Monthly Archives: May 2015

Jack Black’s Dead Red Root Beer

Jack Black’s Dead Red Root Beer

Jack Black's Dead Red Root Beer Jack Black's Dead Red Root Beer Cap

Website: http://realsoda.com/halloween.html

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at: ????

Purchase Location: Galco’s Soda Pop Stop

Jack Black’s Dead Red Root Beer is a root beer with an energy drink personality.  Jack Black’s has both caffeine and Brazilian Guarana, neither of which I like drinking.  The vast majority of root beers have no caffeine, so I did not even bother checking the ingredients until I started drinking.  I suppose this is the drink of choice to give pirates their 4:00 afternoon boost.  Jack Black’s is part of the scary soda line produced by Real Soda.

It is by pure luck that I was able to obtain and review this soda.  After all, according to the label, this is only the third time this soda has been available in 420 years.  What luck!  Jack Black’s Dead Red Root Beer’s label has a skull and bones image with a detailed pirate skull and pirate machetes taking place of the crossed bones.  The label also includes good pirate advice, explaining, “Better Dead Red than just plain Dead!”

I poured some of Jack Black’s Dead Red Root Beer into a glass to see if it was actually red.  Despite having Red #40 as an ingredient, Jack Black’s Dead Red Root Beer was not red, but was brown.  Jack Black’s may not be red, but it does have a lot of head, making each sip a frothy mouthful of root beer.  I don’t expect much from an energy root beers, but Jack Black’s Dead Red Root Beer surprised me.  This root beer has a sweet, rich quality.  It has a dark, caramel smoothness which comes out of the frothy head.  I would rather this soda did not contain caffeine or Brazilian Guarana, but the soda does have a pretty good flavor.

Overall Score: 7 of 10.

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Kutztown Sarsaparilla

Kutztown Sarsaparilla

Kutztown Sarsaparilla Kutztown Sarsaparilla Cap

Website: http://www.kutztownbottlingworks.com/

Sweetener: Pure Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Kutztown, Pennsylvania

Purchase Location: Galco’s Soda Pop Stop

Kutztown Sarsaparilla is the third, and perhaps last, Kutztown soda to be reviewed in this site.  In addition to Kutztown Root Beer, Kutztown Birch Beer, and Kutztown Sarsaparilla, Kutztown makes a white birch beer and a diet birch beer.  However, Kutztown White Root Beer is sold only in  plastic bottles, and Kutztown Diet Birch Beer is, well, a diet soda.

I must say that even though all three Kutztown beverages have the same label, albeit in a different color for each soda, I still really like the label.  The German tone set by the lettering and overall look of the label just makes sense for root beer, birch beer, and sarsaparilla.  Moreover, using the German phrase “Nix Besser,”  translated to “Nothing Better” or “None Better,” on the label was a brilliant decision, regardless of whether the phrase is accurate.  Like the other two Kutztown soda’s reviewed here, there is a short poem or jingle found on Kutztown Sarsaparilla’s label which states:

Ward off your thirst with an ice cold mug of Kutztown Sarsaparilla…always a sign of good luck and good taste anytime it’s enjoyed.  Ach now, don’t that drink good?

Does it drink good?  Kutztown Sarsaparilla tastes like root beer.  It has a strong herbal root beer bite.  The root beer bite is capped of with a cola flavor.  The result is a soda that tastes more like root beer than sarsaparilla.  Like other Kutztown sodas, Kutztown Sarsaparilla is satisfactory, but is nothing to write home about.

Overall Score: 6 of 10.

Red Ribbon Root Beer

Red Ribbon Root Beer

Red Ribbon Root BeerRed Ribbon Root Beer Cap

Website: http://www.natronabottling.com

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Natrona, Pennsylvania

Purchase Location: Galco’s Soda Pop Stop

I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes a cover can give a book an air of legitimacy.  Root beer labels with barrels on them give big time legitimacy to a root beer.  I don’t know what it is, but I can’t look at a good looking root beer barrel on a label without thinking, “this is going to be one fantastic root beer.”  Red Ribbon Root Beer has a vintage root beer barrel on its label.

Natrona Bottling Company, the maker of Red Ribbon Root Beer, was founded in 1904.  All of Natrona Bottling Company’s sodas are made in small batches, and are individually mixed and measured by hand, using vintage equipment.  Natrona also claims to be the last soda bottling company that uses “pinpoint carbonation,” carbonation that produces a smooth, tiny bubble.  I do not recall recall any substantial carbonation difference with Red Ribbon.  However, unfortunately, I was not aware of Natrona’s use of pinpoint carbonation until after drinking the soda, so I did not pay extra attention to the carbonation.

Back to judging a book by its cover, Red Ribbon Root Beer does not live up to the promise of excellence conveyed by the rustic root beer barrel on its label.  It is not bad, but we had high root beer barrel expectations.  Red Ribbon Root Beer is a soft root beer.  It is slightly herbal and has an airy, fresh flavor.  If you are looking for a soft flavor, you may really like Red Ribbon.  I was looking for more flavor.

Overall Score: 6 of 10.

 

White Rose Root Beer

White Rose Root Beer

White Rose Root Beer White Rose Root Beer Cap

Website: http://galcos.dreamhosters.com/?p=623

Sweetener: Pure Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Los Angeles, California

Purchase Location: Galco’s Soda Pop Stop

Galco’s Old World Grocery is quaint soda pop mecca located in Highland Park, Los Angeles, California.  Galco’s, which celebrated its 60th anniversary this year, has more than 700 sodas available at its storefront and through its website at www.sodapopstop.com.  My daughter and I eagerly loaded up on root beers, sarsaparillas, and birch beers on a recent father-daughter road trip to Los Angeles.

Our haul included White Rose Root Beer from Galco’s own private line of sodas, commissioned by Galco owner John Nese (whom we met and who was quite nice).  The White Rose name and label are recreations of a Highland Park water and soda bottling company which began operations in the early 1900s.

Galco’s website describes White Rose Root Beer as “a full-bodied root beer with more of a sarsaparilla than sugary finish.”  I describe it as a root beer with a fruity, slightly floral tinge.  The flavor goes well with the White Rose name.  The fruit tinge tastes a little like the fruity flavor in Dr. Pepper.  To finish the taste experience, a root beer bite breaks through.  The fruit/root beer pairing is both unique and agreeable.  White Rose Root Beer is a nice treat and a good reason to visit Galco’s Old World Grocery.

Overall Score: 7 of 10.

Earp’s Sarsaparilla

Earp’s Sarsaparilla

Earp's Sarsaparilla Earp's Sarsaparilla Cap

Website: http://earps-sarsaparilla.com/

Sweetener: Pure Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Mukilteo,  Washington

Purchase Location: Galco’s Soda Pop Stop

Did you know the gun fight at the O.K. Corral was all about keeping the formula for Earp’s Sarsaparilla out of the hands of the bad guys?  It’s true, according to the makers of Earp’s Sarsaparilla.  After the gun fight, the survivors likely sat down together, made peace, and enjoyed some Earp’s Sarsaparilla.  After all, as the bottle explains, “After a hard day of gun fight’n, nothing beats a real Sarsaparilla.”  Now, this old-timey sarsaparilla is available to bring Wild West adventure to your mundane life.

Earp’s Western Foods teamed up with Orca Beverages to produce Earp’s Sarsaparilla, which pictures Mike Earp, owner of Earp’s Western Foods and a real-life descendant of legend Wyatt Earp, on the label.  Sporting an eighteenth century suit and a modified handlebar/horseshoe mustache, and holding a long barreled revolver, Mike Earp easily passes as slightly aged version of his famous ancestor Wyatt Earp.

Earp’s Sarsaparilla is a mild and creamy sarsaparilla.  Earp’s does not have the strong wintergreen flavor found in many other sarsaparillas.  In fact, nothing about Earp’s Sarsaparilla is particularly strong.  Earp’s has a simple, moderate flavor, but is not watery.  Although not very eventful, Earp’s Sarsaparilla has a good flavor.  It qualifies as a fine every day root beer treat.

Overall Score: 7 of 10.

O-So Butterscotch Root Beer

O-So Butterscotch Root Beer

O-So Butterscotch Root Beer O-So Butterscotch Root Beer Cap

Website: http://orcabeverage.com/storefront/retro_soda_pop/o_so_rootbeer.html

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Mukilteo,  Washington

Purchase Location: Galco’s Soda Pop Stop

O-So Butterscotch Root Beer is another soda revived by Orca Beverage.  Orca’s website does not say anything about the soda other than refer to it as O-So Good Butterscotch Root Beer.  In contrast, the bottle does not have the word “Good” on it anywhere.  Rather the name O-So Butterscotch Root Beer, without the word good, appears three times.  Confusion as to the true name of this root beer leaves me wondering whether the O-So is a commentary on the butterschotchiness of the root beer, as the name O-So Butterscotch Root Beer would convey, or whether it refers to the general goodness of the butterscotch root beer, as the name O-So Good Butterscotch Root Beer would indicate.

O-So was established in in 1946.  According to several web sources, O-So started as an independent soft drink company based in Chicago, Illinois.  By the end of the 1940’s the O-So had a network of bottlers in nearly all metropolitan markets throughout the country.  O-So was originally famous for its O-So Grape soda.  The company subsequently added other soda flavors.  The company’s slogan is “O-So Delicious.”

I have previously discussed my love of butterscotch.  It is a very worthy flavor, and I applaud its pairing with root beer.  O-So Butterscotch Root Beer does not cheat you on its butterscotch flavor.  In fact, initially I thought this soda tasted like a purely butterscotch soda with no root beer characteristics.  The root beer flavor did show up at the end in the form of a piquant root beer bite, sharply contracting from the smooth butterscotch flavor.  Although butterscotch is the dominant flavor for most of the taste experience, it is not a strong butterscotch flavor.  It was at the same time rich and sweet, but slightly subtle.  If you like butterscotch, you will like this soda.  My daughter, and co-reviewer absolutely loved O-So Butterscotch Root Beer.

Overall Score: 8 of 10.

News – Be On The Lookout For Sprecher’s Limited-Edition 30th Anniversary Honey Root Beer

Be On The Lookout For Sprecher’s Limited-Edition 30th Anniversary Honey Root Beer

On Monday, April 27th Sprecher Brewery bottled a special edition Honey Root Beer in unnamedcelebration of the brewery’s 30th anniversary.  The Wisconsin brewer is proud that its special edition root beer is made with all Wisconsin honey.  Sprecher’s anniversary Honey Root Beer will be available in 12 oz. bottles, but only 3,000 cases were produced.  So, go find Sprecher’s Honey Root Beer quickly, and save a bottle for me.  The full press release can be found at Bevnet.com here.