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.

Jan 172018

Frost Creek Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval Frost Creek Beverage is from Texas has been around for over 15 years. They recently have turned their flavor expertise to craft sodas and make a line of seven flavors including their root beer. They use only triple filtered water and pure cane sugar, no HFCS. I was thrown off at first, since the label seems to be the same dimensions and materials as some of the private label stuff. Contacting the company revealed that the sodas are all their own formulae, but they are mixed and bottled by two different bottlers, depending on the region. That makes sense, a lot of guys do it that way. They’ve got a nice and simple, yet classic looking label, which I really like.

The Body is sweet and rich with creamy vanilla wrapped around a spicy sassafras core. There’s even a hint of wintergreen. The Bite is spicy, but not too much so. It finishes smooth too, so it’s about a perfect Bite. The Head is short, unfortunately, and doesn’t last long. But it isn’t too short and doesn’t fizz away too quickly. The Aftertaste is sweet vanilla; lovely, lovely vanilla.

This is a wonderful brew. I love that spicy and that smooth, sweet vanilla. I wish it were a bit foamier, but it’s still more than enough in all departments. I’m proud to give this one my Seal of Approval. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

Jan 102018

Tractor Soda Company Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval Tractor Soda Company is a fairly new company out of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Like a lot of new entrants to the soda market, they are focusing on only organic and non-GMO ingredients with no HFCS. Somehow they even manage to use organic sassafras in this brew, which I thought was against some FDA rules. They demand everything is responsibly sourced as well to have minimal environmental impact. So much do they want to reduce their impact, that they’ve discontinued bottling in favor of only shipping syrups to various soda fountains. This is, actually, more environmentally friendly, but not as much fun for a root beer gourmet like myself who doesn’t do soda fountains. Luckily, after they had discontinued bottling, I found a couple at the Seattle Rocket Fizz store, and was able to grab four. Very lucky indeed.

The Body is rich and complex, with sassafras, birch, wintergreen, and other herbs mixing together for an elaborate take on the archetypal root beer flavor. Then aged vanilla surfaces to steal the show. It isn’t overly sweet though, and there’s a dark molasses flavor as well that’s a bit out of place. The Bite is near perfect with the right amount of cinnamon and nutmeg and carbonation mixing together for a tasty burn. The Head is nice and tall and foamy. The Aftertaste is aged bourbon vanilla. I love that flavor.

Delicious! … and complex, and wonderful. This is a solid brew by any measure. I wish it were a little bit sweeter, and not so much molasses, but those are minor complaints on arguably the best organic brew I’ve had so far. What a shame they don’t bottle it anymore. Maybe someone near by will get it on draft. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs