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Orca Beverages (bottler of Bulldog) even confirms that the two recipes are slightly different and that the website is out of date.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

Aug 032012

This past week, as the Olympics got underway and many a medal were awarded, the United States Open Beer Championship announced their own 2012 medal winners. This competition, the only one which includes professional breweries and award winning home brewers, included a root beer category for the first time ever. Four medals were awarded to the top root beers, a gold, a silver, and two bronze for due to a third place tie. The Gold went to Saranac Root Beer from F.X. Matt Brewing. The Silver was awarded to Mount Angel Root Beer from Mount Angel Brewing Company, and the two bronze medals were awarded to Point Premium Root Beer from Stevens Point Brewing and Steelhead Root Beer from Steelhead Brewing.

Seeing Saranac, Steelhead (identical flavor to Bulldog) and Point Premium win top honors is no surprise to me, as they are all Seal of Approval award winners as well. I haven’t tried Mount Angel Root Beer yet, but if it ranks with those other greats I’m sure it will be a real treat.