Nov 212018

Oak Creek Barrel Aged Root Beer Bottle This brew is a long time in the making. I’ve known of the existence of this company for a long time, promising to take root beer crafting to the next level, the level reserved for fine wines, whiskeys, and balsamic vinegar, ageing it in oak barrels, but they were never quite ready to release it. Now, finally, after a much longer wait than the required aging process, the product is ready and has been released this year. The root beer ingredients, before adding sugar, are all barrel aged for a year. There’s something about just the concept of barrel aging that has me excited, like root beer is getting taken to the next level, getting the respect it finally deserves. This company is from Chicago and makes this root beer as well as a barrel aged blonde root beer (review next week). A phone conversation with the owner some years ago revealed that he also works with the Eleven City Diner to supply their root beers, though it’s not the exact same recipes. I know of exactly one other barrel aged root beer, Weber’s, though they use birch barrels and don’t say how long they are aged. Needless to say I was excited beyond measure to try this brew.

The Body is complex and spicy with a unique, woody type favor that is no doubt the result of the barrel aging process. Yet, it’s also a little light in depth, needing just a bit more of that flavor to really shine. The Bite is sharp and spicy with lots of spices and fizz. The Head is tall and beautiful as it should be. The Aftertaste is light. That same mature, woody flavor but gone far too quickly.

This is unique, and good, but not quite all there. I like the flavors that are developed as a result of the barrel aging process, but it needs a little more oomph in there to really seal the deal. Some more vanilla or something. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs

Nov 142018

A much of Pub Dog Draft Root Beer Last week I was in Baltimore on business (at the time of writing this post and it’s going live, I’m back in Baltimore, but more on that next week?). There was of course, one thing I had to get, crab cakes! Ha, you thought I’d say root beer, which is also true, but, you know, nice lump Maryland crab cakes are kind of a must. I’d diligently searched for root beer but not found anything. So, after an early dinner, gorging myself on crab cakes and seafood, I settled into my hotel room, brushed my teeth, got in my PJs and was setting to watch some Anime and YouTube, and then I figured I should browse for root beer just a little longer. I noticed in one of the comments on one of the breweries the line “for a place that makes their own root beer” and realized my early evening of relaxing was over. There were brews to be had! Since I’d already brushed my teeth, I’d need to eat again so the root beer wouldn’t taste nasty, which resulted in my having a rather hobbitish evening of getting a supper after my dinner. The place in question is Pub Dog, a draft house/pizza joint with two locations in the Baltimore area. They give you all your drinks in pairs, which was interesting and led to a rather humorous happening of me saying I’d like a water too, getting two mugs of water, which made me try to clarify that I meant I wanted a water also, to which they responded by bringing me another two mugs of water. But they also brought me two mugs of root beer so after a few pizza slices, I was ready to get to reviewing.

The Body is sweet with a candy-ish flavor. There’s spices and a little vanilla and some wintergreen and it all works quite well. The Bite is spicy, though not very smooth. The Head is medium but gone quickly. The Aftertaste is a nice caramelized sugar flavor with a bit of wintergreen.

It’s a nice solid brew, but not top notch. Yet, it isn’t really generic so it’s worth trying if you’re around. Their pizza was quite nice as well and it has a fun atmosphere and is open until 2 AM even on weekdays, should you ever be taken by a sudden, midnight, desire for a draft root beer.

Three and a half kegs

My Pizza, 2 mugs of root beer and 3 of my 4 mugs of water.

My Pizza, 2 mugs of root beer and 3 of my 4 mugs of water.

Nov 072018

A frosty mug of 1919 root beerSeal of ApprovalMy 400th Root Beer! I wanted it to be special, and 1919 was the most widely distributed, iconic root beer left that I hadn’t tried. They don’t distribute to the West Coast, but it’s found all across the northern Mid West. Once I found myself in Minnesota, not only was it all over, but the Schell’s Brewery that makes it was only an hour and a half away. Schell’s is the 2nd oldest family run brewery in America. It’s in New Ulm, Minnesota, a town founded by German Immigrants. The brewery offers guided tours of their historic operations (pics below). They also have a large garden with peacocks wandering about and a deer pen. It’s a perfect place for a day trip with the family. The 1919 root beer was their response to prohibition, which put many a brewery under. They’ve been making 1919 continuously ever since. The only way to get it on glass is to buy one of their commemorative mugs, which I did after the tour.

This has a rich, full Body with hints of vanilla and caramel and awash with a complex blend of spices. It’s slightly dark, yet perfectly proportioned to be utterly delicious. The Bite is strong and full from all of those spices yet it isn’t overpowering. As I like my Bites to be. The Head is a good height and lingers. The Aftertaste is a faint, spiced wintergreen and vanilla that leaves you begging for more.

Oh dang! Now that is a root beer! I can see why it’s been such a hit, and why the brewery survived prohibition. Not only is it amazing, but it’s also unique, which after trying 400 root beers, is saying a lot. This is hand’s down, one of the top root beers I’ve ever tried. I’m so glad I can find it all over where I live now.

4.5 Kegs

The Schell’s Brewery

The Schell’s Bottling Line

A brewery machine that was patented by one of the Schell’s Brewery presidents

A machine in the historic brewery

Tanks of some sort

The historic copper kettle. Used from the 1800’s till the late 1990’s

The 1919 taps in the tasting room

The Schell’s Brewery Tasting Room at the end of the tour.

Some of the 1919 brew vats.

The bar in the Schell’s tasting room.