - good beginnings. The taste is earthy, with vanilla and a hint of ginger, and the body, if a little thin, is not unpleasantly so. It's light, and somewhat crisp. Certainly it's not syrupy. Carbonation is good - enough to be there, but not enough to overpower. Aftertaste is a bit of ginger. All and all a good root beer Crispness makes it more of a summer brew, but it can be enjoyed in the winter, too.

Grade: 9

190 Calories per 12.7 oz bottle = 15.0 calories per oz (high)
(not certified Kosher)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Maine Root

I found Maine Root Root Beer in a local upscale supermarket, and was nearly carded for it, as if with my grey stripes I could really be too young to appreciate root beer.  I wasn't too surprised, though, having encountered this before - the brown glass bottles can mislead the unwary cashier and in retrospect, perhaps she was trying to save me.

For Maine Root Root Beer is a disappointment.  First off, it's very fizzy, so much so that much of what flavor there is is masked.  Once past the fizziness, there is a thin sweetness, and not much else.  New Yorkers may be reminded of seltzer; others will simply wonder where the flavor is.

The Fair Trade label on the bottle cap represents the "Fair Trade Certified organic cane juice and spices" used in the soda's brewing.  Maine Root also supports the use of waste vegetable oil as an alternative to vegetable oil, and I approve.  So the company is good, but the product isn't, really.

Grade: 4

165 Calories per 12 oz bottle = 13.75 calories per oz (slightly high)
(not certified Kosher)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A&P Premium Root Beer Draft

This was an impulse buy, while I stocked up on more basic staples like chicken and milk. In the middle of one of the header aisles there was an island of the stuff, root beer in brown glass bottles, and even though I knew it was store brand, and thus unlikely to be special, I caved. I can't remember the last time I posted here, so I bit the bullet and placed the four pack into the cart. The things a badger does for his readers.

As I said, I was not expecting this to be special, so I guess I wasn't disappointed. In its favor, I can say that it's appropriately carbonated, by which I mean not too much, and not too little. Many sodas carry more carbonation than necessary, so this is no minor point. Though high fructose corn syrup is the second ingredient, there is no syrupiness to the texture (body? would that be body?) of the drink. The flavor isn't unbalanced (none of the overpowering mintiness of Hansen's, for instance), but that's about as far as I can go.

Now for the negatives. Part of the reason the flavor isn't unbalanced is that there isn't much of it. After an initial sweetness with a bit of vanilla, the flavor evaporates, leaving only a sort of watery, slightly flat seltzer behind. Another strike against it is the pry-top cap, rather than a twist-off. I can't think of another root beer that forces me to reach for a church key (bottle opener, for those of you not in on badger-speak). Given how common twist-off caps are these days, I'm not sure how A&P came to that decision - maybe they thought that an old-fashioned cap might suggest old-fashioned flavor, but this old-fashioned badger isn't fooled.

Grade: 5

170 Calories per 12 oz bottle = 14.2 calories per oz (moderately high)
no website listed, couldn't find the product on the A&P website

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Point Premium Root Beer

This initially intriguing 'real draft style' root beer boasts the use of cane sugar and honey and comes in an attractive bottle with a twist-off cap.

I was greeted with a slightly sweeter-than-expected and relatively flat aroma and sure enough the taste wasn't far off. The most notable deficiency in this otherwise passable drink is its toothlessness. It's not for lack of carbonation, but rather I think the sweetness overpowers the spice that must be present in order to produce the characteristic root beer 'bite.'

Scanning the ingredients, there is--of course--the now requisite listing of 'natural and artifical flavors' (whatever they may be). Surprisingly, however, there is also 'cane sugar and/or fructose corn sweetener.' Pardon? That is like saying, 'your knee replacement is made of titanium and/or papier-mache.'

As the bottle sits for a while and my palate acclimates to the sweetness, I become more and more underwhelmed with the lack of other dimensions in the flavor. The label--and website--boast a creamy and smooth taste but I found it kind of thin and brittle. There is sweetness, carbonation, and a generic root beerish flavor that is unassuming to the point of spiceless mediocrity. This just ends up being more of a fountain root beer than a 'draft style' one.

Grade: 3

120 calories per 12 oz bottle (10 calories/oz).