Not to be confused with the bottled Triple XXX Root Beer, though this stand in Issaquah, WA originally started as such, it currently has no affiliation. The owner himself said that what they serve is completely different. The actual official name of the place is still giving me much grief, the website calls it a Triple XXX Root Beer Drive-in, but the sign itself refers to only XXX Root Beer as does their flyer and menu, and then some places they call it Triple X. I wish people would make things easier for me to categorize by being consistent with their names. And then there’s the question of how do I classify the root beer itself. It isn’t bottled, nor from a growler, nor keg, but is it draft even though it uses a soda fountain system of mixing the soda water with the syrup as it’s poured? I wish there was a gourmet root beer standards committee or something. Oh well. In lieu of such a committee I’m calling it a “Root Beer Stand Root Beer” and now consider all root beer stand brews, as long as they come in frosty mugs, gourmet! (This means of course that I’ll now have to drop by an A&W restaurant one of these days and review it too). I’d known about this place for several years and would always drive past it on the highway in between Seattle and my parents house in Eastern Washington, yet I never seemed to find the time to drop by to test out their brew. Finally, this last week on Saturday, we went for a Father’s Day present for me. First of all, it is a really cool root beer drive-in/stand, as the pictures below will attest to. In addition to sporting the last traditional XXX Barrel sign, which happens to be the largest Plexiglas lighted sign in the West, it is stuffed full of nostalgic artifacts from the golden age of root beer stands. When I walked in sporting my A&W shirt, the owner said that it should be hanging on the wall with the other artifacts. Pretty cool, though my shirt isn’t anywhere near that old. He said that they still use the original 1930 recipe with pure cane sugar. It comes in two sizes, a frosted mug (I’d say about 20 oz) and a super size frosted mug (30+ oz I think). They also make you pay more for it if you don’t want to commit sacrilege and water down your root beer with ice. I of course, needed a super size mug.
The Body is very sweet and full and creamy. It has a caramel flavor to it that almost tastes like honey complementing the sassafras, hints of vanilla, and spices. The spices give it a solid Bite when mixed with the carbonation fizz but it is still smooth. The Head is pretty lacking, however. The mugs they brought out for me and my wife had no Head at all. When asked they said that they pour it that way to maximize the root beer in the glass. Fair enough, but I want a Head. They then proceeded to pour another mug and show me that yes indeed it has a Head, though it is only about an inch and a half and fizzes away quickly. It could be much better, but it isn’t fatal. The Aftertaste is a light vanilla and caramel flavor with hints of the sassafras and spices.
Yum, this is good root beer. It is unique for sure, and I can’t think of another root beer I’ve had that tastes quite like it. It is great to sip by itself or great with their food. Did I mention their food yet? Wow, they have some incredible greasy, messy, amazing food there. For instance, the burger that I ordered ended up being larger than my son’s head and was absolutely fabulous as was the chicken thing my wife got. Their floats look pretty epic too, with Darigold soft serve and whipped cream. They even have the most glorious warning sign about nothing they serve being good for you and since your eating so many calories anyways, skip the diet coke and get a root beer. I couldn’t agree more. So this root beer and this stand, get my Seal of Approval (though barely on account of that Head). I look forward to dropping by again.