May 032023

The second root beer from my Raleigh trip. I honestly never know when or if I’ll be back to visit that customer so I had to try and get all of the root beers I could. Clouds Brewing was started in 2015 with the original intent of “German inspired, American made” beer. They also were wise enough to have an American inspired, American made root beer, which puts them head and shoulders above most other breweries. They’ve got a brew house and a tap room, but only the tap room serves the root beer on draft, while the brewhouse with the full restaurant serves it in cans *shudder* so I couldn’t eat my dinner there that night, but since the tap room was a short five minutes from my hotel, I could easily drop by before dinner.

The Body is sweet and complex with wintergreen and vanilla, some licorice and other spices with an old fashioned flavor profile. There’s really a lot going on in there and it blends well. There’s some solid Bite from said spices but it is still rather smooth. The Head is medium and lasts awhile. The Aftertaste is wintergreen that turns bitter but then finishes with a buttery caramely vanilla-ish flavor that is really quite nice.

This is truly a sipping brew, if you drink it fast the bitterness becomes overpowering but if you take small sips that final, lovely flavor can shine. I feel a Seal of Approval brew needs to be one that you can both sip and chug, which this is sadly not. But it is quite a fine brew to sit back and relax with if you want to visit the tap room for awhile.

Three and a half kegs

The Clouds Brewing brew vats and the taps. I always love a tap room with the stuff just out like that.
Apr 052023

Back in early November I was in Raleigh visiting the local utility for DERMS reasons, obviously, and making the most of my evenings by finding fine dining and brews. I’d been ro Raleigh nearly 10 years before trying to be a professor at NC State but that didn’t work out. For some reason I also utterly failed to get any amazing and noteworthy food or root beer then, so this was basically like being in Raleigh for the very first time. On my bucket list were shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, BBQ, and two breweries. Raleigh Brewing being the first of those two. Raleigh Brewing was opened in 2013 by the first woman to own a brewery in North Carolina. In addition to the brewery they have a sister store attached to the tab room, Atlantic Brew Supply, which is a home brew supply shop. They have 32 taps, including their root beer, but only food trucks so I grabbed this brew before dinner.

The Body is mild and watery and not very sweet. The flavors are subtle, I get a bit of anise and something herbal. It really is rather weak. The Bite has a hint of spice and then pretty mild. Also mild in carbonation. The Head is short and goes away quickly. The Aftertaste is, you guessed it, faint, and gone quickly. Was there herbal notes in there? Who could say.

This is not really unpleasant but it’s utterly disappointing. It just falls flat in basically every category. Maybe I just got a bad batch or maybe they like it this way, but I sure don’t. Was glad I got to go somewhere else for dinner, where I had the most amazing chicken and waffles ever, but that’s another non-root beer story for another day. Stay away from this place unless you really must have a bad root beer.

2 out of 5 root beer kegs

The Raleigh Brewing taps (some of them). Root Beer is the far left

Mar 012023

Back in September I was in Albuquerque again, doing DERMS and eating green chilies. For dinner the second night we decided to find a new root beer, knowing there were several in the area. This time we picked Canteen Brewhouse. Canteen claims to be Albuquerque’s longest standing brewery, operating since 1994, though, originally, it was Il Vicino Brewing Company. Not sure why they changed their name, I didn’t ask. Neither did they offer to tell me. Interestingly Il Vicino Pizza still exists and has a house root beer, though I think it’s probably the same? Maybe a great schism occurred. Either way, I went to give their brew a try.

The Body features black licorice and some vanilla. It’s neither too sweet nor too strong. In fact it’s a little on the mild side which makes me happy because I don’t like strong black licorice flavor. There’s a little wintergreen but much less than expected for the amount of licorice. The Bite is spicy, with clove and some others I can’t quite place. It finishes smooth and reminds me of a licorice spice gum drop. The Head is medium short and fizzes down too quickly but not two second head style. The Aftertaste is some light licorice and vanilla.

It’s okay. Not great, not terrible. A decent drinkable. Their food is quite interesting, sandwiches and starters. I had their New Mexiterrainian sandwich, which had salami, prosciutto, and a green chili slaw on it. I never knew I needed New Mexican fusion cuisine before this trip, but wow, it’s good. This place is worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Three kegs

The New Mexiterrainian Sandwhich. Pretty good. A flavor I never expected.