Apr 062016

Pint of Ice Harbor Brewing Company Root BeerI discovered the Ice Harbor Brewing Company several years ago when my younger sister returned from her mission. She flew into Pasco, WA and we all went to meet her. I did a google search and found that they had root beer but we didn’t have time to go there. I swore that the next time I was in the Tri-Cities, I would get that brew. And then my little brothers went off on their missions, and I didn’t have the brau. But then last week they came back, and I went to meet them at the airport, and finally we could all go out to eat and celebrate with my parents and my aunt and uncle. Ice Harbor Brewing Company has two locations in Kennewick, and they are only about five blocks apart. We went to their location at the marina on Clover Island in the Columbia River, which is more family friendly with better food. They don’t do any of the brewing there though, sadly. We all ordered root beer and they asked if we just wanted pitchers, to which I responded that I was a reviewer and I’d like my pint freshly filled from the tap with lots of foam if possible. They first brought it in a plastic soda cup which I said was unacceptable and to bring me a proper pint. Obviously they don’t get too many root beer snobs in there.

The Body is rich and creamy with the perfect level of sweetness and a standard creamy root beer flavor accented with a little honey. The Bite is mild, but present, and the whole thing goes down smooth. The Head is really short, sadly, but foamy. They just need to carbonate it more. The Aftertaste is a bit of honey and vanilla with some wintergreen.

It’s nice and smooth and refreshing. But the lack of good Head kills their chance at a Seal. I mean, it wasn’t so amazing that I was blown away, but it was good enough that with a decent Head it would have just squeaked by. The food there was delicious. I had some amazing halibut and chips but some of their burgers and sandwiches looked even more epic. This place is definitely worth stopping by if you’re in the area, it’s got some of the best brewery root beer I’ve yet found in my fine state.

Three and a half kegs

Halibut and chips and my wife's fish tacos. So so yummy.

Halibut and chips and my wife’s fish tacos. So so yummy.

Mar 302016

Etna Brewing Company Root Beer Bottle The second root beer that I found way back in 2014 on my TMC Connect road trip. I’d actually known about this one for some time but they wouldn’t answer my emails when I requested info on how to order. So, it wasn’t until I was in Mount Shasta at the Tesla Supercharger on the way back that I finally crossed paths with it. I got it at the Rays Food Place a few minutes walk away. As an aside can I say that Rays Food Place has got to be up there with the greatest grocery store names of all time? Well I’m saying it. Anyways. I didn’t venture to it on the way down to TMC Connect because I was busy looking at other places for brew. So this place is brewed in Etna, CA, a mere hour’s drive from the Mount Shasta supercharger. The bottles has a lot of flavor text like “The Soda with the Good Ol’ Taste!” and “Bringing you a taste of what Root Beer used to be” as well as the predictable but always fun “Get Back to Your Roots”. Add in the whole bald eagle and they’re clearly going for some nostalgic ‘murica experience. Cracking open the bottle brings a wonderful spicy root beer aroma that promises an excellent brew.

The Body has a dominant wintergreen flavor mixed with anise. It’s also rather strange and medicinal tasting and not terribly strong. The Bite is smooth for the most part but sort of sour. The Head is short but frothy, though it does fizz down faster than it should. The Aftertaste is a bitter wintergreen and anise flavor that lingers too long and turns gross as it does.

Eww. I hope that this isn’t a “taste of what Root Beer used to be”. What happened to all of that goodness in the aroma? Maybe it all escaped. What a terrible letdown. I’m sure glad I didn’t mail order this or I would have felt that I paid way too much money for a rather miserable experience. Steer clear. See how it rates against other root beers.

1.5 out of 5 kegs

Mar 232016

St. Arnold Root Beer BottleOne day a fan emailed me and told me that I should try St. Arnold Root Beer. So I got on Google and went to find where it was made and learned about the St. Arnold Brewing Company and their root beer. It’s made using Imperial Cane Sugar which sounds like it should be used to make Empire Root Beer and not this. The label sports a picture of St. Arnold himself, a man who was a 6th century bishop and an ancestor of Charlemagne whose blessed remains caused beer to multiply in abundance to quench the thirst of fatigued pilgrims. I’m thinking that’s what inspired the owners to name the brewery after him. He is also not to be confused with Saint Amandus who is the patron saint of all who brew beer. This is the only second known root beer to be named after a religious leader (Brigham’s Brew being the first) and gives me great hopes that I’ll see more in the future (I’m looking at you Hare Krishnas, I want my Swami Prabhupada Root Beer).

It has a rich, dark, rooty Body that is at the same time very creamy. The Bite boldly hits you as soon as the brew enters your mouth and stays with you a bit. It is sharp and spicy. The Aftertaste is very creamy and lingers a long time, which is to be desired. The Head however, is weak, too weak. It is, however, frothy.

Another otherwise excellent brew ruined by the lack of a good Head. It always makes me sad when that happens. This is a delicious root beer but doesn’t excel quite enough for the Seal. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs