In 1935, in the midst of the Great Depression, the Janik brothers (Stephen, Walter and John) founded the Johnnie Ryan Bottling Company in Niagara Falls, New York. At first, they bottles water under the name of Keystone Water Company in five-gallon containers to nearby plants and offices at a time when Niagara Falls was a thriving electro-chemical industrial complex.
One of the brothers, Walter, was a delivery truck driver for Coca-Cola. In 1935, the Coca-Cola Company discontinued its line of multiflavor drinks to concentrate on the cola business. This brought the Janiks into bottle flavored soda for the local market.
As a marketing tool, the brothers sold their soda in ten-ounce bottles rather than seven-ounce size. They named the company Extra Bottling Company. Later, John Janik decided to give the company an Irish name to attract more business. After brainstorming several name variations, the name “Johnnie Ryan,” as it included both of his oldest sons’ names.
The ownership was passed to a second generation, consisting of a second John Janik (who died in 1994), Ron Janik, and their brother Paul who is the father of the current owners.
Production is done entirely on-site in Niagara Falls. The workforce at Johnnie Ryan consists of Paul and John and just two other employees. John makes the syrup mixtures and oversees warehouse and production operations, while Paul handles sales, product development, and vendor relations.
Taking pride in their soft drinks and only using the finest ingredients available quickly made Johnnie Ryan beverages a hometown "family favorite". According to the website, Johnnie Ryan root beer is still made of the finest extracts and flavorings available, and still sweetened with 100% pure cane sugar. Also, the text on the bottle is in French and English.
Now for my official root beer review. (Click here for information on the rating criteria and a table of all the root beer tested or to be tested.)
Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, citric acid, sodium benzoate, natural and artificial flavor, caramel color
Nutrition (from the bottle):
180 Calories 11.5 oz
50 mg Sodium.
45g (14 %) of Daily Carbohydrates
Aroma and Flavor – 2 out of 3 mugs
A strong smell of syrup from the bottle and was a little bitter. The immediate smell soon wanes and a licorice and wintergreen take over aroma results.
The most dominant flavors are honey and vanilla. There is a definite medicinal element. The traditional wintergreen and licorice flavors are strong yet I get a slight taste of honey and vanilla. This is a pure cane sugar made soda, and it is definitely evident. It is sweet with a wide variety of flavors. I scored this 1.5, as I prefer to have less wintergreen and complex flavorings.
Head – 1.5 out of 3 mugs
When poured in my tall frosty mug there is a nice tall head that dissipates very quickly, within seconds
Zip -- 2 out of 3 mugs
Medium-low level of carbonation provides a nice mix of smoothness and bite. A wide variety of flavors give it a unique sensation. For my taste, a little less wintergreen would have made this a better beverage.
Post Consumption Impression -- 2 out of 3 mugs
At first I was anticipating a medicinal horror. Although, the odd smell resulted in a tasty yet odd root beer. I enjoy the smoothness yet has a strong medicinal taste. Some may believe it to be a perfect balance of honey and vanilla with the wintergreen and licorice. If you like smooth root beers with a high variety of flavor blends, this is one for you.
Would I recommend this at 7.5 out of 12 mugs?
If you like smooth root beers with a high variety of flavor blends, this is one for you. For me, it was a little to medicinal. I would purchase it again over most commercial brands like Barq’s, A&W or Dad’s.
Please leave a comment if you believe this beverage is better or worse than my opinion.