All posts by chesspieceface007

Polar Root Beer

Polar Root Beer

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Website: http://www.polarbev.com

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Worcester, Massachusetts

Purchase Location: Cost Plus World Market

Polar Beverages traces it roots to a New England seltzer and ginger ale bottler formed in 1882.  By the early 20th century, the company had merged with other local businesses and liquor sales became its main enterprise.  Upon the enactment of Prohibition, Polar Beverages ceased the profitable sale of alcohol and refocused on its ginger ale and spring water sales.  Following the repeal of Prohibition, Polar Beverages remained focused on soft drink and water sales.  Today, Polar Beverages claims to be the country’s largest independent soft-drink bottler.

Polar Root Beer has a simple but effective design.  The focal point of the bottle is the profile of a polar bear.  Right above the polar bear, evoking the icy-cold conditions that make an ideal root beer, is the world POLAR.  The clear bottle lets you see the dark brown root beer color and the dark root beer head.

Speaking of root beer head, Polar Root Beer is notable for its unusually dark and frothy head.  It is very even-flavored with no changing flavors or surprises.  The constant flavor it does produce is satisfying, sweet, and smooth.  I would be happy to have Polar Root Beer in my regular rotation.

 

Overall Score: 8 of 10.

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Dublin Texas Root Beer

Dublin Texas Root Beer

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Website: http://www.dublinbottlingworks.com/

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Dublin, Texas

Purchase Location: Real Soda, Gardena, California

In 1891 Sam Houston Prim founded Dublin Bottling Works in the small town of Dublin, Texas.  That same year while visiting Waco, Texas, 90 miles from Dublin, Sam Houston Prim tasted the fountain drink known as Dr. Pepper for the first time.  Shortly thereafter, Dublin Bottling Works became the first facility to bottle Dr. Pepper.  Dr. Pepper grew in regional popularity in the years that followed, but made its national and international mark when introduced to almost 20 million people at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

As more facilities began bottling Dr. Pepper, and cheap corn syrup became the preferred sweetener for Dr. Pepper and other sodas, Dublin Bottling Works refused to make the change to high fructose corn syrup, insisting instead on using cane sugar.  Consumers, recognizing the unique nature of this cane sugar Dr. Pepper, began referring to the variant as “Dublin” Dr. Pepper.  In 2012, Dublin Bottling Works ceased production of Dublin Dr. Pepper as part of a settlement in a lawsuit alleging that it had sold its product outside its approved territory.

Dublin Texas Root Beer carries on the pure cane sugar tradition established by Dublin Bottling Works in the 19th century.  The label is a slick combination of seafoam green and yellow.  The cap shows an outline of the State of Texas colored in by the Texas flag.  The bottom right hand corner has a small, silver insignia of a soda jerk holding a six pack of soda bottles.  Just under this insignia, it states “Since 1891.”  Dublin Bottling Works was founded in 1891, but I could not find any information regarding when its root beer was created.  Consequently, I am not sure whether that date refers solely to the founding of the business.

As for its taste, Dublin Texas Root Beer has classic root beer qualities.  It is sweet and creamy, ending with a slightly herbal taste, perhaps with a hint of anise.

Overall Score: 7 of 10.

Original New York Seltzer Root Beer

Original New York Seltzer Root Beer

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Website: http://www.newyorkseltzer.com/classic/

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at:

Purchase Location: WINCO

Walking around the grocery store some months ago, I recognized a familiar bottle  I had not seen since my youth.  Founded in 1981 in Southern California, Original New York Seltzer quickly became a big deal.  According to the company’s website, part of its rapid 1980s assent was due to its refraining from using artificial colors.  Its Black Cherry, Vanilla Cream, Raspberry, Root Beer, Peach, and Lemon Lime drinks were all clear.  Naturally, its motto became “The Choice is Clear.”

During the 1980s no one could have imagined that Original New York Seltzer would cease to exist early the next decade, but it did.  Original New York Seltzer disappeared, and the company’s young creator became an animal trainer in Hollywood.  Original New York Seltzer brand remained abandoned until 2013 when a fan of the former line of soft drinks purchased Original New York Seltzer’s original bottling plant and reviewed the original recipes.  By May, 2015 he had revived the company and restarted production on Original New York Seltzer’s original six flavors, including root beer.

Like all of its classic flavors, Original New York Seltzer Root Beer comes in clear, short, and stubby 10oz bottles.  Its label, which I remembered so vividly from the 1980s, displays the New York City skyline underneath the large billboard styled name of the soda.  As should be expected, the Original New York Seltzer Root Beer label is brown.

As previously mentioned, the soda itself is not brown, but is clear.  Drinking a clear root beer feels a bit strange.  Not only is the color of this root beer atypical, but so is it’s taste.  Original New York Seltzer Root Beer has root beer flavor, but does not have the depth, herbal feel, or sweetness of other root beers.  It tastes like root beer flavored seltzer water, which, surprise, is exactly what it is.  If you are looking for a light drink with root beer flavor, this might be just the drink for you.  If, however, you are looking for a more traditional root beer, you can take a pass.  I’ll go for traditional.

Overall Score: 4 of 10.

NEWS – It’s Not Too Late To Compete In The Root Beer Olympics

NEWS – It’s Not Too Late To Compete In The Root Beer Olympics

As summer comes to an end, there is at least one more festivity to look forward to.  This Saturday, August 26, 2017, Sprecher is sponsoring the first annual Root Beer Bash and Root Beer RBBLogoblackOlympics.  The fun will take place in Sprecher’s home town of Glendale, Wisconsin; the Athens, Greece of root beer competition.

Root Beer Olympians will compete in one of three age groups and/or in as a team. Olympic events will include the Root Beer Chug, Keg Roll, Hold the Glass, Keg Toss, Root Beer Wagon Pull, Root Beer Obstacle Run, and Root Beer Relay.  All proceeds from the Root Beer Olympics will be donated to St. Francis Children’s Center, supporting children with special needs.

All root beer athletes can sign up for the competition here.

 

Brigham’s Brew

Brigham’s Brew

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Website: http://wasatchbeers.com/

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Park City, Utah

Purchase Location: Gift from my wonderful mother

Brigham’s Brew is my second consecutive review of a root beer named for a famous American. Brigham Young was an early leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who, among other accomplishments, led a large migration to the West in the 1840’s, founded Salt Lake City, and was appointed the first governor of the Utah Territory. Brigham Young directed the settlement of many towns in Utah, as well as through the whole Southwest, started the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and presided over the construction of the iconic Salt Lake Temple, making him the perfect figurehead for a Utah based root beer.

Brigham’s Brew’s label features a sepia colored photograph of the 19th Century Mormon leader. The picture of Brigham Young displays a powerful and resolute man sporting a boss beard.

Full disclosure, I graduated from Brigham Young University which, like the root beer, was obviously named after Brigham Young. Naturally, I had a rooting interest (pun intended?) in Brigham’s Brew. Brigham’s Brew starts off with a dark herbal taste before opening up to a light, almost fruity ending with hints of vanilla. Brigham’s Brew contains yucca extract. I tend to like root beers with yucca extract a little less than other root beers. That trend held true here. As a result, while Brigham Young is worthy of having a root beer named for him, Brigham’s Brew is not a favorite.

Overall Score: 5 of 10.

Gene Autry Root Beer

Gene Autry Root Beer

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Website: http://rocketfizz.com/

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Camarillo, California

Purchase Location: Rocket Fizz

Orvon Grover Autry, better known as Gene Autry, also known as “The Singing Cowboy,” was an All-American musician and television and movie star.  His heyday spanned three decades, running from the mid 1930s to the mid 1950s.  By all accounts, Gene Autry was a much beloved cowboy superstar.  However, I have to think that Gene Autry’s fan base is old, shrinking, and likely not an ideal group to target for root beer marketing.  On the other hand, maybe Gene Autry is so synonymous with cowboys and the west that he is the ideal, timeless mascot.

The label for Gene Autry Root Beer shows a young Gene Autry attired in a western shirt emblazoned with Old Glory.  Standing next to him is his faithful horse and sidekick from radio, television, and film, Champion.  To top it all off, Gene Autry’s name is spelled out in cursive with a cowboy’s lasso rope.

Coming into this review, I had some trepidation that Gene Autry Root Beer would be terrible, nothing more than a gimmick.  In reality, it is an adequate root beer.  It has a dark flavor, without any specific spices standing out.  On the back end, vanilla becomes more pronounced.  All of this is delivered with just enough carbonation.  Gene Autry Root Beer is not as fantastic as Gene Autry was a cowboy, but it is worth a drink.

Overall Score: 6 of 10.

NEWS – 2017 U.S. Open Beer Championship Winners Announced

2017 U.S. Open Beer Championship Winners Announced

The 2017 U.S. Open Beer Championship winners trophy1were announced on July 10, 2017.  In 2016, the winners in the non alcoholic root beer category were as follows: sprecher

Gold – Sprecher Root Beer – Sprecher Brewing – Wisconsin
Silver – Saranac Root Beer – F.X. Matt Brewing – New York
Bronze – Red Hare Root Beer – Red Hare Brewing – Georgia

Those results were somewhat confusing, seeing that Sprecher Root Beer garnered a modest score of 6 on this site, while Saranac Root Beer earned an impressive 9, cementing itself as an elite brew, and RB-SARANACRB-2one of the best root beers reviewed on this site.  Apparently recognizing the absurdity of their 2016 results, the U.S Open Beer Championship changed course in 2017 issuing the following medals:

Gold – Saranac Root Beer – Saranac Brewing – New York
Silver –  Sprecher Root Beer – Sprecher Brewing – Wisconsin
Bronze – Bear Wizz Root Beer – Adirondack Brewery – New York

Congratulations to all three root beers.  I look forward to reviewing BW Web-01Bear Wizz Root Beer in the future, but I can attest that Saranac Root Beer is worthy of its gold medal. All of the 2017 U.S. Open Beer Championship results can be found here.

 

Firemans Brew Root Beer

Firemans Brew Root Beer

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Website: http://www.firemansbrew.com/ondutydrinks-root-beer

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Inyokern, California

Purchase Location: Rocket Fizz

Your favorite root beer review site was on a short hiatus, but returns today with this review of Firemans Brew Root Beer.  As I began typing this review, I mistakenly thought the root beer was named Fireman’s Brew, as in the brew belonging to the fireman.  It turns out, however, that there is no possession indicating apostrophe in the name of this brew.

The origin of this root beer is less confusing than its name.  The idea for Firemans Brew came in December 2010 as two parched California firefighters managed a brush fire and dreamed about drinking a refreshing beverage.  They first created created alcoholic beverages, but then added an “on duty” drink line, including root beer.  Generously, Firemans Brew donates a portion of its profits to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

The label for Firemans Brew Root Beer is busy but appreciated, just like a hardworking firefighter.  The background takes the form of the well-recognizable fireman shield, overlaid with the name of the root beer.  The fireman shield is encircled by tiny flames and the phrases “Extinguish Your Thirst” and “Ignite The Party.”  The label does a good job of tying firefighting and the root beer inspired by firefighting together.

The backstory to Firemans Brew is interesting because just as its line of drinks was inspired as its creators dreamt of refreshment, the one word that kept coming to my mind as I drank Firemans Brew Root Beer was “refreshing.”  It has a very traditional taste, mixing vanilla and typical root beer spices.  However, for some reason, I found Firemans Brew Root Beer’s refreshment value to be exceptional.

Overall Score: 8 of 10.

Reading Draft Birch Beer

Reading Draft Birch Beer

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Website: http://www.readingdraft.com/

Sweetener: Pure Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Reading, Pennsylvania

Purchase Location: Rocket Fizz

I finished writing my review for Reading Draft Birch Beer several days ago, and that review has disappeared to the land of lost work product.  This is my best attempt to recreate what was likely an award winning review.

Many birch beers are one trick ponies.  They show off the splendor of wintergreen, but have no depth, no other flavors.  Reading Draft Birch Beer is no one trick pony.  It does have that fresh wintergreen taste, but the wintergreen is just part of a rich and complex soda.  Sweet caramel tones and and a deep and creamy herbal base enshroud the wintergreen, which peaks out from time to time.  This is a soda with substance.  It leaves you satisfied with a nice taste in your mouth.  The flavor is similar to that of Reading Draft White Birch, but White Birch has a much stronger wintergreen flavor.  Both are quality drinks.  I might give the slight edge to Reading Draft Birch Beer.

Overall Score: 8 of 10.

Judge Wapner Root Beer

Judge Wapner Root Beer

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Website: http://rocketfizz.com/

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Bottled at: Camarillo, California

Purchase Location: Rocket Fizz

Before there was Judge Judy, before there was Judge Joe Brown, there was Judge Wapner on The People’s Court.  Judge Wapner was the original The People’s Court judge and the original reality courtroom show judge.  From 1981 to 1993 Judge Wapner presided over 2, 340 half-hour segments.  In my youth, I watched more than a few of those segments.  If anyone deserves a root beer, it is Judge Wapner who, at the time of this review, is 96 years old.  But how did he get a root beer?  The unconfirmed rumor on the internet is that one of the Rocket Fizz big wigs is Judge Wapner’s nephew.

A root beer bearing Judge Wapner’s name should also bear his likeness.   Judge Wapner Root Beer does just that.  The label shows the Judge pointing at all potential root beer drinkers and declaring “I Sentence You to Drink my Root Beer!”  I get that Judge Wapner wants to use legal lingo, but maybe the Judge could have used different wording.  Rarely, if ever, is being sentenced to do something  a good thing.  If he has to use his judicial authority to sentence people to drink his root beer, how good can it be?

As it turns out, I would drink Judge Wapner Root Beer even if I hadn’t been sentenced to do so.  Judge Wapner must love frothy, becasue his soda has a substantial head.  The root beer is heavy on the molasses, piloncillo/panela/brown sugar loaf taste.  From that, a nice creaminess briefly manifests itself.  Then the taste turns slightly bitter.  In the end, Judge Wapner Root Beer is worth a try, but I’m glad I haven’t been sentenced to drink it exclusively.

Overall Score: 5 of 10.