Feb 262014

Tommyknocker New Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval I honestly hope this is the last time I have to review a Tommyknocker Root Beer. You see, after my second/last review and the rebuke of Tommyknocker that went with it, they went and changed their recipe. I found this out when I saw bottles of it at The Root Beer Store. They were really pushing their Tahitian Vanilla, in the ingredients. Meh, I said, I’ll get around to it someday. Then about a year later I looked and the bottle had changed. Notice the “New” on there. Gone was the Tahitian Vanilla (who likes Tahiti anyways?) and it was replaced by organic vanilla (which evidently cannot come from Tahiti), and all the ingredients are all natural with no preservatives. So now it’s Tommyknocker New Root Beer, yet, it’s still “Original” somehow. Original in that no other brand has changed their recipe so often in such a short space of time perhaps? Either way, I finally capitulated the way you do to a toddler asking you the same question over and over and over and over … and over and over … and over again, and bought two bottles to review. I also got a third for my wife because she’s always bugging me about how she wants an all natural root beer without preservative and how I’m filling myself with terrible chemicals with all of the other root beers I’m drinking.

The Body is nice and sweet that starts with a medium strength generic root beer flavor giving way to maple and vanilla. The Bite is prickly. It seems like that comes both from some spice and the carbonation, but once again, the maple quickly drowns it out. The Head is excellent! It builds right to the top of my mug but doesn’t quite spill over. It lingers throughout the whole drinking experience as a root beer Head should. The Aftertaste is some sticky maple and vanilla.

Ok, this one is great, though still not as good as their original(?) recipe, it’s better than their second iteration. Without any preservatives detracting from the mouth feel, added to the maple bonus and excellent Head, they barely squeak through to regain their lost the Seal of Approval. Now please, please, please, don’t go messing it up again. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

Sep 042013

Oogave Agave Root Beer Bottle Sometime in the past three years since I originally reviewed Oogave, they broke up with Esteban. I’m not sure what happened, but it must not have been pretty. Not only is Oogave’s root beer no longer named after him, but Esteban’s Seal of Approval is also gone. It may have had something to do with reformulating the recipe, for somehow, though the ingredients listed on the bottle are still the same, they managed to drop 2 calories from their brew so they could list it as a 100 calorie beverage. To be fair, the “natural flavors” from Esteban’s Root Beer could have been completely different from the “natural flavors” in the Agave Root Beer. Or maybe they just dropped half a gram of agave nectar to reduce it from 25.4 g to 24.9 g, as both would read the 25 g which is listed on the labels. Perhaps there was a great argument over the matter with Esteban storming out over the final decision, vowing they’d never get his approval again. Gone with Esteban is a sensible label. While it’s cool to have the bottle painted, what little yellow and white paint there is, when on a clear bottle, hardly shows up at all in the picture. Grrr!

The Body is very mild with a prominent agave nectar flavor and some herbal notes. There’s something bitter and out of place as well. It isn’t very sweet and it isn’t very good. The Bite has a strange sort of burn to it. The Head is a little shorter and fizzes down a little quicker than I prefer but isn’t bad. The Aftertaste is sort of sour and bitter with an herbal agave flavor. I’m not going to mince words, this is not good.

Ugh, this is really bad. I can see now why Esteban wanted no part of it. Whereas before it was a good soda bad root beer type of drink, now it’s just bad all around; though it does taste more like a root beer should. I seriously doubt that they just removed a measly 0.5 grams of agave nectar to change it this much. Either way, I recommend you steer clear of this one. See how it rates against other root beers.

2 out of 5 root beer kegs

Mar 272013

Maine Root Root Beer BottleSeal of ApprovalFirst off this has one of the most annoying names of any root beer I know. The company’s name is Maine Root, which will work well with any flavor other than root beer. While one could just chalk this up to an oversight on their part, Root Beer was the first flavor they offered. Clearly, with their attention on all natural, organic, free trade, and free-range (I’ll get to that later), they just couldn’t be bothered by not making their root beer redundant. It’s a forgivable offense, but will probably always keep them in the top 5 annoying root beer names (coming soon). Secondly, they have the amusing gimmick of Free-range Root Beer. That calls for all natural root beers that live (and are perhaps captured) in the wild. One of their stated goals is to fight corporate root beer, which I’ve seen before from that Flathead Lake Monster swill, but these people have a much better strategy.

The Body is crisp and well balanced. It is creamy with wintergreen surfacing after the initial contact. The Head is full and frothy. It lingers. It is less than the epic Head of a Henry’s, but sufficient for the most adamant connoisseur. There isn’t really much Bite. Though I like it smooth, some spices could improve it a bit. The Aftertaste is a creamy vanilla with hints of wintergreen.

This is a very delicious and well crafted brew. Overall it has all of the right flavors in the right proportions. It is very clean and crisp on account of the cane sugar and no preservatives. The lack of preservatives is wonderful as the slight soapiness or fruitiness that accompanies sodium benzoate or citric acid is gone, so all of the focus is on the wonderful mix of root beer goodness. They may be on to something with that whole Free-range business. I must say that this is the best all natural root beer I’ve had so far. The only drawback is the almost complete lack of bite and that something extra, like honey or cinnamon, to really seal the deal, however, I am still proud to give this root beer my Seal of Approval. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs