Apr 042018

Last week I was in Sacramento for work, meeting with the local utility as I’m wont to do these days. Now if you’ve kept up with this blog, you’ll know that Sacramento is a city that has quite the storied past with me, though it’s been the first time I’ve been back there in around five years. On top of visiting relatives, I needed to hit up a brewery for root beer. Not any brewery would do, however, I was looking for River City Brewing Company, not to be confused with River City Root Beer or the other River City Root Beer. This brewery and I go way back, back to the first year of my gourmet root beer loving, before I even launched my site. I tried it when we were in Old Sacramento 20 years ago. I thought it was amazing. The next year when I had started the site, I was back and tried it again, but they put ice in it and it tasted not so good. So for 19 years I’ve been wondering, just how good is this root beer, really? The brewery has since moved, from the mall by Old Sac, to Carmichael, which was right by my hotel, making this even easier. This time I remembered to tell them no ice. I wasn’t going to repeat the mistake of 19 years ago.

The Body is sweet but not overly, and rich as well. There’s a little bit of vanilla complimenting a solid core that is well balanced. The Bite is very mild, there is really no discernible spice to it and the carbonation is low. The Head is short but foamy and lasts. The Aftertaste is a mild fruity sarsaparilla sort that doesn’t really do it for me, though it doesn’t really ruin it either.

This is a solid brew that almost pulls it off, not quite, but so close. It’s not as amazing as I remember my very first time being. I have had about 350 root beers since then which gives a bit more perspective. But, it’s still really good and has a uniqueness about it to be worth a visit if you’re in the area. I didn’t have time to try any of the food so I can’t comment, but if they cook like they brew, it won’t be disappointing.

Three and a half kegs

Mar 282018

Zia Root Beer Bottle Imagine a root beer that’s more than just a root beer. It’s a root beer with a mission. A mission to enrich the state of New Mexico, through local economic support. A mission to achieve a sustainable earth for the next seven generations. And a mission to benefit the Native Tribe of Zia Pueblo. Congratulations, you’ve imagined ZIA Root Beer. The company name, ZIA Energia means sun energy. And the symbol on the bottle is the sun, with rays in four directions, symbolizing many sets of four things like North, South, East, and West; Earth, Water, Air, Fire; and even Clear Mind, Strong Body, Pure Spirit, and Devotion to the Well-Being of Others. The design and the font are all very Pueblo-y, if that’s a style. I think it’s a style. I’m saying it’s a style. Feel free to correct me in the comments about what the real style is. My rudimentary Googling fell short. My only comment on their mission is what about the poor eighth generation?

The Body is rich and complex with lots of spice and some licorice. There’s also a hint of malted barley. The Bite is strong and spicy with a lot of clove. The Head is decent. It’s tall and frothy enough but I’ve seen much better. The Aftertaste is wintergreen and vanilla with clove accents and licorice.

This is a solid and complex brew, but there’s just a little too much licorice in it for my tastes. I was on the fence of where to put this one and thankfully I had more than two bottles so I could try it again. Ultimately it didn’t quite make the Seal cut, but it’s still worth trying as it is pretty unique. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs

Mar 212018

Old Bottle Brewery Root Beer Bottle The Old Bottle Brewery is a small home brewery founded in 2014 in Ruston, Louisiana. It’s just a small part time operation though they have big, professional aspirations for the future. Even though they are small, they make their own root beer and were even kind enough to send me some. Their brew is made with all natural ingredients like molasses, wintergreen, vanilla, and nutmeg. All the ingredients are listed on the “label” which is tied around the bottle neck. Unfortunately if you brew all natural, you don’t get to use sassafras, and that can be bad for the total flavor. Apart from that tied on tag, the bottle is entirely plain, but all that really matters is how it tastes.

The Body is complex with a lot of different flavors; vanilla, molasses, some wintergreen, and spices, but it lacks a solid core to pull it all together. Nevertheless, it is still pleasant. The Bite is nice from all of the spices and still finishes a bit smooth. The Head is excellent, so full points there. The Aftertaste is also very pleasant, with vanilla and light molasses and spices.

This isn’t bad, but doesn’t excel. It’s got all of the wonderful peripheral flavors but really lacks the sassafras core. There are other brews that suffer from this same problem, but this is among the better ones. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three kegs