Jun 142017
 

Sunshine Bottle Works Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval So a few weeks ago I was contacted by the people at the Sunshine Bottle Works asking if I’d like to try their root beer. It is all natural, but they assured me it wasn’t like some of the nasty ones I’d try. And I said … of course I said yes. I’d say yes if they said they’d made the worst root beer in the world and wanted confirmation, or if they said it was the most generic thing out there. I always say yes to trying root beer. Sunshine Bottle Works started making craft sodas in 2014, with a desire to make sodas to match the modern lifestyle of the Central Coast. In talking with the owner, he thought that all natural root beers should be judged in their own category, since they it isn’t fair competing against artificial ingredients. I disagree. With the exception of safrole, all ingredients of root beer can be natural, and sassafras root extracts with the safrole removed are fine to use. It’s just more expensive. I’ve had plenty of amazing all natural root beers and plenty of artificial garbage. What you do with the ingredients and how you proportion them is far more important then whether they are all natural or not. And, if you do it right, the all natural ones should end up better. Real vanilla, honey, and spices can taste much better than the fake, if mixed at the proper ratios. So no, it’s perfectly fair to compare the natural to the not all naturals. And how did they do? You already saw the Seal up top, they nailed it.

It’s got a nice sweet, creamy body with wintergreen and birch notes. The Bite is a little sharp with spices but doesn’t finish as smooth as I prefer. The Head is nice and tall and foamy, just how I like it. The Aftertaste is a nice vanilla with some minty hints.

This is quite a fine brew, even when compared against those with the “unfair” advantage. They had nothing to worry about. Let this continue to be the lesson to you all. Great brews need more than just great ingredients, they need those ingredients to be expertly prepared, such preparation is in adequate supply at the Sunshine Bottle Works. Good job. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs




Mar 222017
 

Harvey & Vern's Olde Fashioned Root Beer Bottle Once upon a time there was a farmer from Quyon, Quebec named Harvey. Upon a slightly different yet partially overlapping time there was a doctor from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia named Vern. They both lived in simpler, all natural times and enjoyed soda. “Then one day they met and decided to make root beer,” would be the logical conclusion of the story but it isn’t. They never met. But Harvey’s grandson married Vern’s daughter. He owned the Kichesippi Beer Company and decided to make Ginger Beer and Cream Soda that are all natural with locally sourced ingredients that would take one back to the two different but similar yesteryears that both Harvey and Vern kind of simultaneously enjoyed. He put it in painted bottles as well. Sometime thereafter he added root beer to the mix, and I got interested. But not living in Canada, I had to trade with the awesome Akira.

The Body is sweet and creamy with sarsaparilla and vanilla flavors and a little wintergreen. The Bite is pretty good with cinnamon featuring prominently though not burning. The Head is most excellent. Pour with care. The Aftertaste is some vanilla and bitter wintergreen. The bitter lingers too long, unfortunately, so it increases the more you drink, ruining an otherwise pleasant experience.

This is almost the standard creamy root beer with sarsaparilla flavor instead of sassafras. I do like it other than the bitter at the end. It’s definitely worth having every now and then. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs




Feb 082017
 

Swamp Pop Filé Root Beer Bottle Getting this brew was frustrating. When it first came out they listed Cost Plus World Market as carrying it. I went to all of the ones in the area and they had every flavor of Swamp Pop except for the root beer. They were uncertain if they had merely sold out or never had it to begin with. After awhile it became evident that they didn’t have any and wouldn’t. So I emailed the company. They replied back that The Root Beer Store had it. But the people at the Root Beer Store didn’t have it and hadn’t even heard of it. So I was left wondering what to do and finally gave up and drank lots of other root beers. Then one day, I was at The Root Beer Store and they had it. Finally. This comes from down in Louisiana in the heart of Cajun country. It’s made with filé powder, which, if you don’t know, is ground sassafras leaves. It’s used for gumbo and other Cajun cooking. Since sassafras is a traditional root beer flavor (the roots anyways). The fine folks at Swamp Pop decided they should put it into their root beer to create “a flavor profile reminiscent of early, traditional root beers.”

This has a very sweet Body with an herbal, almost cola flavor. Vanilla stands out as well. There really isn’t much Bite other than the carbonation, but it isn’t overly smooth either. The Head is as good as it can be. So tall I have to pour with caution; lasting throughout the whole drinking experience. The Aftertaste is light and cola-ish. Is it from filé powder?

So really cola like and sweet. Not anything like the vast majority of root beers I’ve ever had. But, this reminds me of Barq’s, a lot. And Barq’s was made in the late 1800s and is also from Louisiana, so I’m thinking that this was their target from the beginning. It is better all around than Barq’s, plus it’s caffeine free, but it’s still a little too far outside of the standard root beer spectrum for me. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three kegs