Saturday, December 19, 2015

Big Ben's (#27 - Rated 4.0 out of 12)

This is a brew bottled by the Catawissa Bottling Company in the rolling hiss of Central Pennsylvania.  They say they have been making Big Ben’s since 1926.  They appear to stay true to simplicity, as the website looks like is from the 1990’s early Netscape Navigator built.  That is about all the information I could find on them.  Unfortunate there is little history, as I like to have a full background.

Ingredients: carbonated water, sugar, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate (preservative), citric acid, yucca extractives and acacia.

I have not seen the Acacia before and still not sure why it is added.   Then I tried to see what Yucca Extractive was?  Web MD explained it best at this link.

Nutrition 12 oz (from the bottle)

180 Calories 
30 mg Sodium.
44g (15%) of Daily Carbohydrates
0 mg Caffeine

Aroma and Flavor – 1.5 out of 3 mugs

Upon opening the bottle, either I have a bad cold or water would have been the same.  It was nothing extraordinary.  At first drink I was very pleased. (The reason it scored that high!)  As I continued, the pleasure waned quickly.  It has a very soft and sugary taste.  The sodium content is high and for the first time I really can taste the sodium. 

Head – 0.5 out of 3 mugs  

What, there is a head?  Where is it?  It was nearly non-existent.  The little foam appearance ring around the outside of the class remained, but not much to be proud of in a head.

Zip -- 1 out of 3 mugs  

The beverage was average in zip.  Low carbonation a slight creamy taste.  It did not provide a lasting impression.

Post Consumption Impression – 1 out of 3 mugs  

While it was not considered bad, the more I drank the less I appreciated the beverage.  There is more of a slight root beer taste with excessive sugar taste.  It reminds me of a moderately flat Barq’s

Would I recommend this at 4 out of 12 mugs?

If you were to have several friends who wanted to try this, go ahead but limit the brew to 2 ounces.  As the first taste was tolerable, just finishing the bottle was the issue

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Route 66 Root Beer (#26 - Rated 7.0 out of 12)

The beverage is new on the market compared to others.  It originated in 1996.  It is bottled in Mokena, Illinois.  Hard to find much history at all!  Underlined text is updated text!

Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, caramel color, natural and artificial flavorings, citric acid and sodium benzoate.

Nutrition (12 oz from the bottle)

Calories  160
41 mg Sodium.
28g Sugar (12%) of Daily Carbohydrates
0 mg Caffeine

Aroma and Flavor – 1.00 out of 3 mugs

Is it possible to get a bad bottle of root beer.  Well, based on my second try, yes.  The second bottle is nothing like the first.  While it is still not GREAT, it is slightly above average.  Enough to up the score from the original 1 rot a 2 for this category.  The second bottle lacked the aroma and had a pleasing mix of spice.  Still lacked a little e in the Sarsaparilla but the caramel was noted.  The aroma is slight.  My first thought was this was going to have a medicinal taste.  I was right!  My first sip brought a quick realization there are no memorable qualities and little root beer enjoyment.  It is almost tolerable at first sip and then some unknown aftertaste arrives.  I can’t place it, but I do not like it.  I sense a slight vanilla taste with a caramel splash.  Still, the unknown aftertaste is a little more than I enjoyed.  Almost a rancid aftertaste.  Can root beer go bad/sour?

Head – 1.0 out of 3 mugs  

The head is a decent height, but fizzes away too quickly.

Zip – 1.25 out of 3 mugs  

The zip is tingles the tongue and the carbonation and spices is very odd. The Aftertaste is a sweet creamy vanilla.  The second bottle was much better in the Zip category.  It was even carbonation with no odd twang to it at all.  The score increase from 1.25 to 2.

Post Consumption Impression – 1.00 out of 3 mugs  

This brew is just not to my liking.  I am still trying to figure out the almost rancid aftertaste. The second brew was actually enjoyable.  While it had a commercial style carbonation, it was lacked in the preferred vanilla flavor, I was impressed by the second bottle to go from a 1 to a 2.

Would I recommend this at Second try a 7 - initial 4.25 out of 12 mugs?

I believe if you like Dad's Root Beer, you will like this brew as well.  Again, the first bottle must have been fermented as the score for the second bottle almost doubled the score.  Sure wish we had freshness dates on some of these bottle! I would not suggest this beverage, unless it is free and you want to try it.  While the sugar was relatively low, the sodium is very high.  The aftertaste was not pleasing at all and that was confirmed by two others in the household.   

Cosmos Root Beer Review  1 out of 10
Root Beer Respect  8 out of 10

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Columbia Soda Works (#25 - Rated 10.6 out of 12

Columbia Soda Works is a mystery.  I tried to find information on the history yet the website went nowhere.  The bottle states it was established in 1996 in the gold mining town of Columbia, California. The label reads, “The flavor will take you back to the days of yesteryear when miners and settlers alike enjoyed the rich tastes of these early refreshments.  A taste as rich as the Mother Load.”  It even boasts greater by saying Columbia Soda Works Sarsaparilla is “A VERY PRECIOUS LIQUID.”   That is all the information I could gather.

Ingredients: carbonated water, sugar, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors, citric acid and Gum acadia.

Nutrition (from the bottle)

170 Calories 
20 mg Sodium.
45g (14%) of Daily Carbohydrates
0 mg Caffeine

Aroma and Flavor – 2.8 out of 3 mugs

This soda definitely tastes more like a sarsaparilla.  The carbonation left a nice fizz in my mouth. The hints of caramel and light wintergreen were quite impressive.  The only thing that kept this from a perfect score was I prefer a hint of vanilla. 

Head – 2.2 out of 3 mugs  

The head is not strong and dissipated quickly.  There is a difference in the head based on the temperature of the glass and the pour method.

Zip – 2.7 out of 3 mugs  

This dark root beer has a unique flavor.  The mix is not harsh with a faint wintergreen taste.  r.

Post Consumption Impression – 2.9 out of 3 mugs  

This was enjoyed from the start and left me wanting another.  No HFCS (I think as it just states sugar), so that is a plus.  Super flavor balance with the right mix of carbonation.  You can’t go wrong with this beverage!

Would I recommend this at 10.6 out of 12 mugs?

Yes I would, without a second guess.  When I visit the store next year, this is currently my first root beer to choose.   As you can see for other reviews below, I am not the only one giving the beverage high marks.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Frostie Vanilla (#24 - Rated 3.0 out of 12)

Frostie was originally produced as a root beer in 1939.  Over time, they expanded the varieties to 10, of which three are root beer based.  In 1979, Frostie was purchased by Monarch Beverage Company (Dad’s and Ramblin Root Beer).  In 2000, after years of faltering sales, it was sold to Leading Edge Brands who in 2009 sold it to Intrastate Distributors.

Ingredients: Carbonated water, High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or sugar, caramel color, Sodium benzoate, Citric Acid, and natural and artificial flavors

I assume they list more than one sugar option so they can just add the least expensive option when making the beverage and would not need to upgrade the bottle.

Nutrition (from the bottle)

180 Calories 
50 mg Sodium.
46g Sugar (17%) of Daily Carbohydrates
0 mg Caffeine

Aroma and Flavor – 1.0 out of 3 mugs

Immediately upon opening, I realized frosty vanilla root beer is not a root beer. The first aroma is like opening a heavily fragranced aroma vanilla candle.  I compare it to what I would envision a cupcake stuffed up my nose would be like.  It did not take much knowledge to understand this was corn syrup based as it get the same aroma from opening a corn syrup bottle. 

Then came my first drink.  Crazy vanilla soaked in sugar cubes is my first thought.  It gave me an ill feeling after a few minutes.  This is not a beverage I will to purchase again.  I only awarded this a 1 as it is intense and if that is the desire, they deserve some credit.  I almost think they were trying to mimic a bad vanilla ice cream root beer float

Head – 0.0 out of 3 mugs  

The head was pretty much nonexistent even when I try to make the head it using every technique I could, it was really visible.

Zip – 1.0 out of 3 mugs  

This is flat.  At times, I almost thought I was drinking lightly carbonated corn syrup.

Post Consumption Impression – 1.0 out of 3 mugs  

I hate to give any beverage less than a 1.0, as I am sure there are some merits.  I can’t find anything I prefer in a beverage in the Frostie Vanilla Root Beer.  The sweetness and intensity are overwhelming!  In fact, I tossed the last portion as I just could not continue drinking this liquid vanilla almond bark.

Would I recommend this at 3 out of 12 mugs?

I had some people try it in the house and one of them said it's like a putting excessively vanilla frosted birthday cake in a blender and taking a drink.  I don't think it is good in a soda!  Looking at the ingredients, this is his artificial was one could get. It is obviously a heavy commercial drink. Made at the lowest cost to gain the highest consumer. With 50 mg of sodium, it is the highest I have ever encountered and 46 g of carbs/sugar is really excessive.  If you liked Golden Maple (which I hated) you will love this beverage.  Otherwise, move to another option. 

As you can see below, not many agree with me.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ramblin Root Beer (#23 - Rated 7.5 out of 12)

According to my research, this is a major commercial root beer created in 1979 by Coca-Cola.  I though, why introduce a root beer when there was Hire's, A&W, Mug, Dad's, Barq's, Shasta, Faygo, Nesbitt's and various store brand knock-offs available.  I assume it was market share grab Coca-Cola already had Dad’s.  It was a memorable advertisement from my younger days with a young Sarah Jessica Parker.  I am not sure I ever consumed it, but must have, as I always loved Root Beer.

It was limited production after Coca-Cola purchased Barq’s Root Beer in 1995 with some saying it was out of production for over a decade and was recently reintroduced into the market (this year – 2015).    

One thing I noted is it has Quillaia Extract in the ingredients.  What is Quillaia Extract?  After significant reading, it is a foaming agent!  An artificial ingredient to make foam in a drink.  I thought that was reserved for detergents?

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, caramel color, Potassium benzoate, natural and artificial flavors, gum Acacia, Quillaia Extract, and Phosphoric Acid

Nutrition (from the bottle)

160 Calories 
0 mg Sodium
39g Sugar (14%) of Daily Carbohydrates
0 mg Caffeine

Aroma and Flavor – 1.8 out of 3 mugs

Upon the twist of the cap, it was just a root beer aroma.  At the first taste, I knew I was drinking root beer, although it had a slight medicine taste.   There was no vanilla.  It seems to have a slight sarsaparilla taste, yet it was very artificial taste. 

Head – 2.5 out of 3 mugs  

This was so foamy, it was past ridiculous.  You need to be cautious when pouring!  It was the most significant I have ever seen, but it was foam, not bubble style foam, but thick foam, like the thickest Afro one could imagine.  I guess I should not be surprised as it has Quillaia Extract, which is intended to create foam!  It received a lower score as the foam impacted the enjoyment.  If I did like the advertisement and guzzled this, it may not matter!

Zip – 1.5 out of 3 mugs  

The beverage is uneventful.  Then I found nothing that gave me a solid sensation of enjoyment yet nothing to stop me from wanting another sip.

Post Consumption Impression – 1.7 out of 3 mugs  

This was an odd review to complete as I could see loving this like no other or hating it like no other.  It really depends on how I drink the beverage.

Would I recommend this at 7.5 out of 12 mugs?

I am not sure what the huge push to bring the beverage back was, unless it was to guzzle and move on to the next task at hand.   I would love this is I was really thirsty and wanted a quick sugar drink.  I think in the middle of an ultra-marathon it would do the trick.  Otherwise, I would look for another option, yet would not turn this beverage down.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Red Ribbon (#22 - Rated 6.25 out of 12)

Red Ribbon Home Brewed Root Beer is from Pennsylvania.  It is from the Natrona Bottling Company in Natrona, Pennsylvania.

The company was founded as the Natrona Bottling Works in 1904 by Ed Welsh, and was purchased by the Bowser family in 1939, who changed the name to the Natrona Bottling Company. John Bowser hired his 15-year-old brother Paul, who worked at the company after school and on weekends. Paul operated and later owned the company – for a combined seventy years – until his death in 2008.  They have a YouTube video of the company.  Looks pretty vintage.

Ingredients: carbonated water, cane sugar, natural and artificial flavors, citric acid and caramel color.

Nutrition (from the bottle)

15 mg Sodium.
30g Sugar (10%) of Daily Carbohydrates
 mg Caffeine

Aroma and Flavor – 1.5 out of 3 mugs

First impression is that this average root beer.  It has a unique taste and carbonation, which is not common.  Almost has a tonic water base taste.  It is watered down with slight root beer flavor.

Head – 2.0 out of 3 mugs  

Decent head.  Dissipated fast but not to frothy and with a medium size bubble.

Zip – 1.5 out of 3 mugs  

For carbonation, they use CO2 from dry ice to create carbonation and supposedly help the flavor.  I can only describe is as lightly flavor tonic water.

Post Consumption Impression – 1.25 out of 3 mugs  

 This is not terrible, yet it is plain.  Did not leave me wanting more.  I compare it to mineral water with stevia root beer drops.  That would be zero calories and be close to what I felt from this beverage.

Would I recommend this at 6.25 out of 12 mugs?

I would not seek it out but would not turn it gown if it were offered as a beverage, yet I would ask for other option prior to accepting.


Eric's 2.5 out of 5 barrels

Cosmo's 5 out of 10 IBCs