Feb 202013

Bulldog Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval This isn’t your regular gourmet root beer. It’s one of those few that are actually brewed using the highest quality ingredients (according to their site) such as cane sugar, real vanilla, and honey. The label itself is rather classy but falls victim to far too many root beer cliches. First is the dogs. So many root beers with dogs on the label. This one takes it a bit further since the entire brewery is named after a dog. The two dogs do have names, Barley and Hops, but so do most of the other dog root beers. Also, Bulldog sports “The Original”, a tag line whose disappearance from labels would bring nothing but immense joy, along with “Handcrafted” which isn’t nearly as overused but still too prevalent. Their bold “Unleash the Taste” (pun I’m sure is intended), though, is a nice and very appropriate slogan.

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 frothy but not much, not flat by any means just less than is desirable. The Aftertaste is of vanilla and honey and very pleasing though a little sticky.

When I took the first drink I exclaimed “Oh wow!” This is one of the best tasting root beers that I have ever had the pleasure to drink. “Unleash the Taste” indeed! I don’t care what their label is like, I’ll drink this stuff whenever I can get it. It’s really a shame about that Head, if it were tall and extra frothy this may have made it into the highest echelon of root beer rankings. However, I am still very proud to award it my Seal of Approval. See how it rates against other root beers.

4.5 Kegs

Mar 212012

Back in September, as I was busy searching for new root beers, I discovered Thomas Kemper Purely Natural Root Beer on another reviewers blog. I was surprised, because I had never seen or even heard about this brew and Thomas Kemper is made in Portland, and can be found all over the Seattle area and the Pacific Northwest in general. Nearly every grocery store and gas station carries it. I figured it must be so new that it hadn’t had time to proliferate through the region. I sent the company an email asking which retail outlets carried it, and kept my eye out as I traveled around. After a few months of not seeing it, I sent the company another email asking where I could find it. I got a response from the company president telling me that they had recently discontinued the purely natural line. What?? A gourmet root beer had been born and killed right under my nose before I ever knew it existed? Say it ain’t so! Then it occurred to me, that if it was just recently discontinued, there might still be some bottles floating around out there. I searched Amazon, Ebay, all of the specialty online stores that sell root beer. Nothing. Then I took my search back to a distributor, Real Soda. I noticed it was listed on their site, but so is Journey John Barleycorn and Dr. Tima, both of which are long since dead, but I emailed them nonetheless. To my great joy, they said they still had 11 cases. I quickly made arrangements and ordered a 12 pack, 8 bottles of this stuff and 2 bottles of two other varieties. Whew, that was too close.

The Body of this is weak in the normal root beer flavors but really strong in honey and fruity. I mean there is a very significant citrusy fruity flavor that comes in after the initial flavors and overpowers them. I think this can be blamed on the pectin they put in there for some reason. There isn’t really much Bite, a little carbonation tingle but a distinct lack of spices. The Head is excellent, tall and frothy, and is the one redeeming feature of the brew. The Aftertaste is a fruity honey flavor that lasts far too long. This flavor compounds so the more you drink the stronger it gets and the less you want to drink it.

For comparison, with the second bottle, I had a regular Thomas Kemper side as well, and this is worse in all categories. I mean, it isn’t even remotely like the regular Thomas Kemper. This stuff is really bad. What astounds me is that they start with cane sugar, honey, and maltodextrin, like Bulldog, and still manage to make it horrible. Why did they make it taste overwhelmingly fruity? I don’t know, but thankfully it has been discontinued so the masses can be spared its vileness. Perhaps that is the true reason for it’s demise. See how it rate against other root beers.

Oct 122011

So Duh! Rockin' Root Beer BottleA lovely pun though I didn’t get it myself until I was telling my sister about it over the phone. What struck me about this was just how unimpressive the bottle and label look. I mean, a Valley Girl on a root beer bottle? I suppose it is more original than a dog. Even before I looked up the company, I just knew it was from California. So with low expectations and quotes from the movie “Clueless” going through my head, I cracked this one open to give it a try.

When I poured it into the mug and the Head built I said to myself, “Ah, now that’s a proper root beer head.” It is tall and frothy. It lazily built to the top of my 20 ounce mug and just sat there enjoying its freedom from the bottle. On the first drink I was delighted with the Body, the fairy tale marriage of cane sugar and honey, and it didn’t stop there. The sassafras and other root beer flavors were creamily mixed with natural vanilla. It could use a little more sassafras though. The Bite is fantastic too with spices aplenty in the right proportions and a little prickly from the carbonation while still keeping it smooth going down. The Aftertaste is sweet honey with vanilla and spices coming out as it drifts away leaving the tongue begging for more.

The final keg assignment was a tough call. I really like this. I think it is one of the best sodas I have ever drank. I drank a bottle of Henry’s and a bottle of Bulldog in between bottles 1 and 2 to make sure I really liked this one as much as I did. Giving it a 5 was something I wanted to do even though it has a light bodied sassafras flavor instead of a full. I see this as a delicious honey root beer (my favorite type), much like the original Tommyknocker was an amazing maple root beer.  But ultimately, I felt I just couldn’t do it. See how it rates against other root beers.