Monthly Archives: December 2014

Boylan Root Beer

Boylan Root Beer

Boylans 1 Boylan 2

Website: https://www.boylanbottling.com/product/root-beer/

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Teterboro, New Jersey

Purchase Location: Total Wine & More

Boylan Bottling began in 1891, when pharmacist William Boylan created an elixir in his Paterson, New Jersey, apothecary.  His creation, which was a derivative of birch trees, was Boylan’s Birch.  Boylan sold individual cups of Boylan’s Birch from a barrel in the back of a wagon.  Today, Boylan makes multiple root beer and birch beer sodas.  One need not wait for the Boyan wagon to come by in order to enjoy one of these sodas, as they are now available in long-neck embossed glass bottles.

According to the Boylan website, the general shape of the bottle and its embossed patterns have remained relatively unchanged from early iterations.  Although extremely simple, there is no reason for Boylan Root Beer to change its design.  The circular label serves as a sort of seal of approval that the bottle contains a true Boylan Bottling product.  The embossed phrases “BOYLAN BOTTLING CO.” and “SINCE 1891” on the neck of the bottle add a nice feature.

It was in response to the embossed “SINCE 1891” phrase that my daughter commented, “people who lived in 1891 sure were lucky.”  I think I prefer living in the 21st century, but her point is well taken that whoever drinks Boylan Root Beer, whether in 1891 or today, is a lucky person.  Boylan has a very unique malt flavor.  Perhaps it is the yucca extract that provides the unique taste.  All I know is that what I call the malt flavor works seamlessly with the root beer flavor to create a very fine root beer that I highly recommend.

Overall Score: 8 of 10.

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River City Root Beer

River City Root Beer

River City 1River City 2

Website: http://www.bluedogbeverages.com/sodas/river-city-root-beer-12-oz-bottle/

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Sacramento, California

Purchase Location: Total Wine & More

River City Root Beer is made by Blue Dog Beverages out of Sacramento, California.  Blue Dog Beverages is a soda distributor, which branched out into the production business with River City Root Beer.  Now, it looks like River City also makes a blueberry soda and a ginger beer.

River City has a fine bottle presentation.  It shows an old river boat sailing up the river (the Sacramento River?) in front of a stately 19th century mansion.  The label also includes a vivid description of the pleasant and peaceful memories one can expect to reflect upon while drinking.  Finally, Blue Dog Beverages provides a diagram of how a root beer float can be made with River City Root Beer.  I would expect most people would know this information without the description, but it is nice that if any poor soul could not figure out the secret recipe of the root beer float, River City has come to the rescue.

I had a love-hate relationship with this root beer.  The initial flavor of this root beer was a very harsh molasses, rooty bite.  My first thought was that I was going to give this soda a rating of 2 out of 10 or lower.  Then came the aftertaste.  It was like a perfectly creamy and soothing honey.  It was flawless.  I continued with the back and forth of extremely harsh to very soothing.  I then noticed a slight hint of licorice in the sweeping molasses, rooty bite.  The more I drank, the less harsh the initial bite seemed, and the more I enjoyed the soda.  I think if I had more River City Root Beer, I would end up enjoying it even more, but for now its rating must be based on what I have already experienced.  Give River City Root Beer a shot and let me know what you think.

Overall Score: 6 of 10.

Olde Rhode Island Molasses Root Beer

Olde Rhode Island Molasses Root Beer

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Website: http://www.realsoda.com

Sweetener: 100% Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Bristol, Rhode Island

Purchase Location: Total Wine & More

Olde Rhode Island Molasses Root Beer is one of several root beers made under the California company Real soda in Real Bottles, Inc.’s business umbrella.  Recognizing that Olde Rhode Island Molasses Root Beer really can’t be Olde Rhode Island Molasses Root Beer unless it is made in Rhode Island, Empire Bottling Works bottles the brew for Real Soda in Bristol, Rhode Island.  This “Olde” root beer is made from an old New England recipe.  I hope that old New England recipe is in fact an old Rhode Island, New England Recipe, and not a Vermont, New England recipe masquerading as a Rhode Island root beer.

The label for this root beer is as simple and bland as a label can be.  The  message it coveys is, “We are so Olde that our label was created at a time before people realized there was value in advertising, and in making one’s product look interesting, appealing, or desirable.”  The label displays an image of what I believe to be a poorly drawn pitcher, which appears to have a tail, sitting in front of a root beer stained background.  Not very enticing, but not at all relevant to the actual taste of the brew.

I expected Olde Rhode Island Molasses Root Beer to have a dark, heavy flavor based on molasses being the headline ingredient.  In actual fact, it had quite a light flavor.  Two flavors dominate this root beer, wintergreen and molasses.  The wintergreen gives the root beer a light, bubbly, and slightly biting air, while the molasses under-girds the wintergreen with a slightly stronger molasses bite.  Olde Rhode Island Molasses Root Beer tastes somewhat unique, but is not delicious.  I must point out that several other root beer review websites enjoyed this brew much more than I.   Olde Rhode Island Molasses Root Beer does have a molasses taste, so if you like wintergreen and molasses, you should give this soda a try.

Overall Score: 4 of 10.

Dad’s Old Fashioned Root Beer

Dad’s Old Fashioned Root Beer

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Website: http://www.dadsrootbeer.com

Sweetener: Sugar

Bottled at: Jasper, Indiana

Purchase Location: Raley’s Supermarket

Like many other well known root beer brands, ownership of Dad’s has changed hands several times , with its corporate headquarters moving from place to place.  Dad’s was developed in the 1930s by Barney Berns and Ely Klapman in the basement of Klapman’s Chicago-area home.  In 1939, Dad’s was granted its trademark, and by the late 1940s Dad’s was one of the most consumed brands of root beer in the United States.  All rights to the Dad’s name and logo were sold to IC Industries in the 1970s.  The Monarch Beverage Company of Atlanta (the current maker of Mason’s Old Fashioned Root Beer) acquired Dad’s from IC Industries of Chicago in 1986.  Finally, in 2007 Dad’s Root Beer was purchased from Monarch, by Hedinger Brands, LLC and licensed to The Dad’s Root Beer Company, LLC.  The company headquarters is now located in Jasper, Indiana.

Although it is remarkably simple, because its blue, yellow, and red label is so recognizable, it is synonymous with root beer.

The first thing I noticed about Dad’s is that it has a lot more carbonation than a typical soda.  Dad’s has a herbal root beer flavor which is slightly bitter.  However, the flavor is not very strong; a little weak for my tastes, but not what I would describe as watery.  Although Dad’s claims to be “America’s Premium Root Beer,” I would not classify it as “premium.”  Nevertheless, it is a perfectly fine root beer to sit back and enjoy with friends and family.

Overall Score: 5 of 10.