Jul 012020

Schilo's Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval This past February, I was back in San Antonio for DistribuTECH, which is there every few years. I did my standard morning routine, which involved breakfast at Schilo’s (I’m always manning the booth these days) which was usually breakfast tacos and a mug of their impeccable root beer. This time I noticed something I never had before, bottles. I asked and heard that they’d started bottling just in December. Supposedly the same recipe but what about those egg whites? It doesn’t say. Anyways, I got a six pack’s worth so I could send them out to some people I owe some brews. TSA, the ever useless and disgusting agency, decided to completely rip a label off of one of the bottles for “testing” I’m sure, so sadly one of the collectors I had in mind was deprived of a bottle. Seriously, how does TSA continue to exist? Nobody likes them at all. But I digress. The burning question, would this be as good as on draft?

The Body is rich and creamy with a sweet sassafras core bathed in copious amounts of luscious vanilla. It truly exemplifies root beer. The Bite as a nice level of spice and carbonation with a smooth finish. The Head is amazingly tall and lasts longer than any I can remember. The Aftertaste is sweet, spiced vanilla.

This brew is truly amazing. It’s pretty much the same great stuff you’d get on draft, though the draft stuff is a bit fresher with a cleaner flavor. This is pretty negligible difference, but you know, I notice these things. Still, top notch, like just the slightest bit of something extra (maybe some honey, a little extra spice?) would push this into solid 5 (I may be too stingy with those) category. But it’s just right on the line. My recommendation. Find this brew, drink it, and rise to that next level of root beer appreciation to which it guides you. See how it rates against other root beers.

4.5 Kegs

Feb 072018

A pint of The Granary Root BeerSo two weeks ago I was down in San Antonio for DistribuTECH 2018! And yes, that means I flew out just a few days after getting back from Chicago. I’m movin’ these days. That’s for sure. Devoted followers will remember that San Antonio is home to one of the best brews I know of, Schilo’s, so I was pleased with the knowledge that even if I didn’t get anything new, I was going to be getting something amazing. Nevertheless, when I hit the ground I started my searching and discovered The Granary ‘Cue and Brew, a brewery that does barbecue and makes their own root beer. So on my second night, after a wonderful team dinner at some Tex Mex (a must in San Antonio) I went a questing for my brew. I invited many of my colleagues but they all declined. Their loss, in my opinion, for delicious brews awaited! The Granary evidently has really delicious barbecue, but I had no appetite to try after dinner, just ordered my pint and got to reviewing.

The Body is sour and herbal with sweetness and strangeness. It doesn’t taste like a root beer at all. Also the strange flavor mixture isn’t good. The Bite is sharp with spicy sourness. The Head is nice. Decent height and staying power. The Aftertaste is bizarre and bitter.

Bletch! Gross! Not root beer. At best it can kind of be described as one of those herbal tea root beers, but it’s way off and nasty. I told the bar keeper “I’ve never had a root beer like this before” to which he responded that there’s no artificial anything, just roots and sweetener. I can agree with the “just roots and sweetener” no recipe, no trying to make it taste good, no research or care, just chuck some roots in a vat, boil them, add sugar, and serve. This is without a doubt the worst root beer I’ve had in a long time. So I guess my colleagues were right to stay away. San Antonio is an amazing city in that within 2 miles of each other is one of my top five all time favorite brews and one of the bottom five worst ever.

Half a root beer keg.

The bar of The Granary 'Cue and Brew. I needed a break from choking down that swill.

The bar of The Granary ‘Cue and Brew. I needed a break from choking down that swill.

Feb 122014

A Mug of Schilo's Root BeerSeal of ApprovalA few weeks ago I was down in San Antonio for DistribuTECH where I was making a presentation on Cold Load Pickup. My usual Google search of “root beer ” turned up Schilo’s Delicatessen which boasts their own homemade root beer, and it was only two blocks away from my hotel. My first afternoon in San Antonio found me at Schilo’s for lunch and brew. The deli itself is about 100 years old and has been in its current location for around 70. It was started by a German family and is still run by a German family, though not the same one. The root beer was introduced during prohibition and they’ve kept the same original recipe ever since. They make it fresh every day in kegs, which are they then tap out from underneath a sweet wooden barrel arrangement.

The Body is sweet and rich and caramely. There’s tons of creamy vanilla complementing a spicy sassafras flavor. So, so good. The Bite is nearly perfect with loads of spice and the right amount of carbonation. It finishes very smooth. The Head is nice and foamy, though it could be a little taller and foamier. It’s good enough, but not quite perfect like the rest. The Aftertaste is lovely spiced vanilla.

Wow, wow, WOW! Every few years a root beer comes along that totally blows me away and this is one of them. I went back every day to get a mug and a free refill. The more I had, the more I loved it. It’s so rich and creamy and delicious. If the Head had been perfect, this would be a 5, but it was just slightly less than, so it only gets a 4.5. I’d say this is one of the top 5 brews I’ve ever had. It’s definitely worth making a trip to San Antonio for. It’s a shame they don’t bottle it. They said they were working on it, but since they use egg whites as a foaming agent (original recipe), they can’t let it get room temperature. That’s a shame, but I’d rather they stay true to that amazing recipe. Their food is delicious as well. My lunch was Wienerschnitzel with a side of the best split pea soup I’ve ever had. There’s a reason this place has stayed strong for over 70 years.

4.5 Kegs

My lunch at Schilo's

My lunch at Schilo’s

The root beer barrel on top of the keg with a pitcher of root beer getting a refill.

The root beer barrel on top of the keg with a pitcher of root beer getting a refill.

The San Antonio River Walk. Schilo's is just above the River Walk, though not at this particular spot.

The San Antonio River Walk. Schilo’s is just above the River Walk, though not at this particular spot.