Saturday, December 11, 2010

Boylan Root Beer


Brand: Boylan Root Beer
Brewed in: Moonachie, NJ
Where to find: Throughout New Jersey & New York
Website: http://www.boylanbottling.com/

 •  •  •

Packaging/Label:  I love the vintage appeal to this packaging. The tall throwback shape of the bottle partnered with it's dark glass, the screen printed label with simplistic fonts in a clean, readable layout, and the embossed lettering directly on the glass bottle - Yup. They nailed their theme. Not only do I love just the inclusion of embossed lettering, by the way, but I love that there are two different embossed phrases - the front with 'BOYLAN VINTAGE SODA POP' and the back with 'BTTLG CO FAMILY RUN SINCE 1891'.

Aroma: Strong and rather vanilla-y

Bite: Not much of a bite

Flavor: This would be one excellent brew for a big ol' ice cream float. It boasts a strong, full-bodied and mostly traditional flavor; it's smooth and, above all else, creamy. There is a slightly different flavor that pulls away near the end of each mouthful which I can only assume is the Yucca extract (since I don't normally notice this in other traditional flavors' ingredient lists) but I can't be 100% certain. For now, i'll say that this flavor that pulls away from the pack is kind of dry and ever-so-slightly spicy, but it's really not bad - just mysterious. You could say that this brew is straight out of a Harlequin novel: it's strong, smooth & mysterious.

Should you buy it? No doubt; it's worth the search.

•  •  •

Additional Notes: Shout out to my awesome neighbors for the great rootin' tootin' birthday gift!

Overall Rating:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Root Boozies" Root Beer Cupcakes

Well, I officially surpassed another birthday year recently and, to celebrate, my wife decided to do somethin' a little extra special. Normally, a birthday ain't a birthday unless Funfetti® is all up in yo' grill (literally), but this year was different. This was the year of.... root.beer.cupcakes. Don't adjust your dials - you heard me right: ROOT!BEER!CUPCAKES! Who knew this was even possible? Certainly not i.




Officially called Root Beer Float Cupcakes, i am lovingly changing their name to Root Boozies. Once you check out the recipe, you'll understand why. Root Boozies. Be about it.

Check the recipe out and let me know if you try them out, too!
http://kitchen-goddess.yumsugar.com/Root-Beer-Float-Cupcakes-483989

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Squamscot Old Fashion Beverages Root Beer


Brand: Squamscot Old Fashioned Beverages Root Beer
Brewed in: Newfields, NH
Where to find: New Hampshire (really awesome friends of mine got this for me while traveling; I've never seen it in the Philadelphia-area and can't find locations online so I'm assuming it's a NH-local. I'll update this if I find out more).
Website: http://www.nhsoda.com/

 •  •  •

Packaging/Label:  I'm going to have to start photographing bottle caps because I'm all about the bottle cap on this bottle. The bright blue edging draws your attention in and the top circumference is bright warm red with large white interlocking initials - trust me, it's really neat. The rest of the packaging, ie label, is pretty basic compared to the cap. It looks like one'a dem dere "olde timey" bottles of root beer like the company never cared to keep updated with current design trends since the beginning - and that's just fine by me.

Aroma: A fairly strong, traditional sweet-smelling root beer.

Bite: A light to medium bite that is noticeable throughout.

Flavor: The flavor of this root beer is pretty stereotypical; it's a flavor you'd definitely expect when you pop a root beer barrel or candy in your mouth.  Although it's not very full-bodied, it's overall a good, solid brew that's very drinkable for all occasions. It relies on cane sugar for it's most distinct flavor but hints of licorice and wintergreen linger within the brew, too.

Should you buy it? Absolutely. Not only is it a good root beer, the family behind the brew has been in business for 142 years. You gotta support the tradition!

•  •  •

Additional Notes: N/A

Overall Rating:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Polar Classics Premium Root Beer


Brand: Polar Classics Premium Root Beer
Brewed in: Worcester, MA
Where to find: North Eastern sections of the USA: CT, RI, MA, VT, NH, ME and sporadically throughout the East Coast - and Minnesota.
Website: http://www.polarbev.com

 •  •  •

Packaging/Label:  I do understand that Polar is a fairly large company so brand consistency is important among their various sodas, but aside from changing the color scheme in a soda flavor's label, couldn't there be a bit more effort in creating that brand/product unity? It's good, simple design, but nothing aside from the brown outline really says, 'Hey! I'm a Root Beer! Drink it up, son!"

Aroma: Wait, what aroma? I tried. I really tried to get some kind of scent off of this, but there may as well have been water in my mug.  Regrettably, there was a very, very mild scent when I put the drink right up in my face. That smell? Well, I can't describe it any other way other than it was reminiscent of my dogs' paws --- and what do my dogs' paws smell like? Yeah, you guessed it - a cross between wet dog and dirty human feet. Weird (both because I know what my dogs' paws smell like AND because this drink smelled like dirty feet).

Bite: Not to be repetitive here, but... what bite? Again, so mild that it was hardly there.

Flavor: There's nothing offensive about the taste of this root beer, but there's really no distinctive flavor to this one either. This brew is light and smooth, by default; the only flavor is a light sugary sweetness which can be attributed to the cane sugar. If there ever was a case where the packaging truly reflected it's product, this is it. As with it's packaging, this brew is safe and undescriptive.

Should you buy it? I wouldn't say to stay away from it because it won't clash with any other flavors, but if you're craving a true, solid root beer's root beer then I suggest that you look elsewhere.

•  •  •

Additional Notes: Just to clarify - this is not a bad root beer; it's just barely a root beer.

Overall Rating:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Natural Brew Draft Root Beer



Brand: Natural Brew
Brewed in: Chico, CA
Where to find: Nationwide; Check the natural/organic sections of your local grocery store.
Website: http://www.natural-brew.com/

 •  •  •

Packaging/Label: Really rather nice. Sophisticated design with an excellent use of typographic hierarchy. I appreciate the subtle border break at the top of the paper label and the use of the label's illustration reused as a 1-color cap print, as well (sorry, no photo of the cap but i assure you it's one of the nicer ones).

Aroma: SMACK! Smell the strong aroma of cough syrup all up in yo' face. This cough syrup smell may also be interpreted as 'cleaning products' as described by the lil' lady. Either way, I'm not really comfortable with it.

Bite: A bit of bite, nothing impressive

Flavor: Natural Brew may boast about it's complex taste (true) and it's all natural ingredients (again, true), but they're not boasting about it's "world's yummiest flavor" for a reason: it'd be false advertising! You're made of natural ingredients? Well, good for you, but unless they're blended in a drink that I can enjoy, I don't care! All of the flavors are really heavy tasting (especially the licorice and wintergreen) and nothing about the ratio of this combination of flavors says "this is root beer". In fact, anything that makes me grimace this much while drinking it should not have the distinct pleasure of being labeled as a root beer.

Should you buy it? Don't feel like you're missing out on anything if you skip over this one.

•  •  •

Additional Notes: I only give "1 mug" reviews to root beers that I can't or don't want to finish. This is one of those instances.


Overall Rating:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hank's Philadelphia Recipe Root Beer



Brand: Hank's Gourmet "Philadelphia Recipe" Root Beer
Brewed in: Trevose, PA
Where to find: Representin' throughout the USA's East Coast
Website: http://www.hanksbeverages.net/

 •  •  •

Packaging/Label:  Behold: Beauty! What we have here is the rare specimen, "Universus Sarcina" - that's the whole package, people. Embossed bottle, a labeling layout that goes above and beyond (3 separate labels cleanly placed in their designated spot embellished by slightly embossed detail), clean readable type with a vintage feel - and the blasted design even looks antiqued thanks to the metallic label. I might say that this is the epitome of a classic "root beer" look.

Aroma: Very vanilla-y

Bite: A solid, spicy bite but not overpowering

Flavor: If I had to describe this flavor in one quick blurb, I'd say this is... the lovechild between Root Beer & Cream Soda. I'd then elaborate and tell you that this root beer is probably the smoothest root beer I've ever tasted. Hank's created a favorable tweak to the classic root beer taste - it's sweet, creamy, mildly spicy and overall it's a highly drinkable root beer. There will be no clash between this drink and whatever you're about to eat - I mean, unless you're about to eat something gross. Hank's isn't responsible for your disgusting eating preferences.

Should you buy it? Duh.

•  •  •

Additional Notes: Be warned: If you don't like cream soda, you're not going to agree with me on this one at all. But who doesn't like cream soda anyways?


Overall Rating:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Root Beer Ice Cream - Scoopy's Too

I just got back from eating a lil' root beer ice cream from a nearby shop called Scoopy's Too (Woodbury, NJ). In an area where your standard custard choices are vanilla, chocolate & "twist", Scoopy's Too boasts that it carries 24+ flavors of soft serve ice cream - everything from german chocolate to tutti frutti, maplenut to bubblegum. Once my wife pointed out those two magical words, i knew my selection for the evening!

Verdict: None too impressed. It really didn't taste like root beer. The taste was more... well, it was akin to a tall glass of root beer. A tall glass of root beer that you dumped out in the sink and then refilled with tap water without washing the glass out first ---- with a splash of peanut butter. That said, my wife got the peanut butter custard before I ordered mine so this could be a case of dirty machinery. The peanut butter was awesome though!



Never mind that I took this photo after I destroyed the beautiful leaning tower of swirly ice cream - and never mind the hollow cavern that I ate into the dish (I had to create a barrier from the dreaded ice cream soup).

UPDATE: The flavorings actually come from a supplier called Wadden Systems ~ http://icecreamflavors.com/

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sioux City Root Beer


Brand: Sioux City
Brewed in: Whitestone, NY
Where to find: TJ Max, Cracker Barrel, Marshalls & Home Goods (I'm not sure if this is nationwide, but at least here in the Philadelphia tri-state area it holds true in these stores)
Website: http://www.siouxcitybeverages.com/

 •  •  •

Packaging/Label: I love embossed root beer bottles. Who doesn't? They transport ya in time to the days of the Old West and make ya feel like a real cowboy... a real bronco buster... cowpuncher... buckaroo... rootin' tootin' son-of-a-gun! Sioux City really makes up for the boring illustration of an old man with a gun on his lap cowboy holding the teeny-tiniest mug of root beer in the whole United States by using these bottles.

Aroma: Strong and sweet; While i don't see anything about honey in this brew (although it lists "artificial and natural flavors"), it sure does smell like it plays a big part.

Bite: Light

Flavor: Very "classic" tasting. There's nothing fancy about this brew but there's nothing to dislike. I can keep this short: slightly sweet, a little wintergreen-y, no aftertaste and very smooth.

Should you buy it? Sioux City is a very drinkable root beer. You won't be blown away but it's a very stereotypical, reliable flavor that you can keep in stock.

•  •  •

Additional Notes: This is distributed by the same company who handles Olde Brooklyn, so I expected a very similar root beer just in different packaging. While it's still an average root beer, it is a very different (and overall better) brew.


Overall Rating:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Olde Brooklyn Williamsburg Root Beer


Brand: Olde Brooklyn
Brewed in: Whitestone, NY
Where to find: TJ Max, Cracker Barrel, Marshalls & Home Goods (I'm not sure if this is nationwide, but at least here in the Philadelphia tri-state area it holds true in these stores)
Website: http://www.whiterockbeverages.com/OldeBrooklyn.cfm

 •  •  •

Packaging/Label: In case you're wondering, the recipe for win is as follows: clear, readable layout, olde timey fonts, clean illustration and a bottle cap that was fully embraced as part of the whole package! You know what I love most about this packaging though, right? The inclusion of root beer barrel graphics, naturally. This damn thing is just fun to look at.

Aroma: A light, sweet, stereotypical scent. This is the scent of root beer flavored treats.

Bite: I expected this to be pretty flat by looks, but I was caught off guard - this bite is a solid medium, I'd say.

Flavor: You can taste the cane sugar right off the bat but don't get the wrong impression - it's not overly sweet. Licorice flavor is the most prominent out of the "artificial and natural flavorings" but it doesn't overpower the taste. It's countered by the infusion of cinnamon. Overall, this brand doesn't stand out over any others for better or for worse, but no apparent aftertaste is a bonus!

Should you buy it? This is an average, drinkable root beer and it's super cheap (four pack for $2.50 thanks to Marshalls/Home Goods). You can't beat that kinda price, but it's not a brand I'd want more than a four-pack of at any one time.

•  •  •

Additional Notes: N/A


Overall Rating:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Charles "The Man" Hires

One-hundred-and-forty-four years ago today, May 16th, a man named Charles Hires invented what we know today as Root Beer. While on his honeymoon. In New Jersey. Priorities, ya know?



Thank you, Chuck! We will forever hold our frosty mugs to you in gratitude.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dominion Root Beer

Brand: Old Dominion
Brewed in: Dover, DE
Where to find: DC-area
Website: www.olddominion.com/

 •  •  •

Packaging/Label: Old Dominion's beers have really nicely designed labels but, unfortunately, their root beer got the cold shoulder on this one. Don't get me wrong, it's not a badly designed label (their typography is well done and readable - and who doesn't love the inclusion of woodland creatures?), but I do question their color palette. How so? Wellllllll, what do YOU think of when you see the colors medium brown and golden yellow together? What doesn't help the matter are the additional brown splatters on the 6-pack carrier. Commence bathroom humor!

Aroma: This one threw me for a loop. A sweet blast that faded to what I can only describe as... the scent of stale air (really).

Bite: Mild bite

Flavor: Welcome to the Rootie Rumble! There is a battle going on inside this bottle and the main event is honey vs sugar. They are both dominant and both want to overpower your taste buds but, much to their dismay, their battle is the focal point instead of a clear distinguishable taste. Some hints of vanilla float around and then there is this mysterious mild dry-tasting spice thrown into the mix (is this dry-tasting spice the culprit of the aforementioned stale smell?!)

Should you buy it? Buy a loose bottle or two, but I wouldn't invest in a case unless you're interested in finding out how quickly you can develop diabetes.

•  •  •

Additional Notes:

I still have a few more bottles to drink up, so I'll keep this updated if they fair differently. As it stands though, while I'm not head over heels on what I've already drank, I'd be open to trying a diet version of this root beer (if it's out there) to focus more on the root beer flavoring.

Overall Rating:


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thomas Kemper Root Beer


Brand: Thomas Kemper
Brewed in: Portland,OR
Where to find: West Coast
Website: www.tksoda.com

 •  •  •

Packaging/Label: Classic. That all i should have to say but, of course, I can't just leave it there. It is a streamlined, bold design that harkens back to it's vintage beer label brethren. The typography is top notch, the color palette is the embodiment of root beer, the use of subtle wooden distress in the backdrop is a nice touch, and the little bee illustration you'll find hidden in the label and on the bottle cap is really insanely well rendered. I find any company who puts so much care into well-designed packaging like this, puts tenfold into the product their selling.

Aroma: Great, subtle scent; Honey is the prime note.

Bite: Light but maintains steady throughout the drink.

Flavor: The flavoring is light (note: not weak but light) and incredibly creamy & smooth with only a very slight spicy aftertaste. Honey is the main flavor, but vanilla works its way in there with the cane sugar. It's a solid, very drinkable root beer.

Should you buy it? Without hesitation!

•  •  •

Additional Notes:

Thomas Kemper is by no means a heavy drink that will take on the roll of becoming a snack in itself which some root beers can become - In fact, I don't think I've ever finished off a bottle so quickly without realizing it before!

Overall Rating:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Capt'n Eli's Root Beer

Brand: Capt'n Eli's 
Brewed in: Portland, ME
Where to find: Northeastern states, sporadically nationwide
Website: www.captneli.com

 •  •  •

Packaging/Label: Solid labeling; A great illustration is the primary focus with nice use of typography. Everything reads clearly and to the point - and I really like the use of texture in the design. The bottle cap, by the way? Super cool! A small part player from the label (re: the parrot) who's also used as this brand's logo is redrawn on the cap in a rad comic style.

Aroma: Sugary and wintergreen-y

Bite: Sharp but mild

Flavor: This is a creamy root beer with a blend of spices that all work well together in creating a unique taste. Among some other flavors that I can't quite pinpoint, vanilla and wintergreen are two that jump out the most and stay throughout each entire sip. I have a huge sweet tooth and, while this is really pretty sweet (which is a quality I personally love), I don't think it's over-the-top for those of you born without.

Should you buy it? Absolutely! It's a unique tasting, very drinkable brew.

•  •  •

Additional Notes:

The more I drink this root beer, the more I like it! This company has something really unique going for it besides just it's flavor - they have a graphic novel! That's right, Capt'n Eli is your main character and, "created in the tradition of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, this is the story of a boy with extraordinary scientific abilities and unusual ties to the sea."

Overall Rating:


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Maine Root


Brand: Maine Root
Brewed in: Portland, ME
Where to find: Nationwide, health food stores/grocers
Website: www.maineroot.com

 •  •  •

Packaging/Label: The packaging is pretty unappealing to me. It says "I only eat organic raw foods while I practice my performance art tribute to dreadlocks in the wind for this year's Burning Man". Brown, green and abstract art deck this label and, while my vision sees this label's drawing as an abstract root, who really knows - because that's ART, man!

Aroma: Well, you'd think the scent of patchouli would come up and smack you in the face, but instead, it's a very sweet though mild scent.

Bite: Small amount of bite

Flavor: This is similar to Virgil's where there's a lot of different spices getting thrown around, but it's not nearly as offensive (this one doesn't have a strong licorice flavor invading your space) and there's no gnarly mouth-coating going on in Maine Root. This is just a straight up sweet-tasting root beer with hints of wintergreen and clove among other spices. Overall, the flavor is mild and rather watered down.

Should you buy it? If you're in Whole Foods (or one of those other healthy joints) and you're faced with choosing between this and Virgil's - pick this one! The root beer flavor isn't offensive and you'll be able to drink this whole bottle without cringing.

•  •  •

Additional Notes:

N/A

Overall Rating:


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Route 66 Root Beer

 
Brand: Route 66 Root Beer
Brewed in: Wilmington, IL
Where to find: States that the historic Route 66 runs through (along with few random states scattered throughout the US)
Website: www.route66sodas.com

 •  •  •

Packaging/Label: I do love a good pun and this twist on the Route 66 highway sign turning it into "Route Beer 66" is pretty classic. The label (which is screen printed directly onto the bottle) along with the additional frosty-looking font are both nice throwbacks to vintage bottles - and I'm a sucker for that noise. The only thing I'm not impressed with is the pixelated artwork which just signifies that the design file wasn't high quality before going to print. It would be an easy fix for any designer with a spare 10 minutes, so it just shows some sloppy craftsmanship by whoever handled this file.

Aroma: Sweet and spicy

Bite: Medium bite that quickly dissipates

Flavor: That's one a'spicy a'root beer! Please indulge me by saying that line in your best italian accent, wouldja? It's an average root beer with slightly more kick to it. There's definitely some cinnamon thrown in here along with added vanilla flavoring? Maybe licorice? Probably both!

Should you buy it? Pick it up and enjoy it for what it is, but don't expect to be wowed.

•  •  •

Additional Notes:

N/A

Overall Rating: