May 222016

Some Old Brews Sometimes we wish we could go back and capture an opportunity that we’ve missed. Sometimes those opportunities are root beers that we wished we’d bought when we saw them on sale. Sometimes, years later, we find those vintage bottles and wonder, could this really be a second chance? Often I’ve had those thoughts, yet I’ve never bought those old bottles that you see sometimes on Ebay and the like, figuring that they’d be long past the date where they’d taste remotely like they originally did. But a month ago someone posted on a Facebook group that he had a bunch of root beers, only 10 years old. I spied some that I’d missed, Hires, Journey Great Northern, and Sonora. He said they were only $10. Which sounded like quite the deal. With shipping it should only be around $20 which isn’t too much to risk unreviewably old brews. Maybe one or more would still be good. I told him that I’d buy them. After some back and forth about Payment the final total came to $40, which I wasn’t very pleased about. I mean, I know you can ship flat rate USPS for only $12, so his initial $10 had ballooned into $28 which is way more than I wanted to pay for such a thing, but I figured I’d go through with it anyways.

The first one I tried was the Journey. Journey brews have always been horrible, so maybe the horribleness of being really old would be indistinguishable from it’s original flavor and I could get a review from it. The first thing I noticed was that there was no carbonation left. It didn’t smell like root beer either. It tasted fruity and syrupy and utterly unlike root beer. The flavor can best be described as when you get a snow cone with every flavor of syrup, let it melt, and then drink the results. Not good at all, and clearly not what it originally tasted like. It wasn’t reviewable. What a disappointment. I pressed on though, and tried Hires, with similar results. Oh well.

Sonora seemed like it wasn’t quite as old. There was still some carbonation and a hint of vanilla amongst the snow cone syrup flavor. Still way gross and still not root beer. I’d like to say it was a waste, but it wasn’t, it was very informative. Now I wonder what some of those vintage bottles from the ’60’s taste like, snow cone syrup, or something different all together. Is it the fate of all old root beers to eventually degrade to the same strange state? At what age to they stop changing? I intend to find out, but not immediately, I’ve got real root beers to drink. But fear not, I’ll get to the bottom of this, for science, and for the love of root beer.

Jan 302015

Root Beer Bowl XLIX
It’s that time of year when the Super Bowl comes upon us. The biggest TV event in the US and massive celebrations shall ensue. Being from the Seattle area, this is especially exciting to see the Seahawks return as defending champions. There are many wacky ways that have been used to predict the winner, from rabbits, puppys, porcupines, search engines, and video game simulations. These are of course all rubbish. The most accurate predictor is one that I’ve known for years but only now make public. It is the Root Beer Bowl Predictor. Look at the three best bottled root beers from the respective teams’ larger home zone, Seattle area for the Seahawks, all of Massachusetts for the Patriots, and see the combined ratings. The keg difference in the rating multiplied by touchdowns gives the spread. The best root beer will win. Every time. Without question. Seriously.

So let’s get on to the teams. The team “captain” in this case is the highest rated brew from the city proper. For Seattle this is the Seal of Approval rated Jones Root Beer coming in at the lowest 4 kegs. The rest of the Seahawks’ root beer team comes from a 20 minute drive to the north in Mukilteo, WA, where Orca beverages makes the near peerless Bulldog Root Beer and the solid Brownie Caramel Cream Root Beer. This gives a team rating of 12.5 with nothing but Seal of Approval brews.

For the Patriots the captain is Emack & Bolio’s Rock It Root Beer. Very delicious but a poor Head relegates it to a mere 3.5. The rest Patriots’ Root Beer team line up comes from from Worcester, MA. The first is Polar Classics Root Beer with a respectable 3.5. Their final member is a sleeper, Ginseng UP, but not the Ginseng UP name brand root beer (which I haven’t reviewed yet), but their default private label recipe that they supply to the world’s private labelers. A Seal of Approval brew at 4 kegs. Then the Patriots’ final lineup gives them 11.

Prediction: Though the Patriots have a strong root beer lineup, it isn’t enough to overcome Seattle’s all-star lineup. I see the Seahawks winning this by 10 points. GO SEAHAWKS!!!

Root Beer Bowl Team Lineups:
Seattle: Jones – 4; Bulldog – 4.5; Brownie Caramel Cream – 4 = 12.5
Boston: Rockit – 3.5; Ginseng UP – 4, Polar – 3.5 = 11

Aug 042014

Two weeks ago I went to TMC Connect, the Tesla Motors Club conference and expo. If you’ve followed this blog, you’ll know that a lot of the draft root beers have been found while I was at conferences related to electric cars, being the expert that I am. So anyways, I was a panelist at TMC Connect and I had to find a way to Monterey, CA. I posted on the forum that if anyone wanted to carpool down, I would buy all of the electricity needed to get there. This was a joke, since Teslas can charge for free at the Superchargers. Either way, a fine fellow by the name of Paul driving from Vancouver, BC agreed to take me down.

The road trip experience in a Tesla is far different than what I was experienced with while growing up. In my youth we’d push and push, stopping only for gas and ten minute bathroom breaks. We’d cover a lot of miles but never really know much about what was in between Point A and Point B. Interestingly, for much of those trips Point A was in Washington and Point B was Sacramento. On this particular trip Sacramento was also our first stop over and I was thus fully able to appreciate the differences between the traditional road trip experience and the Tesla road trip of the future. Instead of pushing though, you need to stop every 150 miles or so to get a 30 minute charge. It was then that I realized that a Tesla with supercharging is the perfect for root beer hunting. Many of the superchargers were in places where craft root beers could be found.

Hop Valley Brewing Company near the Tesla Supercharger in Springfield Oregon

Hop Valley Brewing Company near the Tesla Supercharger in Springfield Oregon

Not far from the Centralia charger is Dick’s Brewery. Further south in Springfield the Hop Valley Brewery right next to the supercharger had their own root beer. There are several other breweries in Springfield and though I didn’t look to see if they had their own since I had already found one. In Grant’s Pass I was told that Wild River had their own root beer, and at the next stop in Mount Shasta I found Etna Brewing Company Root Beer at the supermarket near the supercharger. And these are just a few that are in the towns connected by superchargers on I-5. I’m sure that there were more places I could have found along the way, but root beer hunting was not the main objective of the trip, and I’d already had good success. None of these places we’d ever even stop in when I was a kid driving to Sacramento, and many cool experiences were likely lost. While it does take longer to road trip in an EV, I think the experience is far superior, as it forces you to enjoy everything in between.

Additionally, the idea of extremely cheap to free travel suddenly makes root beer questing guilt free and enjoyable. There are numerous breweries and root beer stands only a few hours from me but the cost doesn’t seem to justify a solo trip. With an EV, especially a Tesla, that isn’t a concern. It is my opinion that the future of automobiles is EVs, and as far as root beer questing is concerned, it’s going to be a great future indeed.