Sep 282016

Thunder Beast Black Label Root Beer Bottle This the fanciest root beer that I’ve encountered so far. It comes in a wine bottle (rumored to be recycled) with a cork and a wire cage. Then it’s all wrapped in gold foil on the top. Talk about classy. This is the premium offering of the most metal root beer brewers, Thunder Beast. It makes me extremely happy to see the root beer world head in this direction, as it means that we are finally getting the respect we deserve. My lovely wife gave this to me on Valentine’s Day because what could be more romantic? Now the actual reviewing of this is problematic. Thunder Beast Black Label is a seasonal root beer, using seasonal ingredients. Which means that it could be different every time. I could probably buy several bottles over the course of several years and average them out, but that gets expensive. So I’m just going to review my gift and leave it at that with the caveat that it could be better or worse depending on when you buy it.

The Body has nice honey and maple flavors but is missing something in its core. The Bite is mild, it’s a very smooth brew. The Head is practically perfect. The Aftertaste is vanilla and maple.

I like this more than the regular Thunder Beast, but not a lot more. I really want to love this stuff since it’s so fancy, but it just doesn’t quite have all it needs in the Body and Bite departments. Add some more sassafras and some spices and then they’ll have a brew worthy of the container. As it, though, it’s still worth getting for a special occasion or to put in a gift basket. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs

Sep 212016

A pint of Rookie of the Year Root BeerThe second root beer of my Idaho road trip, and the last of the summer road trips. This is made by the Yakima Craft Brewing Company. It’s only 2 1/2 hours from my house but only open after 4 pm. This made it quite a pain to get as the several times in the past I’d driven through Yakima, it was earlier in the day. This time, I was coming back from Boise, so I figured as long as I slept in I’d be fine. But then the GPS was saying I’d arrive in Seattle at 3:30. Clearly I needed to slow down. So I stopped at every rest stop and even a museum and so we were able to arrive at the taproom around 4:30. I don’t know why this is called Rookie of the Year, I should have asked but I didn’t. I did learn that the root beer is brewed in the original copper kettle system that the brewery used when they first started. So that’s pretty cool. They even gave me a tour of the facility. The taproom itself is just that, a taproom, no food. But they do allow kids to come in so the family was able to share a pint of root beer while I reviewed mine in peace at the bar.

The Body is rich and creamy with lots of wintergreen; a little too much wintergreen. There’s also lots of vanilla in there. The Bite is solid with nice spiciness and carbonation while still having a smooth and rich finish. The Head is short and without much staying power, unfortunately. The Aftertaste is wintergreen and vanilla that ends a little bitter.

Pretty good. I wish the Head were better but this is a nice solid brew. It’s not quite a Seal of Approval, but better than the average and good enough to grab a growler or a keg for your party if you live down there.

Three and a half kegs

The copper brew kettle where the root beer is made.

The copper brew kettle where the root beer is made.

The Yakima Craft Brewing Company Taproom

The taproom. You wouldn’t know that it’s right by a bunch of fruit packing plants from this photo.

Sep 142016

A snifter of Cloud Nine Brewery Root BeerBack in August, after my previous road trip was over, a family reunion took place in Boise, ID. That meant another road trip which of course meant more root beers to find. My searching found two along my route. The first was Cloud Nine Brewery in Boise itself. I went Friday night with my sister, brother-in-law, and two of my younger brothers (I have a big family). It’s a nano-brewpub built in a little strip mall and has only been around since 2012. Nevertheless, it is rather highbrow as to their food and brews, using organic, locally sourced ingredients. The root beer itself comes in snifters, which is something I can get behind, as long as it’s amazing brew.

The Body is a light herbal tea type, with sarsaparilla, burdock, honey, and licorice featuring prominently. But they don’t mingle well and the whole flavor is medicinal and rather off. The Bite is pretty mild but the texture isn’t smooth, it’s kind of gritty. The Head is nice and frothy so props on that. The Aftertaste is both bitter and buttery. I like the buttery but not the bitter.

Well, it’s complex and interesting but they didn’t pull off a proper root beer. It’s rather a mess of herbs and roots that you wish were called something else. Oh well. The staff was very friendly and let me tour their brewing facilities to get some pictures. I just wish I could have left them with a good review.

2 out of 5 root beer kegs

The Cloud Nine Taps

The fancy taps.

Some of the brewing vats at Cloud Nine Brewery.

Some of the brewing vats at Cloud Nine Brewery.