I have driven through Jackson, Wyoming several times on my way to Yellowstone National Park. It looks like a perfectly nice tourist town nestled right up against the mountains. Jackson is the home of Jackson Hole Buckin’ Rootbeer, the “Best Dang Soda in the Whole Darn Country.” Jackson Hole Sodas honor the pioneer spirit of the old west. In that spirit, and to match its name, Jackson Hole Buckin’ Rootbeer has a picture of a rodeo clown being launched high in the air by a macho bull. Buckin’ Rootbeer also has one of the better bottle caps around displaying an old west star shaped sheriff badge containing the brand name.
Jackson Hole Buckin’ Rootbeer has legitimate root beer flavor. It tastes about as close as you can get to a root beer barrel candy in liquid form. As with a good root beer barrel candy, Buckin’ Rootbeer has a solid bite. This soda is a solid, unabashed root beer.
I did not realize until after drinking my Red Arrow Root Beer and preparing to write this review, that this was yet another Orca Beverage Soda Works soda. I do not have anything else to say about Orca here other than boy do they make a lot of good root beers. Red Arrow Root Beer originated in Michigan and is “known for it’s authentic root beer flavor.” According to folklore, the brand was a tribute to the Red Arrow Brigade, the nickname for the United States Army National Guard’s 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team out of Wisconsin.
There is not much to say about the bottle or label. There is not a lot going on there, just an arrow outlined in red and the name of the soda. However despite its simplicity, perhaps due to its unique font, the label is more than adequate.
At first sip, Red Arrow Root Beer seems to have a simple, yet good, flavor. However, upon further examination, a subtle complexity manifests itself. The base of Red Arrow is a solid, caramel root beer. Red Arrow is light on carbonation, and is exceptionally smooth and creamy. Red Arrow does not have the malty flavor that many root beers of this type have. The caramel flavor is complemented by very subtle wintergreen and licorice tones. Although I could identify the wintergreen and licorice, I had to look for them. They were wrapped up quite nicely in the overall flavor of the soda. Red Arrow had a very pleasant taste. It is a root beer that would be easy to relax with and enjoy without having to think too much.
Perhaps the most pleasing part of my quest to find the world’s best root soda is that I have become familiar with the delicious beverage that is birch beer. I was hopeful, then, that Kutztown Birch Beer would be the next in the list of excellent birch beers added to my blog. Kutztown Birch Beer has the same presentation as the rest of the Kutztown sodas, displaying a fine German theme. As always, Kutztown’s label includes a poem. Unlike the Kutztown Root Beer poem which to me is intelligible, Kutztown Birch Beer’s makes sense and sings the praises of the soda. It states:
Say now, no one can resist the spell of Kutztown Birch Beer, Pennsylvania’s finest. Share a frosty mug with your special someone and just watch them fall in love. Drink to your health!
Kutztown Birch Beer was traditionally made from birch oil distilled from the sap of the black birch tree. Today it is made “from the finest birch oil available.” It could be that the other birch beers I have tasted are frauds, not made with the finest birch oil. However, for some reason, this soda using the finest birch oil available just did not live up to the standard set by some of the other sodas. Kutztown Birch Beer tastes more like a root beer than a birch beer. It has a strong root bite. There is a slight birch flavor, but it is overcome by the strong root bite. Those who like strong root beer should enjoy this brew, but it was not what I was expecting.
The Halifax, Canada website www.thecoast.ca held a March Madness bracket pitting 12 sodas against 12 types of chips. The winner of each round was determined by reader voting. I cannot vouch for the seeding system used; root beer entered the tournament as a four seed in the 32 participant competition. However, in the end reason prevailed with root beer beating party mix, the seventh seed victor of the chips portion of the bracket, with 59% of the votes cast.
The full bracket played out as follows:
I have no idea how party mix made it to the final, and I have never heard of all dressed chips or Brio soda, but it is good to see that our Canadian brothers recognized the superior nature of root beer. Results from each round of the bracket can be found at www.thecoast.ca. Root beer was officially named the winner of the tournament here.