May 162018

WBC Root Beer BottleSeal of ApprovalWBC’s “root” is in Goose Island. If you’ve been following the root beer world closely these last few years, you’d know that it used to be called WBC Goose Island Root Beer, and long before that, there was merely Goose Island Root Beer, without any WBC. The first version was made by the Goose Island Brewery in starting in 1988 and lasted into the early 2000’s when I got a hold of it and gave it a slightly above average review. Sometime later WBC, the WIT Beverage Company (got to love nested acronyms) took over production of the root beer and changed the labels. This continued until late 2014 when Goose Island was dropped entirely. This was done for two reasons. Number one was that minors were supposedly sneaking Goose Island beer into the root beer carriers and fooling the tellers. And the supposed reason two is that the licensing agreement for the Goose Island name had expired and why bother renewing it. The bottle says that they have remained true to the original recipe which is never pasteurized and continue in a tradition of quality and innovation. Part of that innovation has been changing the recipe from the original, as a comparison of the late 90’s Goose Island that I tried and this bottle reveal slightly different ingredients and nutrition. Let’s see how innovative they really were.

The Body is sweet and full with creamy vanilla and a caramelized sugar flavor. The Bite is rather smooth but there is some spice in there, giving a nice little nip. The Head is nice and frothy, though it could be taller, it is sufficient. The Aftertaste is a light vanilla flavor with some spiced cane sugar that lasts the right amount of time.

No one aspect stands out as amazing, but taken all together this brew is high quality. So they have innovated properly, and earned an extra half a keg over the original. Nicely done. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

May 092018

Rileys_big Riley’s Brewing Company started as a home brewing hobby in a garage of a guy named Daniel. He came from a long line of home brewers and would have monthly gatherings with friends and family as he perfected his craft. But one day he left a fermenting carboy in the pantry which exploded and his wife had had enough. So he started his own brewery in Madera California, and it grew and grew, and he added sodas because why not, and he made a root beer, because he is a wise man of exquisite tastes who knows that if you have a brewery without a root beer you’re not doing it right. His root beer is handcrafted and uses a wonderful mixture of raw roots and spices and herbs and extracts and should probably be amazing if he mixed them on the right ratios.

The Body is not very sweet, but it’s rich and complex. Various root flavors mingle with vanilla, honey, molasses, and spices yet they don’t quite hit that perfect mix. It’s still quite good though. The Bite is nice and spicy. The Head is just, wow, so impressively tall, and it lingers too. The Aftertaste is vanilla and honey.

This is almost there, but just doesn’t quite do it for me despite all of the quality ingredients. It’s not sweet enough for one. I mean, despite cane sugar, honey, and molasses, it has around 25% less sugar than the average root beer, and unfortunately it shows. Add that to a not quite perfect mix, and you have a very near miss, but still a good effort. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs

Apr 252018

Bull's Head Root Beer Bottle Awhile back I got in touch with another Seattle reviewer, The SodaFry, who reviews all sodas as well as french fries and french fry dishes, which includes fried green tomatoes evidently. Anyways he went up to Canada to find sodas and fries and brought back a few extra bottles of this stuff for which I traded him some extra, hard to find brews that I had. It all went down in the underground bus tunnel at Westlake and kind of felt like some black market deal. Bull’s Head is a Quebecois beverage company that started in 1896 making ginger ale. It has a long and storied history with their ginger ale, while the root beer is a more recent edition. It has a really cool stubby little bottle that few other root beers have every come in. The label also looks old fashioned, like it might have back in the 1890s, and coupled with the stubby bottle, gives the brew a very unique and sort of special feel. It’s also 100% natural for people who care about that sort of thing.

The Body is mild with vanilla as the prominent flavor. It isn’t a very sweet brew, but it is well balanced. The Bite is mild as well with only a little spice. The Head has good height but dissipates quickly. The Aftertaste is light vanilla with some bitter hints.

All in all this is a pleasant and refreshing brew. While it has great potential, it just doesn’t deliver enough. It just needs a bit more oomph in all departments. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three kegs