Jul 182012

So awhile ago, when I reviewed Bundaberg Root Beer, I quipped that it didn’t taste enough like root beer to merit a higher rating, even though I didn’t think it was tasted bad as far as a soda goes. The fine anthony responded that he would probably rate a root beer that had a flavor he enjoyed high, even if it were a lime soda with a root beer label slapped on it. Well, being the joker that I am, I decided that the next time I sent him some root beers to review, I’d include my own “special” root beer. I bought a Stewart’s Key Lime, removed the label, scratched the paint off of the cap, and added my own label. It was “Eric’s Not-so-Gourmet Root Beer.” The label was made in the post office using a discarded receipt. In addition to the a new Seal of Disapproval, I added the standard marketing stuff, “The Original” “No Anthrax” and made sure that it was made with “totally legit root beer extract” We both shared a good laugh and it made for a funny review. So what does that have to do with Vermont Sweetwater Rugged Mountain Root Beer you ask? Well, when I poured it out, it was almost clear, a light golden color.

The Body is sweet and light and really tastes nothing like root beer. There is a crisp cane sugar flavor, some ginger and a little creamy vanilla. The Bite is also very light with a little prickle from the ginger and carbonation. The Head is tall but fizzes away very quickly. The Aftertaste is ginger and vanilla.

So it doesn’t taste like root beer at all. It tastes like … ginger ale! I do know what ginger ale tastes like. I drink it whenever I fly, and only when I fly (another story for another time) and I have Premier Gold status on United (I fly a lot). It also looks like ginger ale. They use only natural flavorings and no artificial colorings, so if they used proper root beer ingredients it should at least be brownish (licorice, molasses, brown sugar, sassafras root, etc. are all dark). What the heck? It’s like these guys did exactly what I did, except with ginger ale, and with an actual product that they advertise and sell. Don’t ask me why. Maybe they’re just trolling the root beer community. Maybe it started as an inside joke that spiraled out of control. Maybe their “refreshing taste like Grandpa used to make” is because their grandpa was trolling them, telling them that they were getting root beer when he was making ginger ale. Maybe little Timmy was deathly allergic to sassafras but wanted to drink root beer like the other kids so grandpa made him a “special root beer” recipe. I mean ginger is a root, and ale is a type of beer, but ultimately a root beer ginger ale is not. Whatever the reason for this deception, I am not amused! See how it rates against other root beers.

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.

Oct 242011

“G’day Mate, I ‘ear you been lookin’ for some root beer Down Under. Well Bundaberg’s all we got, it’s Australian for root beer.” I suppose that would be how the conversation would go if I went to Australia and was looking for a root beer. It has a pretty cool short bottle that is actually 0.7 fl oz larger than the standard root beer bottle. It is also brewed so that got my hopes up. On the label is says “Invert bottle before opening” I found this rather curious. I wasn’t sure if they were saying that because ingredients would settle, or if they were implying that right-side up for them down there, would be upside down for us up here which would then require us to invert the bottle before we opened it to avoid spilling it everywhere. Not to ruin my root beer though, I dutifully inverted the bottle and made sure it was then right-side up before opening. When I poured it into the glass I noticed particles in suspension. So it seems that the reason to invert it is the former and not the latter.

The Body on this is not really like anything I’ve ever tasted before. The very first drink of the bottle makes me almost gag of surprise but then it isn’t so bad. Then is a strange and complex flavor that is fruity, so much fruity. I didn’t expect that fruit flavor at all. Not really much root beer flavor, but not terrible. It is actually very sweet. The Bite is very mellow and sour. The Head is actually not bad. It builds to a medium height and has a decent amount of frothiness to it. It still fizzes away faster than it should, though. The Aftertaste is a very tart fruity flavor with the faintest trace of some creamy vanilla.

It actually isn’t bad, but it doesn’t seem to be a root beer. If you relabeled the bottle and called it something else (I’m not sure what) I am sure that it would be a quite good whatever it should be called. I suppose this is what the Aussies think root beer should taste like. It is also pretty disappointing because based on the ingredients, it should be much better than this. Intriguingly, like Mercury Root Beer, they put two kegs on the bottle. I think that this time they are spot on. See how it rates against other root beers.