Jun 252014

Pallino Root Beer Pallino Pastaria is a modern Italian fast food type place that’s all around the Seattle area. Evidently the name comes from the small clay ball used in Bocce because why not? Everywhere I’ve lived over here has had a Pallino not far from it. Granted, that’s really only two areas, U-District and Redmond, but still. Despite this I’ve only ever eaten there twice and that was in the last year. Where I actually found this was at Sea-Tac airport when I was invited to the University of Washington for visit days while I was deciding which grad school to attend. On my way back to Utah I noticed the root beers at their little outlet and bought three bottles for reviewing. This was back when they actually allowed liquids on a plane. The label is simple and circular with the ingredients wrapped all around it. I find it classy and unassuming. They actually use real sassafras root bark in this one which is really cool, but they use licorice as well, and more of it than the sassafras.

The sweet Body was light on everything else though the licorice was noticeable. The Bite was light as well, giving a smooth brew. The Head was rather large but fizzed away quickly. The Aftertaste was a sticky licorice and vanilla flavor.

Ugh, too much licorice. I can’t abide these heavy licorice brews. This one wasn’t too heavy, but the other flavors were lighter than I prefer. The licorice then ruins what would otherwise be a pleasurable experience. See how it rates against other root beers.

2.5/5 Root Beer Kegs

Jun 182014

Spike's Root Beer Bottle This brew comes from Spike’s Junkyard Dogs, a hotdog restaurant chain in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. From the looks of their site they make some pretty epic all natural fresh hotdogs and claim to be the “World’s Best Hotdog-Maybe Better!” I’m sure they’re better than anything you can get on the International Space Station so why not? The brew itself is made by Empire Bottling Works to “[their] specification, bottled in 12oz. brown bottles, privately labeled, and available only in [their] stores. It’s and old fashioned ‘adult’ root beer – less sweet, less foamy, and a nice finish” According to the “Top Dog” Ok, I know I’m overdoing it on the quotes this time. Sorry. The ingredients to confirm it’s different than any of the other root beers I’ve had coming out of the Empire. They opted to go with the dog theme for their chain and root beer, even putting a dog on the label, though that fits a lot better with them than with a lot of others. When it arrived my wife I saw a large dark, wet looking splotch covering the whole bottom corner of the box. I flew into a rage at the postal service destroying yet more of my precious root beers and quickly opened the box to reveal perfectly dry and intact contents. The mark was a huge grease stain, no doubt from the hotdogs. Brilliant Spike, give me a heart attack.

This has a dark Body with a dominant sassafras flavor. The cane sugar is evident as well as the slightest whiff of wintergreen and that’s it. No creamy, no spicy, no licorice-y no nothing. It isn’t overly sweet yet just barely sweet enough. It’s very simple. The Bite is simple as well, some carbonation burn and that’s really it. It is nice and smooth from start to finish. The Head is very tall and decently frothy. It fizzes down at a moderate pace but still leaves traces of foam to the very end. The Aftertaste is some more sassafras with the tiniest bit of wintergreen.

There is nothing unpleasant about this brew. It’s got a solid root beer core without the slightest extra bit of accents, the complete opposite of the Intergalactic Root Beer I had right before it. This is a root beer that everyone will like, but I doubt anyone will truly love. There’s just nothing extra whatsoever. They say on the label that it’s best when you “lap it up while dining on one of Spike’s World Famous Junkyard Hot Dogs” and I’m inclined to believe them. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three kegs

Jun 112014

A pint of Steelhead Root Beer Original Spicy Draft So I unexpectedly found myself in San Francisco a few weeks back to meet some people about some … important stuff … We were scheduled to meet at some Italian place called Il Fornaio. When we got to the parking lot (which had individually metered spaces which only took quarters) the first thing that I noticed was across the street was the Steelhead Brewery. Dang, why couldn’t we have scheduled lunch there? I love Steelhead Root Beer. But after our lunch we were meeting someone else and I knew just the place to do it. When we got there I ordered a root beer and as I drank it I realized that it was quite different than the bottled stuff. The menu even confirmed it. I ordered another one and commenced with the review.

The Body is dark and spicy with an anise and wintergreen flavor. There’s not too much anise, thankfully. The Bite lives up to its name though it has a nice smooth finish. The Head is nice and tall and fizzes away at a medium. The Aftertaste more licorice and a bit of wintergreen and cloves.

This is probably my favorite take on this genre of dark and spicy brews, but the anise flavor was just a little too strong for me in the second glass. I wanted a third glass to really figure out what rating to give it, but the waiter never came back to ask if I wanted anything else, so I’ll just go with the lower review of what I was thinking of. This is a pretty good brew by all accounts, but not as good as their bottled recipe.

Three and a half kegs

The view from the parking lot.

The view from the parking lot.

The menu, proving this to be a different recipe than the bottled brew.

The menu, proving this to be a different recipe than the bottled brew.