Jan 282015
 

Hank's Premium Root BeerSeal of Approval More than any other root beer, Hank’s is the reason that Eric’s Gourmet Root Beer Site exists. You see, the web was young and free hosting was just recently made available at places like Geocities. It was the cool thing to do to make a website. After seriously considering making a website about a combination of three of favorite things, cheese, Jethro Tull, and Star Craft, (The Eric’s Cheese, Jethro Tull, and Star Craft Site was going to be AWESOME I swear) the idea came to make one about gourmet root beer instead. Since I’d only tried eight different kinds of gourmet root beer (there wasn’t a lot of variety in a town of 5,000 people) at that point I figured I needed to expand a bit. I found Hank’s online and asked my Mom to order it for me. I had a whole $15. She called and they said that they’d never sent anything to Washington State before and they figured it’d be very expensive. She said she’d have to call back because she was buying it for her son who was making a website but he didn’t have much money. Then they decided that since it was for a website, and thus free publicity, they’d send a whole case as a free sample. How very generous. Also, it put a lot of expectation on me to actually follow through and make the website since I was paid in advance as it were. And thus Eric’s Gourmet Root Beer Site was born.

This is sooo goooood! It has a wonderfully full Body that is rich and creamy and a nice spicy Bite. The Head is almost perfect. Aftertaste is very pleasant.

As you can tell, I really liked it then (I’ve kept what I originally wrote back in 1998). It put me in quite an enigma because at the time it was the best brew I’d ever had, but I hadn’t had very many. I put it at 4.5 kegs and after many years I revisited it in my Ultimate Root Beer Showdown and realized that after nearly 150 root beers, it was still the best. I really love this stuff. It is perhaps as close to perfection as we can come in this imperfect world. See how it rates against other root beers.

5 out of 5 Kegs, Elixer of the Gods


Jan 212015
 

A bottle of Windy City Soda Root BeerThis brew had been discontinued before I ever learned about it. I was left to mourn another root beer that would never be mine. Then the great Jon came a trading. He had several discontinued brands that were still in good condition. Being a true gentleman and ethical trading partner. He sent some right away without getting petty nor impatient over the details. This is another made in Chicago/themed after Chicago brew. I’ve been seeing those pop up a lot lately. I don’t know what it is about the city that inspires people to name things after it, but I dare say it is the most common city to be found on a root beer bottle. The label is rather plain, with brown hues and a skyline silhouette. It’s almost too plain. I could see this bottle blending into the background on a shelf with other brands.

The Body is sweet with some vanilla and caramel hints but is also a tad bland. The Bite is sharp and spicy. The Head is short yet frothy. The Aftertaste is very light vanilla. It’s pretty good and also refreshing.

Not a bad brew. But pretty generic in the not-a-bad-brew category. There really isn’t a lot to differentiate it from other root beers, plus it’s a tad bland. Maybe if it was completely fresh I would like it more, but I don’t think so. It is sad that they failed. There are worse brews that bear the Chicago name that are still going strong. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs


Jan 142015
 

Henry Weinhard's Root Beer BottleSeal of ApprovalThis was only the second gourmet root beer I ever had but was by far the most influential. I first found it when I was 12 or so at the local Safeway and quickly became the go-to when I needed a treat. A celebration, get a Henry’s. Need to drown my sorrows, get a Henry’s. Want an extra good root beer, get a Henry’s. It helped that Safeways were pretty much in every town and they’d sell Henry’s chilled as well as in six-packs. Gas stations started getting them too so it was a a nearly ubiquitous awesome brew. There were other gourmet root beers about, but none were as good. After my brother’s car accident I had at least one of these per day. After a month or two, I couldn’t drink anything that didn’t come from glass, and I soon began the quest to find the world’s best root beer. So how did my beloved Henry’s stack up?

Nice full, sweet Body with the perfect Head. It is one of the nicest Heads of any root beer. So much so that it is my standard Head to compare against other root beers. It’s rich and creamy with lovely vanilla and honey flavor complementing the sassafras. Wonderful Aftertaste, honey and vanilla lasting the perfect amount of time. There’s not a lot of Bite, but enough spice for me. It is very smooth and that’s how I prefer it most of the time.

This is pretty much my gourmet root beer standard. I’ve had many a brew from all over the world, but not many can even stand level to, let alone surpass this. There are plenty that are better in one category or another, but Henry Weinhard’s is so good on all of it that it makes it a tough brew to beat. I make sure to drink a Seal of Approval root beer after each review to “reset” the palate. Most of the time it’s Henry’s. It is safe to say that this is the most important root beer in my life. See how it rates against other root beers.

4.5 Kegs