Sep 072016

Virgil's Bavarian Nutmeg Root Beer Bottle This was actually one of the first gourmet root beers that I ever heard about. At the time, I was around 15 and loved my Henry Weinhard’s. My older brother was talking one day about some amazing root beer and I thought he was talking about Henry’s but he said it was Virgil’s. But not the regular Virgil’s, the special Virgil’s in the spring top bottles. Sadly, he died before he was able to share a bottle with me, and though that led to me becoming the root beer connoisseur that I am today, I didn’t find that special Virgil’s until over 10 years later. I’d long since had the original Virgil’s before this but was not impressed at all. This one, though, promises a different, more special/nutmeg recipe that is imported from Bavaria evidently. I’m not sure why they want to stress that it’s from Bavaria. Last time I checked, all of the root beers that came from Europe were pretty nasty and last time I was in Germany, they didn’t even know what root beer was. So unless they’re talking about Bavaria, PA or something like that, it isn’t really a selling point.

This has a very complex Body that is creamy, sort of fruity, and not overly sweet. It lacks the essential sassafras flavor and comes across a little weak because of it. It has a nice Bite on account of the cinnamon and nutmeg but manages to keep it on the smooth side. The Head is a major drawback. It is weak and fizzes away quickly. The Aftertaste is a creamy and slightly fruity flavor with hints of honey. It lingers awhile and is not unpleasant.

This one is much better than the standard Virgil’s but the lack of sassafras flavor is significant and fruitiness is slightly out of place. Replace that fruitiness with the sassafras and give it a nice Head and it would be amazing. It says that it is a winner of the NASFT “Outstanding Beverage” Award. Though this an O.K. brew, I wouldn’t go that far. The spring top bottle is one of the coolest bottles I’ve ever seen though, and you can reuse them to make your own homemade brews too so it’s definitely worth having now and again. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs

Jun 082016

Bottle of Iron Horse Root BeerSeal of Approval I got this in late 1999 or early 2000. It was one of my first mail orders, and I had to order 12 of them since variety packs were not an option in those days. I picked it because it looks awesome with that train and metallic shine (which is really hard to capture in a picture with the flash on a white background). When I first tried it I was blown away like never before, I was standing when I took my first drink and I had to sit down. It was that good. I got on the phone and called a friend and told him I’d found the best root beer EVER, and I awarded my first 5 kegs. In the next year or so I had multiple cases and then I went on my mission to Madagascar, a great dry spell for me as it were. When I got back my parents had a case waiting, but as I drank it against Hank’s and Henry’s, it didn’t seem to taste as good as it once did. I figured I’d had a bad batch and over the years had it again and again, each time disappointed (and by that I mean not the greatest thing ever made). Finally I had the The Ultimate Root Beer Showdown and realized I needed to re-rate this.

This has a very sweet medium Body and a very nice Bite. There’s some cinnamon and other spices that really grab the tongue. There is also a lovely caramelized corn syrup flavor that is very unique. The Head is ok and medium frothy. The Aftertaste is of vanilla and spices.

It is still a really good root beer, but doesn’t hold up against the others like it used to. Maybe they changed the recipe, the ingredients and nutritional info are the same but who knows what could be different with the whole “natural and artificial flavor”. Maybe it’s me. Maybe all the cholera I had in Madagascar changed my tastes such that what had made this and only this amazing no longer does. I don’t know. What I do know is that it is still a fine brew to be had whenever possible, but not the greatest root beer in the world. Sorry and congrats at the same time I guess? See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

Apr 272016

Jumpin Johnny's Root Beer Bottle This was the first root beer I reviewed after returning from my mission in Madagascar and South Africa. I was gone for two years and the only root beer I had was my mission recipe from some extract my parents sent me. When I returned home there was a case of this, a case of Henry’s, a case of Hank’s, and a case of Iron Horse waiting for me. I waited about two weeks before trying this, drinking the others to make sure I fully remembered what good root beer tasted like. The name of this annoys me. It should be Jumpin’ or Jumping. I don’t know who Johnny is, but he clearly has some mad skills. He’s jumping over a root beer keg on speed skates while holding a foamy mug of root beer. I know I couldn’t even jump over the barrel with a mug of brew if it were on grass, let alone speed skates. The reward for this feat was of course getting his own root beer named after him.

This root beer has an exceptionally sweet and delicious Body but although it is delicious at first, it proves rather hollow. There is not much Bite and it has very little Head on it. The Aftertaste is nothing special and even turns slightly fruity after awhile which counters the sweet flavor at the beginning.

They put real sugar and clover honey making this one of the sweetest brews I’ve ever encountered. Because of the sweet delicious flavor, it does go very well with food and therefore is drinkable and actually very desirable in that a food like pizza is greatly complimented by the sweet flavor, and the pizza flavor will fill the hollowness and mask the unpleasantness of the Aftertaste. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three kegs