A Minus

Margo’s Dark Root Beer

MargosMy official Root Beer Boot Mug is on a ship, carefully packed in layers of bubble wrap, and thus I’m unable to continue with my normal method of reviewing brews.  A frozen State Farm Insurance mug will have to do.

To be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about Margo’s Dark Root Beer, except that I expected this brew to disappoint.  Probably because the bottle is cool, the name is cool, the ingredients are cool . . . so it must disappoint . . . right?  That’s what 90% of the other cool root beers do.  But this root beer does not disappoint.  The molasses in this root beer gives it a heavy, dark undertone . . . and combining it with the evaporated cane juice makes it a little syrupy, but not too much so.  If there was one knock on this brew it would be that it is a little to sweet and syrupy.

The vanilla, clove, cassia and nutmeg combine to make a really nice flavor . . . something that Virgil’s, in my opinion, wasn’t able to do. The wintergreen is real nice as well . . . it compliments the brew instead of dominating it.

This is not only a good root beer, but I think it’s near the top!

The Professor’s Grade:  A -

Saranac Root Beer

saranacThis is probably the most amazing head I’ve ever seen on a root beer – it simply does not diminish after sitting several minutes.  To be quite truthful though – it doesn’t really impress me.  For example, I’m trying to get down to the amazing taste of the root beer itself and I’ve got to wade through 3 inches of some chemical induced foam.  Ahhh . . . it’s not all that bad, but just not all that impressive.

Early on in my root beer days . . . before the days of www.professorrootbeer.com, (at that point I had www.rootbeerreview.com,until I was jailed in Hungary and viciously had the web-site stolen) I tried Saranac and loved it.  Those early root beer days were the good ole days of Spike, Anthony and myself . . . sprinkled in were a few posts by Luke and the gourmet.

But in rebuilding my web-site, I couldn’t find the original Saranac review and that’s why I have to do it all over again.  Years ago, Saranac sent me a few brews for free, but this one I paid for myself . . . like the true and honest professor that I am.  But anyway, I loved Saranac back then and I still love it now.  Classic root beer taste, extremely creamy with a hint licorice and vanilla I think.  Because of some nostalgia I’m probably giving this a little better than I should, but it’s still a pretty good dang brew.

The Professor’s Grade:  A -

Fentimans Dandelion & Burdock

Fentimans DandelionEver since seeing this stuff on a Galco’s Soda Shop Youtube video (http://youtu.be/gPbh6Ru7VVM),  I knew I had to get my hands on this.  And from time to time I do review brews other than root beer, but just for argument sake . . . I would say that this Dandelion and Burdock brew is actually a root beer.  Consider some of the ingredients . . .

  • Fermented ginger root, dandelion root, burdock root and aniseed flavor.

That’s a whole lot of “root” going on not to be considered a root beer.

The fermented and ethanol flavors provide a strong but subtle backdrop to each and every sip of this botanically brewed soda.  If you’re not sure what botanical brewing is, in the spring of 2015 I will be offering an in-depth look in my ”Brewing 101″ class.  In the mean-time please check out Fentiman’s own explanation . . . which I must say is a slight bit lacking. According to their web-site,

Botanical brewing is a simple process involving herbs and plant roots. Thomas Fentiman’s original recipe involved milling ginger roots before tumbling them into copper steam jacketed pans and leaving them to bubble and simmer releasing all their flavour. The finest herbs, natural flavourings, sugar, brewer’s yeast and fresh spring water were then added to the liquid which was transferred into wooden vats where it was left to ferment.

The ginger, dandelion, burdock, pear juice and aniseed combine to make a really delicious mix, although I don’t find that each flavor is distinguishable on it’s own.  The overall brew (including the flavor) is very light, and the carbonation is very light.  The flavor is not all that different from a root beer and yet at the same time is unlike any other root beer I’ve tasted . . . does that even make sense??  Well, it makes sense to the professor, and that’s all that matters!

The Professor’s Grade:  A -

Red Arrow Root Beer

redarrowUh oh . . . I admit, I’m going through root beer blogging writers block.  Admittedly, I’ve still been sampling the brews, I’ve simply not been telling.  But I’m willing to face the pain, the uncomfortability and the sense of general unsatisfaction with this brew . . . actually Red Arrow was quite satisfying . . . but point made.

As I tipped the old boot mug back, I couldn’t help notice the classic root beer flavor.  In fact everything is classic about this soda, from the licorice to the wintergreen, to the root beer lettering and to the red arrow which is actually white – go figure.

And as you probably figured out long ago, I prefer brews that are lightly to moderately carbonated.  When a beverage is overcarbonated I begin to wonder what grotesque flavors are being hidden.  This soda is perfectly carbonated, not to much and not to little.

I do get a little bit of a kick out of lines like, “Folklore says the brand was a tribute to the Red Arrow Brigade.”  I would go out on a limb to say that a better tribute would be to make the arrow on the side of the bottle red rather than white – but again that’s just me and my crazy opinion.

Despite the white arrow, I am pretty happy with this root beer.  There is not really that new with this brew, but a good solid classic nonetheless.


The Professor’s Grade: A -

Anchor Ginger Root Beer

anchorIt’s a bit ironic that I would take a picture of this bottle on land, when the whole premise of this root beer is somehow associated with the sea.  In fact there is some phraseology on the side of this bottle that says, “As a tribute to all the Sea Dogs and Scallywags looking for adventure on the high seas . . . blah, blah, blah, blah.”

Frankly, this is a very good root beer and it doesn’t need any catchy statements about pirates and oceans and sea anemones in small print on the side of the bottle.  Even though the “sea junk” is pretty corny, the bottle design itself (the anchor) is pretty darn cool.

When I sipped this root beer, I sensed that a ginger beer and a root beer had collided to create this wonderful brew.  Admittedly, this could have been an all out disaster, but this turned about to be an all out success.  This is simply a pleasant brew which has a slightly different flavor than the average root beer.

I really, really liked the root beer and I wish I had another.  And yet . . . I can’t help but think how much better this would be with a little honey sweetener . . . ahhh honey, ginger and natural root beer flavor . . . now that would be good.

The Professor’s Grade: A -