May 302018

Raley's Root Beer BottleSeal of ApprovalWay back in 2016 when I went on the Amazing Tesla Gigafactory Root Beer Road Trip, I found a supermarket near Sacramento named Raley’s. I noticed they had their own brand of bottled craft sodas but there was no root beer. I searched that display for around 20 minutes confirming this. I did get a sarsaparilla for a friend though. Later I learned that they did, in fact, carry a root beer, but it just wasn’t in stock at that time. The great Root Beer Tracker Sagi, came to the rescue, and sent me these bottles. What a pal. Now a great curiosity of this brew is that while Raley’s is headquartered in West Sacramento, the bottle says this is a product of Canada. So are they really making this up in the Mystic Land of the North and shipping it down to California? That seems a little absurd. Maybe the bottles are manufactured in Canada? Who knows? I could find out if I really tried but I just don’t feel like it. Instead I feel like drinking it.

The Body is sweet and creamy and minty with some birch flavor. It’s got a lot of nice vanilla in there as well. The Bite is nice and spicy but finishes smooth. The Head is tall and frothy. The Aftertaste is wintergreen and vanilla that is a little bitter.

This is lovely. I reminds me a lot of River City Root Beer, which makes sense seeing as they both are from Sacramento. But this is really from Canada and they have different ingredients, but I’m sure those Raley’s folks were influenced by it. This, of course is a good thing, because they made a top notch brew. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

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