Jun 152016

Boylan's Natural Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval This is an extremely elusive brew. In fact, the company’s own website doesn’t even acknowledge it’s existence. Yet the signs are out there if you really look. If you search for this you can find some reviews and some cases for sale (at like $100 a case after shipping) such that it almost seems like it’s been discontinued. But it hadn’t. I searched far and wide to find just a few bottles. I even found a shop in Canada selling other Boylan’s Natural flavors but not the root beer for some reason (because the universe hates me sometimes). Finally, the great sage of sassafras gifted me two bottles out of his abundant beneficence. Strangely, unlike their regular root beer, which is just labeled as “Boylan” this is “Boylan’s” because forget logic and consistency.

The Body full of rich rooty flavors that are almost herbal. There’s some nice bourbon vanilla and spice in there as well to keep it from being too dark. The Bite is excellent with cinnamon the prominent spice. It’s strong enough to grab you, but not harshly. The Head is tallish with medium staying power; adequate. The Aftertaste is a lovely bourbon vanilla and cinnamon.

I’m impressed, I didn’t really think that their normal root beer was anything special but this has a lovely complexity of root beer goodness. Dare I say, this is the only time I’ve encountered a natural version that’s better than the regular version. Dear people at Boylan Bottling Works, stop hiding this from the world! See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

Jun 082016

Bottle of Iron Horse Root BeerSeal of Approval I got this in late 1999 or early 2000. It was one of my first mail orders, and I had to order 12 of them since variety packs were not an option in those days. I picked it because it looks awesome with that train and metallic shine (which is really hard to capture in a picture with the flash on a white background). When I first tried it I was blown away like never before, I was standing when I took my first drink and I had to sit down. It was that good. I got on the phone and called a friend and told him I’d found the best root beer EVER, and I awarded my first 5 kegs. In the next year or so I had multiple cases and then I went on my mission to Madagascar, a great dry spell for me as it were. When I got back my parents had a case waiting, but as I drank it against Hank’s and Henry’s, it didn’t seem to taste as good as it once did. I figured I’d had a bad batch and over the years had it again and again, each time disappointed (and by that I mean not the greatest thing ever made). Finally I had the The Ultimate Root Beer Showdown and realized I needed to re-rate this.

This has a very sweet medium Body and a very nice Bite. There’s some cinnamon and other spices that really grab the tongue. There is also a lovely caramelized corn syrup flavor that is very unique. The Head is ok and medium frothy. The Aftertaste is of vanilla and spices.

It is still a really good root beer, but doesn’t hold up against the others like it used to. Maybe they changed the recipe, the ingredients and nutritional info are the same but who knows what could be different with the whole “natural and artificial flavor”. Maybe it’s me. Maybe all the cholera I had in Madagascar changed my tastes such that what had made this and only this amazing no longer does. I don’t know. What I do know is that it is still a fine brew to be had whenever possible, but not the greatest root beer in the world. Sorry and congrats at the same time I guess? See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

May 182016

St John Brewers Root Beer BottleSeal of ApprovalMy first brew from the Virgin Islands! It’s kind of international since it isn’t from any of the States but kind of not since it’s from the US Virgin Islands. It was quite a bugger to get as the brewers themselves didn’t want to ship it. I had tried to trade with someone, but that fellow turned out to be the most dishonorable scum imaginable and so it ultimately didn’t happen. Then I found some truly goodhearted chaps who were going to send me a bottle but before they could I found it at a local store. Ah the virtues of patience. The label of this is simple and island themed. Though the tap on the tree is somewhat concerning; I hope they don’t have palm extracts in here, that could be … strange. The ingredients don’t list palm, but they do have a nice list of quality spices and flavorings which is very promising.

The Body is sweet and creamy and complex. There are some caramel notes and spice with solid sassafras and vanilla. The faintest hint of wintergreen surfaces as well. There is a strong Bite from the ample amounts of spice. The Head is massive and foamy. Each bottle would have foamed over had I poured the entire thing in at once. Additionally, after waiting a minute, I had to sip it down since it didn’t really go away. The Aftertaste is a caramel vanilla flavor with some notes of anise and mixed spices.

This brew is simply amazing! The many ingredients meld perfectly to give you a root beer that’s balanced and delicious. Add an impeccable Head and you’ve got one of the best brews I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking. This was worth the wait. See how it rates against other root beers.

4.5 Kegs