Aug 102016
 

A glass of Portland Soda Works Root BeerSeal of Approval Two weeks ago I embarked on an awesome road trip to TMC Connect and the Tesla Gigafactory Grand Opening party. My friend from Vancouver and I carpooled as usual but now he has a Model S P90D instead of that Model S 60 he used to. Since it was a road trip I quickly looked over the route to find any root beers that would need to be tested. The first was one I’d known about for awhile, the Portland Soda Works. They have a very awesome story about their creation. The condensed version is they started their company to provide high quality alternatives for those who enjoy eating at restaurants but don’t drink alcohol, something I can totally get behind. I can’t stand how we straight-edge folks get left out. They also wanted to make their sodas from whole ingredients, if they can’t get the the roots or leaves themselves, it isn’t going into their drinks. Such dedication is a rare find. Unfortunately that also means that they can’t use sassafras because of the FDA and their questionable research, so it’s a sarsaparilla base. They had actually known about me for awhile, so when I asked if I could drop by for a taste they were very accommodating. They showed me and my friend their entire operation in the old bakery in the sketchy neighborhood by the railroad tracks. They let us taste a lot of different syrups and flavors, but then it was on to business, their root beer.

The Body is very rich with sarsaparilla the dominant flavor and a complex blend of other spices and flavors including cloves, star anise, and vanilla. It’s very sweet as well. The Bite is solid and spicy but it finishes oh so smooth. The Head is tall and foamy. It lingers and tastes wonderful and silky smooth. The Aftertaste is a rich vanilla with a bit of sarsaparilla flavor.

Wow! It’s not your archetypal root beer flavor to be sure, but they still captured enough of that root beeriness to to have it fall on the side of the root beer line. I’ve had some mixed experience with those all natural sarsaparilla based brews before, but none of them have pulled it off like these guys. I am proud to give this my Seal of Approval!

4 kegs


Their syrups and some flavor experimentation

Their syrups and some flavor experimentation.

The building that houses the Portland Soda Works and other businesses

The building that houses the Portland Soda Works and other businesses.




Jul 272016
 

Bottle of Rock Island Brewing Company Root BeerSeal of ApprovalSome people rock. They can’t help it. They are just rockin’ wherever they are, whatever they’re doing. It permeates through every fiber of their being and oozes out to influence their surroundings. They don’t get on a bus, they rock on a bus. They don’t walk into Mordor, they rock into Mordor. If they live on a hill, it’s now Rock Hill. If they live on an island, it’s Rock Island! Sometimes they make root beer, but they don’t make it, they rock it and their brews are rockin’. Such are the people behind the Rock Island Brewing Company, who kettle brew their sodas and make two flavors of root beer. They are located on (the island formerly known as) Long Island (it’s Rock Island now…) and are recent comers to the gourmet root beer world. If you remember I helped with their Kickstarter campaign. Their label is quite appropriately a root beer bottle made into a guitar head. I have no doubt that they’ve made such a guitar and use it as they rock to and fro.

The Body is sweet and rich with honey and vanilla featuring prominently over a traditional sassafras flavor. There’s a little spice in there as well. The Bite is mild yet present in the form of a little spice. It has a wonderful mouthfeel and a smooth finish. The Head is excellent and lingers throughout the drinking experience. The Aftertaste is nice vanilla and honey.

This is a fine, fine brew. I always love those vanilla and honey braus and this is one of the better ones. With their name and label, they set a high bar for themselves, and I am very pleased to say that they rocked right over that bar. See how it rates against other root beers.

4.5 Kegs




Jul 062016
 

Wurst Sodas Root Beer BottleSeal of ApprovalIf you don’t like bad puns, you should probably leave now because this will be the wurst review ever. Indeed, the brau made by Hermann Wurst Haus is the wurst root beer I’ve ever had. They even put on the label that it is the “Best of the Wurst”, which I’ve actually seen before from an even wurst place in Leavenworth. These folks make a bunch of different types of sausages and other gourmet foods and craft beers and sodas. The label makes me feel blue and it really gets up in my grill. It’s one of the wurst I’ve ever seen. The knives, however, do make it look sharper than most others.

The Body is sweet and spicy with vanilla and wintergreen surfacing after the initial contact. It seems like there’s some birch flavor in there as well. The Bite is an intense array of spice assaulting, though it isn’t harsh, just spicy burn. The Head is tall and frothy as it should be and lasts throughout the entire drinking experience. The Aftertaste is wintergreen and lovely vanilla with spice accents.

This one’s unique and spicy and tasty. Whilst I was expecting to get pun-ished by it, I found myself enjoying every slurp, sip, and swallow. This is more like the “wurst of the best” than the “best of the wurst”. They should probably change their label to reflect that. And add the Seal of Approval, because they’ve earned it. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs