Friday, July 24, 2015

Druthers (#8 - Rated 9.9 out of 12)

This is an Illinois brew.  Timothy Iwaanicki is the owner of Drutherss Beverage Company in Oglesby, Illinois.  In June of 2013 he was interviewed and stated when he grew up ‘Black Cow’ was a colloquialism for a root beer float.  He started the business in approximately 1998 with the idea of making a root beer with vanilla crème, creating the Black Cow Float in a bottle.   After securing trademark approval for Druthers Black Cow, he launched Druthers Red Cow, which is a red crème soda, and Druthers Orange Cow, which is an orange crème soda.

Ingredients: Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), caramel color, natural and artificial flavors, phosphoric acid, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate as a preservative.

Nutrition information from the label (Per 12 0z):  

  • 195 Calories  (13.75 per oz)
  • 7.5 mg Sodium.  (0.63 mg per oz)
  • 43.5 g sugar  (10%) of Daily Carbohydrates (3.63 g per oz)

Aroma and Flavor - I want to remind you having “Vanilla Cream” in the name means I would look forward to this beverage!  When I opened the bottle, it was a heavenly aroma of vanilla cream and yet lacked the sassafras.

The flavor is my dream come true for desire more vanilla than usual.  The body is creamy and light.  It is refreshing that is as close to a root beer float than any other beverage I have enjoyed.  While it has HFCS as its sweetener, it is not overly sweet and subtle.

It scores a 2.5 out of 3 for aroma and flavor.   (Docked the traditional 0.5 for the use of HFCS – Yes it would have been my first three.)

Head - The head is tall but is vanishes quickly.  If you get distracted for a very short moment, it is gone. 

The score is 2 out of 3 for the head

Zip - The aroma is full as I anticipated the first drink.  It has a thicker sweetness and with a touch of licorice noted after each swallow. While it is on the lower side of medium carbonation, it is free of the syrupy texture I would expect with HFCS as the main ingredient.

The Score is 3 out of 3 for zip.  

Post Consumption Impression - The beverage is smooth and has a great flavor combination that is hard to beat.  This would easily be the highest scoring root beer had it not received the traditional 0.5 education for the use of HFCS.  The Aftertaste is vanilla cream, like store brand vanilla ice cream that lasts awhile.  

It scores a 2.4 out of 3 for post consumption impression.  

Would I recommend this?

YES YES YES.  Even though I try to avoid HFCS, this is not overly sweetened.  There is no sense of syrup taste or aroma I sense from the major commercial brands that use excess HFCS.  Overall score is an 9.9 out of 12 mugs

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Henry Weinhard’s Draught Style Head (#7 - Rated 9 out of 12)

Henry Weinhard, Portland, Oregon, started as a beer maker in 1862.  Seems like most early brewers made a root beer as well, and he was no exception.  A common period for starting the root beer brew was a way to stay in business when prohibition was established.  He partnered with Arnold Blitz and they had the Blitz-Weinhard brewery.  It was sold to Pabst Brewing Company in 1979, who then sold it to Stroh’s in 1996.  By 1999 the brewing operation were sold to and the last brew from the original Weinhard brewery was on August 27, 1999.  The Henry Weinhard's Private Reserve brand survives today and is currently owned by SAB Miller in London England. 

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, vanilla extract, natural and artificial flavor, phosphoric acid and sodium benzoate, honey essence and acacia sassafras extract.   (14 calories per ounce)
Aroma and Flavor 
When you open the bottle, the aroma is not overpowering.  You get a sense it will be a sweet brew and the vanilla is notable (a highpoint for me).  The flavor is very prominent with a nice full, sweet body.  The smoothness is nice; it made me think, “Life is good!”  Since this is made with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as the second ingredient, I expected a syrup taste and feel.  I think the honey with the balance of vanilla and sassafras gives it a high degree of sweetness yet dampens the HFCS.

It scores a 2.2 out of 3 for aroma and flavor.   (Decreased 0.5 by high amount of HFCS)

This is the best head of any root beer I have reviewed.  It is the perfect Head.  Long lasting and does not detract from the beverage quality.  Not much more can be said about the top quality head.  However, if you drink it from the bottle, the head is excessive.

The score is 2.5 out of 3 for the head

There is not a lot of bite that does not come from the HFCS.  Although, you know you are drinking more than HFCS, which rates this higher than similar beverages.

The Score is 2 out of 3 for zip.  

Post Consumption Impression
Your Henry Weinhard’s Root Beer experience is capped off with a fairly clean ending, leaving a pleasant aftertaste.  Even though this is a solid root beer, I really do not like HFCS.  Everything about this product is superior to many others.   

It scores a 2.3 out of 3 for post consumption impression.  (Decreased 0.5 by high amount of HFCS)

Would I recommend this?
Henry Weinhard’s Root Beer could be a solid gourmet root beer, if it was not laces with HFCS.  To date I have found root beers seem to have a solid result with in one aspect yet lacks in others.  The spice mix and the head make it a tough brew to beat.  The level of HFCS also affects the sugars and calories at almost 4 grams of sugar and 14 calories per ounce.  

Overall score is a 9 out of 12 mugs, and would have beed 10.5 but decrease due to HFCS).

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Filberts (#6 reviewed - Rated 7 of 12)

The root beer is a real family business product.  Ronald Filbertand his wife Karen continue to run the family business that started in 1926 when George Filbert and family delivered milk, ice and coal to homes in the Bridgeport neighborhood by horse-drawn wagon. The family added root beer when it became popular during Prohibition. It was manufactured in half barrels and supplied mostly to taverns across five nearby states. Known best for its namesake root beer, Filbert’s also produces 17 flavors of soda.

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, sugar and/or corn sweetener, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate (as a preservative)

Aroma and Flavor
When I open the bottle, there is not much to notice other than this is one of the darkest root beers I have seen.  Carbonation is not noticeable and the aroma is faint.  The brew has a sweet taste, more like a root beer barrel candy.  While I did not dislike the brew, it was just there.  There is a taste I cannot identify yet it is slightly smooth.  A slight hint sugar and vanilla, but it is nowhere near enough for my liking.  I also think Cane Sugar for part of the sweetener may be what is missing?  I really am beginning to tell the difference in sweeteners. 

It scores a 1.5 out of 3 for aroma and flavor.   

 The head is solid with a god deal of froth.  I really resemble a real draft head.  Would make a great float!

The score is 2.4 out of 3 for the head

 This is really a bland root beer. Carbonation is slightly above the low side.  The flavor is great to wash down a meal, but lacks in the overall sensation one get from a solid brew.

The Score is 1.4 out of 3 for zip.  

Post Consumption Impression
This is a root beer that would be ok in the restaurant or at the dinner table.  It needs to be enjoyed with food to balance out the flavor.  It would be a 2.4 with food and a 1 as a stand-alone.

 It scores a 1.7 out of 3 for post consumption impression.  

Would I recommend this?
I really do not like it when they put “sugar and/or corn sweetener” in the ingredients.  Why the “or” as opposed to just picking one or the other, or both?  Overall, I would recommend this for a root beer float or with a nice burger.  I would not suggest the brew if you are just sitting out on a cool autumn night, enjoying nature or looking for a refreshment after a hot day outside.

Overall score is a 7 out of 12 mugs


Eric's - 3.5 of 5

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hosmer Mountain Sarsaparilla (#5 reviewed - Rated 9.9 of 12)

Hosmer Mountain Sarsaparilla Root Beer is produced in Easter Connecticut.  Homer Mountain Bottling Company was founded in 1912 specializing in water.  In 1958, it was purchases by Arthur J. Potvin, who tested may flavors through trial and error.  Unlike many, this is not a beer company that dabbles in soda, but all soda.  Hosmer Mountain produces over 30 flavors of soda. 

It is important to note they make more than one root beer.  They even make an energy drink called Red Lightning!  A very a diverse brand. Again, is not a root beers. This is a sarsaparilla root beer.

Ingredients: Carbonated non-chlorinated water, sugar, brown sugar, caramel color, natural and artificial flavor, citric acid, potassium benzoate and extract of sarsaparilla root.

Nutrition 12 oz. serving (from the bottle)

170 Calories
7.5 mg Sodium.
43.5 g Sugar
0 mg Caffeine

Aroma and Flavor

When you open the bottle, the aroma is not overly strong.  It has a slight caramel popcorn smell.  At first drink, I can taste the brown sugar.  It is a unique way of adding sweetness to the beverage.  While it was a little syrup like texture that was small compared to other?  Certainly not watery!  It is creamy, VERY creamy.  The unique flavor in enjoyable, although the sweetness is a little higher than I prefer. 

It scores a 2.6 out of 3 for aroma and flavor.  


This is the largest head I have seen.  Of course, this is only my fifth review, but it is very frothy.  It is not a long lasting head, which is a preference for me.  This scores the highest to date, as it is exactly the level of head I desire in a solid pour.

The score is 2.5 out of 3 for the head.


Carbonization is low to moderate.  This may be when the creamy feely is intensified.  I like moderate to high carbonization. One disappointment is how quickly the beverage started to go flat.  This is not a beverage you want to savour for an hour, but within 30 minutes, it is hard to beat.

The Score is 2.2 out of 3 for zip.  

Post Consumption Impression

Unlike many beverages, this beverage was very fulfilling and does not leave me longing for a second.  There is a hint of wintergreen and vanilla that is noted more afterward than during consumption.  I am mixed as the post consumption will cease the desire to over-consume but then again, it did not leave me longing for another.

It scores a 2.6 out of 3 for post consumption impression.  

Would I recommend this?

While this is not the first soda I would reach for, it is certainly in the top 10.  This is one that I would not enjoy regularly, but occasionally it will fill a specific void in overall quality beverage.

Overall score is a 9.9 out of 12 mugs

Other reviews:

Eric's - 4 of 5
Rob's - 9 of 10
Soda Jerks - A