Aug 272014

Red Ribbon Root Beer bottle There are many oddities about this brew. The first is that the bottle, while looking the standard shape and size, is actually about a millimeter or two taller than other long neck bottles I have. Why? I don’t know. The second that jumps out is the fact that while the bottle is ever so slightly taller, it contains 1 milliliter less root beer than a standard 12 ounce bottle. They all say 355 ml yet this one is only 354. If that isn’t nickel and dimeing you out of root beer I don’t know what is, especially since they oversized the bottle to compensate. Then there’s the “Pinpoint Carbonation” and the “Home Brewed Style” but the most glaring of all is the name itself. Red Ribbon is for second place. It’s like they didn’t even want to try to be the best, or have at least conceded that they’re not. You never see that on a product, “Second best soda” or “First Loser Brew” but yet, Red Ribbon is right here.

This has a Body that’s a little weak. There’s some wintergreen and maybe a tad bit of licorice in there as well. It’s pretty generic and also fruity. I never like that sour fruity. There’s not a lot of Bite but it really isn’t smooth either. The Head is tall but fizzes down quickly. The Aftertaste is fruity with faint traces of vanilla that don’t really mix well together.

It’s fair to say that I was whelmed by this brew. I’ve got to give their marketing team props for calling this even Red Ribbon. No doubt that was at the extreme end of the stretched ethics that is a corporate marketing department. First Loser Brew would probably be more appropriate. See how it rates against other root beers.

2 out of 5 root beer kegs

Aug 202014

A pint of Boundary Bay Root BeerLast week I was contacted by one of my Tesla Motors Club friends, Brianman. He had my hat which was left at a barbecue down in Loomis when we were reveling in the glory that was TMC Connect. So he had my Teslive hat, and he wanted to meet up and give it to me as well as go questing for brew because he had a Tesla and it is the ultimate root beer questing machine. I knew of the perfect place, Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro (or the BBBB as I have taken to calling it). I’d known of this place for over a year, and while I was able to use excuses of a train festival, a hockey game, a Tulip Festival, a Ferry Ride, and a state park to justify traveling to various local breweries with the family, I couldn’t come up with any reason to go all the way to Bellingham. I mean what’s up there? Death Cab for Cutie …’s … hometown? Yeah. But since there’s a supercharger close by a Tesla changes everything. And so on a gray Thursday evening we set off on our quest. After navigating copious amounts of traffic on the way, we arrived at our destination. We had to wait to be seated so we went to the beer garden to get pints of root beer. There was a live band and people milling about and hula hoops and it was a fun place, though the table was crooked as you can see in my picture of the root beer.

The Body is a dark and minty one. It’s a little spicy and doesn’t have too much licorice or wintergreen. The Bite is a little spicy and the fizz is good. The Head is short but foamy. It’s gone too quickly, unfortunately. The Aftertaste is a sort of minty licorice that doesn’t last too long.

So basically it’s a conservative dark root beer. Nothing bad, nothing exceptional. No chances taken, nothing lost. Drinkable, but only that. With the low head and dark flavor it’d make a good float, which is advertised on their menu. The food was wonderful. I had their Steamers, a nice plate of local, wild, Manila clams in a cream sauce with tomatoes and caramelized onions. I can’t claim that the root beer is a perfect accompaniment for this dish, but it is worth trying if you’re into clams.

Three kegs

My dinner of steamers. So delicious.

My dinner of steamers. So delicious.

The Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro

The Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro

The festive beer garden. I wonder if Death Cab ever played here ... Notice the hula hooping girls on the left.

The festive beer garden. I wonder if Death Cab ever played here … Notice the hula hooping girls on the left.

Aug 132014

O-So Vanilla Butterscotch Root Beer BottleYet another resurrected brand by Orca Beverages. Though this one bucks the Orca standard format of label design, it’s originality points are vastly diminished by it’s name, which is on the lines of Dang! That’s Good and So Duh! They predictably couldn’t resist the “O-So Delicious” text on the bottle. This is but the third butterscotch brew I’ve encountered and the only vanilla butterscotch root beer. I wonder what it is with annoying names and butterscotch anyways? Is it the whole, “we’re such rebels, we won’t follow proper naming conventions or flavor conventions, just check out our amazing butterscotch?” However, like so many hipsters whose originality comes from bucking convention, they’ve become a convention in unto themselves and the only irony is now the lack thereof. At least this one, in true hipster fashion, can claim to have been doing butterscotch before butterscotch was mainstream, at least if their “since 1946″ is to be believed.

The Body is sweet and hollow. While it’s in your mouth there are really only faint traces of butterscotch and vanilla and not a lot else. I search in vain for the classic root beer flavors. The Bite from spices is non-existent but the carbonation level is very sharp and prickly so you can’t really taste much until you swallow. It does, however, feel very smooth and rich in your mouth. The Head is medium tall and lingers awhile but not forever like some. The Aftertaste is a solid vanilla and butterscotch flavor that still doesn’t have a lot of characteristic root beer to it.

Because why would a butterscotch root beer actually taste like root beer? I actually think this has the best butterscotch flavor profile of the three, but it has the worst root beer profile. Probably due to the fact that root beer which tastes like root beer is too mainstream. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three kegs