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.

Oct 082014

Natural Brew Draft Root Beer BottleAnother brew from my very early days of reviewing. This one, like Health Valley, was also found the the “Health Food” section of the local Safeway. It was actually the root beer I reviewed right after the Health Valley as the next day I went to Safeway to see what other glass bottled root beers could be found. This stuff was the very first product I ever encountered that listed “Evaporated Cane Juice” as an ingredient. This is a pet peeve of mine. Anyone who knows anything about how sugar is made knows that all cane sugar is evaporated cane juice and beet sugar is evaporated beet juice. All crystallized sugars start as liquids that are then evaporated. Do the people who label sugar this way believe that we think crystallized sugar is mined somewhere in solid form like salt or something? I mean, seriously, we’re not that dumb. This also has one of the highest non-sugar carbohydrate level (5g) of any root beer. I’m not sure what makes it a “draft” root beer when it’s clearly in a bottle, but that’s another rant for another day.

It starts out with a full Body and good Bite. Then a strong licorice flavor surfaces that grows stronger the more you drink, however. The Aftertaste is very strong licorice.

I am not too fond of this one. I also admit that I was significantly less descriptive in the old days about how the root beer tasted. I don’t like it. It’s got way too much licorice flavor. Though, the cinnamon and cloves give it that good Bite. If you like herbal, licorice-y, spicy, evaporated cane juice brews, however, you’ll probably like this this. I surely don’t. See how it rates against other root beers.

2 out of 5 root beer kegs

Oct 012014

Health Valley Old Fashioned Root Beer Bottle This was one of the very first glass bottled root beers that I ever tried. Probably the sixth if I can remember that well. The amazing thing was that it was in my hometown, a small city of around 5,000 people. It was just sitting there at Safeway but it was in the “Health Food” section. Remember back in the 1990’s before organic and all natural got all trendy? There was a “Health Food” section. I’d never thought to look for root beers there which is why I’d missed it. Granted I’d only been looking for root beers for a few months at that point so I hadn’t thought to look in a lot of places. Anyhow, it was my dad who found it and brought some home so we could try it. They also had a Sarsaparilla and it was then that I decided that if it wasn’t called specifically “Root Beer” or some close phonetic variation thereof I wasn’t going to review it. Health Valley later renamed their Sarsaparilla to Sarsaparilla Root Beer but forgot to tell me so I never got to try it. Interestingly they sweetened this with fructose which you’d never see in any “health food” nowadays.

This is all right at first but an absence of vanilla ruins the Body and the Aftertaste. It’s also not very sweet. The Aftertaste is a strange herbal flavor and there is not much Bite at all. Head is mediocre at best.

Yeah, this stuff is pretty nasty. Which I’m sure has nothing to do with the fact that it was discontinued a few years back (before I realized I needed to try their renamed Sarsaparilla Root Beer). To its credit it isn’t super vile like some other strange herbal brews, but the as a whole is very much not good. See how it rates against other root beers.

2 out of 5 root beer kegs