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, August 29, 2013

Uncle Scott's All Natural Root Beer

Who Made This Stuff?           Carolina Country Provisions, Inc., 
                                                               Mooresville, NC
Website:                                          www.unclescottsrootbeer.com

Where’d It Come From?       gift

Review Date:                                 8/20/13

Commentary:  Although yours truly is called Uncle Scott by a select group of awesome nieces and one nephew, I can not claim to be the creator of this brew.  I received this root beer as a gift and I think it came from somewhere in GA, but I don't know exactly where.  Oh wait.  I just checked Uncle Scott's website and it looks like in GA it is only available at various Whole Foods Markets.  I'm gonna go out on a limb and say this one was purchased at Whole Foods.  It is a relatively recent acquisition, so I'm proud of myself for getting to the review of this one without delay.

When I popped the top on this one, I detected a spicy, medicinal aroma that almost seemed to have hints of cough syrup.  The head was disappointing as it disappeared quickly.  That wasn't a good sign.  The first sip confirmed that bad omen as it seemed like the brew was already getting a little flat.  Speaking of that first sip...WHOA!  There was A LOT going on in there all at once.  It had a strong medicinal flavor, with some vanilla and maybe some licorice, too.  I could tell there were some other flavors lurking around in there as well, I just couldn't pinpoint them right away.

A few more sips told me the carbonation was holding a little better than I had first anticipated.  There was no real bite at all to this one, but that strong flavor came through every time after a fleeting flash of vanilla.  I would not characterize this brew as creamy at all.

I finally gave up trying to identify all the flavors and just looked at the ingredients list.  This one has a little bit of everything in there.  Among other things, it has certified organic sugar (nice!), vanilla, cinnamon oil, natural caramel, wood extract (what?), licorice root oil, and anise oil.  That's a lot of flavors for Uncle Scott to try to get to play nicely together.  I can understand how this one has such a complex flavor.  I don't think I picked up every one of those flavors in there, but I did notice some of them.  Of course, I'm not really sure what wood extract is supposed to taste like.

This root beer just isn't for me.  It's not a horrible root beer and I wouldn't try to caution anyone from drinking it.  I just wouldn't reach for this one when others are available.  Now, if you like lots of different flavors in your root beer you may very well enjoy this one.  Or, if you just want to try something a little bit off the beaten path, then you may want to try one of these.  I'll leave that up to you.  I trust you to make a good choice.

Personally, I'm not looking for a root beer quite so complex, so I'll give this one a score of...........................................................................................70.                 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Frostop Root Beer

Who Made This Stuff?           Frostop Beverages, Inc. 
                                                               Columbus, OH
Website:                                          www.frostop.com

Where’d It Come From?       Angeli's Market, Iron River, MI

Review Date:                                   8/15/13

Commentary:  I think this is another brew I picked up in WI last fall.  I can't remember for sure.  All I know is it's been waiting very patiently for me to review it.  This one looks like it has potential.  According to the label, this root beer has been around since 1926, and they claim that "NOTHING tops it...but the foam!"  That's quite a claim, especially since the used both ALL CAPS and italics within the same claim.  Let's get down to business.

When I opened the bottle, I detected a definite spicy, wintergreeny aroma.  As I poured it in my mug, it did form a nice head but it wasn't anywhere near huge or anything.  Most of the head dissipated in short order, but a small amount of foam remained on top for quite a while as I worked may way through this one.  

The first sip was definitely sweet and smooth.  There was just a wee little bit of a bite in there but it didn't really last long.  Things started nicely, but then everything got weird.  There was some sort of odd finish and aftertaste in this one.  It kind of overshadowed everything else.  Each sip started with the potential to be really good with its balance of creamy and spicy but then that strange aftertaste would kick in every time.  It left a lasting impression and almost made me forget about the good start to each sip. 

The carbonation was actually pretty good.  The brew held its fizz all the way to the bottom of the mug, and I didn't rush through this one.  I took my time with it because I was so puzzled by that aftertaste.  I couldn't ever really figure out exactly what I was tasting in there. My best guess is that it was licorice but there had to be some else along with it.  It also left just a little bit of a syrupy mouth feel.  My guess is that is from the corn syrup.  According to the ingredients list they use corn syrup and cane sugar, but the corn syrup precedes the sugar in the list.

As I was drinking this, I couldn't help thinking that someone else might actually like this one.  Maybe that aftertaste would appeal to them.  This did have a few things going for it, like the sweet, creamy, spicy start and the good carbonation.  Personally, I couldn't get past that weird taste.  This isn't a bad root beer.  It just isn't for me.  

OK.  Now I'm really confused.  After I finished writing up most of this review, I read a few reviews of this same root beer by other root beer aficionados.  They all had very positive reviews of it, with no mention of the weird taste.  Maybe I just got a bum batch.  Oh well, I can only review and rate the root beers I drink.  Maybe I'll give this a second chance the next time I see it in a store.   

Enough typing, time to for scoring.  I'll give this one a......................................................................................71.

What about you?  Have you tried this one?  Any weird aftertaste for you?       

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dang! That's Good Root Beer

Who Made This Stuff?           Imperial Flavors Beverage Co., 
                                                               Milwaukee, WI
Website:                                          www.imperialflavors.com

Where’d It Come From?       Mars Cheese Castle, Kenosha, WI

Review Date:                                   8/14/13

Commentary:  Based on the name of this brew, this review could go really well or really poorly for our good friends over at Imperial Flavors.  With a name like that it has a lot to live up to.  I found this one at the famous Mars Cheese Castle near Kenosha, WI.  If you ever get the chance to stop in there, you should definitely stop.  If the abundance of cheese isn't enough to draw you in, they also have a fine selection of bottled sodas.  But enough about cheese.  Let's get down to business here.

As I removed the cap from the bottle, I got a nice little "pop", which told me the carbonation had held up well since I bought this back in November (almost 9 months ago now).  It also had a good spicy aroma.  So far, things were looking up.  When poured into my frosty mug, it produced a small head that dissipated rather quickly.

The first sip was really good.  This one has a nice little bite to it.  It's spicy and sweet at the same time.  The spice was up front as soon as it hit my tongue.  It made a nice transition to a creamy vanilla on the back end, but the bite sticks around for just a bit after going down the hatch.  I did detect a little wintergreen in there, but that flavor is far from overpowering.  That same aroma I picked up when I first opened the bottle was able to stick around all the way to the very last sip in the mug.  Nice.

This one isn't super smooth, but that's really okay.  It has so many other things going for it that I'm fine with it skipping the smoothness.  It is definitely sweet, but because it's made with sugar instead of HFCS, it doesn't leave any syrupy mouth feel at all.  I would consider this a "sipping" root beer.  It's one I think deserves to be enjoyed slowly so you can take in the different characteristics of this brew.  If you were to gulp this down, you'd miss out on the really nice balance between the bite and the creamy.  The carbonation level is just about perfect too, so you really can take your time with this one and it will hold its fizz all the way to when you're ready for that last sip.

I liked this one a lot.  I would gladly serve this one to friends and as I mentioned, I'd recommend that they take their time and enjoy it.

I think this root beer lives up to it's name.  I'm giving it a score of........................................................................................89.    

Have you ever tried this one?  Did it live up to its name for you?  Did you shout "Dang!" when you drank it?  Let me hear about it in the comments.        

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bundaberg Root Beer

Who Made This Stuff?           Bundaberg Brewed Drink Pty Ltd., Queensland, Australia

Website:                                          www.bundaberg.com

Where’d It Come From?       gift

Review Date:                                   8/11/13

Commentary:  I received a four-pack of these funky little bottles as a gift recently.  I had seen this brew on the shelves in a few stores before but I'd always been hesitant to plunk down my own cash for it simply because of the (usually) less-than-flattering reviews it has received.  Well, now I don't have to worry about wasting my own money.

This root beer comes to us from Australia.  It has an unusual pull top on it, but I'm not really sure why.  It doesn't seem to be any easier to open than a standard twist-off cap.  Maybe once I drink it everything will makes sense.  A quick review of the ingredients list is actually encouraging.  It's got cane sugar (yea!), molasses, ginger root, sarsaparilla root, licorice root, and vanilla bean.  Based on that list, I'm expecting a bold, medicinal flavor.  Let's open it up and see what happens.

When I popped the top, I did pick up a medicinal aroma but it wasn't anything unusual.  It quickly formed a medium-sized head when poured, but it disappeared almost as fast as it appeared and left no residual froth.  That's unfortunate.  The first sip yields a very unusual flavor.  There isn't anything too strong or overpowering, just weird.  Okay, after a few more sips, I am picking up some slight hints of licorice and vanilla.  There seems to be some sort of fruitiness in there.  I can't put my finger on exactly what kind of fruit, though.  This isn't creamy or smooth and there's just a wee little bit of bite.

The carbonation is holding up decently as I take my time with this one.  The bubbles in here are tiny, just the way I like 'em.  This just doesn't taste like a root beer to me.  In fact, if I were doing a blind taste test and didn't know this was supposed to be a root beer, I don't think I would even guess that it is trying to be a root beer.  I'm trying to figure out how to describe this one -- maybe a cross between a Vanilla Coke and a Dr. Pepper?  I don't know.  

Honestly, it's not nearly as bad as I had expected.  I'm not going to bother finishing it, though.  As I've been sipping my way through the glass, it just isn't growing on me.  I just don't think it's worth the calories.  This isn't terrible, but I can't even justify an average score for it simply because it is so far off from what I expect a root beer to taste like or at least try to taste like.

Sorry, Bundaberg.  I'm going to have to give this a score of.........................................................................55.

Have you tried this stuff?  What did you think?  What kind of flavors did you pick up in there?      

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

III Dachshunds Old Fashioned Root Beer

Who Made This Stuff?           III Dachshunds Beer Company

Website:                                          www.3dachshundsbeer.com

Where’d It Come From?       City Lounge, Cudahy, WI

Review Date:                                   8/10/13

Commentary:  Don't be fooled by the spelling of the name on this one.  Those are Roman numerals.  It's not "ill Dachshunds", it's "3 Dachshunds".  No sick doggies here.  I learned about this root beer last fall as we prepared for another road trip to WI.  I had never heard of it before, but I'm always up for trying new brews so I made a point to stop by City Lounge in Cudahy to pick up a six pack as we passed by on our way north.  That trip was several months ago, so I was a little concerned that this one might have lost a little somethin' somethin' after sitting in the fridge for so long.  As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about.

I didn't pick up any distinct aroma when I opened this bottle.  I didn't take that as a good sign.  However, everything changed when I poured it into my frosty mug.  The head on this thing was huge!  After a minute or so, it settled down to just "large" and it was awesomely frothy.

From the first sip to the last, this root beer had a sweet, classic root beer flavor with just the right balance of creamy vanilla-ness and spice.  It is super smooth.  This is good stuff!  The carbonation is spot-on.  We've already discussed the head on this thing.  The bubbles in here are tiny -- just the way I like 'em.  That just adds to the smoothness. The carbonation held on all the way through to the bottom of my mug.  I even had to take about a 10 minute break in the middle of this review (to unload groceries) and when I came back, bubbles were still there.  Awesome.

This root beer doesn't attempt anything crazy or make any real stretches in the flavor department.  It aims directly at traditional, creamy root beer flavor and nails it.  This is a top-shelf root beer for me.  I will definitely buy more the next time I'm headed for WI and I would definitely serve it to friends, though I may reserve it for those few friends who can truly appreciate a great root beer.

III Dachshunds earns high marks from me.  I'm going to give this one a score of...................................................................94.

Anyone else out there ever had the pleasure of drinking this stuff?  Was your experience as awesome as mine?  Let me hear from you!     

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Abita Root Beer

Who Made This Stuff?          Abita Brewing Company, Abita Springs, LA

Website:                                 abita.com

Where’d It Come From?       ???

Review Date:                         8/10/13

Commentary:  I received a six-pack of this brew a while ago and I have had to guard this last bottle carefully.  My son and his friends enjoy root beer just as much as I do and I noticed that my six-pack quickly became a one-pack.  Well, this bottle's day has finally arrived.  Let's see what we've got here.

Hold on, let me go find a bottle opener.  This one doesn't have a twist-off cap.  Okay, after opening it, I picked up a standard root beer aroma but with a bit of spice thrown in, so it was off to a good start.  It produced a great big head when I poured it.  The head even stuck around for a few photos, which I thought was a nice touch.

The first sip was surprisingly sweet.  It wasn't too sweet by any means, but based on the aroma I didn't expect this sweetness.  I like the carbonation here -- small bubbles.  There is a certain amount of creaminess here as well, but not overly so.  It's the kind of creamy that lets you know it's there but mainly hangs out in the background, not overplaying its hand.  Abita uses pure cane sugar in the recipe (announced prominently on the label), and I think it definitely shows in the taste of this one.

I don't detect any kind of bite.  There is just a little hint of wintergreen and I don't detect any licorice in here.  That's two points in the plus column for Abita.  Unfortunately, the carbonation didn't hang around very long.  It seems to have disappeared and I've still got about a third of the mug left.

Nothing about this root beer really jumps out at me.  I enjoyed it.  It is a good, solid, middle of the road root beer.  I think I could enjoy this one with a meal.  I'd buy it again if given the opportunity, and I'd serve it to friends without any reservations.

So, I think I'll give this one a score of..................................80

Are you a fan of Abita?  How do your tasting notes compare to mine?  Sound off in the comments!