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.

Dec 042019

Rocket Fizz Root Beer with Nutmeg Bottle So Rocket Fizz is at it again. Not to be content with having essentially cornered the market on celebrity root beer (the uniqueness of each is growing increasingly dubious), they’ve taken to copying other “premium” root beers that are out there. Like how they copied the Indian Wells Special Reserve with their Gold Mine. So now they look to copy Virgil’s Special Edition Bavarian Nutmeg, spring top bottle and all, with their own root beer … with nutmeg … And that’s what they called it. Root Beer with Nutmeg. Not sure why they couldn’t come up with anything else. I mean, why not reach out to some other region of some other country completely unaffiliated with root beer and add nutmeg. Like Rocket Fizz Limited Edition Dublin Nutmeg Root Beer. Cause the Irish in Dublin are just as knowledgeable about root beer as the Bavarians. Anyhow, while they could copy the waxed cap of the Indian Wells, they seem unable to bottle a spring top bottle on their line, leading to the bizarre spring top bottle that’s just capped with a regular cap. So that spring cap is there to just, reseal it after drinking half, a pint? It’s only a pint. We can drink a pint. Plus the gasket is probably all dirty from being out in the open air. I honestly don’t think Rocket Fizz thought this thing through well enough before they launched production. But the taste?

The Body has nutmeg! This is without question. It just blasts in your face. But nutmeg is good so this isn’t a bad thing. There’s also a sweet sarsaparilla flavor with some wintergreen and other spices. Maybe a tad of vanilla? There’s a lot happening here and the balance is a little off. The Bite is undoubtedly very spicy from the aforementioned nutmeg, and the other spices, and the carbonation level is good. The Head is magnificent. The Aftertaste is some wintergreen and nutmeg that turns bitter and herbal.

It’s not quite proportioned well for me. Like the name and the bottle, it seems they rushed the recipe. I guess they didn’t want to miss the bandwagon for the whole special nutmeg root beer that’s existed for the past 20 years … It isn’t bad though, so there’s that. I appreciate what you’re doing Rocket Fizz, giving me more stuff to review and all, but maybe slow down, make a plan, get a good brew, and then launch your product. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three kegs

Nov 062019

Summit Craft Root Beer BottleSummit is an Aldi brand. Aldi is a discount market where they don’t give you bags and you need to put quarters in to get shopping carts. Their standard store brand root beer is Summit Suds, which comes only in cans. They’ve done glass versions before, though they weren’t very good. I was very happy last year when I heard this root beer was being made. But, despite living near an Aldi now it never showed up, and I was left to mourn when it disappeared from all of the shelves. Then, later this year, I got a random text from my wife who was shopping at Aldi with a picture of a four-pack of this asking if I’d tried it. What luck! My son felt very proud too, as he was the one who found it. It’s not often I get a second chance at these, so reviewing it became my top priority. I don’t understand the whole aviator dog on the label. I get that there are a lot of dogs on root beer labels, but why is it an aviator? The bottle gives no clues, and maybe we’re not to know. They probably did it just to annoy me, cause they know I rant about these dog labels. Anyhow, my review.

The Body is sweet with a classic root beer flavor and a sarsaparilla tinge. It’s a little on the mild side though. There’s a decent spice Bite, from some cloves. The Head is medium tall and very foamy. The Aftertaste is a mild vanilla with sarsaparilla.

It’s pretty good, just not quite all there. I don’t know It’s a lot better than their previous try with the Vintage root beer, so there’s that. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs