May 182022

Last week I found myself in Albuquerque doing DERMS things. That’s right, Corona has been defeated to the point where DERMS now takes me traveling places. Huzzah! Glory! Triumph! Root beer!!!! Because my very first trip would of course be somewhere new with root beer to boot. The Rio Bravo Brewing Company is built in the restored historic building from 1949. Their about page doesn’t say when they started, but I think it’s 2015. They seem to have won a lot of awards for their beer. In addition to this brew, they also make a cream soda. When I went the waitress said she didn’t actually like their root beer but rather the cream soda, which didn’t give me high expectations but still, maybe she just didn’t know good root beer.

The Body is weak, bitter, and not very sweet. I get some dark-ish wintergreen that is watered down and not very sweet overall. The Bite is spicy, at least, but not smooth nor particularly complex. The Head is sad, but not completely non-existent, just sad. The Aftertaste is bitter, but thankfully weak.

Actually, she was right, this is objectively terrible in about every way a root beer can be terrible. Why so weak? Why no Head? Why no sweet? This is without doubt one of the worst root beers I’ve had in a long time that wasn’t trying to be weird or fruity or organic or some nonsense, it’s just made bad. Oh well. There’s other root beers in that town that hopefully are better. So when I had my delicious green chili burger, I ordered the cream soda, I’d had enough of their brew. And Wow! So much sweet and creamy vanilla in that cream soda, one of the best I’ve ever had. If you are ever there, get the cream not the root.

1.5 out of 5 kegs

The Rio Bravo Burger with fries and a heavenly smooth cream soda.
Nov 032021

Saint Paul Brewing House Made Root Beer
Last week that esteemed root beer collector Vince was in town and had some brews to trade with me. He was staying near Saint Paul so I did a quick search and found that Saint Paul Brewing made their own root beer, so we could meet there and give it a try. I don’t know why Saint Paul Brewing calls it House Made Root Beer! with that exclamation point, but that’s what’s on their menu so I dutifully call it so. They also say that it is root beer with bite, so maybe it’ll be spicy. The brewery (brewing?) itself is made in the ruins of the old Hamm’s Brewery, which was closed in 1997. They’ve reinvigorated it and turned it into the sort of trendy place that’s all the rage these days. They even have a sweet pizza oven but I wasn’t there for pizza so we got our pints and gave it a try.

The Body has a very strong wintergreen flavor in the old fashioned style. There’s a bit of vanilla and a lot of spice. The Bite is sharp, which seems to be their goal. The Head is quite short, but it is there. The Aftertaste is bitter. Too much wintergreen so it ends quite bitter indeed.

Wow, a lot of Bite, but very bitter for a root beer. Maybe beer drinkers would appreciate that but I certainly did not. This isn’t really a brew I’d ever drink, not even with pizza. Which sadly, we didn’t have time to try due to tight schedule constraints. Maybe I’ll go back there some day, probably not, but at least it looks really cool.

2.5/5 Root Beer Kegs
Saint Paul Brewing
The root beer tap
The outside seating area with the pizza oven in the back of an old truck. It’s got atmosphere for sure.
Jan 082020

A pint of Red Wing Brewery Root Beer On New Year’s Day the weather was beautiful and it hadn’t snowed for a few days so I thought I’d take a scenic drive with the family. I figured something the drove along the Mississippi River would be nice, and I knew that in the city of Red Wing, there was a brewery that also made their own root beer. So after a nice drive on the Wisconsin side of the river, we found ourselves at the little Red Wing Brewery. The city of Red Wing actually has a storied past with breweries, but they all were closed by the 1950s. The Red Wing Brewery is the first to open there since 1951. Now the root beer is called Good Old Zimmie’s and this time I actually had the presence of mind to ask why it was called this. I was told that they looked through the long history of Red Wing beers and chose from those names. Good Old Zimmie’s was the name of some old brew. Go figure.

The Body is dark and spicy, yet isn’t full flavored. Wintergreen and clove stand out, but there’s a sort of emptiness after that. The Bite is spicy! Lot’s of clove and other spices. I wish it were a little smoother though. The Head is OK, medium height and foam. The Aftertaste is bitter wintergreen and a clove. It’s too bitter for me.

It’s not bad, it just quite enough. The balance is all off, and though it isn’t really unpleasant, it’s not something that I’d really want to drink again, even with the yummy pizzas they serve there. Tragic, I know. Alas. It’s a scenic little town, but skip this root beer.

2.5/5 Root Beer Kegs

Red Wing Brewery Brew Vats

The Red Wing Brewery Brew Vats

The Red Wing Brewery Taps

The Red Wing Brewery Taps. The root beer is the first in the series.