Jun 242020
 

A pints of Barney's Drive-In Root BeerSeal of Approval This past Saturday I had to get out. This lockdown stuff since March, I’m going a little crazy not having the life of travel adventures anymore. At the same time, I recognize that I need to be safe about things and stay away from people as much as possible. I know restaurants are starting to open but only for take-out, and I thought, there’s gotta be some root beer stand out there where you can just grab your food, eat on a picnic table or something. A little searching and sure enough, an hour an a half south of me, in the town of Waseca, I found Barney’s Drive-In. They still do car hops and have some picnic tables out in the sun for those who don’t want to eat in their cars (I for one am not eating in my new Tesla). Plus they make their own root beer and serve in frosty mugs. Exactly what I was looking for. So after walking around some lakeside parks in Waseca for a bit, I pulled into the drive-in and ordered root beer and a Coney dog. Now they have three sizes of root beer, but only the medium comes in a glass pint mug, the small and large come in plastic mugs, for some reason. They also let you order half gallons and gallons to take home. This is a root beer stand in every sense of the word. I, of course, got the medium glass mug.

The Body is extremely sweet with that classic root beer stand flavor which entails a lot of vanilla and some spices. Those spices make for a nice Bite when coupled with the good carbonation. It also finishes quite smooth. The Head is medium height decently frothy, if you ask them to make it that way. The Aftertaste is sweet, creamy vanilla that lasts and lasts.

Excellent brew. Just what I have been missing in my life lately. It might be a little too sweet, and could use some more complexity, but still, amazing stuff that I’d quaff to my heart’s content. Thankfully (sadly?) they don’t give free refills or I’d probably have drank myself sick. The foot long bacon cheese Coney was amazing too. This place is a must visit for all root beer and classic fast food lovers.

4 kegs




Barney's Drive-In

Barney’s Drive-In

The Barney's Drive-In Sign

The Barney’s Drive-In Sign

A bacon cheese foot-long Coney dog with a mug of root beer

A bacon cheese foot-long Coney dog with a mug of root beer. There is no better summer road trip food.

Jun 032020
 

Rusted Rodeo Mad Cowboy Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval This was a Christmas present from my lovely wife. Remember that the best presents are root beer. Always, forever. Especially if it’s a brand new root beer. Rusted Rodeo Craft Soda is a recent startup out of Wyoming, that only sells directly to customers, so if you don’t live near Gillette, WY (which statistically is basically everyone), you’ll need to mail order. This root beer is their flagship soda, with flavor text of “a bold, courageous, adventure-seeking, 8 second kin of guy … he’s a mad cowboy” that’s written in about 5 different font sizes. The ingredients are similarly written in different font sizes, and I doubt they listed them in order, or else this has more natural roots than carbonated water in it. It also has a rather unique bottle, which rather fun. Now, the brew itself?

The Body is complex and earthy with honey, sarsaparilla, and herb flavors mingling to give a very unique root beer that’s still not too far off of the expected flavor to come across as weird. It’s quite refreshing and not overly sweet, but well balanced and layered. There’s a notable spice Bite with clove standing out, but it’s on the milder, smoother side with a nice smooth finish. The Head is second to none. It stays forever and foams up like crazy. It’s basically perfect, so pour with caution or you’ll be waiting for a while before you can finish your pour. The Aftertaste is a nice spiced honey with faint sarsaparilla that leaves you feeling refreshed.

This is a very nice brew, a little different than your standard, archetypal root beer, but still satisfying in nearly every way. Now my only real complaint is the name. This is a quality, fine, complex and refreshing soda which is a pleasure to sip and enjoy. None of that connotes some crazy adventure-seeking mad cowboy. More like the mad cowboy’s grandfather, lazily rocking on his back porch, with a fresh batch of the family brew, enjoying the sunset while the roots and spices mingle and caress his tongue. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs




May 062020
 

Real Sugar Soda Vintage Root Beer Bottle Another brew from my good pal Rick. This one is from Oak Cliff, Texas. Real Sugar Soda. Evidently for them, real sugar means cane sugar, which I’m sure the beet producers in Michigan would take issue with. Heck, I even consider corn syrup as “real” sugar, inasmuch as it isn’t some artificial sweetener. But cane sugar is trendy these days, so it makes sense. They’ve been around since 2009, yet I’ve never heard of this root beer, and I’ve been doing this for longer than 2009. Maybe their root beer is new but their soda company isn’t? Maybe it’s only recently they started bottling. Whatever. It’s vintage. We all love vintage root beer. Nearly everyone’s got a vintage root beer. They even address that on their bottle, saying that it “definitely belongs here”. We shall see.

The Body is sweet with a fruity sarsaparilla tinge. There’s a hint of spices and it’s a little generic while on the creamy side. The fruity is a little much for me though. The Bite is very smooth, the spices can be tasted but not felt, if that makes sense, so I wish there was a little more. The Head proved itself worthy of all accolades, which you’ve heard before so I shan’t regale you with them. The Aftertaste is more of that sweet fruity, which I don’t really like.

So, yeah, this is okay, I guess. Like, just barely okay. Just barely drinkable for discerning root beer gourmet like I am and everyone else strives to be. But is it vintage? I guess so? I mean, it doesn’t taste like some new, avant-garde type root beer, so if it isn’t that you can call it vintage. I wouldn’t call it good. Just, drinkable. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three kegs