Jan 272016

Thomas Kemper Root Beer Bottle One of the first five gourmet root beers I ever had. I can’t remember when I first saw it show up at Safeway, but it was after I had fallen in love with Henry’s yet before I became The Root Beer Gourmet that I am. I almost never got it since I had Henry’s (spoiler alert: I liked the Henry’s more), even though this was made with pure Washington honey. With my small sample size (four or five root beers at that point) I was wondering if all quality root beers would be named after somebody. Another special thing about this brew is that it was one of four brews in my blind taste test. You see, someone at my work said that all of my root beer preference was just hot air and I really couldn’t tell the difference. So I went home got a bottle of Henry’s, a bottle of this, a plastic bottle of A&W, and Safeway Select in a can and had my family administer the blind taste test. I correctly identified each root beer, and reported back to my coworker in the sort of taunts you’d expect from a 17 year old working on a farm.

A better than average brew but nothing spectacular. Nice Body, Bite, Head, and Aftertaste. Good on everything but not great on any of them.

And the sort of writing you’d expect from one of my earliest of early reviews. It was creamy with a nice honey flavor as well, but below Henry’s in all aspects. It’s plenty good all around and doesn’t really have any thing wrong with it, so it’s fine for floats and meals and what not. It just had the misfortune of being in the shadow of something greater. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs

Dec 162015

Round Barn Root Beer BottleIn the tiny town of Arcadia, OK, on Route 66, there exists a place called Pops. There, on the iconic route, they’ve got it all; a restaurant, a landmark, a soda ranch, and a website that actually works. Their soda ranch boasts over 600 flavors, a good 1/6 of that coming from various root beers, birch beers, sarsaparillas, and associated diets. Very impressive. Not wanting to stop there, they decided to get their own flavor of root beer and contracted with the Huebert Brewing Company to make it for them. They decided to buck the whole Route 66 trend and instead named their root beer after some round barn. The picture is on the bottle and everything. In a town of less than 300 people, I can accept that a big ol’ round barn may just be defining feature of the place. The Wikipedia article on Arcadia confirms this as it has exactly one photo in it which is nearly identical to the label picture, same angle and everything. Curiously, the article doesn’t mention anything about said round barn, so maybe it’s just for looks or something.

The Body is rather bland. It’s really REALLY sweet and syrupy but only a medium flavor profile. It’s a tad creamy with the slightest shadow of wintergreen, but you really have to look hard. There’s also a fruity hint. There is the slightest spice Bite but not much in the carbonation department. That all fizzes up to build a very nice Head that’s tall and lingers awhile, though it’s not a high froth Head. The Aftertaste is sticky corn syrup that turns bitter.

So about a week before I tried this I got an email from someone claiming my review of Henry Weinhard’s was wrong because it uses HFCS and that tastes inferior to sugar and as the primary ingredient it would have the most pronounced flavor. I responded that the sugar doesn’t make the brew and other ingredients can have much stronger flavors. This brew, however, fits exactly what he was getting at. It has a very high 47g of HFCS and that is by far the dominant flavor. Really this tastes like moderately flavored corn syrup drink, like if you watered down some Aunt Jemima. I’m not a big fan. See how it rates against other root beers.

2.5/5 Root Beer Kegs

Feb 252015

Sioux City Root Beer BottleMy first ever gourmet root beer. I know what you’re thinking, what about Henry Weinhard’s? Well, this was the first that I ever tried. In fact, the very first gourmet soda I ever had was a Sioux City Birch Beer. Growing up we’d only drink our sodas from cans or plastic bottles. One day when I was between eight and ten years old, I think, my older brother told me about some amazing root beer like soda at the gas station several blocks from our house. The next day we walked there with some money and saw in the cooler fancy brown bottles of Sioux City Birch Beer, Sarsaparilla, and Root Beer. I was amazed. At the time I thought only beer came in brown glass bottles, never soda. Also the bottles were all fancy and embossed. I got a birch beer and was blown away by how good a soda could taste. Several days later I tried the sarsaparilla and then finally the root beer. Every week or so we’d trek down and buy one. After a year or so, the gas station stopped carrying it, and it would be another several years before gourmet root beer would come back into my life in the form of Henry Weinhard’s and then the rest. Once I started reviewing, I looked high and low for this but it was nowhere to be found in area around my hometown, only the sarsaparilla and birch beer. The year after my mission though, I found it at last in Sacramento.

The Body is average. Not too sweet and rather “soda-ish”. A good Bite, but on the harsh side and not too spicy. Only a fair Head. There is not much Aftertaste. All in all, good, but lacking in every department.

Well, I guess after all of those other gourmet root beers, this wasn’t so amazing in comparison. It still is a lot better than Cragmont or the following Safeway Select that I would pour out of a can. It also has one of the coolest bottles still with extra heavy glass and mister mustachioed cowboy with a six-shooter. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three kegs