Monthly Archives: September 2014

Waialua Root Beer

Waialua Root Beer

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Website: http://www.waialuasodaworks.com/

Sweetener: Sugar Blend (cane sugar and Maui natural white cane sugar)

Bottled at: Waialua, Hawaii

Purchase Location: Raley’s Supermarket

Waialua Root Beer has a winning presentation.  It flaunts its Hawaiianness with delectable sounding ingredients like Maui natural white cane sugar and  Hawaiian vanilla extract, with the image of a hula dancer on both the label and the bottle cap, and with the promise that its root beer is made with the “finest Hawaiian quality.”  Hawaii is a most excellent place, and there is no reason to believe this Hawaiian root beer will be anything less than fantastic.

Unfortunately, the soda does not live up to its presentation.  I like the clear bottle the root beer comes in, showing the color of the root beer.  However, perhaps the very light brown shade of the soda seen through the clear glass should have been a warning sign.  Not only is the color of the soda much lighter than the typical root beer, but its taste is as well.  Waialua is fairly bland and watery.  There just is not much going on with this soda.  It isn’t terrible, but it is not a root beer I would go out of my way to have again.

Overall Score: 4 of 10.

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Dang! That’s Good Butterscotch Root Beer

Dang! That’s Good Butterscotch Root Beer

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Website: http://www.dangthatsgood.com/

Sweetener: Sugar

Bottled at: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Purchase Location: World Market

I love butterscotch.  Butterscotch chip cookies are superior to their chocolate chip brothers, those circular butterscotch hard candies that come in the yellow wrappers are a special treat, and although the best milkshake place in town has 43 flavors, since my youth I have ordered only butterscotch milkshakes.  Side note: it was at that milkshake diner that I decided to start this blog.  As I looked over their selection of bottled sodas, including several root beers, I noticed that they also sold a butterscotch soda.  I had never heard of such a thing, but it sounded great.  I did not try that butterscotch soda, but it got me thinking about sodas and the root beer brands they were selling, and I decided to figure out what the best root beer brands were.  Back to the review, suffice it to say that I was excited when I came across this soda which promised to mix two of the best flavors known to mankind.

To me, this soda tastes like a welcome punch in the face of butterscotch.  It tastes like the aforementioned butterscotch candies were melted into liquid form.  The butterscotch was quite sweet, not too sweet for me, but I could see it being too sweet for some.  It was not until the butterscotch began to dissipate, that I tasted root beer.  It came almost as an aftertaste to me.  I must say that others felt that the butterscotch and root beer flavors were more balanced and identifiable at all times.  However, that was not the case for me.  Nevertheless, both the butterscotch and the root beer flavors were very tasty.  The combination was an absolute success.  If you do not like butterscotch at all you are probably certifiably crazy, but you will also probably not enjoy this soda.

This may not be a soda that I would want to drink in large quantities, but it is ideal for the occasional sweet and unique treat.  I highly recommend this beverage to all non butterscotch hating humans.

Overall Score: 8 of 10.

Old Town Rootbeer Company Sarsparilla (Sarsaparilla)

Old Town Rootbeer Company Sarsparilla (Sarsaparilla)

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Website: http://www.oldtownrootbeer.net/

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Temecula, California

Purchase Location: World Market

Old Town Rootbeer Company has a store in Temecula, California where they sell over 500 kinds of soda in glass bottles.  It prides itself on carrying over 100 choices of root beer.  Several of those root beer choices would not exist if Old Town Rootbeer did bless the world with several of its own root beer offerings.  One of those sodas, and the first Old Town Rootbeer Company soda to be reviewed by me is Old Town Rootbeer Company Sarsparilla.  To start this review, I must admit that I do not know if the Old Town Rootbeer Company people are efficient rebels or just bad spellers.  Sarsaparilla is the traditional way to spell, well, sarsaparilla.  However, it is an odd spelling.  I know of no human who pronounces it that way.  Maybe Old Town Rootbeer Company is trying to make sense of the spelling of the word.  On the other hand, although the spelling sarsparilla is closer the way the word is commonly pronounced, I do not think anyone pronounces it that way either.  Upon further reflection, I think it may just be a misspelling.  After all, the label on the bottle refers you to http://www.oldtownrootbeer.com, which is not their website, instead of their actual website http://www.oldtownrootbeer.net The domain http://www.oldtownrootbeer.com is for sale.  Any takers?  Well, enough of this, let’s get to the review.

Old Town Rootbeer Company Sarsparilla has a simple, homemade looking label showing a very frothy root beer mug.  Nothing special there.  The label states “Premium Vanilla Cream made with only the FINEST Ingredients.”  Old Town is not lying about the vanilla creaminess of this soda.  There is an abundance of it.  In fact, it is so creamy that I thought to myself, “this is not root beer, it’s cream soda.”  I don’t know exactly where the line between root beer and cream soda lies, but if this soda claims to be sarsaparilla (I suppose it really only claims to be sarsparilla), I will take its word for it.  Let’s be clear, the soda tastes very good, and the creamy vanilla is quite pleasant.  Toward the end of the taste experience, the vanilla gives way to a wintergreen taste which is also pleasant.

In the end, whether it is sarsaparilla, sarsparilla, or cream soda, Old Town Rootbeer Company Sarsparilla is worth a try, especially if you like vanilla.

Overall Score: 7 of 10.

Saranac Root Beer

Saranac Root Beer

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Website: http://www.saranac.com/soft-drinks/

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup

Bottled at: Utica, New York

Purchase Location: Total Wine & More

Saranac root beer is a product of the Matt Brewing Company.  The brewery, which was established in 1888 has been making hand-crafted root beer in small batches for the past thirty years.  The brown bottle has a simple scarlet label with the words “Root Beer” emblazoned in yellow.  The bottom of the label has a small, antique picture of the brewery.

I first had Saranac several years ago as part of a New Year’s Eve root beer taste test of some 12 root beers.  As I recall, I came away from that taste test very pleased with Saranac.  My most recent Saranac experience was similarly pleasing.  Saranac is a well rounded, delicious root beer.  It has a creamy, full, rich flavor.  Saranac boasts smooth vanilla overtones without being dominated by its vanilla flavor.  Then, Saranac’s aftertaste provides a kick of licorice.  However, the licorice kick is perfectly balanced, not too powerful.  This is a very good root beer.

I immediately knew that Saranac deserved high score.  My only concern was that unlike other gourmet root beers which use cane sugar and other premium sweeteners, Saranac uses high fructose corn syrup.  I took my time considering the issue.  In the end, I could not penalize Saranac for using high fructose corn syrup.  Saranac earned its score based on its terrific taste.  I highly recommend this beverage to all.

Overall Score: 9 of 10.