Nov 162016

A pint of Aslan Brewing Company Rachelle's Root BeerSo last weekend my family and I went up to Bellingham for an IEEE PES event at the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention. It was really cool (for a nerdy engineer like myself). And I even won a raffle to get to stand in a big Faraday cage and get blasted by a 4,000,000 V Tesla coil. Fun times. And wouldn’t you know, there’s another brewery in Bellingham that makes their own root beer. Aslan Brewing Company was conceived in 2012 and became a full brewpub a year later in 2013. Their philosophy is on locally sourced and organic ingredients with minimal environmental impact. They make a ginger beer along with Rachelle’s Root Beer. I should have asked who Rachelle is because the website says nothing about her but she is listed on the menu so I’ve dutifully named this after her. When I showed up with my family, everyone was hungry and there was a long wait. The place was crowded and it was pouring rain. I decided to just get a pint of this for review and then go somewhere a bit quieter for dinner.

The Body is bitter with an herbal sarsaparilla flavor. It really isn’t sweet at all. The Bite is nice and spicy and the Head is tall and foamy, but the Aftertaste is bitter, just plain bitter.

Ugh. So bitter. I know they’re going for the whole organic and local, but surely they could have come up with a sweet creamy root beer nevertheless. Though I suppose cane sugar and vanilla doesn’t really grow in Washington so maybe that’s the problem. I give props for trying but really, steer clear of this one.

2 out of 5 root beer kegs

Nov 092016

A glass of Mammoth Root BeerSeal of ApprovalMammoth is a fancy sandwich shop in the Eastlake neighborhood in Seattle. Their sandwiches are all ice age-y named things like Saber Tooth, Predator, Dodo, Neaderthal, and whatnot. In addition to their most epic sandwiches, they brew several flavors of house sodas to compliment the many other beers they carry on tap. A coworker of mine told me that they had their own root beer so of course I wasted little time in dropping by. I went for lunch with said coworker and another to give it a try. We missed the bus so we took a Lyft, and the coworker in the front seat kept confusing the driver by pointing things out to us to look at. Though that wasn’t anywhere near as entertaining as our ride back on the bus, where my complaining about massive memory allocated to “miscellaneous files” causing a memory shortage in my Samsung phone elicited some dubious advice from a fellow passenger, a woman of questionable sanity, who insisted I just needed to go to the trash folder and empty it, just like in her Windows phone … she even tried to show me how to do it. But this was superseded when we exited the bus and saw a man trying to remove the anti-theft cap from a vodka bottle by banging it repeatedly against a newspaper vending machine in the middle of a busy sidewalk. I guess he really needed a shot. Both of my coworkers were quite amused at my ordering, emphatically stating there could be no ice and I wanted it with lots of foam, but servers complied. All told, the trip was an amazing success even without the sandwiches and root beer, but that root beer would have been worth it in the most boring of trips.

This brew has a Body that is rich and complex with wintergreen, caramel, vanilla, and even some licorice wrapped around a sassafras core. It’s a little dark but well proportioned and it comes off as delicious. It has a nice spicy Bite too, with those spices adding heat and complexity to the overall flavor. Despite this, it feels very smooth in your mouth. The Head is of decent height and nice and frothy, if you ask them to make it foamy. The Aftertaste is a lingering caramel, wintergreen, and vanilla, all wrapped up sticky and sweet like that makes you both happy and wanting more.

Delicious, and quite unique. I was on the fence for quite awhile as to whether or not this would get the Seal because it was so different. But on my second glass, I knew without a doubt that the brew deserved it. It’s not the sort that you quaff down, but the sort of brew you want to sip slowly and enjoy. And unless you’re pretty rich, you’ll have to as this is the most expensive brew I’ve ever had. $4 for an 8-ounce glass. They even have a line on the glass so they make sure you don’t get extra. And no refills. But it was so good I had to get that second glass. But it was a different server and as she walked off to fill the glass with ice I had to repeatedly scream over the din not to put ice in it. Then it was too late and I demanded a fresh glass because DO NOT DILUTE MY ROOT BEER! All to the vast enjoyment of my coworkers. In addition to being delicious on its own, it goes amazingly well with their sandwiches. I had the Predator, with fried chicken leg, pork belly, Swiss, arugula, roasted red peppers, and caper aioli all on a rustic artisan roll. So, so good. This place is expensive, but worth every penny. You won’t be disappointed.

4 kegs

Mammoth Soda Taps

The Mammoth Soda Taps.

Mammoth Root Beer Sign

The “House Made” root beer sign.

Mammoth sandwich, the Predator

The Predator, one of the most amazing sandwiches I’ve ever had.

Nov 022016

Brix Soda Co Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval Brix is a recently started soda company from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded by friends in the restaurant industry, it was their goal to present new craft flavors to serve their guests. This pleases me immensely as I’m so tired of going to restaurants and being given a drink menu that’s got dozens of wines, beers, and cocktails and then Coke or Pepsi products for anyone not desiring to imbibe. After their initial success with just soda fountains, they took to bottling. They currently have 13 fountain syrup flavors and 6 bottled flavors, including this root beer. Like most new craft soda companies these days, they have shunned HFCS and embraced the pure, unadulterated sucrose found in cane sugar. And speaking of sugar, the definition of Brix (symbol °Bx) is the percentage of sugar in an aqueous solution, 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution being 1 Brix. Their simple yet classy, modern label also has this helpful definition. So you can drink a soda and learn about scientific units at the same time.

The Body rich and full with a classic creamy vanilla root beer taste. There is a prominent caramelized sugar flavor that ties everything together wonderfully. The Bite is decent and it ends smooth, there could be a tad more spice. The Head is rather short, and thus the only glaring flaw, but it lasts and so it isn’t a fatal flaw. The Aftertaste is lovely caramel and vanilla.

Delicious! I could drink gallons of this and not get tired of it. Amazingly, despite a nice sweet flavor, it only has 33 grams of sugar compared to nearly 40 grams in the average bottled root beer. Which means that Brix has less Brix than other sodas … But it’s far better than most of them. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs