Nov 072018

A frosty mug of 1919 root beerSeal of ApprovalMy 400th Root Beer! I wanted it to be special, and 1919 was the most widely distributed, iconic root beer left that I hadn’t tried. They don’t distribute to the West Coast, but it’s found all across the northern Mid West. Once I found myself in Minnesota, not only was it all over, but the Schell’s Brewery that makes it was only an hour and a half away. Schell’s is the 2nd oldest family run brewery in America. It’s in New Ulm, Minnesota, a town founded by German Immigrants. The brewery offers guided tours of their historic operations (pics below). They also have a large garden with peacocks wandering about and a deer pen. It’s a perfect place for a day trip with the family. The 1919 root beer was their response to prohibition, which put many a brewery under. They’ve been making 1919 continuously ever since. The only way to get it on glass is to buy one of their commemorative mugs, which I did after the tour.

This has a rich, full Body with hints of vanilla and caramel and awash with a complex blend of spices. It’s slightly dark, yet perfectly proportioned to be utterly delicious. The Bite is strong and full from all of those spices yet it isn’t overpowering. As I like my Bites to be. The Head is a good height and lingers. The Aftertaste is a faint, spiced wintergreen and vanilla that leaves you begging for more.

Oh dang! Now that is a root beer! I can see why it’s been such a hit, and why the brewery survived prohibition. Not only is it amazing, but it’s also unique, which after trying 400 root beers, is saying a lot. This is hand’s down, one of the top root beers I’ve ever tried. I’m so glad I can find it all over where I live now.

4.5 Kegs

The Schell’s Brewery

The Schell’s Bottling Line

A brewery machine that was patented by one of the Schell’s Brewery presidents

A machine in the historic brewery

Tanks of some sort

The historic copper kettle. Used from the 1800’s till the late 1990’s

The 1919 taps in the tasting room

The Schell’s Brewery Tasting Room at the end of the tour.

Some of the 1919 brew vats.

The bar in the Schell’s tasting room.

Oct 032018

A pint of Two Brother's Brewery Cinnamon Root Beer Two weeks ago I was back in Chicago and there was only one root beer that was on my mind. The root beer was one I’d tried to get before, I’d gone to the restaurant and ordered it. They said they didn’t have it but another tap room might. So, just to be sure I called the tap root and they confirmed they had it. But, when I showed up, the bar tender said they didn’t and sorry, next time I should ask to speak to the bar tender. This, of course, did not leave me feeling happy about the Two Brothers Brewery. They said they were out because their brewing equipment for the root beer was under repairs. Also that the root beer is actually brewed over a period of 21 days, yet there’s no alcohol so I think that means they take all of the ingredients minus the sugars and start brewing and don’t add yeast or something. However it works that’s what they say they do and they make a cinnamon root beer which made me hope it was like the old Myers Avenue Red. Anyways, when I landed I gave them a call to confirm that they did have their root beer, and then I drove down and ordered some.

The Body is smooth and sweet and largely dominated by a strong and spicy cinnamon flavor. There’s a solid sassafras core beneath it all as well but the cinnamon steals the show. It’s very unique. The Bite is nice and spicy and hot, giving a true cinnamon burn if you drink it too fast. The Head is medium height and is sufficiently foamy to last awhile. The Aftertaste is a sweet, slightly burning cinnamon.

Yum! It’s really good, though I wish it had some creamy vanilla to compliment that cinnamon. Nevertheless, it’s still a solid, yummy brew that performs well in every category. I sat on the fence quite a bit with this one, it’s right on the line between a 3.5 and a 4. Maybe I should go down to 3.5 because of the troubles of getting it, but maybe it should get bonus points because of that unique cinnamon flavor. I’ve been in this position before and I’ll need to take the same decision. If there’s any doubt, no Seal, because a Seal of Approval brew should be overwhelmingly good. Still, it’s uniqueness merit’s a visit if you’re ever in the Chicago area. Their food is yummy too.

Three and a half kegs

My food at Two Brother's Round House

My meal of a reuben and fresh cut potato chips. It was so good.

Sep 262018

A pint of Maple Island Brewing Maple Root BeerSurprise! There’s another Maple Island Brewing root beer! I didn’t even know myself until I showed up. I mean, I’d discovered the brewery the first time I went to Stillwater and was walking around, and then brought my family back to try it (and walk around) and then I discover they make not one, but two different root beers! If this review came out of nowhere for you guys, that’s how I felt, no foreshadowing, no preparation, just more root beer. As their website says, “[their] name is Maple Island, isn’t it? Gotta have a maple-flavored rootbeer.” I wholeheartedly agree, and also realize that if I’d spent a bit more time actually researching them I probably wouldn’t have been surprised. But whatever. I figured the best way to solve this problem was to review their root beer, walk through the downtown and do the shoppings and stair climbings, and then end right back where we started and have the maple, which is what we proceeded to do.

The Body is rich with a nice maple flavor that doesn’t overpower. There’s a little tinge of sarsaparilla and some vanilla in there. The Bite is very smooth, not really any spice to speak of. The Head is super short and gone quickly. It’s barely a Head at all. The Aftertaste is maple and vanilla. It’s very yummy.

The flavor is very nice, but that Head and lack of spices really draw it down. You can tell they didn’t just take their root beer recipe and throw in some extra maple, they went for something extra smooth and rich. I like it a lot, better then their original, but not enough for a Seal, not without a foamy Head, sorry. But still good, so yeah, definitely make Stillwater a destination. Three draft root beers a mere 10 minutes from each other and a nice historic downtown. And stairs, gotta climb those stairs.

Three and a half kegs

The Maple Island Brewing Root Beer Taps

The Maple Island Brewing Root Beer Taps

Historic Downtown Stillwater

Historic Downtown Stillwater, looking toward’s those stairs at the very far end.

Historic Downtown Stillwater

Historic Downtown Stillwater, looking away from the stairs, in front of the brewery.