May 212014

Private Label Beverages Root Beer BottleSeal of ApprovalBack when I traded for the the Ithaca, I also got two bottles of Lehman’s Root Beer and two bottles of Biker Brew Root Beer. I immediately got suspicious because both of them had the same sticker label, same ingredients, same nutritional values, and both didn’t appear on a Google search. Further inspection showed that the two also had the same barcodes so if that doesn’t prove they’re the same nothing does. I thought about calling Dr. Percival C. McGillicuddy but I didn’t want to pay exorbitant P.I. fees. I sent an email to the Lehman’s people and they were very accommodating and told me they got it from Private Label Beverages. I’m sure it’s bottled by Ginseng Up but these use sugar instead of the HFCS that Ginseng does so I don’t have to dig deep to find out that its a unique brew.

The body is sweet with a little bit of spicy vanilla and caramel notes; a very standard root beer flavor but well proportioned. The Bite is pretty mild, some carbonation tingle and just enough spice. The Head is super tall and pretty much foams over the top of the mug. Thankfully it doesn’t last forever so you can actually drink your root beer without having to slurp ridiculous amounts of foam off the top. The Aftertaste is some light, sweet vanilla and caramel.

This is a pretty solid, middle of the road brew with my favorite flavor profile. It was nearly a tossup as where to rate it. The super tall Head just barely pushed it over to a four. So now there’s another quality choice for your own custom soda. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

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