May 302018

Raley's Root Beer BottleSeal of ApprovalWay back in 2016 when I went on the Amazing Tesla Gigafactory Root Beer Road Trip, I found a supermarket near Sacramento named Raley’s. I noticed they had their own brand of bottled craft sodas but there was no root beer. I searched that display for around 20 minutes confirming this. I did get a sarsaparilla for a friend though. Later I learned that they did, in fact, carry a root beer, but it just wasn’t in stock at that time. The great Root Beer Tracker Sagi, came to the rescue, and sent me these bottles. What a pal. Now a great curiosity of this brew is that while Raley’s is headquartered in West Sacramento, the bottle says this is a product of Canada. So are they really making this up in the Mystic Land of the North and shipping it down to California? That seems a little absurd. Maybe the bottles are manufactured in Canada? Who knows? I could find out if I really tried but I just don’t feel like it. Instead I feel like drinking it.

The Body is sweet and creamy and minty with some birch flavor. It’s got a lot of nice vanilla in there as well. The Bite is nice and spicy but finishes smooth. The Head is tall and frothy. The Aftertaste is wintergreen and vanilla that is a little bitter.

This is lovely. I reminds me a lot of River City Root Beer, which makes sense seeing as they both are from Sacramento. But this is really from Canada and they have different ingredients, but I’m sure those Raley’s folks were influenced by it. This, of course is a good thing, because they made a top notch brew. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

May 232018

A glass of Ellis Island Casino and Brewery Root BeerLast week I was in Las Vegas! Yes, I was down there for work, cause I go places these days. I was staying at the Aria and had a very, very busy schedule with the company’s annual user conference, which included receptions, gala dinners, shows, and many technical sessions. Tuesday was our only free night and I already had my target, just a 30 minute walk (one Vegas strip block) away. I tried to gather up a merry band of travelers but could only grab one fine coworker to accompany me on my quest. Ellis Island Casino and Brewery is a little (in Vegas terms) hotel/casino/brewery a block off the strip that’s been operating for over 50 years. It’s got a far more old style feel then those massive casino resorts on the strip, and it’s way more affordable too, featuring lower minimum bet tables, free used decks of playing cards (presents for my kids), cheap eats, and of course, it’s own root beer (and other beers but I don’t care about those). They serve their root beer in nice 20 oz glasses as you can see.

The Body is mild, yet solid with a classic creamy flavor. There’s a little wintergreen but over all there’s nothing really distinct about it. The Bite is mild as well, without much spice. It has a nice smooth finish. The Head is short, but foamy and lingers. The Aftertaste is mild sassafras with a hint of wintergreen.

Yum! A solid, classic brew, though not quite Seal worthy, it’s better than average to be sure. The food there is amazing as well. I had a 50/50 burger. 50% Angus beef and 50% ground bacon, with 2 strips of bacon, and cheddar cheese on a pretzel bun. Sooooo good! One of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Their onion rings, calamari, and fish and chips (which my comrade ordered) were also on point. And the meal for two people plus tip was only $50. This place has won the “Best Cheap Eats” and I can see why. It’s not quite worth a pilgrimage just for the root beer, but taken all together, if you visit Vegas and not Ellis Island, you’re doing it wrong.

Three and a half kegs

The 50/50 burger with onion rings and a tall, cold glass of root beer. Soooo good!

The brew vats. Does anyone know what a “Tax Determination Tank” is?

May 162018

WBC Root Beer BottleSeal of ApprovalWBC’s “root” is in Goose Island. If you’ve been following the root beer world closely these last few years, you’d know that it used to be called WBC Goose Island Root Beer, and long before that, there was merely Goose Island Root Beer, without any WBC. The first version was made by the Goose Island Brewery in starting in 1988 and lasted into the early 2000’s when I got a hold of it and gave it a slightly above average review. Sometime later WBC, the WIT Beverage Company (got to love nested acronyms) took over production of the root beer and changed the labels. This continued until late 2014 when Goose Island was dropped entirely. This was done for two reasons. Number one was that minors were supposedly sneaking Goose Island beer into the root beer carriers and fooling the tellers. And the supposed reason two is that the licensing agreement for the Goose Island name had expired and why bother renewing it. The bottle says that they have remained true to the original recipe which is never pasteurized and continue in a tradition of quality and innovation. Part of that innovation has been changing the recipe from the original, as a comparison of the late 90’s Goose Island that I tried and this bottle reveal slightly different ingredients and nutrition. Let’s see how innovative they really were.

The Body is sweet and full with creamy vanilla and a caramelized sugar flavor. The Bite is rather smooth but there is some spice in there, giving a nice little nip. The Head is nice and frothy, though it could be taller, it is sufficient. The Aftertaste is a light vanilla flavor with some spiced cane sugar that lasts the right amount of time.

No one aspect stands out as amazing, but taken all together this brew is high quality. So they have innovated properly, and earned an extra half a keg over the original. Nicely done. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs