Jun 222016

Pithy Little Root Beer BottleAh the Pithy Little Root Beer from the Pithy Little Soda Works from the Pithy Little Wine Company. As you can tell, I love saying Pithy Little. This brew was provided by the magnanimous anthony even though he seems to view me as his greatest existential threat since capital letters, for some reason … evidently. The pithy little label has got a rather classic look with a bottle cap and bubbles, though it’s all black and white. I really think it could use some color, it just looks like it should have some colors in there. In case you don’t know what pithy means, they helpfully provide the dictionary definition for you as “1. concise and forcefully expressive” I’m actually glad they provide that, because there’s another definition of pithy that I associate with roots and stuff “2. (of a fruit or plant) containing much pith.” Boy do I hate pithy radishes. So when I think of pithy and root, it’s generally definition 2. This is probably not something you’d want your root beer to be associated with. Pithy little roots, sounds so … not delicious. So them providing definition 1 was a very good idea.

The Body greats you with luscious, sweet vanilla and some caramel but then proves to be rather hollow after that. There really aren’t any other distinguishable flavors. The Bite is distinctly lacking, especially in the spice department. The Head is medium height but fizzes away quickly. The Aftertaste is more delicious vanilla.

I do love me some vanilla, but this really doesn’t have much else. It should be renamed to Pithy Little Vanilla, since that’s the only “concise and forcefully expressive” ingredient. It’s actually quite a fine soda, but falls short as a root beer. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three kegs

Jun 152016

Boylan's Natural Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval This is an extremely elusive brew. In fact, the company’s own website doesn’t even acknowledge it’s existence. Yet the signs are out there if you really look. If you search for this you can find some reviews and some cases for sale (at like $100 a case after shipping) such that it almost seems like it’s been discontinued. But it hadn’t. I searched far and wide to find just a few bottles. I even found a shop in Canada selling other Boylan’s Natural flavors but not the root beer for some reason (because the universe hates me sometimes). Finally, the great sage of sassafras gifted me two bottles out of his abundant beneficence. Strangely, unlike their regular root beer, which is just labeled as “Boylan” this is “Boylan’s” because forget logic and consistency.

The Body full of rich rooty flavors that are almost herbal. There’s some nice bourbon vanilla and spice in there as well to keep it from being too dark. The Bite is excellent with cinnamon the prominent spice. It’s strong enough to grab you, but not harshly. The Head is tallish with medium staying power; adequate. The Aftertaste is a lovely bourbon vanilla and cinnamon.

I’m impressed, I didn’t really think that their normal root beer was anything special but this has a lovely complexity of root beer goodness. Dare I say, this is the only time I’ve encountered a natural version that’s better than the regular version. Dear people at Boylan Bottling Works, stop hiding this from the world! See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

Jun 082016

Bottle of Iron Horse Root BeerSeal of Approval I got this in late 1999 or early 2000. It was one of my first mail orders, and I had to order 12 of them since variety packs were not an option in those days. I picked it because it looks awesome with that train and metallic shine (which is really hard to capture in a picture with the flash on a white background). When I first tried it I was blown away like never before, I was standing when I took my first drink and I had to sit down. It was that good. I got on the phone and called a friend and told him I’d found the best root beer EVER, and I awarded my first 5 kegs. In the next year or so I had multiple cases and then I went on my mission to Madagascar, a great dry spell for me as it were. When I got back my parents had a case waiting, but as I drank it against Hank’s and Henry’s, it didn’t seem to taste as good as it once did. I figured I’d had a bad batch and over the years had it again and again, each time disappointed (and by that I mean not the greatest thing ever made). Finally I had the The Ultimate Root Beer Showdown and realized I needed to re-rate this.

This has a very sweet medium Body and a very nice Bite. There’s some cinnamon and other spices that really grab the tongue. There is also a lovely caramelized corn syrup flavor that is very unique. The Head is ok and medium frothy. The Aftertaste is of vanilla and spices.

It is still a really good root beer, but doesn’t hold up against the others like it used to. Maybe they changed the recipe, the ingredients and nutritional info are the same but who knows what could be different with the whole “natural and artificial flavor”. Maybe it’s me. Maybe all the cholera I had in Madagascar changed my tastes such that what had made this and only this amazing no longer does. I don’t know. What I do know is that it is still a fine brew to be had whenever possible, but not the greatest root beer in the world. Sorry and congrats at the same time I guess? See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs