Dec 112019

A cup of Burly Beverages Real Deal Root Beer This past week I was back in Sacramento doing DERMS things cause that’s what I do, but I was also looking for some root beer cause that’s the other thing I do. My sites were set on Burly Beverages. They make craft from scratch sodas and mixers and only really sell syrups. However, they also have a tasting room with an old fashioned soda fountain where you can come in and get a cup or a growler fill. They close at 6 so I usually would miss them, but not this time! I called ahead, as they request, since sometimes they close early, but the owner, Gabriel was there and told me to come on down. He has a fine establishment and a great mission, to create quality sodas as they used to be, pre-prohibition, when they were more tonics with health benefits. He got his start making a smooth ginger beer and then added more flavors afterwards. After I explained my mission, he got into soda jerk mode and got me a nice cup of the Real Deal Root Beer to try while we talked about various root beer ingredients. In addition to the more traditional sarsaparilla, sassafras, vanilla, cinnamon, he also uses orange peel. I’ve only seen that before in Lockdown Brewing Company Rainbow Root Beer, which is also from the same area. Maybe it’s a Sacramento thing? But I digress. He gave me cup of brew, as well as the sarsaparilla, and a few other flavors to try.

The Body is mild and isn’t overly sweet, yet is very complex with flavors of birch, sassafras, vanilla, sarsaparilla and others mingling together to give a tangy, herbal drink that’s clean and refreshing. It isn’t your typical root beer flavor profile, though. The Bite is rather mild too, though there is some spices in there, they don’t feature prominently. The Head is rather small, which is typical for a soda fountain root beer. The Aftertaste is mild, herbal, sarsaparilla.

This I would classify as one of those carbonated herb tea type root beers. It’s one of the better ones and is a crisp, clean, refreshing drink. I’m sure it gives rosy cheeks even. However, it’s a little too far outside of the standard root beer flavor for me to rate any higher than a 2.5, sadly. The sarsaparilla, on the other hand, which has more molasses, sassafras, and some other spices, nails root beer rather well. It’s got a fuller body and a spicier bite, and tastes more like what you’d expect. If I’d done a blind taste test, I’d probably have said that the sarsaparilla was the root beer and vice versa. I’d probably give the sarsaparilla a 3.5 if it were marketed as a root beer, I still like sweeter brews but that’s me. Maybe Burly should just switch the labeling? Either way, they make some quality products and they’re some cool people. Especially if you like the more herbal, less sweet brews. And if you live in the Sacramento area, dropping by is a must as you need to experience true, raw craft sodas.

2.5/5 Root Beer Kegs

The Burly Beverages Soda Fountain

The Burly Beverages Soda Fountain.

Some of the Burly Beverages store.

Some of the Burly Beverages store. I love the old school apothecary vibe.

Jul 242019

Blue Sun Soda Shop Root Beer PhosphateYou know what I haven’t done in awhile? An Old Fashioned Soda Fountain review. Why? Turns out those are significantly more rare than I initially thought when I accepted the category into gourmet root beer-dom. Even rarer is the fountain that uses their own home recipe for their root beer. So I was extra excited when my favorite store around these parts, Blue Sun Soda, announced they were adding an old fashioned soda fountain, while keeping all of the other goodness like $0.25 arcade games (hint hint Northern…) Anyways, so they have this awesome new soda fountain, with tons of flavors using the Whistler syrups which they make. You can mix and match them too, giving you near infinite flavor combinations. However, that doesn’t seem right from a review standpoint, so I’m going to stick with a classic soda fountain concoction, the phosphate. If you don’t know what a phosphate is, you have lived an incomplete life thus far, but it’s something that the jerks would put in the drink to add acidity and saltiness that would enhance the flavor. All of the old soda fountains would have it. I’m not sure how common root beer phosphates actually were, but I wanted to try theirs as it’s both a unique take on the Whistler while being a base flavor. One final note, I didn’t ask them for no ice, and while I regret doing so, if the jerk was competent, and added the correct syrup ratio for the amount of liquid to be added while accounting for initial ice melt, the ice shouldn’t mess up the flavor like it would if the root beer were coming from a bottle or a keg. Nevertheless, it is a mistake I shan’t make again, I assure you.

The Body is sweet and mild with a nice middle of the road root beer flavor that’s accented by the salty sour of the phosphate. It actually is just a hint of sour so it ends up actually adding to the flavor. The Bite is mild without any discernible spice and low carbonation. There isn’t any Head, none at all. The Aftertaste is mild and slightly salty, but it a good way.

I wasn’t expecting it to be this good, dare I say, it’s an improvement over the Whistler Soda which syrup it uses. I quite like it, and would recommend it with the hot dogs and popcorn and other stuff there. It’s nothing amazing as far as root beers go, but a solid drinkable, which is enough for what they’re doing there. I can’t wait to return and try some other root beer flavor creations.

Three kegs

The Blue Sun Soda Fountain

The Blue Sun Soda Fountain. Sorry for blurry pic.

Jan 242018

A glass of Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor Homemade Root Beer This past week I was in Chicago on a business trip doing my businesy things and meetings all day but as normal, I had root beer on my mind as soon as we were going back to the hotel and looking for dinner. Plus I’ve got that whole New Year’s resolution of 52 brews this year, since last year I fell a little behind, what with the move and all. My searching found the Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor, which makes all manner of tasty desserts and has an old fashioned soda fountain with their homemade pops, including root beer. I’ve long wondered about how to categorize old fashioned soda fountain root beers. I’ve seen the fountains before but none I’d visited had their own root beer. Now that I had one sitting before me, I have decided to make it its own category of gourmet root beer. Old Fashioned Fountain Root Beers. Yup. If you don’t know, at an old fashioned soda fountain they put the syrup in the glass and then mix with the soda water, sometimes they mix the carbonating chemicals, like phosphate in separately. So here’s the first of what hopes to be many a fountain and phosphate reviews.

The Body is minty and mild; sweet with some bitter hints to it. It’s also a rather generic flavor profile. The Bite is a little spicy with decent carbonation, but there is no Head at all, despite my telling them to make a lot. The Aftertaste is wintergreen that ends on bitter notes.

Not bad. It could be a little stronger and I really wish they could make a foamy Head on it. There’s no reason for it not to have one, just need to put a foaming agent in there. Though they focus more on their very elaborate root beer floats, so that may be why they purposely kept it not foamy. Well, It hurts them in the review, but I think they would probably have an amazing float, so if you’re out in the west side of Chicago, check this place out.

Three kegs

The Brown Cow's Soda Fountain. I wish I had gotten better pictures of the rest of the parlor.

The Brown Cow’s Soda Fountain. I wish I had gotten better pictures of the rest of the parlor.