Apr 042018

Last week I was in Sacramento for work, meeting with the local utility as I’m wont to do these days. Now if you’ve kept up with this blog, you’ll know that Sacramento is a city that has quite the storied past with me, though it’s been the first time I’ve been back there in around five years. On top of visiting relatives, I needed to hit up a brewery for root beer. Not any brewery would do, however, I was looking for River City Brewing Company, not to be confused with River City Root Beer or the other River City Root Beer. This brewery and I go way back, back to the first year of my gourmet root beer loving, before I even launched my site. I tried it when we were in Old Sacramento 20 years ago. I thought it was amazing. The next year when I had started the site, I was back and tried it again, but they put ice in it and it tasted not so good. So for 19 years I’ve been wondering, just how good is this root beer, really? The brewery has since moved, from the mall by Old Sac, to Carmichael, which was right by my hotel, making this even easier. This time I remembered to tell them no ice. I wasn’t going to repeat the mistake of 19 years ago.

The Body is sweet but not overly, and rich as well. There’s a little bit of vanilla complimenting a solid core that is well balanced. The Bite is very mild, there is really no discernible spice to it and the carbonation is low. The Head is short but foamy and lasts. The Aftertaste is a mild fruity sarsaparilla sort that doesn’t really do it for me, though it doesn’t really ruin it either.

This is a solid brew that almost pulls it off, not quite, but so close. It’s not as amazing as I remember my very first time being. I have had about 350 root beers since then which gives a bit more perspective. But, it’s still really good and has a uniqueness about it to be worth a visit if you’re in the area. I didn’t have time to try any of the food so I can’t comment, but if they cook like they brew, it won’t be disappointing.

Three and a half kegs

Feb 072018

A pint of The Granary Root BeerSo two weeks ago I was down in San Antonio for DistribuTECH 2018! And yes, that means I flew out just a few days after getting back from Chicago. I’m movin’ these days. That’s for sure. Devoted followers will remember that San Antonio is home to one of the best brews I know of, Schilo’s, so I was pleased with the knowledge that even if I didn’t get anything new, I was going to be getting something amazing. Nevertheless, when I hit the ground I started my searching and discovered The Granary ‘Cue and Brew, a brewery that does barbecue and makes their own root beer. So on my second night, after a wonderful team dinner at some Tex Mex (a must in San Antonio) I went a questing for my brew. I invited many of my colleagues but they all declined. Their loss, in my opinion, for delicious brews awaited! The Granary evidently has really delicious barbecue, but I had no appetite to try after dinner, just ordered my pint and got to reviewing.

The Body is sour and herbal with sweetness and strangeness. It doesn’t taste like a root beer at all. Also the strange flavor mixture isn’t good. The Bite is sharp with spicy sourness. The Head is nice. Decent height and staying power. The Aftertaste is bizarre and bitter.

Bletch! Gross! Not root beer. At best it can kind of be described as one of those herbal tea root beers, but it’s way off and nasty. I told the bar keeper “I’ve never had a root beer like this before” to which he responded that there’s no artificial anything, just roots and sweetener. I can agree with the “just roots and sweetener” no recipe, no trying to make it taste good, no research or care, just chuck some roots in a vat, boil them, add sugar, and serve. This is without a doubt the worst root beer I’ve had in a long time. So I guess my colleagues were right to stay away. San Antonio is an amazing city in that within 2 miles of each other is one of my top five all time favorite brews and one of the bottom five worst ever.

Half a root beer keg.

The bar of The Granary 'Cue and Brew. I needed a break from choking down that swill.

The bar of The Granary ‘Cue and Brew. I needed a break from choking down that swill.

Jan 312018

Pint of Exit Strategy Brewing Company Root Beer On the last day of my Chicago trip our meetings ended early and we had a few hours so I jokingly suggested to my colleagues that we could get another root beer. They said if I could find another place we could go by, so I plowed into Google and quickly found Exit Strategy Brewing Company. It’s on the same street as Brown Cow, interestingly enough, though about eight blocks away. It was started only a couple of years ago and became the “exit strategy” of the owners who quit their “real jobs” to devote themselves to their true passion. That passion has also included their own root beer, which shows how seriously they really get behind the craft brewery movement. I mean, if you don’t have a root beer, you’re not really all in. They serve their root beers in glasses shaped like cans, which I absolutely adore. I just wish someone would take this one step further and make sealed glass cans that can open like a bottle. Take a type of root beer I won’t drink (canned), and make it proper (in glass).

The Body is sweet with caramel notes and a little vanilla. It’s on the mild side though the flavor profile is spot on. The Bite is very mild with low carbonation. Nevertheless, and notwithstanding the low carbonation, it builds a mighty Head when poured which has a decent amount of staying power. The Aftertaste is a little dark, a little vanilla, and a little gone too quickly.

Not bad at all. I wish it were a little stronger and spicier and had more carbonation lingering after the Head, but it’s still a solid brew, not a Seal, but solid. It was a shame that I didn’t have time to get a meal there, as I’m sure their food would also be on point. My biggest complaint is that their sign is a rusty metal letters against a red brick building, so it was difficult to find it while staring right at it. But if you can find it, it’s worth dropping in.

Three and a half kegs

The soda taps, they also make other flavors besides root beer.

The soda taps, they also make other flavors besides root beer.

The Exit Strategy Brewing Company vats. I wonder which one is for the root beer.

The Exit Strategy Brewing Company vats. I wonder which one is for the root beer.