Nov 212018

Oak Creek Barrel Aged Root Beer Bottle This brew is a long time in the making. I’ve known of the existence of this company for a long time, promising to take root beer crafting to the next level, the level reserved for fine wines, whiskeys, and balsamic vinegar, ageing it in oak barrels, but they were never quite ready to release it. Now, finally, after a much longer wait than the required aging process, the product is ready and has been released this year. The root beer ingredients, before adding sugar, are all barrel aged for a year. There’s something about just the concept of barrel aging that has me excited, like root beer is getting taken to the next level, getting the respect it finally deserves. This company is from Chicago and makes this root beer as well as a barrel aged blonde root beer (review next week). A phone conversation with the owner some years ago revealed that he also works with the Eleven City Diner to supply their root beers, though it’s not the exact same recipes. I know of exactly one other barrel aged root beer, Weber’s, though they use birch barrels and don’t say how long they are aged. Needless to say I was excited beyond measure to try this brew.

The Body is complex and spicy with a unique, woody type favor that is no doubt the result of the barrel aging process. Yet, it’s also a little light in depth, needing just a bit more of that flavor to really shine. The Bite is sharp and spicy with lots of spices and fizz. The Head is tall and beautiful as it should be. The Aftertaste is light. That same mature, woody flavor but gone far too quickly.

This is unique, and good, but not quite all there. I like the flavors that are developed as a result of the barrel aging process, but it needs a little more oomph in there to really seal the deal. Some more vanilla or something. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs

Oct 312018

Calvin's 1836 Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval There are two things about the name of this brew that need to be mentioned. First is Calvin and the second is 1836. Calvin is the son of a man Marvin Scheidegger who opened a beverage distributorship in 1957. Calvin bought said distributorship from his father in 1973, and still runs it with his children to this very day. This distributorship (I’m gonna be honest, I’ve never written that word before so I’m breaking it in) happens to be in Hermann Missouri, a town founded by German immigrants in, you guessed it 1836. So Calvin always dreamed of making his own root beer, and he also loved his town. And with the help of a local winemaker, he has turned his dream into a reality, with the goal of making a classic barrel-style root beer of yesteryear. So how did he do?

The Body is sweet and rich and creamy with vanilla washing over a classic root beer flavor. Then a spicy Bite hits that’s both strong and complex, yet finishes smooth. The Head is wonderfully tall and frothy and doesn’t ever leave. The Aftertaste is a delicious spiced vanilla with whispers of wintergreen.

Wow! Quite a brew! Calvin, I say this as someone who has tried 399 different gourmet root beers, you have done a magnificent job. I would love to know what root beers you drank growing up, because they must have been amazing for you to strive for this brew. Your dream has become a reality, but it feels like a dream for all who have the pleasure of drinking this root beer. See how it rates against other root beers.

4.5 Kegs

Oct 242018

Private Selection Creamy Ginger Root Beer Bottle Another store brand getting the gourmet fever and bottling their root beer in glass. This one’s from the Kroger stores and not to be content with just bottling their root beers properly, they wanted to add some flair. So, they made it a “Creamy Ginger” root beer. Props to that. I love flavored root beers. Ginger root beers are not as common as some of the others like butterscotch and vanilla, but a lot of root beers have ginger, so I had high hopes for this. Their label is a bit eclectic, with numerous fonts and sizes and serifs and sans and what not. There’s also the curious bit that reads “enhanced with a touch of creamy ginger flavor with a smooth finish” While this seems straight forward, the more I read it the more confused I become. Is it the creamy ginger flavor that has the smooth finish, the whole root beer, or is the smooth finish an additional enhancement? I may never know, though perhaps the drinking of the brew enlightens in that respect.

The Body is sour and a little fruity with a strong ginger flavor and an utter lack of any of the quintessential flavors that characterize a root beer. There is a strong Bite from all of the ginger. The Head is nice. It’s tall and foamy with little tiny bubbles. The Aftertaste is more sour ginger.

Um, this is not a root beer, this is a ginger beer, and not a particularly good one either. Maybe like that curious tagline, there’s some missing punctuation in their title, like maybe they meant to say Creamy Ginger Root, Beer and not Creamy Ginger, Root Beer as we’ve all interpreted it? Or maybe they just made a really bad root beer. I may never know their true intentions, but I know I’m not drinking this again. See how it rates against other root beers.

2 out of 5 root beer kegs