Jan 012020
 

Barq's Crafted Soda Root Beer Bottle Canadian Barq’s! That’s right, they make it different in Canada. I don’t know why, but they do. Not only do they only use pure cane sugar, but they use a little less sugar in total, and there’s less sodium. The nutritional information is therefore different, as the ingredients, slightly. And they even had the decency to call it something different, Crafted Soda. That’s not what we call it down here. So that means I can review it properly as it’s own brew. It even has a different logo. I found this in Toronto last year in a grocery store near my hotel. It caused quite a stir in the online root beer community, as no one knew about its existence. Maybe it’s something that came out recently? But the real questions, is it good, and does it taste the same as American Barq’s?

The Body has a rich creamy sassafras flavor with some nice vanilla surfacing after the initial contact and caramel notes. It’s a rather middle of the road, almost generic creamy root beer. The Bite is a little prickly from carbonation, but otherwise lacking in spices. It finishes moderately smooth. The Head is very tall but fizzes down a little too fast. The Aftertaste is vanilla with hints of caramel and the slightest bit of the sarsaparilla flavor you get in American Barq’s.

This is markedly different. I even went out and got a bottle of American Barq’s just to make sure. There’s more than just sugar substitution going on for this type of flavor difference. This is clearly, not your father’s Barq’s, but it’s better in my opinion, and earns an extra half a keg. Definitely worth trying if you can find it, just to see how different the same brand can be across a boarder. 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




Apr 182012
 

A British made root beer! That’s right folks, the chaps across the pond thought they’d give root beer brewing a try. And not just any chaps, but the Hartridges (whose coat of arms features prominently on the neck of the bottle). Francis Hartidge himself, the distinguished gentleman on the label, allegedly brought this recipe back from the Americas. Luckily for me my project manager (a tosser really) hails from Hampshire and actually likes to visit home for some reason rather frequently. I found the nearest stockist to his house and to my joy he returned after Christmas vacation with a kingly gift indeed, two bottles of the Celebrated Root Beer. I must say that I was certainly celebrating. However, he said he tried a bottle himself and it tasted like washing up liquid, then again, he says all root beers taste like that and other bullocks along those lines.

The Body is fruity with a noticeable sarsaparilla flavor on the initial contact but then quickly fades to a watery sour flavor. There really isn’t much root beer flavor but there is a lot of sour fruity. Perhaps that’s due to there being more citric acid in this than flavor (as per the ingredients). There is a strong acidic Bite, both from the sour and carbonation, not the best. The Head’s pretty decent. It’s very tall but quickly fizzes down, kind of like the Head on Barq’s. The Aftertaste is a faint fruity sarsaparilla but rather empty.

So yeah, really sweet and fruity, not really root beer. What rubbish! He was right, if you want a good root beer this is like washing up liquid. I suppose the trainspotters with nothing better to do would think drinking this to be quite diverting. But really, Francis Hartridge dropped a bullock on this one. It reminds me a lot like Bundaberg but not even that good. Those Brits seem to have the same affliction of the Aussies when it comes to root beer. Shame indeed. See how it rates against other root beers.