Jun 082016

Bottle of Iron Horse Root BeerSeal of Approval I got this in late 1999 or early 2000. It was one of my first mail orders, and I had to order 12 of them since variety packs were not an option in those days. I picked it because it looks awesome with that train and metallic shine (which is really hard to capture in a picture with the flash on a white background). When I first tried it I was blown away like never before, I was standing when I took my first drink and I had to sit down. It was that good. I got on the phone and called a friend and told him I’d found the best root beer EVER, and I awarded my first 5 kegs. In the next year or so I had multiple cases and then I went on my mission to Madagascar, a great dry spell for me as it were. When I got back my parents had a case waiting, but as I drank it against Hank’s and Henry’s, it didn’t seem to taste as good as it once did. I figured I’d had a bad batch and over the years had it again and again, each time disappointed (and by that I mean not the greatest thing ever made). Finally I had the The Ultimate Root Beer Showdown and realized I needed to re-rate this.

This has a very sweet medium Body and a very nice Bite. There’s some cinnamon and other spices that really grab the tongue. There is also a lovely caramelized corn syrup flavor that is very unique. The Head is ok and medium frothy. The Aftertaste is of vanilla and spices.

It is still a really good root beer, but doesn’t hold up against the others like it used to. Maybe they changed the recipe, the ingredients and nutritional info are the same but who knows what could be different with the whole “natural and artificial flavor”. Maybe it’s me. Maybe all the cholera I had in Madagascar changed my tastes such that what had made this and only this amazing no longer does. I don’t know. What I do know is that it is still a fine brew to be had whenever possible, but not the greatest root beer in the world. Sorry and congrats at the same time I guess? See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

Jun 012016

Bottle of Fest Pecan Root Beer From down in New Orleans comes one of the most unique takes on root beer that I’ve ever seen. The fine people at Fest decided to make a Pecan Root Beer in addition to some other awesome sounding flavors, like an almond cola and a bourbon cream soda. Each of these also has a “proper” name, after some jazz influence from the city. These names are to be used by those that are truly hip and jive to the inner beat of the city. The root beer’s name is Papa Joe, after the jazz pioneer Joe Oliver, who was better known as King Oliver. And if that’s got you confused it’s because your too much of a square to realize that Louis Armstrong, who was mentored by King Oliver, called him Papa Joe. That’s how on the level the cats at Fest are, and they’ve got a root beer to prove it.

The Body is very sweet and has strong caramel pecan notes over a medium sassafras flavor. The Bite is lacking in spice yet not smooth. It does have a good carbonation level. The Head is very tall but has no staying power and is gone before the first few sips are taken. The Aftertaste is a wonderful vanilla praline flavor that lasts the right amount of time.

I like this take on root beer. I’ve often though that a nut flavored brew might be the way to go and this has shown that it really is. Unfortunately, there’s still some depth that’s missing in this brew, so I can’t quite give it the Seal. I do recommend giving a Papa Joe a try, since you’ll never try another root beer like it. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs

May 252016

Bottle of XTZ Root Beer Riot Another very early root beer from my collection. My friend Michael brought it back from Seattle for me when I was still in high school. This was also the first energy drink root beer that I ever had. And do they want you to know that this is an energy drink. They even yell it at you in all caps with an exclamation mark. They also point out that “it’s energy^2” which doesn’t make a lot of sense from a physics point of view. I mean what is a W^2h^2 anyway? It has some strange ingredients like Maté, Betel Nut, and Gotu Kola to name a few. For the longest time I thought it was X Root Beer Riot since there’s a big X on it. The actual name XTZ is only on the cap. I’m not sure why they call this a root beer riot, but bucking conventions like sensible naming seems to be what these guys are all about.

The Body is weak at best but the Head is good. The Bite if any can only be described as weird. The Aftertaste is a strange combination of ginseng and other herbal stuff that tastes like medicine.

This stuff is plain awful. It made me feel ill drinking it and was difficult to choke it all down (but I did, because I always do *shudder*). I finally understand the name. Giving this to the masses would incite a root beer riot as they would both be appalled by what had been foisted on them as root beer and they demanded something proper. The bottle is not even that pretty. See how it rates against other root beers.

Half a root beer keg.