Jul 112015

Indian Wells Brewing Company Special Reserve Root Beer bottleSeal of Approval Premium gourmet root beer is now officially a thing. There’d been a few before, notably Virgil’s Special Edition Bavarian Nutmeg Root Beer and Thunderbeast Black Label (blog posts coming soon). Miss Lady kind of qualifies as well. But this one finally makes it official in the way that butterscotch is no longer a unique variant of root beer. The Indian Wells Brewing Company also makes Death Valley Root Beer which, well, I’m not a fan of, to put it lightly. Despite that, when I contacted them about a mail order, they even offered to send a free sample. Now that’s some guts. The 22 ounce bottle is absolutely beautiful and wax sealed. The brew itself is aged in Iberian chestnut barrels and made with real birch, sarsaparilla, ginger, and other nice ingredients including pure cane sugar for those who care about that.

The Body is full and complex with a rich and creamy texture and an aged flavor. There’s a dark rooty core accented by a little licorice. There are notes of birch and wintergreen and some vanilla. There’s also a hint of bitterness but this gives way to more pleasant flavors. The Bite is solid and spicy at just the right amount. The Head is excellent. It’s very tall and foamy to the bottom of the mug. The Aftertaste is rich vanilla with caramel hints.

Wow. I wasn’t expecting that level of complexity and spiciness. It’s quite a bit different from the standard vanilla and honey brews I constantly rave about, but I love it all the same. This is one you can quaff, but is far better to drink slowly to savor all that is going on. I’m proud to give this one my Seal of Approval. Finally, a premium gourmet root beer that’s worth getting for more than just the awesome bottle. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

Jul 082015

Victory Root Beer BottleSo this one was one of the trickier ones to get a hold of. When I learned about it I called the Victory Brewing Company to see if I could order some. They said ‘no’ they wouldn’t mail order it. They “couldn’t” because “logistics issues” I pleaded and explained that I wanted to review it for my site. They finally said that they could send me some as a promotional sample, but only if I promised not to post about it for at least several months. That’s the strangest request I’ve ever had. They said they don’t want to build expectations for people and then disappoint them when they can’t mail order it. Still, that’s really strange. This thing called the internet kind of makes it hard to keep a secret of your product that your actively selling. Nevertheless, I’ll honor such a request to get a new root beer. Plus my queue was a year and a half out by that time. I promised I’d keep the secret. And I got some free root beer over it. Not a bad turn of events, though strange.

The Body is medium strength with vanilla but turns sour and fruity; a rich and creamy fruity, but still fruity. The Bite is decent with spices but has a smooth finish. The Head is impeccable. It’s very tall and frothy and foamy and wonderful. The Aftertaste is a fruity vanilla that builds as you drink it.

I never was one for fruity root beers. This one isn’t a bad fruity, but not a good fruity either. The whole root beer is pretty good without the fruity. The extra nice Head bumps it up a bit. I’d drink it again, if it were available. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three kegs

Jul 012015

Root 66 Root Beer BottleThe first Route 66 themed root beer I ever encountered. It was one of the three from that Seattle Mariners game when I was in high school and one of the first probably 20 root beers I ever had. Interestingly, this was made in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is most decidedly not on Route 66. They say that they created it as a tribute to that road, but still, Virginia just seems out of place to have such a thing. That’d be like me making a Jamestown Root Beer up here in Washington as a tribute to the original American colony. Sure I could do it, but it wouldn’t make a lot of sense. Anyway I think they really just made it because the pun was too irresistible. Some people just love their puns, myself included, and will go to great lengths to create the appropriate context to use one that they find especially clever, despite the fact that the vast majority of the population does not share the sentiment. We pun-ishers are such an under appreciated lot. So someone at Roadside Beverage Company (the company that makes this) loved the Root 66 root beer so much that even though he was in Virginia, he figured it was his only shot to send his pun to the world. I thank him for his determination.

This has a complex Body with too much Bite. Head is ok. The Aftertaste could use vanilla.

A lot of the complexity came from the chicory root, sweet birch, and sarsaparilla root they added in addition to the other natural and artificial flavors. It had too strong an anise flavor though, which was not appreciated. This was the only root beer with a stong anise flavor in it that I could at all stand at the time of reviewing, there have been some others since then though this was the first. It’s not a bad brew, but not anything outstanding. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three kegs