Mar 112015

Central Coast Brewing Company Old Fashioned Root Beer Bottle This one’s pretty unique is that it comes from a small brewery and it’s actually bottled. Many, many breweries make their own root beer, but few of them go to the trouble of bottling it. Even fewer put it in only 22 ounce bottles so it’s of epic root beer proportions. I’ve had exactly one other type of root beer in a 22 ounce bottle at the time of writing this, also from California coincidentally. I heard about it from another website and sent them an email asking to order some. I waited for a long time and gave up on them. Then a couple of months later they responded saying that my email was in their spam folder. That’s the problem with putting the website url in my signature I’m sure. Oh well. I got a six-pack which is pretty massive. On reading the label I noticed that it said “No Preservatives – Keep Refrigerated” Which is also something you seldom encounter with a root beer. It was nice though because my wife only likes to drink natural, non-preserved root beer, so I could share some of each bottle with her. My mug is only 20 ounces after all and though the ingredients and nutritional information isn’t labeled anywhere, I figured it’s close enough to being all natural.

The Body is somewhat rich with a full sassafras flavor complimented by some light vanilla and wintergreen hints. The Bite is very nice with a bit of spice that I can’t place and some carbonation burn. The Head is very tall but only moderately frothy. It fizzes down quickly but the last bit lingers awhile. The Aftertaste is light vanilla and wintergreen that vanishes seconds after you swallow. It’s the biggest flaw in this I feel.

This is pretty middle of the road as far as root beers go. It doesn’t really take any chances in the flavor department so probably the majority of root beer fans will find it pleasant enough. Though it’s an all around solid brew, it doesn’t really move me the way my favorites do. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs

Oct 012014

Health Valley Old Fashioned Root Beer Bottle This was one of the very first glass bottled root beers that I ever tried. Probably the sixth if I can remember that well. The amazing thing was that it was in my hometown, a small city of around 5,000 people. It was just sitting there at Safeway but it was in the “Health Food” section. Remember back in the 1990’s before organic and all natural got all trendy? There was a “Health Food” section. I’d never thought to look for root beers there which is why I’d missed it. Granted I’d only been looking for root beers for a few months at that point so I hadn’t thought to look in a lot of places. Anyhow, it was my dad who found it and brought some home so we could try it. They also had a Sarsaparilla and it was then that I decided that if it wasn’t called specifically “Root Beer” or some close phonetic variation thereof I wasn’t going to review it. Health Valley later renamed their Sarsaparilla to Sarsaparilla Root Beer but forgot to tell me so I never got to try it. Interestingly they sweetened this with fructose which you’d never see in any “health food” nowadays.

This is all right at first but an absence of vanilla ruins the Body and the Aftertaste. It’s also not very sweet. The Aftertaste is a strange herbal flavor and there is not much Bite at all. Head is mediocre at best.

Yeah, this stuff is pretty nasty. Which I’m sure has nothing to do with the fact that it was discontinued a few years back (before I realized I needed to try their renamed Sarsaparilla Root Beer). To its credit it isn’t super vile like some other strange herbal brews, but the as a whole is very much not good. See how it rates against other root beers.

2 out of 5 root beer kegs

Jun 262013

A frosty mug of Brick Oven Old Fashioned Root Beer I had finished giving my seminar talk at BYU and was driving back to the hotel before dinner. On the way I saw the Brick Oven pizza place. They have a big sign advertising their old fashioned (there it is again) draft root beer. I was curious, I almost turned in to investigate but then didn’t, then I saw another turn in to their parking lot and decided to check it out. When I was an undergrad here, so many years ago, I used to actually come by a lot. Their pizza is the best in Utah Valley, maybe even the whole state. I knew they sold their own root beer in two liter bottles and just figured their “draft” was some bag-in-box swill to go with plastic bottles. But, what the heck I had some time to kill. I walked in, dressed impeccably in my custom tailored suit and told the waiter I wanted to know about their root beer, how it was made. She called the manager so I figured I’d better properly introduce myself, from He then proceeded to take me on a tour of their labyrinth of kitchen and then lead me into the basement where their brew vats are. He showed warm, uncarbonated root beer in one of the vats (smelled delicious) and explained how they tap it straight from the vats to carbonator and then to the soda fountain along with their apple beer. They also bottle in plastic and prepare bag-in-box syrup for their satellite stores in other cities. But, here in Provo, it’s fresh draft root beer, as gourmet as it gets, made by hand with cane sugar. Wow! That took me by surprise. I cursed myself for not bringing my camera and vowed to return. The manager was cool with it but insisted I sample beforehand. I told him I didn’t really want to taste before an official review but I had their apple beer which was amazing. Later that evening, I was back, camera in hand. The other manager, who I’d met the first visit, greeted me and took me down so I could document Provo’s best kept gourmet root beer secret. Then he got me a 20 oz frosty mug and let me get down to work.

The Body has a nice sweet standard sort of root beer flavor that’s got some caramel notes to it and some spice. It’s a little lighter than I prefer. The spices and carbonation give it a sharp Bite but it finishes smoother. The Head is non-existent, which is something I’ve never seen before in a draft brew. Not even the two second Head, strange. The Aftertaste is the final vanishing traces of spiced caramel that’s gone a little too soon.

So what’s with the Head, he said that they actually put anti-foaming agents in it to stop the Head. The ingredients list doesn’t mention any anti-foamer but maybe he means they took out the foaming agents. Why? Because the customers complained about too much foam, saying that they weren’t getting enough root beer for their money. BLASPHEMY!!! Don’t those fools know there are infinite free refills? The Philistines! How could the customers be so uncouth?!? They’ve RUINED a gourmet ROOT BEER! For the love of root beer WHY? How? What madness could have driven them to this, this travesty of travesties? It’s a good tasting brew but with a Head, it could be so much more, more bouquet, more, foamy goodness. Alas, it is done. There is hope for the future though. They are looking at bottling it in glass, and assured me that they would make sure it foams. I look forward to that day of redemption. Until then, I can only give this a ‘drinkable’ rating.

Three kegs

The Brick Oven Soda Vats

The brewing vats where they make root beer and apple beer by hand.

Brick Oven restaurant

One of the many ‘rooms’ in the restaurant. It expanded into other buildings over time making a cool collection of exterior walls and interior rooms all encased under one roof.