Jan 162013

Those neck-less brothers are back. After my scathing review of their attempt at an orange juice substitute it seems they went back and reformulated and renamed their brew. I didn’t realize this for many years and passed it by as I went searching for root beers. I was even conversing with someone on the subject of gourmet root beer (which is something I do quite a bit actually), about which ones had a strong vanilla flavor, and they mentioned Barrel Brothers. I told them they were crazy and Barrel Brothers was nasty. One day I took a closer look and realized that they’d added “New” to the label and “Creamy Vanilla” to the name. I dug up my bottle and compared ingredients and nutritional info. They were different. Yay! A new root beer. I quickly ordered some from Beverages Direct and got down to business.

Firstly, this smells rancid. I don’t know why but it does. The Body, however, doesn’t taste like its aroma at all. It has a very mild flavor with lots of rich, creamy vanilla. There’s a hint of something out of place with it. I can’t put my finger on it, but something doesn’t taste right. The Bite is ok from carbonation but no real spices to speak of. It is very smooth, as I prefer. I wish it had a bit of spice tingle to it, though. The Head is perfect. Yup, nothing more to say about that. The Aftertaste is vanilla, lovely vanilla. There’s the slightest hint of that out-of-place flavor but it quickly vanishes and is replaced by that wonderful vanilla.

So this root beer truly lives up to its name. So much so that it seems to be more of a cream soda than a root beer. Though I used to describe a cream soda as a root beer with a lot of extra vanilla so no harm there. It’s quite an improvement over their original root beer for sure, but not quite Seal of Approval stuff. I will agree with my friend though that it is a seriously smooth vanilla concoction. See how it rates against other root beers.

Sep 122012

Way back in the fall of 2003, I had just arrived at BYU to restart my undergrad career. I’d been off of my mission for a mere six months but I’d jumped back into root beer reviewing with a tenacity after two years of being completely dry (there was no gourmet root beer in Madagascar nor South Africa that I could find). On one of my first days in Provo, I went with my sister to the BYU creamery to get some of their amazing “squeaky cheese”, which is just a high quality cheddar cheese curd but it squeaks when you eat it so everyone calls it squeaky cheese. While I was there I of course checked for root beer and found a six-pack of Barrel Brothers. Excellent, more root beer for me. The label is interesting to be sure, two guys without necks wearing barrels with mugs of root beer. It’s like they’re depression era homeless people who found some root beer or something. And they also don’t have necks. That really bothers me. The other interesting tidbit on the label is that it is “brewed with both vitamin C & calcium” I’m not sure if they were setting out to make a root beer that sub for your morning glass of OJ or if their formula just happened to call for those ingredients and the marketing department (the thinner of the neck-less brothers perhaps?) decided they could pitch that as a benefit or something.

The Body was good at first but then a strange herbal flavor surfaced that was not the tastiest one to have in my mouth. It was creamy though. The tingly herbal Bite attacks you with the first drink. The Head is excellent and frothy, just as the bottle boasts and the Aftertaste is that herbal flavor and some vanilla.

So yeah, it starts out good enough and has a great Head to boot, but that strange herbal flavor really ruins it. Maybe they put too much yucca in it or maybe it’s the attempt at making a healthy orange juice substitute root beer but whatever it is they failed. Probably the reason that they have to wear barrels as the brew won’t sell enough for them to afford clothes. See how it rates against other root beers.