Nov 172021

A mug of Nutty Bar Stand Root BeerSeal of ApprovalBack in July I took a road trip down to Okoboji, IA in part because I’ve never been down there and in part because I had learned about The Nutty Bar Stand. The Nutty Bar Stand is a sweet shop/concession stand in Arnolds Park, the oldest amusement park west of the Mississippi river. Arnolds Park has all of the rides you’d expect albeit it they are rather smaller and old. But it’s still good fun and the lines were short and the children and I had a blast running around to different rides until it started raining on us. It was lunchtime anyways so we took a break and then went for dessert at The Nutty Bar Stand. They serve two primary things there. Nutty bars, which are a cube of vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and then rolled in peanuts, and frosty mugs of root beer, for only $1 a mug. Now that I like! Especially because it’s good root beer.

The Body is sweet and creamy and rich. There’s that classic root beer stand flavor with a hint, of nutty? Something almost nutty in there, and it works and it’s good. The Bite is nice and spicy. The Head is what you’d hope from a stand like this, tall and foamy. The Aftertaste is vanilla with a slightly nutty finish.

Yum! A slightly more complex, nutty take on the classic root beer stand flavor. I don’t know if they nutty is intentional or just the result of mixing the root beer in a place that also has a lot of nuts, but it really added a uniqueness to the whole thing. Even without that it was a fine brew and the makers should be proud. So head on down to Okoboji if you can, get some cheap yummy brew and ride some rides and feel like a kid again.

4 kegs

The Nutty Bar Stand Root Beer Barrel

The Nutty Bar Stand Root Beer Barrel

The Nutty Bar Stand

The Nutty Bar Stand at Arnolds Park

Nov 032021

Saint Paul Brewing House Made Root Beer
Last week that esteemed root beer collector Vince was in town and had some brews to trade with me. He was staying near Saint Paul so I did a quick search and found that Saint Paul Brewing made their own root beer, so we could meet there and give it a try. I don’t know why Saint Paul Brewing calls it House Made Root Beer! with that exclamation point, but that’s what’s on their menu so I dutifully call it so. They also say that it is root beer with bite, so maybe it’ll be spicy. The brewery (brewing?) itself is made in the ruins of the old Hamm’s Brewery, which was closed in 1997. They’ve reinvigorated it and turned it into the sort of trendy place that’s all the rage these days. They even have a sweet pizza oven but I wasn’t there for pizza so we got our pints and gave it a try.

The Body has a very strong wintergreen flavor in the old fashioned style. There’s a bit of vanilla and a lot of spice. The Bite is sharp, which seems to be their goal. The Head is quite short, but it is there. The Aftertaste is bitter. Too much wintergreen so it ends quite bitter indeed.

Wow, a lot of Bite, but very bitter for a root beer. Maybe beer drinkers would appreciate that but I certainly did not. This isn’t really a brew I’d ever drink, not even with pizza. Which sadly, we didn’t have time to try due to tight schedule constraints. Maybe I’ll go back there some day, probably not, but at least it looks really cool.

2.5/5 Root Beer Kegs
Saint Paul Brewing
The root beer tap
The outside seating area with the pizza oven in the back of an old truck. It’s got atmosphere for sure.
Oct 062021

Soda Pop Bros Maple Root Beer BottleRoot beer number 2 from The Soda Pop Bros! It’s a limited edition Maple Root Beer! Because what could be more Canadian than putting maple syrup in your root beer? Apologizing for your coworkers missing a meeting because of opening day of moose season (true story by the way)? Eating poutine at a hockey game while sipping a cup of Tim Horton’s? Being all dressed as a Mounty while eating All Dressed chips and a Coffee Crisp? Maybe but maybe not, because those Canucks love their root beer like their neighbors south of the border, and maple syrup is the glue that holds their country together. The only thing I really don’t get is the beaver. Like what’s a beaver got to do with maple syrup? Maybe they cut down maple trees for their dams? I don’t know, but it’s a cute beaver that somehow feels very Canadian. Anyways, root beer.

The Body has a rich maple syrup flavor on initial contact which is followed by vanilla and aged sarsaparilla. The flavors mix well. The Bite is mild and smooth with a good mouthfeel from the maple syrup. The Head is top notch. The Aftertaste is sarsaparilla and maple. The more you drink the more the maple diminishes and the sarsaparilla grows to almost taste fruity, sadly.

Dang, I wish that Aftertaste weren’t so strong of sarsaparilla. My first drink of this and I was like “Ah, now this is the stuff!” But as I drank more I was all “Is this the stuff?” and unfortunately by the end, I was like, “This is not quite the stuff”. But it’s still better than average, and I prefer it to their normal root beer. The fact they used real maple syrup rather than maple flavor really improves the mouthfeel. It’s definitely worth a try if you can find it. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs