Squamscot Old Fashioned Beverages are the product of a family run New Hampshire business dating back to the Civil War. Conner Bottling Works was established in 1863 by William H. Conner when he started producing a tonic he called “Connermade”. Five generations of the Conner family have continued the Squamscot beverage tradition. The unique, and made up sounding, name Squamscot comes from a nearby New Hampshire river.
Squamscot Root Beer’s label is not flashy. Rather, it is a straight forward, informative label which highlights its long-established history in the soda business. For example, this 2014 label declares, “Celebrating 151 years!” Once you get past 150 years, every year should be celebrated. I sure know I would be proud if I lived past 150. The crown jewel of the bottle is the intertwined symbol made from the initials of Conner Bottling Works, found on the bottle cap.
With a 151 year old soda company you can end up with a soda having an ideal recipe which has stood the test of time, a soda which has had 151 years to make small improvements and evolve into a fantastic soda, or a soda which has held fast to its original recipe despite not being that great, and which has somehow avoided being discontinued over the years. Unfortunately, Squamscot Root Beer falls most squarely in the final category. Squamscot is not bad, it is just not significant as a root beer. Root beer should taste like root beer. You should not have to search for the root flavor. Squamscot Root Beer tastes like seltzer water slightly flavored with root beer. That’s fine is you are looking for a root beer flavored carbonated water, but not if you are expecting root beer. I feel like things just got a little intense.
Win A Year Supply Of Root Beer And Help Get Baseball Great Harmon Killebrew On A U.S. Stamp
Few things are more enjoyable than baseball or root beer. When the two come together, it is noteworthy. A recent lobbying effort has begun to get baseball slugger Harmon Killebrew on a U.S. stamp. Not only is he deserving as one of the greatest home run hitters of all time, and by all accounts a very generous and quality human being, but by partipating in the lobbying effort, you could win a year’s supply of Killebrew Root Beer. Those of you who sign the online petition found here, are eligible to win a year’s supply of the root beer named after the hall-of-famer who, at th e time he finished his playing career in 1975, had the fifth most home runs all-time, and who now sits at number 11. He hit all of those home runs without taking steroids, so let’s get him a stamp, and get one of you some free root beer.
Barons Boothill Sarsaparilla is a mystery drink. It has no website, and I am not exactly sure where the soda is made. In a barely readable microscopic font, the label states that Barons Boothill Sarsaparilla is distributed by Specialty Bevarages, Inc. of Glendora, California, but the birthplace of the soda is not disclosed. The mystery theme continues with the ingredients for Barons Boothill Sarsaparilla. Its sweetener is fructose. Sugar cane derived fructose? Sugar beet derived fructose? Corn derived fructose? It is a mystery.
Even the taste of Barons Boothill Sarsaparilla is something of an enigma. It is a light and refreshing drink, but is it a sarsaparilla? I recognized three different soda flavors in Barons Boothill Sarsaparilla. First, the crisp, fresh taste of ginger ale came to the fore. Later, the predominant flavor was cola. All along, there was a hint of sarsaparilla, but it certainly was not strong or the main flavor. So is it a sarsaparilla? I guess a soda with a hint of sarsaparilla can claim to be sarsaparilla. The important thing is that despite the mysteries of Barons Boothill Sarsaparilla, it tastes pretty good.
2015 U.S. Open Beer Championship Winners Announced
The 2015 U.S. Open Beer Championship winners were recently announced. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Open Beer Championship focuses on alcoholic beverages. Of the 90 drink classes represented in the championship, only two are non-alcoholic, root beer and non-alcoholic beer. Although not the main focus of the competition, we at Root Beer Respect are concerned only with the results from the root beer category. Who took the root beer honors this year?
First place went to Island Root Beer from Maui Brewing out of Hawaii.
Canadian root beer Babbling Brooke’s Root Beer form Nickel Brook Brewing took second place.
Finally, Point Premium Root Beer from Stevens Point Brewery out of Wisconsin took the bronze.
Unfortunately, I have not yet had any of these root beer award winners, although Point Premium is in my queue. It looks like Island Root Beer is only available in cans, but I will be looking to get my hands, and lips, on each of these championship root beers. All of the 2015 U.S. Open Beer Championship results can be found here .
The Pop Shoppe Root Beer is my first soda brought to us from our good friend from the north, Canada. The Pop Shoppe began selling soda from London, Ontario, Canada in 1969. A circular sticker on the neck of its root beer announces, “Canada’s Original Since 1969.” I do not know what “Canada’s Original” means, as I would be very surprised if 1969 was the first year that root beer was ever produced in Canada. Nevertheless, when The Pop Shoppe began, it avoided using traditional retail channels, opting instead for selling its soda through franchised outlets and its own stores in refillable bottles.
Before long, The Pop Shoppe was selling 30 different sodas throughout Canada and 12 flavors in the United States. Unfortunately, The Pop Shoppe’s sales soon came crashing back to earth, and by 1983 the company ceased operations. 21 years later, The Pop Shop was brought back to life, this time using traditional retail distribution. All of this information is available at http://www.thepopshoppe.com/about/, a website which is unnecessarily frustrating. To get the whole history summarized above, you have to click on to 32 pages. Unless you have a lot of free time, I suggest you just trust my summary rather than reading it for yourself on The Pop Shoppe site.
The Pop Shoppe Root Beer has a kiddie feel to it, complete with a smiling anthropomorphic root beer mug. A playful, childlike appearance is not a bad thing for a root beer. Another positive for The Pop Shoppe Root Beer is its head. It is full, frothy, and substantial. One of the best I have encountered. Unfortunately, that is where the positive attributes end. It has been some time since I have had a bad root beer. This is a bad root beer. I had trouble convincing my daughters to have more than one sip. It is a yeasty mess. It was not so terrible that I could not drink it. I mean, it did not burn my throat or taste like gasoline, it just was not very good. All I can say is that it tasted like slightly root beer flavored liquid yeast. You want some?
Long before there was a Berghoff Root Beer there was Berghoff Beer. It was initially brewed in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1887 by four German immigrant brothers. Several Years later, Berghoff Beer was sold at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, thereby expanding its market. During World War I, as anti German sentiment grew in the U.S., the brothers wisely changed their company slogan from “A Real German Brew” to “A Real Honest Brew.” Their honest brew was shelved for a time during prohibition. During prohibition, Berghoff began offering a draft style soft drink known as “Bergo,” which tasted similar to root beer. After the repeal of prohibition, Berghoff stopped making Bergo, but introduced Berghoff Root Beer in its place.
Berghoff Root Beer hits you right out of the gate with an blast of carbonation. As the carbonation settles, a series of flavors manifest themselves. The first is an herbal root flavor. That is followed by a blend of flavors that are difficult to individually identify. Somewhere in the middle of this jumble of flavors is a somewhat metallic flavor. Not a terrible, ruin the soda metallic flavor, but a still a flavor I could do without. Finally, Berghoff Root Beer ends on much more pleasant sweet caramel note. Berghoff has high points and low points, making it a middle of the road root beer.
We recently reviewed Hank’s Premium Root Beer here. Hank’s Root Beer received high marks for both taste and bottle design. Hank’s Birch Beer has the same design, and whether their glass vessel holds root beer, birch beer, or antifreeze, it does a dang good job of selling its product. Hank’s describes birch beer as a “traditional northeast favorite [which] is becoming a popular flavor throughout many parts of the nation.” That is certainly true in my west coast habitation.
Hank’s Birch Beer is a red birch beer. I don’t actually recall looking at the color, but Red # 40 is an ingredient. Hank’s touts its birch beer as “similar to root beer, but crisper and more robust, with a ‘kick’ of wintergreen flavor.” Hank’s is not joking about the kick. This soda is one big minty kick to the face. I don’t know if wintergreen is a strong enough description. Hank’s has an intense peppermint-esque quality. That flavor tapers off slightly to a sweet, creamy ending, but this is mostly a mint experience. My daughter thoroughly loved the flavor. I enjoyed it, but would have liked a deeper contrast at the end, transitioning from the mint to a creamier or stronger herbal root flavor. If you like mint then this is certainly the drink for you.
Foxon Park Beverages, Inc. is an East Haven, Connecticut family owned business founded back in 1922. The name Foxon Park comes from the street Italian immigrant and Foxon Park founder Matteo Naclerio lived on at the time his soda company began. Today the company, which still remains in the family, has a fairly sizable line of 18 varieties of soda. Its more unique offerings include Iron Brew (a Scottish drink), Gassosa (a lemon-lime flavored Italian soda, not to be confused with Foxon Park Lemon-Lime), and Foxon Park White Birch.
The Foxon Park Root Beer ingredient list is about as non-descriptive as a list of ingredients can be: carbonated water, sugar, natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, and sodium benzoate preservative). Natural and artificial flavors encompass pretty much all of the flavors don’t they? Foxon Park employs the frothy root beer mug symbol on its label. The label has an old-time feel, but not a 1920’s old-time feel. Instead, it feels like the label was redesigned in the 70’s or 80’s but has not been redesigned since. One last thought on the design. I am not a fan of labels that have a thin white strip on the top and bottom. It makes me think that the labels were cheap leftovers, found at the bargain basement. Okay, one more last thought on design. The font used for Foxon Park is pretty cool, especially on the capital F and P.
Foxon Park Root Beer is a light, not light in calories, but in flavor, root beer. The light nature of Foxon Park Root Beer is a result of its predominant wintergreen quality. Additionally, Foxon Park Root Beer has slightly malty overtones. I generally prefer darker, herbal root beer over light, wintergreen root beer, and that preference applies here. One thing Foxon Park does hit spot on is the carbonation. It has just the right amount of happy root beer bubble.