Jul 042018

A frosty mug of Ace Drive-In Root BeerBack in Chicago this past week with a rental car and no coworkers coming with me to dinner. This was a perfect time to venture further off the beaten path in search of root beer excellence. About 40 miles south west of Chicago lies the city of Joliet, which I think is still technically a suburb. There, one can find the tiny Ace Drive-In, owned and operated by the same person for the past 38 years. This place is a classic root beer stand in every sense of the word. They still have car service, which was the first time I’ve ever had the waitresses come to my window with a tray. They still make their root beer in house, poured from a tap and served in frosty mugs. They only take cash and they don’t give receipts. The whole place is beautiful and wonderful and a true blast from the past.

This has a classic creamy root beer Body but with only a little spice and nothing prominent to jump out at you. It’s well balanced, but seems a little lacking. There is a similar situation with the Bite, which is mild yet also not overly smooth. Some more spices could really improve this. It also has a decent Head, both in height and frothiness, but alas, it is a little shorter and fizzes away a little faster than ideal. Such it is with the Aftertaste as well, which gives but the slightest bit of vanilla to remind you of what it could be.

So the root beer is good, but I guess disappointing because everything else here was so amazing, I was hoping for a blow-me-away-amazing brew, instead of a solid standard type. I ordered a Chicago style hot dog and cheese fries and they were delicious. I should have ordered a second dog probably because it wasn’t huge. All and all, this is a great place, well worth the trip, even though the root beer on it’s own doesn’t quite merit it.

Three kegs

Pierson’s Ace Drive-In. A classic root beer stand in every sense of the word.

The menu on the wall. I would love to try it all.

A happy root beer reviewer, getting car service for the first time in his life. Yummy hot dog and cheese fries with a frosty mug of brew.

May 022018

Mug of Stewart's Drive-In Root BeerLast week I was traveling again. Again? You ask incredulously, do you just travel all the time, where were you? No, I don’t travel all the time. I went back to New Jersey, yes, my work there wasn’t finished, nor is it, but that’s another tale. In addition to meeting up with the one and only anthony and trading some bottles, I found another root beer to review, Stewart’s Drive-In in Franklin Park. Yes, I know, I’ve already reviewed Stewart’s (twice actually), but this is once again a different recipe, as the bottled Stewart’s has long since been sold to a major conglomerate. The Stewart’s root beer stands were started in the 1920’s, along with many others. This one’s been there since the 1960’s, a relic of a bygone era, serving up nostalgia, one frosty mug at a time. While some of the others have switched to paper cups, this one remains true to their frosty mugs. The stand even has it’s own well, so it’s water isn’t chlorinated.

The Body is a classic root beer stand taste, some creamy vanilla and spices and not overly strong. It’s nice and crisp too, with no unpleasantness. The Bite is good too from those aforementioned spices. The Head is tall and foamy and the Aftertaste is nice a and sweet, faint vanilla.

It’s solid and yummy, but, just, isn’t quite there. It’s not like there’s anything wrong with it, it could just use a little more. A little more spice, a little more vanilla, a little more Aftertaste, to push it over the edge. They got some great food there. I had a pizza burger, but, I think I would have been better off getting a dog. I’d already had pizza that day so after my first bite, I realized I wasn’t in the mood. The cheese fries were wonderful. So stop by and give this classic drive in a try. You won’t regret it.

Three and a half kegs

A pizza burger, cheese fries, and a frosty mug. Such bliss.

Such a cute little drive-in. They don’t make them like this anymore.

Oct 112017

A large cup of Roscoe's Root BeerSeal of ApprovalFor the past 37 years, Roscoe’s Root Beer and Ribs has been operating seasonally in Rochester Minnesota. Originally an A&W, the Rosses purchased it in 1982 and made it into their own root beer stand. Over the decades it’s become an iconic place with legendary food, such as their ribs, burgers, and jojos. But, this is their last fall. They’ve finally decided to call it quits, and since the little root beer stand is on their property, the idea of selling it is too much for them. Another iconic, unique, American root beer stand bites the dust. And so, even though I just moved in to a new house, and am very busy unpacking, I knew I had to make the hour and 40 minute trek down to Rochester this past Saturday, to try this brew that will be so sorely missed by the community. My wife asked if such a journey was really worth it. I said that if it would be worth it for anyone, then it would be me, someone who’s spent nearly 20 years searching for new root beers. Plus I haven’t done a root beer stand review in ages. It was pouring rain, but I would not be deterred. Root beer and ribs were ordered.

The Body is sweet and creamy with a classic root beer stand flavor and vanilla and spices shining through. The Bite is medium and finishes smooth, with the spices shining but not overpowering. The Head is tall and frothy, and it’s a shame they don’t have frosty glass mugs to really bring it out. The Aftertaste is a nice spiced vanilla that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Alas, what a fine brew. I only just met you, but I lament your passing as though we’d been friends for ages. The food was quite good as well, a family order of ribs with sides of baked beans and coleslaw really hitting the spot. It’s only open another week or two, if you’re in the area, you should get some while you can.

4 kegs

Roscoe's Root Beer and Ribs stand.

Roscoe’s Root Beer and Ribs stand.

The most important part of the menu.

The most important part of the menu.

What could be more American than this meal? Very delicious. I ate until I was stuffed.

What could be more American than this meal? Very delicious. I ate until I was stuffed.