Mar 172015

Tommyknocker and Polar
Some people hate staying the same. They eschew tradition and continuity in favor of change. The principle offender in the root beer world of this is Tommyknocker, having changed its name twice and its recipe four times in the last 10 years. So why would they keep with a good Seal of Approval formula? This time their “New Root Beer” is gone, replaced by an All Natural Root Beer, and since they changed the name they figured they shuffle the ingredients a bit, adding things like citric acid and deciding it’s wiser to put more Organic Root Beer Flavor than Caramel Color. So a new name, a new recipe, means new reviews for folks that do that sort of thing.

Polar, the makers of Polar Classics Premium Root Beer was so inspired that they decided to change their label, name, and recipe too. Like adding more sugar and getting rid of their artificial ingredients. Now root beer reviewers everywhere can rejoice that there are two new brews to try and write about. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some root beer to drink.

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

Feb 192014

Tommyknocker Root Beer Bottle My first car was a little Ford Ranger without AC. This matters because when I moved from Eastern WA to Provo, UT for school in late August some years ago, driving in that heat for 12 hours presented a bit of a problem. My solution was to drive at night. So I left at 8 pm and arrived at 8 am. Along the way, I stopped for gas in Baker City Oregon and, as I am wont to do, I checked for any new root beers. I found Tommyknocker and bought some bottles to review at my destination. I absolutely loved it. I went back to visit my parents for Christmas and made sure to stop at the same gas station and got more. They thought it was amazing too. This was once the 3rd highest rated root beer for me. Then one day, I found it in a store in Provo. I bought a six pack and happily told a friend and we each had a bottle. She didn’t think it was that good, and I thought it was off a bit as well. I checked the label. They’d changed it! They took away all of the premium ingredients and replaced them with artificial and generic ones. I was crushed, but dutifully got to reviewing it again.

The Body is mapley, but kind of empty and not overly sweet. I do love that maple flavor though. There is not really much Bite at all, and, though I do like it smooth I like a little more. The Head is frothy but nothing too spectacular. I would class it as Ok. The Aftertaste is of maple but it doesn’t linger.

This brew gives a good first impression but falls short afterwards. Compared to it’s original hearty, sticky, super mapely former self, this was simply an empty shell. What a disappointment. I angrily emailed the company to castigate them for their foolishness. They replied that their recipe hadn’t changed at all. I retorted that I’d saved bottles from both reviews and the original, good one, not only had different ingredients listed but different nutritional values. They ceased their correspondence. Losers. Ruin a near perfect brew and try to lie about it. Oh well. When taken on it’s own the new one isn’t actually bad, just nowhere near it’s former glory. See how it rates against other root beers.

Three and a half kegs