Jan 042012

Red Arrow is an old brand of root beer that came from Michigan in the 1950s through 70s. According to the bottle “Folklore says that the brand was a tribute to the Red Arrow Brigade.” Now the Red Arrow Brigade was formed in 1967 from the deactivated 32nd Infantry Division. It was made of three battalions of light infantry as well as support and engineer units. The 32nd Infantry “Red Arrow” Division was formed from the Wisconsin and Michigan National Guards in 1916 to serve on the Mexican border. The Red Arrow Division was active through WWII and had many Metals of Honor and other awards. So most likely folklore (or at least the root beer bottle) meant that the brand was named after the Red Arrow Division and not the Brigade. Either way, the brand died out and for decades the only trace of it was old bottles and crown caps peddled by collectors. Then in March 28, 2011, it was resurrected, the recipe having fallen into the hands of a Redmond, WA man who decided it was something the world needed once again.

It has a full Body that is loaded with wintergreen. Wow! So much wintergreen! There is also a very noticeable licorice flavor that makes the whole Body rather dark. I don’t really like it that much. The Bite is solid, with carbonation first hitting the tongue followed by the spice kick, largely from the wintergreen. It still has a rather smooth finish, though, I prefer it smoother. The Head is pitiful, the classic Two Second Head. It’s like they aren’t even trying. The Aftertaste is strong wintergreen and licorice. There is too much licorice and it is sticky.

If you love wintergreen and licorice, inseparable at every turn, this is definitely the root beer for you. I on the other hand, think that it’s not good at all. The bottle says that the recipe is from Michigan, “known for authentic root beer flavor.” The fact that this brand didn’t initially survive in such a place should have been the first clue that maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Alas, like some horrid zombie it was unearthed from the grave in which it rightfully belonged to wreak its havoc upon the root beer world. It could have been much worse, however, so I don’t think an angry mob with pitch forks and torches will be required at the dark mansion of the man who brought it back. See how it rates against other root beers.

  9 Responses to “Red Arrow Root Beer”

  1. Im sorry but I am actually drinking the red arrow root been as i write this and Iabsolutely love it. I thinkit has the perfect amout of licorice and carbonation. Other brands have itmore bubbly. But if you want something smoother, go to Bisbee, Arizona and their local brewery makes the best root beer i have ever had.

    • It does seem to be popular with the licorice loving crowd, as I stated it would be. I really didn’t like it that much though.

  2. It tastes better than the current flock to me, even A & W,, to me. As the big Mafias have all watered down their products.

  3. I’m in the “I disagree” crowd. We tried this last night and absolutely loved it. I like the stonger tastes – have had a few that are too mild lately. I’m looking to trying the Hires I found recently and comparing to that to my memory banks.

    I can’t be as specific on the wintergreen & licorice flavors, but I suspect that’s why i like it. And unlike some of the other stronger-flavored, this has a nicer finish with no unusual after taste. I recommend giving it a try and deciding for yourself! I’m glad I discoverd it.

  4. I’ve seen this site before while on my quest for the best root beer, and so when I found red arrow this weekend, I had to come back. As a die hard “licorice lover,” this is my new favorite root beer. It used to be a toss up between Hank’s and Henry Weinhardt’s, but Red Arrow has thrown them aside. I am drinking a Hank’s as I write this, longing for another Arrow.

  5. Just tried Red Arrow. I like it, but its almost not a root beer. Maybe something in the category of the Virgil’s Bavarian Nutmeg brew. Very good, but not a root beer.

    Brigham’s Brew is my all time favorite, but I have yet to try Hank’s as I’ve not found it anywhere in Utah. Henry’s were good before they dropped the honey and went HFCS instead.

  6. Just tired red arrow for the first time today. I’m off the opinion that it is the root beer. No other compares. HW was my fave until I found this. It’s like a Dad’s, but more body, creamier, and more flavorful. I don’t think it can possibly be beat. Also, it seems pretty assuming on your part to say they didn’t last because of the product. Most companies die due to poor management. They certainly don’t stick around for 20 years of they produce a poor product.

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