Jun 192013
 

Hires Big H Root BeerI was visiting Salt Lake City to give a presentation on electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid and I had to drop by and check out the local root beer stand. Started in 1959 it was originally a Hires Drive-in, but after the owner died, they were forced to change the name so they added Big H to it since he only had a verbal agreement with Hires to use the name which wasn’t enforceable after none of the people involved in said verbal agreement were alive. Everything else is identical to how it was, including the root beer, so this is really one of the few Hires root beer stands left in the US. They have three in the area. Interestingly, they also make their own root beer concentrate, Hires Big H, which is a different recipe. Why they don’t sell both side by side is beyond me but whatever. It is the classic 1950’s diner with car service still available. They ask you to have your lights on if you’d like car service in the dedicated parking area. They serve the standard diner foods with signature burgers and a secret fry sauce. It’s pretty cool.

The Body is spicy and caramely with mild licorice hints. It isn’t very creamy, more of a dark flavor, but it isn’t overly strong so it’s quite refreshing. There’s an ok Bite from spices and carbonation. The Head is very tall when you ask for it that way but it fizzes down a little quicker than I prefer. The Aftertaste is a light spicy caramel with the fainest licorice tint to it. I really wish the whole thing were stronger.

This is a solid and refreshing brew but it doesn’t really have anything extra special to move me, and it’s a little weak for my tastes. But it’s good to get some Hires since my petition to get them to bottle it seems in vain. It does go well with their food. The fry sauce is yummy and their pastrami burger was amazing. The extra tall Head pushes it barely in to 3.5 territory, so it’ll probably be the low cutoff for that. The service was extra nice too, so I do recommend dropping by if you’re in the region.

Three and a half kegs

The Hires Big H Root Beer Stand in Salt Lake City

The Hires Big H Root Beer Stand in Salt Lake City

The inside of the Hires Big H diner

The inside of the diner

"Pastrami H" burger with fries and their secret fry sauce

“Pastrami H” burger with fries and their secret fry sauce


Nov 082012
 

Hires 8 pack ad
Every so often there comes a time when people need to band together to change the world, one of those times is now. For over 100 years Hires Root Beer, the original root beer, has been offered to the public for their root beer enjoyment. In recent years however, Hires has receded dramatically in distribution. Worse than that, however, is the fact that it is no longer offered in glass bottles.
The advantages of glass bottles are many, including:

  • Tradition
  • Infinitely Reusable
  • Infinitely Recyclable
  • Longer Shelf Life
  • Better Taste
  • Especially Better Taste

For some root beers, this is not a problem, for the Original Root Beer, the Father of all Root Beers, this is a disgraceful shame that must be changed. I, the Root Beer Gourmet, therefore have taken it upon myself to start a petition to correct this problem. Please follow the link below and tell Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, the owners of the Hires brand, that we, the root beer connoisseurs of the world, demand better, we demand Hires Root Beer in glass!

Petition Link, Please Click and Sign


Dec 282011
 

This is probably the most anticipated root beer I’ve ever drank. Ever since I began reviewing root beers in 1998, people would always ask what I thought of Barq’s. It is the main root beer pushed by Coca-Cola and is sold in McDonald’s restaurants, so everyone knows it. The problem though is that I only review glass bottle root beers and I could never find Barq’s in glass. I searched everywhere, throughout Washington State and all up the West Coast. I even scoured the internet, but alas, it was to no avail. I’d always have to shamefully admit that I’d never tried Barq’s, well at least not since I became The Root Beer Gourmet. I still kept up the search over the years, though I had mostly given it up as a lost cause. Then, a few months ago, I tried again. I searched and stumbled across an old discussion board where someone mentioned a market in New Orleans from which Barq’s in glass bottles could be obtained. I pounced. I quickly called the market where they confirmed that they carried Barq’s in glass bottles. I was overjoyed. At long last, it would be mine. “How much to ship it?” I asked. The reply caught me off guard, they wouldn’t ship it. No matter what I offered, the employee then hung up the phone. What? I wasn’t about to be thwarted so easily. But how. My options were few. Fly to New Orleans (I’ve never gone to such extremes for a root beer but maybe), wait until my travels take me to New Orleans (sooner or later I’ll go everywhere), wait until I have a friend go to New Orleans, or find someone there. Then I remembered, wasn’t my Grandmother born in New Orleans? Don’t I have relatives living there? As an aside, this grandmother was of French descent and I had visited France and the region from whence they came. I saw the house that the family lived in for generations and I even met the decedents of the family that stayed in France so this type of family history is rather important to me, it’s my heritage after all. Well that settled it. I was going to close the missing link in the Constantin (the French relatives) heritage of mine and get my Barq’s in the process. I called my dad who directed me to my aunt who put me in contact with my second cousin whom I’d never met, nor even really heard of growing up, named Cynthia. After several wonderfully informative calls about the family over there, she said she would drop by the store and send me a six pack. After what seemed an eternity, but was more like three weeks it finally arrived. One of the bottles was smashed in shipping but the other five were still in pristine condition. They’re pretty sweet looking bottles at that. They’ve got the same vintage style that they did 50 years ago, maybe even older. I bumped it to nearly the front of the root beer queue and finally, after 13 years of searching, was able to try Barq’s. So thank you Cynthia, you’re the greatest cousin anyone could ask for.

The Body is sweet with a very noticeable cola flavor accented by wintergreen, vanilla, and traces of more traditional root beer flavors. It is very different from most root beers I’ve tried. The Bite, for all of the old advertizing “What do you mean Barq’s has bite,” is actually pretty mild. There is a little spice hint and some carbonation tingle. However, the giant caveat with that comes from the fact that the Head is huge but not very frothy. It fizzes down very quickly but before it does it almost escapes the glass. They pack an awful lot of carbonation in it which would give it quite a harsh Bite if it weren’t poured, or at least poured more carefully than I do to evaluate the Head. The Aftertaste is vanilla with a dash of cola.

It is definitely different from the average root beer. I actually like it. It is very cola-ish which I would normally say would merit it a rather low rating for being too far out in the root beer spectrum. But, Barq’s is almost as old as Hires (still searching for that one in glass by the way), and older than classics like A&W and Dad’s, so I can hardly say that they don’t know what root beer should be like. However, it really doesn’t have anything to make it some great spectacular root beer other than the cola flavor, which I’ve already said isn’t normally a good thing. I think that I would certainly enjoy this with a burger and fries and if McDonald’s started serving it in glass bottles, I would drop by and get some (since I’m only a root beer connoisseur, not a burger one). See how it rates against other root beers.