Nov 042020

Virgil's Handcrafted Root Beer Bottle Virgil’s has been around for a long time. It was ballyhooed to me greatly in the 90’s by many only to leave me quite disappointed when I finally tried it. Last year, however, there was a shake up in the company for some reason. I don’t know all of the details, but for some reason the bottling was moved to a new location, the fan favorite, Bavarian Nutmeg (the only one I liked) was discontinued, and the recipe and name was changed on the flagship root beer. Now it sports an all natural recipe and the name Handcrafted Root Beer as opposed to the original Micro Brewed designation. I guess the new bottler brews bigger batches and they do so by hand? I don’t know, but it means that I can write a new review on the new recipe with the new name cause it’s a new root beer and that makes me happy. The label picture is also slightly different yet similar and somehow not as cool, like the Digitally Remastered Edition… Anyways, root beer.

The Body is kind of dark and rather complex. There’s sarsaparilla, licorice, a hint of fruity, and some other stuff going on but it doesn’t really work. The Bite is mild with no discernable spices yet harsh at the same time in mouthfeel. The Head is tall initially but fizzes down really quickly. The Aftertaste is sarsaparilla with licorice hints and fruity notes.

I like this less than their original and I wasn’t a fan of that. I don’t know how they made it worse, but they did. It just doesn’t mix well. Their last version at least had a balanced flavor, even though I didn’t like it. This is all over the place while also failing to be good. So yeah, I don’t know what they hoped to accomplish by getting rid of their best root beer flavor and making their flagship worse, but I don’t have a lot of hope for this company. See how it rates against other root beers.

2 out of 5 root beer kegs

Oct 072020

Lakefront Brewery Golden Maple Root Beer Bottle Another blonde root beer! I mean, they don’t call it a blonde root beer, they call it golden, but it’s clearly a blonde root beer, even though you’re just looking at an empty bottle it was a nice blonde color. I should probably take pictures of a full bottle but I didn’t from the beginning so I couldn’t for all of them which means inconsistencies which I hate and… I think this is only number three for me so far, so I’m excited. Also, a maple root beer, which I love. As a maple syrup maker, I love all things maple. Lakefront Brewery is in Milwaukee and was started in 1987. They have made their root beer for some time, but it used to always be in plastic bottles, which of course made me frustrated. But now they have seen the light, and put it in glass, where all gourmet root beers deserve to live (and kegs, but anyways). So now that I can finally, after all these years, try this, was it worth the wait?

The Body is sweet with a subtle maple flavor complimenting a solid core. There’s a hint of vanilla in there as well. The Bite isn’t very spicy but is a little harsh feeling. It doesn’t finish smooth and I like a smooth finish. The Head is nice and tall with medium staying power. The Aftertaste is a mild maple vanilla flavor that while pleasant, isn’t amazing.

This is good, just not great. It needs a little more, the maple is nice, but some more complexity of flavors would push it to the next level, the Seal of Approval level. But it’s still a fine root beer that if you’re a maple lover or a blonde root beer lover, or just a regular root beer lover, you’ll want to give it a try. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs

Sep 022020

BJ's Handcrafted Root Beer Bottle I remember back in 2014 I serendipitously discovered BJ’s and their root beer. Jump forward to 2017 and they started bottling it, but I had just moved away from any state that had a BJ’s and I was left to wonder if I should ever get a chance to try it again. Especially since I’d learned that they’d reformulated their recipe to have all natural flavors, including alginate, my very favorite ingredient! They have a very cool bottle too, with important dates in their root beer history on the back, which makes it easy for me to throw out facts without even needing to type key words into Google. So convenient. Anyhow, I was all locked down by Covid and the helpful Root Beer Tracker was able to make it to the post office and get some out to me. So finally, I could give it a review.

The Body is sweet with a little vanilla and a generic creamy root beer flavor. The Bite is rather lacking without any real spices to speak of. The Head is quite tall and foamy but does fizz down a little too quickly. The Aftertaste is a mild vanilla, cane sugar, and sassafras mix.

This is a nice middle of the road brew that everyone will enjoy but no one will rave about. It seems a little weaker than I remember from on tap, but has a better Head. I think all in all, it rates about the same. Good job at least BJ’s there are plenty worse brews out there. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs