In 1934, Coke abandoned its line of multi-flavored sodas to concentrate on its cola. Three brothers in the water business in Niagara Falls, New York saw a market opportunity and began producing several flavors of soda. The company grew to include a bar dispensing business which provided a system of dispensing soft drinks at restaurants and bars. The Johnnie Ryan website claims that to this day, 90% of bars and restaurants in the Niagara Falls vicinity have the Johnnie Ryan soft drink dispensing system.
Johnnie Ryan Root Beer has a unique presentation. Due to its geographical proximity to Ontario, Canada, Johnnie Ryan Root Beer is bilingual. Everything from its nutrition facts to bottle recycling information is found in English and French. I would not have guessed that the French would like root beer, but there is no reason why they shouldn’t. It is good to know that Root Beer translates to Racinette in French.
Johnnie Ryan Racinette is a more herbal root beer than those I have recently reviewed. I appreciated the full, deep flavor provided by the soda. It has a modest bite, but is not bitter. There was a nice balance of sweet and herbal. Without question, my favorite French labeled root beer.
If you every go to Avery’s Bottling Works, in addition to touring the soda factory, you can invent your own soda in their mixing room. Whatever soda you invent is likely to be bottled in the same clear glass bottles used for Avery’s Root Beer, with the same simple, blue and white “Always Ask for Avery’s” label. You may wonder how your new soda concoction is sweetened. Well, Avery’s website lists pure cane sugar as the sweetening ingredient in its root beer. However, the ingredient list on the root beer bottle cap identifies sweeteners “high fructose corn sweetener and sugar.” So there is no telling how your special Avery’s soda may be sweetened.
As for Avery’s Root Beer, it is a middle of the road root beer. Nothing about the soda is outstanding, but it does just enough to get the job done. It has very little carbonation and has a syrupy sweetness. Its flavor is mild and creamy with a hint of honey. A soda like this is nothing to write home about, but is certainly worth drinking.
In 2016, the US Postal Service is releasing a series of stamps commemorating soda fountain favorites. The set includes stamps of a double-scoop ice cream cone, an egg cream (a chocolate beverage devoid of both egg and cream that I have never before heard of), a banana split, a hot fudge sundae, and, of course, a root beer float. What a tasty way to send a letter.
More information about the new soda fountain stamps can be found here.
Rocky Mountain Soda harnesses the essence of the Rocky Mountains in its small batch, hand bottled root beer. Rocky Mountain Root Beer is made with carbonated Colorado water and sweetened with Rocky Mountain beet sugar. As far as I am aware, this is the first beet sugar root beer I have reviewed.
I really like Rocky Mountain Root Beer’s label. It celebrates the Rocky Mountains in a classy sepia tone. The focal point is a regal Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep surrounded by Rocky Mountain flora. The bottom of the label has an artistic seal depicting a steep mountain peak, and on the top of the label, the name of the soda stands out in bright gold lettering.
Unfortunately, the drink is not as memorable as Rocky Mountain Root Beer’s label. For starters, this soda is not very flavorful. It is almost as if instead of root beer, Rocky Mountain Root Beer is a carbonated water, lightly flavored with root beer. To the extent Rocky Mountain Root Beer does have flavor, it disappears almost immediately. It comes of as slightly yeasty, but not off-putting. Anyhow, that flavor quickly vanishes, along with any prolonged interest in the soda.