B Plus

Fentimans Curiosity Cola

coke2Curiosity may have killed the cat, but Curiosity Cola resurrected the cola!  And with that being said, this is absolutely more of a cola than a root beer, despite some good root beer ingredients such as ginger root and juniper.  I am admittedly not a cola expert, or really a fan for that matter, but I love the quality of the other Fentiman’s products so I decided to give this a try, and I really like it!  The quality is immediately apparent . . . above and beyond the colas found on the supermarket shelves across.  I don’t really know how to compare it, like I would a root beer, but I can tell that there is quality in this brew.

I really do like the yeasty undertones in this brew, similar to the Bundaberg Root Beer I  tasted not too long ago.  If I remember correctly, the yeast taste was stronger in the Bundaberg than it is in the Fentimans, but similar nonetheless.

The bottom-line is that anything that combines fermentation, botanical and herbal items gives a level of sophistication that isn’t found in a 99 cent bottle of cola.

The Professor’s Grade:  B +

Ozark Mountain Root Beer – Branson Missouri

ozarkExistential Root Beer Question – Why does some Root Beer foam taste good and other Root Beer foam taste junky?  Ahhh . . . the world may never know.  Surprisingly, this is one of the good root beer foam brews.  But as you already know, I’m not big on root beer foam and I would never base a grade on foam.

This Root Beer achieves the difficult balance of a creamy first taste with a nice bite that comes a little later.  The after-taste feels sharp on the tongue and pleasing to the palette.  The sharp after-taste is an exceedingly simple sarsaparilla flavor.  And yet in it’s simplicity, it’s achieved what most other Root Beers fail to achieve – a unique and pleasing root beer flavor.

My wife noted that it tasted a little too sweet, but being that this whole bottle only has 30g of sugar, I remarked that the sweetness comes from the fact that this is sweetened with pure cane sugar instead of the processed high fructose stuff that many brews have.

Don’t ask me why the Ozark Mountain Root Beer is draped across the milk bottle . . . I don’t make the bottles pose, I just take the photo.

 

The Professor’s Grade:  B +

Baron’s Natural Sassparilla

baronsI found this at the brand new Rocket Fizz that just opened in my local area.  I have 3-4 different speciality shops, which all sell unique root beers in my local area.  In a sense, I live in a mecca of sorts for root beer lovers like myself.  It’s important for me to take advantage of it while I can, since I’m moving to a place . . . that as far as I know . . . have no root beers available whatsoever.  But be that as it may . . .

Surprisingly, Baron’s is the absolute first sarsaparilla I’ve reviewed on this web-site, and it’s spelled “sassparilla” on the bottle . . . exactly like it sounds.  It also is devoid of the famous “boothill” that used to be on the front of every bottle.  The bottle also has “The Natural Way” written on the front and has pure cane sugar as one of the ingredients.  This leads me to believe that this is an entirely different brew than the “high-fructose” corn syrup stuff that is reviewed on other root beer blogs.  If anyone has information on whether their are two separate Baron’s brews, or if they changed their receipe, please let me know.

Saraparilla’s (similar to birch beers), tend to have a simpler flavor profile than the average root beer, and Baron’s is no different.  The wintergreen/medicinal quality flavor gives a little punch, and that’s about it.  But interestingly enough, it really works in this sarsaparilla.

The light carbonation, creaminess and punch or wintergreen makes this a sarsaparilla worth a cowboy riding a few miles to get a hold of.

The Professor’s Grade:  B +

XXX Root Beer (Root Beer Stand)

xxx stand 2xxx stand 1

As I was on a business trip, in the great state of Washington, for my other job . . . let’s face it, being a Professor of Root Beerology is not a lucrative profession . . . I spotted the XXX Root Beer stand on one of those handy highway signs.  I whipped the car off the exit so fast, that it’s a miracle I’m even here writing this review.  But here I sit and by golly I am going to write this XXX review.

Honestly, stopping at root beer stands like this one is one of the little pleasures in life that I love so much.   I love how everything about this restaurant screamed Americana, 1950s and the way life used to be . . . from the huge barrel on the outside, to the cool paraphanilla and the rude and pushy (but in a sort of fun way) waitress that I ordered my XXX Root Beer from.

Unfortunately, I got my root beer in a Styrofoam cup with ice . . . but not even inferior service could ruin this root beer adventure!  The brew was really smooth and creamy with just a little carbonation . . . just the way I like it!  It had a real simple flavor with strong licorice overtones . . . nothing complex going on there.

Truth be told, it is probably not a spectacular root beer, but any store, drive-in or restaurant that is dedicated to root beer gets a nice bump up in the rating!

Professor’s Grade:  B +

Hippo Size Burley Birch Beer

hippo sizeThese dang brews keep showing up in the most unlikely places . . . I sure hope it didn’t microwave itself because that would totally ruin the review.

This brew seems to be 12 oz. of pure contradiction though.  This is a creamy red birch beer (and on a side note it seems like creamy red birch beers are in high demand these days).  But I’m assuming that the red is just some artificial coloring being that this it’s flavored with “White Birch Extract,” but one can never be so sure.  The bottle also says that this Burley Birch Beer is the “original Texas sized drink” and that is bottled under the authority of Orca Beverages in the state of Washington.  And the “Hippo” in the name had apparently at one time referred to the size of the beverage, but now it seems to refer to the taste.  I guess I could rename this “Regular Size White Birch With Red Food Coloring Original Texas Now Made In Washington Birch Beer.”  A little more honest . . . but doesn’t have the same ring to it . . . I guess I’ll stick with Hippo Size Burley Birch Beer.

I haven’t had a Birch Beer in a real long time so I almost forget what I’m looking for in a Birch Brew.  But this is a creamy brew with a nice simple birch flavor, mixed in with the perfect amount of carbonation.  I’m sure there are plenty of Birch Beers that are a lot better, but for now I am really digging this contradictory Birch Beer.

The Professor’s Grade:  B +

 

Bedford’s Root Beer

Befords, smallBedford’s and Maxwell House were in an all-out brawl for my attention this afternoon.  The root beer even went as far as hopping into the coffee carafe, and that’s when I decided to reach for the boot mug rather than the coffee cup.

On to the review . . . If it’s possible (and I’m not entirely sure it is), Bedford’s Root Beer appeared to be creamy as it descended into the infamous boot mug.  And lo, as expected, this is an extremely creamy brew.  This is another Orca Beverage, and I’m quite impressed . . . and not just with Bedford’s but with Orca Root Beers in general.

It’s not bursting with flavor per se, but there is a unique coating of something.  To be honest, my palette wasn’t able to identify this “unique coating,” although Cosmo insists it’s molasses (I’ll defer to his judgment on this one).

The Orca web-site says, “Bedford’s sodas have been a Pacific Northwest tradition for over 30 years. Handcrafted and known for outstanding flavor, Bedford’s is now available . . . blah, blah, blah. “  The cool (and redundant) thing about almost all root beers is that it is some kind of special tradition.

Bedford’s is one tradition that’s worth continuing . . .

The Professor’s Grade:   B +

Polar Classics Premium Root Beer

polar classics premium root beerOn a recent trip to Virginia I stopped in a Jewish market and I asked for some kosher root beer – they sort of looked at me like I had two heads.

But at a regular supermarket I did find some kosher root beer – Polar classics Premium Root Beer. I won’t say much about this root beer, but I really liked the look of the bottle and the packaging. The flavor profile of this brew is actually pretty simple, but really good. The pure cane sugar, licorice and/or anise really shines.

 

Hmmm . . . “Religious Root Beers 101″???

 

The Professor’s Grade:  B +

Henry Weinhards Root Beer

henryweinhards 2Talk about some serious and long-lasting head. The foam tastes really good as well. I remember having a root beer a while back that had great head, but it tasted sort of foul – not this brew!

I have been waiting to taste this brew for quite some time. I got this at Leo’s Diner in Cambridge, MA. Cool little spot with a few unique sodas that you normally can’t get to easily on the East Coast.

The interesting ingredients in this root beer are vanilla extract, honey essence and acacia sassafras extract. I’d say all of these three flavorings are noticeable in the taste. The sassafras gives it the slightly bitter after-taste and it competes with the smoothness of the vanilla and honey. In fact, this after-taste can be a little too much at times.

I would love to know a little more about the honey though – just what is honey essence?? And what about the acacia?? I read up on acacia a little bit, but I won’t try to explain it right now. If you are interested in knowing more about acacia then check out this Absolute Astronomy Acacia Link.

To top it all off I really love the packaging of this root beer – very cool indeed. Overall though, this is a really smooth, creamy brew with a nice overall flavor. Not quite enough be an “A” brew, but still very solid.

 

The Professor’s Grade:   B +