May 252016

Bottle of XTZ Root Beer Riot Another very early root beer from my collection. My friend Michael brought it back from Seattle for me when I was still in high school. This was also the first energy drink root beer that I ever had. And do they want you to know that this is an energy drink. They even yell it at you in all caps with an exclamation mark. They also point out that “it’s energy^2” which doesn’t make a lot of sense from a physics point of view. I mean what is a W^2h^2 anyway? It has some strange ingredients like Maté, Betel Nut, and Gotu Kola to name a few. For the longest time I thought it was X Root Beer Riot since there’s a big X on it. The actual name XTZ is only on the cap. I’m not sure why they call this a root beer riot, but bucking conventions like sensible naming seems to be what these guys are all about.

The Body is weak at best but the Head is good. The Bite if any can only be described as weird. The Aftertaste is a strange combination of ginseng and other herbal stuff that tastes like medicine.

This stuff is plain awful. It made me feel ill drinking it and was difficult to choke it all down (but I did, because I always do *shudder*). I finally understand the name. Giving this to the masses would incite a root beer riot as they would both be appalled by what had been foisted on them as root beer and they demanded something proper. The bottle is not even that pretty. See how it rates against other root beers.

Half a root beer keg.

May 222016

Some Old Brews Sometimes we wish we could go back and capture an opportunity that we’ve missed. Sometimes those opportunities are root beers that we wished we’d bought when we saw them on sale. Sometimes, years later, we find those vintage bottles and wonder, could this really be a second chance? Often I’ve had those thoughts, yet I’ve never bought those old bottles that you see sometimes on Ebay and the like, figuring that they’d be long past the date where they’d taste remotely like they originally did. But a month ago someone posted on a Facebook group that he had a bunch of root beers, only 10 years old. I spied some that I’d missed, Hires, Journey Great Northern, and Sonora. He said they were only $10. Which sounded like quite the deal. With shipping it should only be around $20 which isn’t too much to risk unreviewably old brews. Maybe one or more would still be good. I told him that I’d buy them. After some back and forth about Payment the final total came to $40, which I wasn’t very pleased about. I mean, I know you can ship flat rate USPS for only $12, so his initial $10 had ballooned into $28 which is way more than I wanted to pay for such a thing, but I figured I’d go through with it anyways.

The first one I tried was the Journey. Journey brews have always been horrible, so maybe the horribleness of being really old would be indistinguishable from it’s original flavor and I could get a review from it. The first thing I noticed was that there was no carbonation left. It didn’t smell like root beer either. It tasted fruity and syrupy and utterly unlike root beer. The flavor can best be described as when you get a snow cone with every flavor of syrup, let it melt, and then drink the results. Not good at all, and clearly not what it originally tasted like. It wasn’t reviewable. What a disappointment. I pressed on though, and tried Hires, with similar results. Oh well.

Sonora seemed like it wasn’t quite as old. There was still some carbonation and a hint of vanilla amongst the snow cone syrup flavor. Still way gross and still not root beer. I’d like to say it was a waste, but it wasn’t, it was very informative. Now I wonder what some of those vintage bottles from the ’60’s taste like, snow cone syrup, or something different all together. Is it the fate of all old root beers to eventually degrade to the same strange state? At what age to they stop changing? I intend to find out, but not immediately, I’ve got real root beers to drink. But fear not, I’ll get to the bottom of this, for science, and for the love of root beer.

May 182016

St John Brewers Root Beer BottleSeal of ApprovalMy first brew from the Virgin Islands! It’s kind of international since it isn’t from any of the States but kind of not since it’s from the US Virgin Islands. It was quite a bugger to get as the brewers themselves didn’t want to ship it. I had tried to trade with someone, but that fellow turned out to be the most dishonorable scum imaginable and so it ultimately didn’t happen. Then I found some truly goodhearted chaps who were going to send me a bottle but before they could I found it at a local store. Ah the virtues of patience. The label of this is simple and island themed. Though the tap on the tree is somewhat concerning; I hope they don’t have palm extracts in here, that could be … strange. The ingredients don’t list palm, but they do have a nice list of quality spices and flavorings which is very promising.

The Body is sweet and creamy and complex. There are some caramel notes and spice with solid sassafras and vanilla. The faintest hint of wintergreen surfaces as well. There is a strong Bite from the ample amounts of spice. The Head is massive and foamy. Each bottle would have foamed over had I poured the entire thing in at once. Additionally, after waiting a minute, I had to sip it down since it didn’t really go away. The Aftertaste is a caramel vanilla flavor with some notes of anise and mixed spices.

This brew is simply amazing! The many ingredients meld perfectly to give you a root beer that’s balanced and delicious. Add an impeccable Head and you’ve got one of the best brews I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking. This was worth the wait. See how it rates against other root beers.

4.5 Kegs