Mar 122014

Ithaca Soda Co. Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval It took me a long time to get a hold of this. I had a friend who was doing an MBA at Cornell and she kept saying she get me some and then she graduated and moved and I still didn’t have my root beer. Eventually someone else contacted me and offered a trade and I finally was able to have this much sought after brew. The label is brown and orange to give a sort of wooden keg feel to it. Then there’s some sort of ink blot test in the center that I’m gonna say is an old woman’s face. She’s got a big scar under her right eye. I’m not sure why they put that there. Maybe you only see the old woman if you’re crazy and other people see something else. I’ll skip the psychiatrist though, I’m busy drinking root beer.

The Body is very rich and complex. It starts with sweet caramel from the pure cane sugar and then turns dark and rooty with almost bitter notes that give way to creamy vanilla. The Bite has the perfect level of spice burn from the juniper berries but isn’t harsh on carbonation. The Head is tall and frothy and lingers as long as it takes to drink the whole bottle. The Aftertaste is vanilla and juniper berry spice which is pretty good.

Amazing! This brew has found the perfect balance between darker more herbal flavors and the sweet creamy goodness that I love. It is truly like no other brew that I’ve ever tried. I think it is the first with juniper berries though I’d like to see those more often now. Definitely grab this if you’ve got the chance. See how it rates against other root beers.

4.5 Kegs

Mar 052014

Bottle of Weber's Superior Root BeerSeal of Approval This is a brew that dates back to 1891 by the great grandfather of the current owner. It was made from 14 natural ingredients and then aged in birch bark barrels. In 1933 he opened a root beer stand. This brew is still made using the original recipe and still aged in birch bark barrels. I wonder where you can even find those. Another interesting tidbit is that they claim that their founder and root beer brewer, Oscar Weber Bilby, also invented the modern hamburger, and that the very same grill used to make the first burgers in the world is still used in the restaurant. I always thought the hamburger had something to do with Hamburg Germany, like a frankfurter with Frankfurt, but what do I know? It’s also been family owned for four generations. While Weber’s Superior Root Beer has been around for over 100 years, it hasn’t always been bottled. I had been in contact with the owners for awhile now, and they told me when they were finally confident that the bottled brew was as good as the fresh on tap, they would release it to the world. In January they finally got it ready and sent me a six-pack with some articles and a personalized letter telling about their history and their plans to sell their root beer.

The Body has a rich, mature flavor. There’s sassafras and vanilla and birch going on but there’s more to it than that, you can taste that the ingredients have been aged in birch bark barrels. This has got some serious Bite. There’s spice all over the place, and several types. It’s good but almost a little too much for me. The Head is medium but very frothy. The Aftertaste is vanilla and birch with a lot of spice.

This is a fine, fine brew that has uniqueness to it that I’ve never encountered. I’m chalking that up to aging the extract. Like a balsamic vinegar, it gets that mature, woody flavor. I wish it were more readily available around here as this is one of the best root beers I’ve ever had. Thankfully you can order it online, it’s definitely worth it. I hope I get a chance to try it fresh on tap someday. See how it rates against other root beers.

4.5 Kegs

Feb 262014

Tommyknocker New Root Beer BottleSeal of Approval I honestly hope this is the last time I have to review a Tommyknocker Root Beer. You see, after my second/last review and the rebuke of Tommyknocker that went with it, they went and changed their recipe. I found this out when I saw bottles of it at The Root Beer Store. They were really pushing their Tahitian Vanilla, in the ingredients. Meh, I said, I’ll get around to it someday. Then about a year later I looked and the bottle had changed. Notice the “New” on there. Gone was the Tahitian Vanilla (who likes Tahiti anyways?) and it was replaced by organic vanilla (which evidently cannot come from Tahiti), and all the ingredients are all natural with no preservatives. So now it’s Tommyknocker New Root Beer, yet, it’s still “Original” somehow. Original in that no other brand has changed their recipe so often in such a short space of time perhaps? Either way, I finally capitulated the way you do to a toddler asking you the same question over and over and over and over … and over and over … and over again, and bought two bottles to review. I also got a third for my wife because she’s always bugging me about how she wants an all natural root beer without preservative and how I’m filling myself with terrible chemicals with all of the other root beers I’m drinking.

The Body is nice and sweet that starts with a medium strength generic root beer flavor giving way to maple and vanilla. The Bite is prickly. It seems like that comes both from some spice and the carbonation, but once again, the maple quickly drowns it out. The Head is excellent! It builds right to the top of my mug but doesn’t quite spill over. It lingers throughout the whole drinking experience as a root beer Head should. The Aftertaste is some sticky maple and vanilla.

Ok, this one is great, though still not as good as their original(?) recipe, it’s better than their second iteration. Without any preservatives detracting from the mouth feel, added to the maple bonus and excellent Head, they barely squeak through to regain their lost the Seal of Approval. Now please, please, please, don’t go messing it up again. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs