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!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Oogave Esteban's Root Beer

Who Made This Stuff?       Oogave Sodas, Denver, CO

Website:                            www.oogave.com

Where’d It Come From?   ???

Review Date:                     12/13/12

Commentary:  This one had had been lounging in the back of the fridge for a while now.  I was intrigued by it because it is sweetened with agave nectar instead of cane sugar or HFCS.  However, I was hesitant to try it for a long time just because I wasn't impressed with what I saw in the bottle.  It just looked weak.  This is a very light-colored root beer.  It almost looks like iced tea.

When I opened the bottle I got a little hint of licorice but nothing too strong.  It poured well, producing a decent, foamy head.  Even with the foam, it just looks weird in my glass since it is such a light brown.  The first taste was kinda medicinal.  No bite. Not great.  The carbonation is leaving town with haste.  Things are going downhill fast here.  

I don't really notice anything good in here as a result of the agave nectar.  Of course, I've never tried agave nectar before, so maybe that's the one thing that is making this a bad one and I just don't have the agave chops to recognize it.  Second, third, and subsequent sips are not improving.  This brew can't even claim to have smoothness or creaminess going for it.  Unfortunately, there isn't anything memorable in this one.  It does have enough root beer taste to make sure the drinker understands that this is, in fact, supposed to be a root beer, but that's about it.

Sorry Esteban, but I'm not even going to finish this one.  I definitely would not serve this one to friends.  I'm not sure what to do with the other one I still have in the fridge.  It breaks my heart to have to pour out an entire root beer, but I just might have to.  Blech.

Okay. Enough is enough.  I have no choice but to score this one as..................................................52.

What about you?  Have you tried this stuff?  Am I way off base here?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Virgil's Special Edition Bavarian Nutmeg

Who Made This Stuff?     Reed’s Inc.

Website:                            www.reedsinc.com/virgils

Where’d It Come From?   ???

Review Date:                     12/2/12

Commentary:  I have read several reviews of this very unique root beer and the reviews have been all over the board.  Some people loved it, others hated it.  I was glad to finally have the opportunity to try this one myself and see what all the fuss was about.  I'd been waiting a while to get to this one.  Would the wait be worth it?  Read on.

This one gets a bunch of style points right off the bat.  It has a cool swing-top ceramic lid (a la Grolsch), a label that has to be ripped in order to open the bottle, and of course it comes in a larger-than-normal bottle.  This one is a full 500 ml, just a hair over a pint. It may lose a point or two on price though.  Depending on where you find it, you'll probably drop $3-5 for this one.  A few more points are awarded for the back story.  According to the label, this root beer is imported from Bavaria and they use well water from the Bohemian Forest region.  Obviously, this root beer had to make quite a journey to get to my fridge.

When I opened it, it had a nice "pop" and a pleasant aroma.  It wasn't a particularly strong aroma, but I picked up a little licorice and cinnamon.  When poured, it formed a nice big head which, although it didn't hang around for a long time, didn't disappear immediately.  The second pour (remember, it's a big bottle) created another big head.

This has a complex flavor, not unlike it's cousin, the original Virgil's root beer.  What this one has going for it is its smoothness.  Much smoother than the standard Virgils, it is more to my liking.  It is creamy as well, but not over the top.  The label claims it is "so rich and creamy you'll swear it's made in Heaven."  I don't think I'd go that far, but it does earn the "rich and creamy" badge.

The ingredient list on this one is long, including anise, honey, licorice, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, wintergreen, cassia oil, sweet birch, and molasses.  That's a lot of stuff to cram into one brew.  I didn't pick up any of its namesake nutmeg.  All those ingredients result in a pretty complex flavor.  This is not your standard root beer.  As I mentioned, I think they did a better job blending the flavors on this one than they did in their original.

The sweetness level is very good.  They use real cane sugar and I think it shows.  With all the flavors in this one, I think it would make for a nice post-meal drink.  This is a very satisfying brew and I would definitely serve it to friends, although given its price I probably wouldn't serve it very often.

So, yes, the wait for this brew was worth it.  I'll score it as..........................................................89.

What about you?  Have you shelled out the big bucks for a bottle of this stuff?  Would you?