Oct 232014

Witches Brew Root Beer

Halloween is coming, which means creepy costumes, too much candy, pumpkin spice everything and wonderful parties. And what Halloween party would be complete without a big cauldron of bubbling brew? Here’s a recipe that I’ve been perfecting for witches brew root beer, guaranteed to be a hit. Make it in a cauldron or a punch bowl if you don’t have a cauldron. But seriously, if you’re going all the way, you really should get a cauldron. Nothing impresses your friends like a big ol’ cast iron cauldron bubbling with root beer, except for the flavor of this root beer.


  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tsp McCormick Root Beer Concentrate
  • 1/8 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 gal cold water
  • 2 lbs dry ice

Add sugar, honey, vanilla, root beer concentrate, spices, and 4 cups of water in a pot and bring to a rolling boil while stirring.
Reduce heat and let the mixture boil on low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add to cauldron with the rest (28 cups) of the water.
Crush half the dry ice and add to the cauldron, stir the mixture until the dry ice is largely disolved, this adds the primary carbonation
Add second pound of dry ice as a single or several large blocks. This will bubble for the duration of the party and help maintain the carbonation level
WARNING Do not seal a lid on your root beer while dry ice is bubbling, it will explode, trust me…

Oct 222014

IBC Root Beer Bottle IBC holds a very special place in my root beer reviewing life. It was probably the third that I ever tried, and could be found at the local Walmart in 6-packs of 12 oz bottles, 24-packs of 6 oz bottles, and single 32 oz bottles. My friends and I would snag the latter occasionally after bowling trips and buy the 24 packs for parties sometimes. It was also, during the great sadness in the summer of ’98, that taught me that all gourmet root beers are not created equal. At that time I was drinking several bottles of root beer a day to drown my sorrows. As IBC was much cheaper than the Henry’s I’d usually drink in such occasions, I started getting it as well to relieve the budget. Over the course of several weeks, I could clearly see that there was a difference between the two, and in this case you’d get what you paid for.

It’s an okay root beer by my standards. Good Body and Head but too harsh and too much Bite for my taste. Aftertaste is okay.

First off, I’ll admit that my reviews were significantly less detailed back in the day. I could go back and re-review it being more descriptive, but then I’d have to go back with all of them and that’d be a lot of work and some of them aren’t made anymore so I’m just going to keep it as is. You should feel blessed that you can read reviews from those early days and have a time capsule about how the web once was. Now there are some people who think that this is the greatest root beer ever made. I disagree. But it’s good enough for parties, or for the huge 32 oz bottle occasionally. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three kegs

Oct 152014

BJ's Handcrafted Root Beer I was trawling through Google Maps trying to find breweries in the greater Puget Sound area and I discovered that BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse not only had their own draft root beer, but a location in Redmond where I live. How’d I miss that? I’ve been gallivanting across the nation in search new brews and there was one right in my own backyard? In my defense, it only opened a few months before I discovered it so it’s not like I missed it for that long. It was only two weeks after the discovery that I got the whole family there for dinner on a Saturday night. The place was very, very crowded and busy. I hoped it was worth the wait.

It has a rich creamy Body with vanilla. It’s my favorite flavor profile. There’s a solid spice Bite as well. The Head was basically the “two second Head” and was always gone by the time the waitress brought it to me despite her best efforts, sadly. The Aftertaste was nice sweet vanilla with the slightest hint of wintergreen.

This is a delicious brew. I thoroughly enjoyed it with my BBQ Chicken deep dish pizza. But the horrible Head will keep it from getting a Seal. I mean, when you give infinite free refills, you can have the upper third of the mug be foam. The pizza was very delicious and their burgers looked epic. I’ll probably have to head back there sometime.

Three and a half kegs

My BBQ Chicken Deep-dish pizza. Very delicious. Also the cheese pizza for the kids.

My BBQ Chicken Deep-dish pizza. Very delicious. Also the cheese pizza for the kids.