Oct 012014

Health Valley Old Fashioned Root Beer Bottle This was one of the very first glass bottled root beers that I ever tried. Probably the sixth if I can remember that well. The amazing thing was that it was in my hometown, a small city of around 5,000 people. It was just sitting there at Safeway but it was in the “Health Food” section. Remember back in the 1990’s before organic and all natural got all trendy? There was a “Health Food” section. I’d never thought to look for root beers there which is why I’d missed it. Granted I’d only been looking for root beers for a few months at that point so I hadn’t thought to look in a lot of places. Anyhow, it was my dad who found it and brought some home so we could try it. They also had a Sarsaparilla and it was then that I decided that if it wasn’t called specifically “Root Beer” or some close phonetic variation thereof I wasn’t going to review it. Health Valley later renamed their Sarsaparilla to Sarsaparilla Root Beer but forgot to tell me so I never got to try it. Interestingly they sweetened this with fructose which you’d never see in any “health food” nowadays.

This is all right at first but an absence of vanilla ruins the Body and the Aftertaste. It’s also not very sweet. The Aftertaste is a strange herbal flavor and there is not much Bite at all. Head is mediocre at best.

Yeah, this stuff is pretty nasty. Which I’m sure has nothing to do with the fact that it was discontinued a few years back (before I realized I needed to try their renamed Sarsaparilla Root Beer). To its credit it isn’t super vile like some other strange herbal brews, but the as a whole is very much not good. See how it rates against other root beers.

2 out of 5 root beer kegs

Sep 242014

Fizzy Izzy Root Beer BottleSeal of ApprovalThis one is made by the Crown Valley Winery and named after a Siberian Tiger in the Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary. This was most likely done as an appeasement measure to keep the tigers on the ridge and out of the valley, you know, like sacrifices to the volcano gods. The bottle sports a picture of Izzy, who is a male tiger, lest there be some confusion over the gender of that name. Evidently if you collect the bottle caps you can send them in for prizes from the sanctuary who then gets some additional tribute money from the winery. It’s like cereal box tops for your school, except is root beer bottle caps for … tigers. Another plus is that this is all natural with no preservatives for those of you, like my wife, who hate artificial flavorings and sodium benzoate.

The Body has a rich vanilla and wintergreen flavors accompanying a medium strength sassafras core. There’s a solid Bite with this one as well from ample spices. The Head is medium-tall and very frothy and foamy. It lasts the whole time you drink it. The Aftertaste is a spiced vanilla and wintergreen. It has a nice clean mouth feel from the lack of preservatives as an added bonus.

This is a quality brew in all respects. Dare I say, the best all natural root beer that I’ve had. Now I wish I lived closer to that tiger sanctuary. I’d get all sorts of cool prizes with the amount of this stuff that I’d drink. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

Sep 172014

Trader Joe's Root Beer Bottle My uncle brought this up from California one visit after I’d been reviewing for about a year. At the time Trader Joe’s wasn’t near as spread as it is now and I had never even heard of it. For some reason all I could think of was “Hey Joe, what do you know?” I still actually think about that anytime I see this bottle. It’s got a sort of surfer theme on the label, which is similar to what you’ll actually find in the Trader Joe’s stores. As expected from them, this is all natural without any preservatives or artificial flavors. However, it still has HFCS because avoiding those wasn’t trendy in the late 90s. It’s also “Premium Draught Style” making it one of only three other brews to use the olde spelling of draft. Reading further in their flavor text explains that it is “turn-of-the-century style” Evidently their thesaurus has Premium Draught as a synonym for turn-of-the-century.

It has a nice Body, Bite, and Aftertaste, but is lacking in Head. There is absolutely nothing special about this.

Drinking this is whelming, and dare I say, ceptional leaning heavily towards quite adequate. I might also describe it credible, ordinary, markable, and standing. Basically I would put this as the stereotypical gourmet root beer and say that this stuff is completely average for me. It could be much worse but also much better. Congrats Trader Joe’s on a job done. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs