Welcome to the Root Beer Rundown. Over the last few years, I've had a lot of fun drinking a lot of root beer and posting my root beer reviews for your reading pleasure. Use the tools on the right to see the complete history of my reviews, find all the brews within a given scoring range, or simply search for your favorite brew to see if it's one I've reviewed. I always like to hear what other root beer lovers like and dislike about different brews, so feel free to sound off in the comments of the reviews. I've also provided some links to a few other great root beer resources. Let me know if I've missed any so I can add them to the list. Enjoy the site!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Boylan's Creamy Red Birch

Who Made This Stuff? Boylan Bottling Company

Website: www.boylanbottling.com

Where’d It Come From? Cost Plus World Market, Kennesaw, GA

Review Date: 8/31/09

Commentary: I picked up a strong wintergreen aroma when I opened the bottle. It did produce a decent head when poured, although it did not hang around too long. It has an equally strong wintergreen taste there in the first few sips. As I would expect from a birch beer, it greets me with a sharp bite. I can’t pick up any creaminess in there, as I think I should expect based on the name. If there is some “creamy” in there anywhere, it is overpowered by the bite and the carbonation. I do not detect anything in here that could be tied to the red coloring though, considering the coloring might suggest a hint of cherry or strawberry or some other red fruit. Okay, as the fizz settles down a little bit, maybe I am picking up a little creaminess in there. The ingredient list does include vanilla and vanillin, after all. I have tried Boylan’s regular birch beer in the past and seem to recall that it had quite a bite as well, maybe even more than this one. I think birch beers must be an acquired taste. I am enjoying this one, but I do not think I would want to drink them regularly. I can envision drinking one every so often just to mix things up and cleanse the palate a little bit. On the other hand, if you have a passion for Wint-o-green Life Savers, well then this is the beverage for you. I remember reading somewhere exactly why birch beers have such a distinct wintergreen taste. Oh yes, here it is over on Spike’s root beer site (thanks Spike!).

As far as scoring goes, I really don’t know what to do with this one. It has quite a bite to start out, but it has mellowed out now. The creaminess didn’t really come through until that last few sips. On that basis, I think the name is misleading. However, I did enjoy the brew, and I do like Boylan’s overall. I think they have some very good sodas. The bottle gets good marks, too. With the raised lettering and the classic style of the painted label, I think it just looks cool. This is the first birch beer I have reviewed, so I do not have any others with which I can compare it. Therefore, I have to hold it up against root beers in general. On that basis, which may or may not be considered fair, I will give it a score of …………………………80.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Napa Valley Soda Company

Who Made This Stuff? Wet Planet Beverages, Rochester, NY

Website: http://www.wetplanet.com/

Where’d It Come From? Not real sure, now that you mention it.

Review Date: 8/26/09

Commentary: So, I’m already a little suspicious about this one. I have been looking forward to trying this root beer because I thought it was from some little craft soda company nestled in the hills of California’s wine country, brewed by a few vintners with some extra time on their hands between grape harvests. With a name like Napa Valley Soda Company, how could you NOT come up with a nice little mental image like that? Well, one visit to their website destroyed that image. I’m not nearly as excited now. This stuff is brought to you by the same folks who were kind enough to bring us Jolt Cola over 20 years ago. I do not consider myself a geography expert, but just exactly how close is Rochester, NY to Napa Valley? Hmmm.

It actually looked good going into my chilled glass as it started to form a dark head. Unfortunately, that head disappeared before I could set the glass down and pick up the camera for the picture. I got a slight whiff of wintergreen when I first opened the bottle. Once poured, that same smell came on very strong. That usually is not a good sign for me. However, the first few sips are not too bad. I can definitely taste the wintergreen, but it is not too strong. I can pick it up a little more in the aftertaste now. So far, this is just an okay root beer. It has a decent bite, it is not overly sweet, and not creamy.

Speaking of sweet, their website has a tagline of “Organic – Natural – Gourmet”, but a quick review of the ingredients shows high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar, as well as artificial flavor. What gives here? Since when are HFCS and artificial flavors considered organic? I was about to say that for an “organic” soda, this one tasted pretty good…but not now. For a soda with the same basic ingredients as most mass produced mega-brands, this one is not anything special.

The carbonation is pretty good. There is still a fair amount of fizz left in my glass as I near the bottom of this less than stellar experience. The bubbles are tiny, which is nice. I will give it good marks there. Even at the bottom of the glass, the wintergreen is still strong. Maybe that is one of those gourmet organic artificial flavors? Overall, I would say this is just an okay root beer. It is not bad by any means, but it is also not really good either. It is sort of a middle of the road type thing. Though it is not a memorable brew, I will remember to give it a score of..........................................75.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Who Made This Stuff? Sprecher Brewing Company, Inc. , Glendale, WI

Website: www.sprecherbrewery.com

Where’d It Come From? Menards in Green Bay, WI

Review Date: 8/23/09

Commentary: Okay, to be fair, I already know this one is going to score well, even before opening the bottle. I’ve been imbibing Sprecher’s root beer for quite some time now. My family and I even toured their brewery and bottling facility a few months ago (more about that, later). We like the stuff, that’s for sure. I’ve just never actually written a review of it. Here goes…

Nice traditional, sweet smell when opened. Great foamy, long lasting head when poured into a chilled glass. Oh wow, that’s good stuff. Nice little bite, but it doesn’t last too long. The bite departs just in time to introduce the great creaminess following close on its heels. I love that there is still a bit of foam on top (and clinging to the sides of the glass) even after several sips. I am thoroughly enjoying this. Normally, as I get down to the last few sips left in my glass, I have to start mentally and emotionally preparing myself for the fact that the fun is almost done. Not this time, though. That’s because a bottle of Sprecher’s is a FULL 16 OUNCES! Yes, you read that right. I still have some left in the bottle with which to refill my glass. Oh joy! I just poured the rest of the bottle in my glass, and was greeted by ANOTHER beautiful, lip-smacking, smile-inducing foamy head. This is great stuff. Have I made that clear yet? I’m down to the last few sips now, and there are still plenty of bubbles hanging around. It is made with high fructose corn syrup, BUT it also has raw Wisconsin honey in there. I think the honey really adds a nice touch, making it nice and smooth from start to finish. No icky, syrupy mouth feel here. This is one fine brew – one I’d be proud to serve to my guests any day of the week. Now, don’t get me wrong here. This is not a complex brew. It is a straight forward, creamy, delicious, pretty close-to-classic tasting root beer. One of the best. I’m so glad I still have nearly a full case of this stuff out in the garage. I feel I must give it a score of……………………96.

P.S. No, the glass (in the picture) doesn't come with a 4-pack of bottles. We bought a set of glasses in the gift shop when we took the tour.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Who Made This Stuff? Lakeshore Bottling, Inc. Green Bay, WI

Website: www.baumeistersoda.com

Where’d It Come From? Grocery store in Green Bay, WI

Review Date: 8/05/09

Commentary: Ahhh, Baumeister. This is the one that started it all for me – the root beer that got my attention. I still remember the first time I heard of it. Just hearing the name…..”Baumeister”….made me want to try some. It was the early 80s. I was probably around 12 years old, and my family was having dinner at the home of our friends, the Klasks. Mrs. Klask told us about this great root beer a neighbor had told her about. She said it was really good, and her kids seemed to like it. That was it. I tried one shortly thereafter. That’s when I discovered that I really liked good root beer, and the rest is history. The bottles have changed a bit over the years, and the label seems to have finally changed just in the last year or so. Okay, enough of this stroll down memory lane

I picked up that classic root beer smell when opening the bottle. It showed the promise of a good head while pouring, but it disappointingly dissipated almost as fast as I could set the frosty glass down. The first taste was very creamy, with a bit of bite. Second taste leads me to think some of the bite may be from the carbonation. I can pick up some wintergreen in here. I don’t normally like a strong wintergreen taste, but it’s not overdone here. The carbonation, while strong at first, lasts for a good while which is definitely appreciated. This is a good root beer, but I’m not picking up anything in here that is going to really set this one a part. I’d say it’s a good mid-pack brew. It is certainly a solid performer, but probably not one that will grab a lot of headlines. You know the type – trustworthy, unassuming, dependable, always there for you, won’t leave you hanging…but at the same time it’s not going to change your life. As I continue drinking it, the wintergreen taste has started to taper off. It’s still nice and creamy and that carbonation is still there in just the right amount. So, in the end, I’d say this is a good root beer. I’d gladly serve it at my table. I’ll give it a score of ………… 82

Monday, August 3, 2009


Who Made This Stuff? Clover Club Bottling Co., Chicago, IL

Where’d It Come From? Somewhere in WI

Review Date: 8/1/09


“Chicago’s Famous Root Beer” -- it says so right there on the label, so it must be true! Being a Packer fan, I’m willing to set aside the whole “Chicago” thing and give this root beer a fair evaluation…here goes.

When poured, it produced a small head which dissipated quickly (evidenced by the photo taken as soon as I could stop pouring and pick up the camera). It has a pleasant aroma, but nothing strong. Detected a little bit of licorice, but not too much.

First taste was good. Not too creamy, little bit of bite. Second sip confirms that this is a really good root beer. Definitely one I would recommend (and serve) to friends. Carbonation is good, bubbles in the glass are medium sized. Yup, just checked the label between swigs and my suspicions were confirmed. Pure cane sugar in this one, and it shows! This particular bottle has been sitting on a shelf out in the garage for about two months now. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had forgotten about it. I was concerned that it might have lost a little somethin' somethin' sitting for so long. I’m glad I found it again, because I sure am enjoying it. It’s not too filling either. I think I could down a couple of these with a meal.

The bottle itself is pretty nice. I really like the old school script. I guess they’ve honed their label design skills over the years with their line of beers. The label states “Founded 1898”, but I don’t know how long they’ve actually been making root beer there. I know that this good stuff comes in a big 32 oz. bottle as well. I know, because I once had one in my possession but alas, it was not meant to be. The bottle was broken before I could chill and enjoy it. I need to get my hands on one of those again.

I’m down to the last few sips now, and there is still an adequate amount of carbonation left, which makes those final sips oh so enjoyable. Unfortunately, this is my last bottle of the stuff, so I’ll have to wait for my friendly traveling supplier to bring some down on her next trip south from WI.

Bottom line, I really enjoyed this one. I will definitely buy some anytime I see it in a store. When you try one it probably won’t knock your socks off, but you will definitely enjoy it, I’m sure. I’m going to give this one …………..a 90 (the first one of my reviews to crack into 90s!).