Nov 022016

Brix Soda Co Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval Brix is a recently started soda company from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded by friends in the restaurant industry, it was their goal to present new craft flavors to serve their guests. This pleases me immensely as I’m so tired of going to restaurants and being given a drink menu that’s got dozens of wines, beers, and cocktails and then Coke or Pepsi products for anyone not desiring to imbibe. After their initial success with just soda fountains, they took to bottling. They currently have 13 fountain syrup flavors and 6 bottled flavors, including this root beer. Like most new craft soda companies these days, they have shunned HFCS and embraced the pure, unadulterated sucrose found in cane sugar. And speaking of sugar, the definition of Brix (symbol °Bx) is the percentage of sugar in an aqueous solution, 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution being 1 Brix. Their simple yet classy, modern label also has this helpful definition. So you can drink a soda and learn about scientific units at the same time.

The Body rich and full with a classic creamy vanilla root beer taste. There is a prominent caramelized sugar flavor that ties everything together wonderfully. The Bite is decent and it ends smooth, there could be a tad more spice. The Head is rather short, and thus the only glaring flaw, but it lasts and so it isn’t a fatal flaw. The Aftertaste is lovely caramel and vanilla.

Delicious! I could drink gallons of this and not get tired of it. Amazingly, despite a nice sweet flavor, it only has 33 grams of sugar compared to nearly 40 grams in the average bottled root beer. Which means that Brix has less Brix than other sodas … But it’s far better than most of them. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

Oct 262016

Seal of ApprovalBottle of AJ Stephans Butterscotch Root BeerRemember when butterscotch root beer was all new and exciting? Those were fun times. Now it is becoming ever more common, which isn’t a bad thing for people like me who review root beers. This butterscotch root beer is different than the rest, this is the one to make it mainstream. Why? Because AJ Stephans was a long established root beer whose makers looked at the trend, and decided to add to their existing lineup. All of the rest were either stand alone brands which only had a butterscotch root beer, or they were Dang!, who has been doing butterscotch before it was a thing. The problem I’ve observed with so many of those other butterscotch brews is that they are heavy on butterscotch, light on the root beer. But AJ Stephans is a heavy, dark root beer, so maybe they’d find a winning combo?

The Body has a strong butterscotch flavor that doesn’t overpower the root beer flavor. It’s a very good balance. The Bite is not much. Just some carbonation prickle for the most part. The Head is short, but very frothy, so it lingers, but it doesn’t really build. The Aftertaste is creamy butterscotch and vanilla.

Nailed it. This is by far the best butterscotch brew yet. The Head and the Bite could use a little work, but finally I’ve found a butterscotch brew worth keeping stocked up on. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

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.