Oct 182017

Bottle of Hummingbird Hill Birch Rootbeer Another flavored brew. This time it’s a birch root beer. Not a birch beer. Technically this says “Birch Rootbeer”, which, if you are getting deep into the semantics of things you’d try and say isn’t really a root beer, but luckily the proper semantic definition has been established by the Standards Committee of the International Association of Gourmet Root Beer (IAGRB). It is in Standard NC 023.2-2007. I’ll only summarize it, because it costs a lot of money to buy those standards. Basically a root beer is defined as combinations of ‘root’ and ‘beer’, such as root beer, rootbeer, root bear, root beir, as well as translations such as cerveja de rais, cerveza de raiz, bière de racine, racinette, etc. Additionally, other flavors that proceed the term root beer do not disqualify it from being a root beer while flavors afterwards may do so, such as root beer and chocolate or root beer float. Got it? Good. Now on to Hummingbird Hill. I didn’t like their regular root beer so I didn’t have high expectations for this.

The Body is very birchy, but not full at all. There’s a good amount of wintergreen and it has some sour hints to it. The Bite is unimpressive. There’s some carbonation burn but not much else. The Head is inconsistent in height but lacks staying power so it is gone quickly. The Aftertaste is empty. There’s some wintergreen and a tad of vanilla but it doesn’t last at all.

This brew is unfulfilling. It it’s not gag level or anything, but it just isn’t good. Nope. I think it’s worse than their first attempt, which was also pretty bad. See how it rates against other root beers.

2 out of 5 root beer kegs

Oct 112017

A large cup of Roscoe's Root BeerSeal of ApprovalFor the past 37 years, Roscoe’s Root Beer and Ribs has been operating seasonally in Rochester Minnesota. Originally an A&W, the Rosses purchased it in 1982 and made it into their own root beer stand. Over the decades it’s become an iconic place with legendary food, such as their ribs, burgers, and jojos. But, this is their last fall. They’ve finally decided to call it quits, and since the little root beer stand is on their property, the idea of selling it is too much for them. Another iconic, unique, American root beer stand bites the dust. And so, even though I just moved in to a new house, and am very busy unpacking, I knew I had to make the hour and 40 minute trek down to Rochester this past Saturday, to try this brew that will be so sorely missed by the community. My wife asked if such a journey was really worth it. I said that if it would be worth it for anyone, then it would be me, someone who’s spent nearly 20 years searching for new root beers. Plus I haven’t done a root beer stand review in ages. It was pouring rain, but I would not be deterred. Root beer and ribs were ordered.

The Body is sweet and creamy with a classic root beer stand flavor and vanilla and spices shining through. The Bite is medium and finishes smooth, with the spices shining but not overpowering. The Head is tall and frothy, and it’s a shame they don’t have frosty glass mugs to really bring it out. The Aftertaste is a nice spiced vanilla that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Alas, what a fine brew. I only just met you, but I lament your passing as though we’d been friends for ages. The food was quite good as well, a family order of ribs with sides of baked beans and coleslaw really hitting the spot. It’s only open another week or two, if you’re in the area, you should get some while you can.

4 kegs

Roscoe's Root Beer and Ribs stand.

Roscoe’s Root Beer and Ribs stand.

The most important part of the menu.

The most important part of the menu.

What could be more American than this meal? Very delicious. I ate until I was stuffed.

What could be more American than this meal? Very delicious. I ate until I was stuffed.

Oct 042017

Henri Sodas Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval One week into my new job and I was already flying on business into the Mystic Land of the North. Talk about hitting the ground running. This particular time I was off to Montreal. I didn’t have a lot of spare time, and there weren’t any breweries that had any racinette. I stumbled across some hard root beer in a convenience store which was just simply infuriating. Then I found Henri Sodas on Facebook. Henri makes several flavors of all natural, artisan sodas, brewed in small batches in the Montreal area. I reached out them on Facebook and told them where I was staying and asked if there was a store nearby that sold their brew. I was in luck, and they quickly replied that Mandy’s Salads, a quick walk from my hotel, carried their brew. I was able to get some that very next night after dinner. There were only 6 bottles in stock and I bought them all. Thankfully I got free checked bags so I could transport it home for free. The taped seal on the bottle is a nice unique touch. Makes the bottles feel slightly more premium.

The Body is complex and herbal with a prominent sarsaparilla flavor accented by licorice, spice, and a bit of vanilla. It’s more of a sharp sarsaparilla than a fruity which is good. There is a solid Bite from the spices, though it isn’t smooth and creamy. The Head is tall, very tall. Pour with caution. The Aftertaste is an herbal sarsaparilla that finishes in a faint fennel seed, like those things you eat at the end of your meal at Indian restaurants.

Wow, this is unique and yummy, and not too far outside of the typical root beer spectrum to get a Seal. I’m quite impressed with those Quebecers. Hopefully I’ll travel back their on business soon so I can get some more. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs