Jul 162014
 

A frosty mug of Hops Root Beer Last October I went to Washington DC for … reasons. As the usual routine demanded, I scanned Google Maps before the trip and found Hops Grill Brewery a mere 20 minute walk from the hotel I’d be staying in. Since my flight was to arrive at 6:20pm I knew where I would be eating dinner that night. Except my first flight was late just enough that I arrived at the gate of my connection just as it left. I was put on a later flight that wouldn’t arrive until 9:20pm. No biggie, Hops stays open until 11:20pm I’d still have plenty of time. Except that flight was 40 minutes late as well. By the time I got to the hotel, it was 10:25. I called Hops to make sure that if I arrived at 10:55 they’d still let me order, and took off running. I made it with 15 minutes to spare. After a glass of water and a few minutes of repose, I ordered my root beer.

The Body is dark and spicy with wintergreen and a little licorice. It is very rooty and reminds me of those old root beer barrel candies, you know, the ones with a slightly reddish wrapper. The Bite is spicy and while not harsh, it’s not smooth and kind of a sharp Bite. The Head is very tall and a decent froth level so it lasts awhile. The Aftertaste is wintergreen and a little licorice with bitter notes at the end.

So it’s not my favorite flavor profile, and bitter notes, while slight, are still bad. The super tall Head, though, compensates a bit. I’d put this at just barely drinkable, it was close though. Subsequent mugs with my meal reinforced this. I had fried catfish and ale onion rings which was delicious and worked with the spicy brew pretty well.

Three kegs

Fried catfish and ale onion rings. Delicious.

Fried catfish and ale onion rings. Delicious.

The brew vats add a nice atmosphere while dining.

The brew vats add a nice atmosphere while dining.

The bar is in an island in the middle of the restaurant.

The bar is in an island in the middle of the restaurant.


Jul 092014
 

A frosty mug of BuckSnort Root Beer Two weeks ago I went to Boise to visit my sister. This trip had been a long time coming, as I had never visited her there and she move there over four years ago. Keeping with my latest trend, whenever I go somewhere new I find a root beer to review. This time it was easy because someone had alerted me to the existence of BuckSnort (yes, I know the CamelCase name is annoying but that’s how they do it on their website) some time back and I knew it could be found in Boise. I swear that wasn’t the reason I finally made it down there. Really I do. We got it in some place called Pizzalchick which makes pizza and chicken. They even have an elk pizza because that’s what people do in Idaho. I went with my brother-in-law and we picked up some pizza and had a brew at the bar before going back.

The Body is not very sweet. I’d say one of the least sweet brews I’ve had. It kind of has a darker flavor like a root beer barrel candy but not quite that strong. It’s a little bitter as well. The Bite is very spicy with what I want to say is cassia but I really don’t know. There isn’t much fizz in though. The Head is rather unimpressive; short and fizzes away quicker than it should. The Aftertaste is light sassafras with some bitter spice.

I don’t really like this much at all. I prefer a sweeter brew that isn’t so bitter. The owner of Pizzalchick (seriously, what’s with the names around here) showed up and as I commented on the root beer he said that it was completely organic and the most organic root beer we could get with real sassafras and vanilla. Conspicuously missing from his testimony was anything resembling praise for the taste of the brew, and I don’t blame him. The pizza there is good, but skip this.

2 out of 5 root beer kegs


Jun 112014
 

A pint of Steelhead Root Beer Original Spicy Draft So I unexpectedly found myself in San Francisco a few weeks back to meet some people about some … important stuff … We were scheduled to meet at some Italian place called Il Fornaio. When we got to the parking lot (which had individually metered spaces which only took quarters) the first thing that I noticed was across the street was the Steelhead Brewery. Dang, why couldn’t we have scheduled lunch there? I love Steelhead Root Beer. But after our lunch we were meeting someone else and I knew just the place to do it. When we got there I ordered a root beer and as I drank it I realized that it was quite different than the bottled stuff. The menu even confirmed it. I ordered another one and commenced with the review.

The Body is dark and spicy with an anise and wintergreen flavor. There’s not too much anise, thankfully. The Bite lives up to its name though it has a nice smooth finish. The Head is nice and tall and fizzes away at a medium. The Aftertaste more licorice and a bit of wintergreen and cloves.

This is probably my favorite take on this genre of dark and spicy brews, but the anise flavor was just a little too strong for me in the second glass. I wanted a third glass to really figure out what rating to give it, but the waiter never came back to ask if I wanted anything else, so I’ll just go with the lower review of what I was thinking of. This is a pretty good brew by all accounts, but not as good as their bottled recipe.

Three and a half kegs

The view from the parking lot.

The view from the parking lot.



The menu, proving this to be a different recipe than the bottled brew.

The menu, proving this to be a different recipe than the bottled brew.