Apr 182018

Thomas Kemper Root Beer BottleEvery now and then the makers of a root beer will feel that it’s time for a change. This could come from a desire to improve their product or perhaps to cut costs. When this occurs they seldom let the public know, and even less often do they change their name to sufficiently differentiate the pre and post change products. Thomas Kemper, for reasons I know not, has gone down this route. I’m not sure when it started, but I did notice that the bottle and label have changed significantly as of late. Indeed the ingredients are slightly different as are the nutritional values. And it’s lost the Pure Draft portion of its name. Implying of course that it is no longer pure nor draft, and instead it’s just a root beer. They do pepper the bottle with some little catch phrases like “Cane Sugar Soda” and “Small Batch” and my personal (ironically) favorite “Every Batch Made from Scratch”. Noticeably missing is “Original” since this no longer is the original Thomas Kemper Pure Draft Root Beer. I wonder if they improved it.

The Body has a noticeable honey flavor that’s a little fruity, which happens with some honeys. It tastes mildly of sassafras and there’s some vanilla in there as well. It’s nice but the flavors are not very strong. The Bite is more like a nibble with a smallest bit of spice. Yet, it isn’t really smooth. The Head is very tall and frothy as is should be, enough to get some bonus points. The Aftertaste is a light vanilla with some cane sugar and honey going on, but not nearly enough I’m afraid.

This one is rather bland unfortunately. Sweet but bland. It’s got some of the right flavors, but they aren’t nearly pronounced enough. While their Pure Draft was good but not quite there, this is rather ‘meh’. They should have stuck with the original, HFCS notwithstanding. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three kegs

Apr 112018

Batch Brown Sugar Root Beer Bottle I’ve had many different “flavored” root beers. Vanilla root beers, butterscotch root beers, maple root beers, birch, sarsaparilla, honey, caramel, and even cherry root beers. But I’ve not yet had one that calls itself a “brown sugar” root beer. Not that there hasn’t been brown sugar in other root beers I’ve drank before, it’s just no one has ever decided to make that their main selling point. Interestingly, brown sugar isn’t listed on the ingredients, just “pure cane sugar”. This could include brown sugar but it’s kind of odd to not list it separately. Batch is a relatively new soda company. It was established in 2013 with the goal of evoking a connection to authenticity and inspiring the creation of new memories through their soda recipes. They list the batch number on the label, in this case, 714, but I’m not sure if they change that every run. A quick google image search does not reveal any labels with numbers other than 714, but there’s also not many pictures period, so I can’t make a definitive conclusion. Anyways, on to the review.

The Body is mild and generic with fruity overtones and some vanilla. It’s got the kind of fruity that you get if you put too much brown sugar in your oatmeal. There isn’t much Bite and, unfortunately, it isn’t very smooth. The Head is nice and tall with medium staying power, so it’s pretty good. The Aftertaste is more fruity vanilla flavor.

I said it already, but the flavor really reminds me of the times I’ve put ridiculous amounts of brown sugar in my oatmeal and it has an kind of fruity flavor. And you know how I feel about a lot of fruity in my root beer. It’s a shame really, I could have seen this being much better. See how it rates against other root beers.

2.5/5 Root Beer Kegs

Apr 042018

Last week I was in Sacramento for work, meeting with the local utility as I’m wont to do these days. Now if you’ve kept up with this blog, you’ll know that Sacramento is a city that has quite the storied past with me, though it’s been the first time I’ve been back there in around five years. On top of visiting relatives, I needed to hit up a brewery for root beer. Not any brewery would do, however, I was looking for River City Brewing Company, not to be confused with River City Root Beer or the other River City Root Beer. This brewery and I go way back, back to the first year of my gourmet root beer loving, before I even launched my site. I tried it when we were in Old Sacramento 20 years ago. I thought it was amazing. The next year when I had started the site, I was back and tried it again, but they put ice in it and it tasted not so good. So for 19 years I’ve been wondering, just how good is this root beer, really? The brewery has since moved, from the mall by Old Sac, to Carmichael, which was right by my hotel, making this even easier. This time I remembered to tell them no ice. I wasn’t going to repeat the mistake of 19 years ago.

The Body is sweet but not overly, and rich as well. There’s a little bit of vanilla complimenting a solid core that is well balanced. The Bite is very mild, there is really no discernible spice to it and the carbonation is low. The Head is short but foamy and lasts. The Aftertaste is a mild fruity sarsaparilla sort that doesn’t really do it for me, though it doesn’t really ruin it either.

This is a solid brew that almost pulls it off, not quite, but so close. It’s not as amazing as I remember my very first time being. I have had about 350 root beers since then which gives a bit more perspective. But, it’s still really good and has a uniqueness about it to be worth a visit if you’re in the area. I didn’t have time to try any of the food so I can’t comment, but if they cook like they brew, it won’t be disappointing.

Three and a half kegs