Monthly Archives: November 2014

Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer

Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer

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Website: http://www.daretogodutch.com/

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup

Bottled at: Pennsauken, New Jersey

Purchase Location: Galco’s Old World Grocery

The phrase Pennsylvania Dutch, or Pennsylvania German, refers to the descendants of the early German speaking settlers of the inland counties of Pennsylvania who arrived in Pennsylvania prior to the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812.  Apparently, at some point the Pennsylvania Dutch created a birch beer recipe. In 1936 Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer was created based on the century old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe.  Somehow, I doubt that the original recipe included high fructose corn syrup, but maybe the Pennsylvania Dutch were early food engineers ahead of their time.

The label for Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer is one of my favorites.  The name “Pennsylvania Dutch” is printed in an old cursive font you can just imagine an 18th century Pennsylvania German speaker painstakingly writing with a quill pen.  The label also shows an old Amish looking Pennsylvania horse and buggy, which is likely distributing birch beer throughout the Pennsylvania farmland.

Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer has a wintergreen flavor mixed with a slight licorice flavor. Those flavors mix with other spices resulting in a soda with a fairly strong but savory bite. The carbonation works well with the birch beer’s natural bite to create Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer’s slogan; “Old Fashioned Taste… Old Fashioned Goodness.”

Overall Score: 7 of 10.

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Rat Bastard Root Beer

Rat Bastard Root Beer

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Website: https://www.facebook.com/Skeleteens

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at:

Purchase Location: Raley’s Supermarket

Rat Bastard Root Beer is an irreverent offering from Real Soda.  I could not find much information about Rat Bastard.  The website http://www.skeleteens.com found on the bottle cap is no longer in use.

Rat Bastard’s bottle is focused on proclaiming offensive language and broadcasting crude, suggestive double meanings.  Previous iterations of the Rat Bastard label used even more offensive language than the bottle used for this review.  Could Rat Bastard’s disagreeable presentation be overlooked if the root beer itself was agreeable?  Absolutely!  Is Rat Bastard Root Beer agreeable?  No!  It is perhaps as distasteful as its label.

Rat Bastard Root Beer has a harsh bite.  It effectively stuns the inside of your mouth.  My daughter recommended that I warn root beer drinkers that if you drink Rat Bastard Root Beer “your taste buds might die.”  The harsh bite got worse as I continued to drink.  I noticed that my mouth was becoming dry as I drank.  Perhaps the unconventional herbal blend of American, Siberian & Korean Ginseng, Jasmine, Clove, Dong Quai – Angelica; Skullcap (Mud Dog Weed), African Capsicum, Ginko Biloba, Gutu Kola, Goldenseal, Echinacea, Reishi & Shitake & Cordyceps was damaging my salivary glands.  Perhaps I am exaggerating.  In any event, I would not recommend this brew as it is not very good.

Overall Score: 3 of 10.

Abita Root Beer

Abita Root Beer

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Website: https://abita.com/brews/our_brews/abita-root-beer

Sweetener: Pure Louisiana Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Abita Springs, Louisiana

Purchase Location: Raley’s Supermarket

The Abita Brewing Company was formed in Abita Springs, Louisiana in 1986.  Abita is the craft brewer of a number of  beers and Abita Root Beer.  All of Abita’s beverages are brewed with water from artesian wells in Abita Springs.

Abita Root Beer has a simple but classy bottle.  Its label mentions Abita’s Louisiana origins several times.  The word Abita is spelled out in a nice, bold font, and the “i” in Abita is dotted by a genuine Louisiana fleur-de-lis.  There is not enough use of the fleur-de-lis in root beer labeling.  I appreciate that the bottle cap informs, “pry off cap.”  Other pry off cap root beers have taken me by surprise, causing painful damage to my hand.

Abita Root Beer starts off with a solid root beer flavor with a bit of a bite.  The root beer bite gives way to a sweet aftertaste.  The aftertaste has a smooth honey or molasses quality to it.  Although quite sweet, it was not overly sweet, and was very welcome.  That honey/molasses flavor also had a lingering quality, which I enjoyed.  The root beer bite mixed with the sweet aftertaste made for a very good root beer.

Overall Score: 8 of 10.

Virgil’s Root Beer

Virgil’s Root Beer

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Website: http://reedsinc.com/product/virgils-root-beer/

Sweetener: Unbleached Cane Sugar, Caramelized Unrefined Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Los Angeles, California

Purchase Location: Total Wine & More

Virgil’s Root Beer is a soda I have been looking forward to from the moment I decided to conduct root beer reviews.  It is a prominent root beer with many stalwart fans, and outstanding beverage awards.  What’s more, I knew that Virgil’s is made with natural anise and licorice.

The Virgil’s Root Beer bottle is the perfect receptacle for the perfect root beer.  It mentions outstanding beverage awards won, explains that that Virgil’s is micro-brewed with 100% natural ingredients including anise, licorice, vanilla (bourbon) cinnamon, clove, wintergreen, sweet birch, molasses, nutmeg, pimento berry oil, balsam oil, and oil of cassia, and displays the perfect root beer label graphic, a bearded lumberjack root beer god stepping out from the clouds to deliver root beer to two eager children.  You really have to appreciate both the presentation of Virgil’s and its dedication to a recipe using only natural ingredients “imported from all corners of the world.”

Although it does contain anise and licorice, Virgil’s does not have an overwhelming licorice flavor.  In fact, I did not find any flavor to be overwhelming.  On the whole, it is has a very earthy, herb flavor due to its many herbs and spices, without a predominant flavor.  The ingredients play well together and provide a unique, creamy drinking experience.  I liked Virgil’s a good deal, but not enough to place it in the pantheon of best root soda ever.  That being said, I can understand why Virgil’s is placed in high regard.  The fact that Virgil’s is made by Reed’s, Inc. and is widely available makes this root beer a must try.

Overall Score: 7 of 10.

Anchor Ginger Root Beer

Anchor Ginger Root Beer

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Website: http://www.orcabeverage.com/storefront/retro_soda_pop/anchor_root_beer.html

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Mukilteo, Washington

Purchase Location: World Market

Anchor Ginger Root Beer is one of the many retro root beer offerings of the excellent provider of delicious carbonated beverages, Orca Beverage Soda Works.  With its seafaring theme,  Anchor Ginger Root Beer is dedicated “to all the Sea Dogs and Scallywags looking for adventure on the high seas.”  The sea dog and scallywag market is not very large, so I am sure Orca appreciates land dwellers purchasing this root beer as well.  I could not find anything about the history of the root beer, so we’ll get right to the review.

I was intrigued by this, the first ginger root beer I have come across, but I was also slightly afraid.  I have had ginger beer so powerful and overwhelming it is painful to drink.  My fear was that the ginger flavor would overpower the root beer.  My fear was completely unfounded.  The ginger flavor is not at all overwhelming.  Rather, it serves as a soothing wintergreen-like background complimenting the root beer.  I would describe the root beer taste as dark creamy.  Not a light vanilla creamy, but a smooth, rich and full creamy.  Perhaps my favorite characteristic of  Anchor Ginger Root Beer is its staying power.  Its flavor does not  quickly dissipate, but pleasantly lingers a while, reminding you of very satisfying sip of root beer you have just experienced.  I definitely recommend it.

Overall Score: 8 of 10.