Jun 112014
 

A pint of Steelhead Root Beer Original Spicy Draft So I unexpectedly found myself in San Francisco a few weeks back to meet some people about some … important stuff … We were scheduled to meet at some Italian place called Il Fornaio. When we got to the parking lot (which had individually metered spaces which only took quarters) the first thing that I noticed was across the street was the Steelhead Brewery. Dang, why couldn’t we have scheduled lunch there? I love Steelhead Root Beer. But after our lunch we were meeting someone else and I knew just the place to do it. When we got there I ordered a root beer and as I drank it I realized that it was quite different than the bottled stuff. The menu even confirmed it. I ordered another one and commenced with the review.

The Body is dark and spicy with an anise and wintergreen flavor. There’s not too much anise, thankfully. The Bite lives up to its name though it has a nice smooth finish. The Head is nice and tall and fizzes away at a medium. The Aftertaste more licorice and a bit of wintergreen and cloves.

This is probably my favorite take on this genre of dark and spicy brews, but the anise flavor was just a little too strong for me in the second glass. I wanted a third glass to really figure out what rating to give it, but the waiter never came back to ask if I wanted anything else, so I’ll just go with the lower review of what I was thinking of. This is a pretty good brew by all accounts, but not as good as their bottled recipe.

Three and a half kegs

The view from the parking lot.

The view from the parking lot.



The menu, proving this to be a different recipe than the bottled brew.

The menu, proving this to be a different recipe than the bottled brew.



Dec 252013
 

Flashback Root Beer Bottle Merry Christmas! Located near the beach in Seaside Oregon is the Flashback Malt Shoppe. They have over 200 types of glass bottled sodas and serve all manner of frozen desserts. Their own line of sodas is a recent, yet welcome development as the world always needs more gourmet root beer. While Seaside isn’t too far a drive it’s actually bottled by Orca Beverages which is extremely close. However, I got this in a trade from anthony who lives in NJ. I it makes me happy to know that this root beer traveled across the country and back just to make it to my refrigerator. I like their brick wall background with the logo and the sparkleys. The whole use-a-different-font-for-every-line is kind of annoying, but a lot of people do that for some reason. I didn’t study marketing so there may be something I don’t know. As for what their official soda name is I’m not quite sure. I even went so far as to ask them on their Facebook page and they just said, “Thank you for your input” which was not exactly helpful so I went with what’s written above. They also have a birch beer which their website calls a “Birch Root Beer” but the label says otherwise, much to my chagrin. Maybe they’ll change the label some day so I can review that one too.

The Body is medium strength with delicious vanilla and honey accents. There’s a lot of spice in there as well. The Bite is strong from the spice and the carbonation, almost too much. The Head is deplorable, barely better than the two second Head. The Aftertaste is a light vanilla and honey that lasts an appropriate amount of time.

This is good but really needs a proper Head. I’m starting to wonder if this is more of a problem with Orca than the brands themselves, as most of the Orca brands have had terrible Heads. Especially when you consider the nearly identical Bulldog and Steelhead brews with the Bulldog, having a poor Head, bottled by Orca. Oh well. It still tastes really good so if you’re ever in Seaside you should get some. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs


Apr 242013
 

Steelhead Root Beer BottleSeal of ApprovalI’ve long passed up reviewing Steelhead because I thought it was identical to Bulldog Root Beer due to the fact that the website actually calls it their identical sister brand, which is a pretty good indicator that they are just relabeled. I prefer the Steelhead label though. It seems to take the classy look a level higher than Bulldog, plus they ditched the dogs and “The Original” thus escaping the cliches. Did I mention that I’m a sports fisher? I am and I have caught a few Steelhead in my day so that’s another plus. We need more fish themed root beers. So, during a root beer lull last year, I got curious and dug a little deeper. They aren’t bottled at the same location so I wondered if they would taste different like Cool Mountain and Chicago. So I bought some bottles and started side by side comparisons.

The Body is wonderful. Lots of honey, vanilla, and the other essential flavors. Sweet and creamy, the kind of flavor you could just snuggle up to if that were possible. The Bite is not much but sufficient. The whole thing has a very rich and smooth mouth feel from the maltodextrin. The Head is medium height and very foamy. It forms increasingly larger bubbles as it begins to fade and lasts a good while. The Aftertaste is of vanilla and honey and very pleasing though a little sticky.

If you go back you’ll notice that my description is nearly identical to Bulldog. Over several months of blind taste testing multiple batches of each, I could not tell them apart. The Head, however, is another story. The Steelhead has a superior Head, one that’s taller, lasts longer, and with a different consistency. While the Bulldog’s is short and frothy with small bubbles, the Steelhead’s is medium and foamy with larger bubbles that lingers several minutes longer. It’s enough to have it rank a little higher against its peers such that when presented with the choice between the two, I’ll take Steelhead every time. An email with the people at Orca Beverages (bottler of Bulldog) even confirms that the two recipes are slightly different and that the website is out of date. So they probably just toss a little extra foaming agent in the Steelhead. That works for me. See how it rates against other root beers.

4.5 Kegs