Jan 302015

Root Beer Bowl XLIX
It’s that time of year when the Super Bowl comes upon us. The biggest TV event in the US and massive celebrations shall ensue. Being from the Seattle area, this is especially exciting to see the Seahawks return as defending champions. There are many wacky ways that have been used to predict the winner, from rabbits, puppys, porcupines, search engines, and video game simulations. These are of course all rubbish. The most accurate predictor is one that I’ve known for years but only now make public. It is the Root Beer Bowl Predictor. Look at the three best bottled root beers from the respective teams’ larger home zone, Seattle area for the Seahawks, all of Massachusetts for the Patriots, and see the combined ratings. The keg difference in the rating multiplied by touchdowns gives the spread. The best root beer will win. Every time. Without question. Seriously.

So let’s get on to the teams. The team “captain” in this case is the highest rated brew from the city proper. For Seattle this is the Seal of Approval rated Jones Root Beer coming in at the lowest 4 kegs. The rest of the Seahawks’ root beer team comes from a 20 minute drive to the north in Mukilteo, WA, where Orca beverages makes the near peerless Bulldog Root Beer and the solid Brownie Caramel Cream Root Beer. This gives a team rating of 12.5 with nothing but Seal of Approval brews.

For the Patriots the captain is Emack & Bolio’s Rock It Root Beer. Very delicious but a poor Head relegates it to a mere 3.5. The rest Patriots’ Root Beer team line up comes from from Worcester, MA. The first is Polar Classics Root Beer with a respectable 3.5. Their final member is a sleeper, Ginseng UP, but not the Ginseng UP name brand root beer (which I haven’t reviewed yet), but their default private label recipe that they supply to the world’s private labelers. A Seal of Approval brew at 4 kegs. Then the Patriots’ final lineup gives them 11.

Prediction: Though the Patriots have a strong root beer lineup, it isn’t enough to overcome Seattle’s all-star lineup. I see the Seahawks winning this by 10 points. GO SEAHAWKS!!!

Root Beer Bowl Team Lineups:
Seattle: Jones – 4; Bulldog – 4.5; Brownie Caramel Cream – 4 = 12.5
Boston: Rockit – 3.5; Ginseng UP – 4, Polar – 3.5 = 11

Dec 252013

Flashback Root Beer Bottle Merry Christmas! Located near the beach in Seaside Oregon is the Flashback Malt Shoppe. They have over 200 types of glass bottled sodas and serve all manner of frozen desserts. Their own line of sodas is a recent, yet welcome development as the world always needs more gourmet root beer. While Seaside isn’t too far a drive it’s actually bottled by Orca Beverages which is extremely close. However, I got this in a trade from anthony who lives in NJ. I it makes me happy to know that this root beer traveled across the country and back just to make it to my refrigerator. I like their brick wall background with the logo and the sparkleys. The whole use-a-different-font-for-every-line is kind of annoying, but a lot of people do that for some reason. I didn’t study marketing so there may be something I don’t know. As for what their official soda name is I’m not quite sure. I even went so far as to ask them on their Facebook page and they just said, “Thank you for your input” which was not exactly helpful so I went with what’s written above. They also have a birch beer which their website calls a “Birch Root Beer” but the label says otherwise, much to my chagrin. Maybe they’ll change the label some day so I can review that one too.

The Body is medium strength with delicious vanilla and honey accents. There’s a lot of spice in there as well. The Bite is strong from the spice and the carbonation, almost too much. The Head is deplorable, barely better than the two second Head. The Aftertaste is a light vanilla and honey that lasts an appropriate amount of time.

This is good but really needs a proper Head. I’m starting to wonder if this is more of a problem with Orca than the brands themselves, as most of the Orca brands have had terrible Heads. Especially when you consider the nearly identical Bulldog and Steelhead brews with the Bulldog, having a poor Head, bottled by Orca. Oh well. It still tastes really good so if you’re ever in Seaside you should get some. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs

Apr 242013

Steelhead Root Beer BottleSeal of ApprovalI’ve long passed up reviewing Steelhead because I thought it was identical to Bulldog Root Beer due to the fact that the website actually calls it their identical sister brand, which is a pretty good indicator that they are just relabeled. I prefer the Steelhead label though. It seems to take the classy look a level higher than Bulldog, plus they ditched the dogs and “The Original” thus escaping the cliches. Did I mention that I’m a sports fisher? I am and I have caught a few Steelhead in my day so that’s another plus. We need more fish themed root beers. So, during a root beer lull last year, I got curious and dug a little deeper. They aren’t bottled at the same location so I wondered if they would taste different like Cool Mountain and Chicago. So I bought some bottles and started side by side comparisons.

The Body is wonderful. Lots of honey, vanilla, and the other essential flavors. Sweet and creamy, the kind of flavor you could just snuggle up to if that were possible. The Bite is not much but sufficient. The whole thing has a very rich and smooth mouth feel from the maltodextrin. The Head is medium height and very foamy. It forms increasingly larger bubbles as it begins to fade and lasts a good while. The Aftertaste is of vanilla and honey and very pleasing though a little sticky.

If you go back you’ll notice that my description is nearly identical to Bulldog. Over several months of blind taste testing multiple batches of each, I could not tell them apart. The Head, however, is another story. The Steelhead has a superior Head, one that’s taller, lasts longer, and with a different consistency. While the Bulldog’s is short and frothy with small bubbles, the Steelhead’s is medium and foamy with larger bubbles that lingers several minutes longer. It’s enough to have it rank a little higher against its peers such that when presented with the choice between the two, I’ll take Steelhead every time. An email with the people at Orca Beverages (bottler of Bulldog) even confirms that the two recipes are slightly different and that the website is out of date. So they probably just toss a little extra foaming agent in the Steelhead. That works for me. See how it rates against other root beers.

4.5 Kegs