Jul 162014

A frosty mug of Hops Root Beer Last October I went to Washington DC for … reasons. As the usual routine demanded, I scanned Google Maps before the trip and found Hops Grill Brewery a mere 20 minute walk from the hotel I’d be staying in. Since my flight was to arrive at 6:20pm I knew where I would be eating dinner that night. Except my first flight was late just enough that I arrived at the gate of my connection just as it left. I was put on a later flight that wouldn’t arrive until 9:20pm. No biggie, Hops stays open until 11:20pm I’d still have plenty of time. Except that flight was 40 minutes late as well. By the time I got to the hotel, it was 10:25. I called Hops to make sure that if I arrived at 10:55 they’d still let me order, and took off running. I made it with 15 minutes to spare. After a glass of water and a few minutes of repose, I ordered my root beer.

The Body is dark and spicy with wintergreen and a little licorice. It is very rooty and reminds me of those old root beer barrel candies, you know, the ones with a slightly reddish wrapper. The Bite is spicy and while not harsh, it’s not smooth and kind of a sharp Bite. The Head is very tall and a decent froth level so it lasts awhile. The Aftertaste is wintergreen and a little licorice with bitter notes at the end.

So it’s not my favorite flavor profile, and bitter notes, while slight, are still bad. The super tall Head, though, compensates a bit. I’d put this at just barely drinkable, it was close though. Subsequent mugs with my meal reinforced this. I had fried catfish and ale onion rings which was delicious and worked with the spicy brew pretty well.

Three kegs

Fried catfish and ale onion rings. Delicious.

Fried catfish and ale onion rings. Delicious.

The brew vats add a nice atmosphere while dining.

The brew vats add a nice atmosphere while dining.

The bar is in an island in the middle of the restaurant.

The bar is in an island in the middle of the restaurant.

Jul 092014

A frosty mug of BuckSnort Root Beer Two weeks ago I went to Boise to visit my sister. This trip had been a long time coming, as I had never visited her there and she move there over four years ago. Keeping with my latest trend, whenever I go somewhere new I find a root beer to review. This time it was easy because someone had alerted me to the existence of BuckSnort (yes, I know the CamelCase name is annoying but that’s how they do it on their website) some time back and I knew it could be found in Boise. I swear that wasn’t the reason I finally made it down there. Really I do. We got it in some place called Pizzalchick which makes pizza and chicken. They even have an elk pizza because that’s what people do in Idaho. I went with my brother-in-law and we picked up some pizza and had a brew at the bar before going back.

The Body is not very sweet. I’d say one of the least sweet brews I’ve had. It kind of has a darker flavor like a root beer barrel candy but not quite that strong. It’s a little bitter as well. The Bite is very spicy with what I want to say is cassia but I really don’t know. There isn’t much fizz in though. The Head is rather unimpressive; short and fizzes away quicker than it should. The Aftertaste is light sassafras with some bitter spice.

I don’t really like this much at all. I prefer a sweeter brew that isn’t so bitter. The owner of Pizzalchick (seriously, what’s with the names around here) showed up and as I commented on the root beer he said that it was completely organic and the most organic root beer we could get with real sassafras and vanilla. Conspicuously missing from his testimony was anything resembling praise for the taste of the brew, and I don’t blame him. The pizza there is good, but skip this.

2 out of 5 root beer kegs

Jul 022014

Barton Springs Root Beer Bottle After a bit of a drought in new root beers (a month or two) I snapped and went on a buying spree. The first to get to me was this. Barton Springs Soda Company is located in Austin Texas and was only founded in 2012. That’s the spirit boys, keep new root beers coming. I need at least 52 per year to keep this pace … Anyways I like the simple label. It’s direct and to the point, kind of retro, and isn’t too busy. The only flavor text reads “Made with the finest quality cane sugar” That’s usually a good thing.

The Body, is sweet, very sweet, too sweet, near sickeningly sweet. It’s all sticky and syrupy. It’s caramely with some wintergreen and a strange chemically-something-out-of-place flavor. There is a prickly Bite but not too strong. It’s pretty smooth. The Head is adequate, medium height and frothy. The Aftertaste is more sweet syrupy wintergreen with hints of some unfamiliar chemical.

Ok, what the heck? This thing is way too sweet, and I eat raw sugar cubes for a snack. Looking at the ingredients reveals something I’ve never had in a root beer before, sucralose. Seriously? They put sucralose in this on top of already 42g of cane sugar. Why would you even DO that? How can you claim that you using the “finest quality cane sugar” if your going to dump some artificial chemical sweetener in it like it was some diet swill. Clearly, at 42g, you’re no diet. Bulldog only has 41g. The sucralose is clearly the cause of weird chemical flavor and the sweetness levels to make one nauseous. Too bad, it had such potential to be good, but instead this is something I don’t want to touch again. See how it rates against other root beers.

2.5/5 Root Beer Kegs