Red Arrow is an old brand of root beer that came from Michigan in the 1950s through 70s. According to the bottle “Folklore says that the brand was a tribute to the Red Arrow Brigade.” Now the Red Arrow Brigade was formed in 1967 from the deactivated 32nd Infantry Division. It was made of three battalions of light infantry as well as support and engineer units. The 32nd Infantry “Red Arrow” Division was formed from the Wisconsin and Michigan National Guards in 1916 to serve on the Mexican border. The Red Arrow Division was active through WWII and had many Metals of Honor and other awards. So most likely folklore (or at least the root beer bottle) meant that the brand was named after the Red Arrow Division and not the Brigade. Either way, the brand died out and for decades the only trace of it was old bottles and crown caps peddled by collectors. Then in March 28, 2011, it was resurrected, the recipe having fallen into the hands of a Redmond, WA man who decided it was something the world needed once again.
It has a full Body that is loaded with wintergreen. Wow! So much wintergreen! There is also a very noticeable licorice flavor that makes the whole Body rather dark. I don’t really like it that much. The Bite is solid, with carbonation first hitting the tongue followed by the spice kick, largely from the wintergreen. It still has a rather smooth finish, though, I prefer it smoother. The Head is pitiful, the classic Two Second Head. It’s like they aren’t even trying. The Aftertaste is strong wintergreen and licorice. There is too much licorice and it is sticky.
If you love wintergreen and licorice, inseparable at every turn, this is definitely the root beer for you. I on the other hand, think that it’s not good at all. The bottle says that the recipe is from Michigan, “known for authentic root beer flavor.” The fact that this brand didn’t initially survive in such a place should have been the first clue that maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Alas, like some horrid zombie it was unearthed from the grave in which it rightfully belonged to wreak its havoc upon the root beer world. It could have been much worse, however, so I don’t think an angry mob with pitch forks and torches will be required at the dark mansion of the man who brought it back. See how it rates against other root beers.