Sunday, June 28, 2015

POINT Premium (#4 - Rated 9.7 out of 12)

My girlfriend is visiting her parents and left me with the over-active dog and extra time on my hands.  So today, I decided to do a second root beer review for the weekend.  My son may be unhappy, as he tells me I need to limit the root beer intake, but this day was not disappointing.  I selected a Wisconsin root beer named Point Premium Root Beer, made in Stevens Point.



Stevens Point Brewery holds the honor of being the fifth largest private owned brewery in the country. The company was founded in 1857 by George Ruder and Frank Wahle. In 1864, the company provided its beer to the troops during the American Civil War. The brewery was subsequently sold to Andrew and Jacob Lutz in 1867. The Lutz family continued operations until it was sold to Gustav Kuenzel in 1897.  A variety of other sales occurred until the current owners, real estate developers Joe Martino and Jim Wiechmann in 2002.  They started making soda.  This brew was officially an award winner, having secured a Gold Medal from the Beverage Testing Institute in 2003.

Steven's Point Brewery has unique mascot with an older guy with a pointy-head that would make the Coneheads jealous. The cap displays the image of the extra-terrestrial brew maker.



Ingredients: Carbonated Water, pure cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrine, Wisconsin honey, caramel color, natural and artificial flavor, vanilla, phosphoric acid and sodium benzoate as preservative.  

Nutrition 12 oz. serving (from the bottle)

180 Calories
40 mg Sodium.
45 g Sugar
0 mg Caffeine

Aroma and Flavor

The brew starts with a solid root beer aroma.  That hint of vanilla and spices.  The first drink is creamy (or dreamy) introduction quickly followed by a splash of Wisconsin Honey.  This is a well-balanced mix of cane sugar providing a mildly sweet and distinct flavor that is well supported by a certain root beer extract flavor.  The amber bottle seemed to empty a little fast.  This is the best Root Beer I have had to date, at least for aroma and flavor.

It scores a 2.3 out of 3 for aroma and flavor.  It is the use of high fructose corn syrup that caused me to lower the score 0.5. 

Head

Point has a medium frothy head that sticks around for a while.  The overall balance is the best I have seen in a long time.  The score is 2.5 out of 3 for the head, as in my younger days, I recall a few that were better.

Zip

The "point" of this root beer is a delicious, sweet Body with all the right stuff.  Carbonation is medium or slightly higher (which I prefer).  Overall a nice but not very spicy zip with a pleasant vanilla and honey aftertaste.   The Score is 2.4 out of 3 for zip.  (IT IS HARD TO BE PERFECT!)

Post Consumption Impression

It was clear that when the standards for good root beer were laid down, they didn't miss the point. (Pun intended)  The smooth taste throughout with the moderate carbonation and a hearty head is one I can’t forget!   Although, I do get that high fructose corn syrup notable aftertaste, and for that it is not perfect. It scores a 2.5 out of 3 for post consumption impression.  

Would I recommend this?


DEFINITELY WORTH A TRY!  Overall score is an 9.7 out of 12 mugs.  In summary, the head was exceptional and frothy with staying power. The body is a creamy joy consisting of vanilla, honey, caramel and a hint of sassafras. The finish is rich and delightful!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sr. Arnold (#3 - Rated 8.9 out of 12)

My first two reviews were really disappointing.  I was reconsidering consuming all this root beer unless soon found an enjoyable beverage.  As I rummaged through the remaining 49 bottles, I picked the Christmas spirit looking Saint Arnold Root Beer.


I noticed it was from Texas.  I recalled parents giving children beer in Texas was legal, so why did they make a root beer?  The brewer believed this was not a practice they support, and created a root beer alternative. According to their website, they state:

"Making root beer is much more of an immediate gratification process compared to beer. You heat up some water to dissolve the sugar, then you cool it down and add the root extracts. Most of the extracts are from real plants, but some, such as sassafrass, have pesky carcinogens in them and thus we opted to replace those with artificial flavors. We developed a good root beer base, but we wanted a great root beer so we started playing around with small amounts of other natural flavors. We finally found one that worked great and went with that. We actually make no money on our root beer. We make it for fun and put no effort into selling it. Sales continue to climb on it even without our trying though. Oh well."

I need to get on with the review!  (For my rating criteria, click here.)

Ingredients: Water, cane sugar, caramel color, natural and artificial flavor, vanilla extract, citric acid and sodium benzoate as preservative.  

Aroma and Flavor

The aroma is pure root beer with a vanilla pleasantry.  A strong and pleasing traditional root beer aroma with slight hints of wintergreen and licorice.  The finish has a little watered down feel as opposed to a full body.  

This root beer reminded me of my Taco Bell experiences.  I often crave Taco Bell! I get the first bite and I am in heaven.  By the second bite it is still good.  Then the third bite, what am I eating and so I lose interest and realize it is the same low quality crap I do not enjoy.  Saint Arnold’s at first has an outstanding root beer, then the enjoyment start down an a icy slope!

Don't get me wrong, this is a delicious root beer.  It has a rich, dark, root like body that very creamy. The bite boldly hit me as soon as the brew enters my mouth and lingers.  It just lacks the staying power.  It scores a 2.3 out of 3 for aroma and flavor.  That is the average of 3 at the start and 1.6 at the finish. 

Head

Medium head that is foamy and long lasting. I believe this would be a top of the line root beer for a float.  The Ice Cream would keep the flavor inviting the entire time!   The score is 2 out of 3 for the head.

Zip

The medium level carbonation was enjoyable, although the flavor punch gives the sensation of a much higher level of carbonation.  I am intrigued by the flavor mix that created a nice zip throughout without overpowering the beverage at the start. The Score is 2.2 out of 3 for zip, again downgraded that it did not have the holding power throughout.  

Post Consumption Impression

This very dark brown that is barely transparent. As stated in the flavor/aroma section, the pleasantry changed throughout the consumption.  The post consumption impression is mixed due the unique flavor combination.  While I found it boring at the end, I still long for the seasoning used to create this beverage.  The aftertaste is very creamy and lingers, which is to be desired in a great beverage.  It scores a 2.4 out of 3 for post consumption impression.  As I would buy it again, but share it with a friend so I only get the great half of this drink.

Would I recommend this?

Yes I would!  It is very traditional and has a very balanced flavor. The solid mix of flavors allows anyone to savor the brew. The brew is smooth without any unpleasant aftertaste. The vanilla extract is the dominant aftertaste and I love vanilla.  I could consider this a “full flavored” root beer.  If like a strong brew that is strong that you enjoy over a longer period of time, you’ll like this one.


Overall score is a 8.9 out of 12 mugs, and that is more my preference for a bolder carbonation and vanilla hint.  In addition for the first 5 minutes, it was much closer to an 11, but it wanes toward the end.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Golden Maple Root Beer (#2 - Rated 3.8 out of 12)

After my disappointment with the Always Ask for Avery’s root beer (2 out of 12 mugs), I went for something a little closer to Minnesota.  I selected Golden Maple Root Beer from the Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.



Lakefront Brewery is Milwaukee’s first brewery to grow from a microbrewery to Regional Craft Brewery status, meaning 50% of its volume is all malt beers, or beers that use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.  The brewery is based in the Beerline B Neighborhood and is founded in 1987 by brothers Russ and Jim Klisch.  They routinely names beers after neighborhoods.

The brewery was the first in the U.S. to bottle fruit beer since prohibition was repealed, starting in 1992 with the seasonal Lakefront Cherry Lager. The brewery prefers only Wisconsin-grown ingredients.   Then came Root Beer!

For starters, the ingredients include: Carbonated Water, Pure Cane Sugar, Pure Wisconsin Maple Syrup, Caramel Color, Natural Root Beer flavor, Gum Acacia, with preservatives including sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate.

At first glance, I thought they mistakenly filled a bottle with one of their beers.  The color was just like a light beer, not a dark bold root beer I come to enjoy!  Not only did they make a root beer look like a premium pilsner but they sweetened it with Wisconsin Maple Syrup.  Must be the desire to use local ingredients?  After my trip to Vermont last year, I think it would be better to use Vermont Maple Syrup.  Although, why sweeten a root beer with maple syrup at all?  I was hard pressed to identify the root beer extract amongst the very distinct flavor of maple syrup. Now this brew is also sweetened with cane sugar so with that double shot of sweetness.


Aroma and Flavor

It is smooth, foamy, and very very sweet. The very light carbonation and the lack of traditional root beer flavor are immediately evident.  It does have more of the maple syrup aroma.  The very light carbonation is not a favorite of mine either.  Although, the pure cane sugar and Maple Syrup flavoring makes for a unusually pleasing drink, if you enjoy low carbonation.  I am not sure if I would drink this again, but I am sure many may like the unique blend of sweetness.  The maple flavor taste linger way to long for my taste!  It scores a 1.3 out of 3 for aroma and flavor solely based on the unique taste, even though it is not my preference. 

Head

There was a medium head with low carbonation (I like the higher carbonation).  The head was not lasting at all. The score is 0.5 of 3 for the head.

Zip

There is no carbonated zip from this beverage.  It packs a very powerful sweetness with all maple syrup and no vanilla (my preferred blend) flavor.  This is not my preferred taste but has a memorable zip in flavor water, a score of 1 of 3 for zip.  

Post Consumption Impression

The post consumption feeling was one of excessive sweetness.  I bet it would be the same if you drank several ounces of maple syrup?  As far as sweetness, it took me back to the days of excessive sugar Kool-Aid.  The high level of sweetness sticks with you long after it is finished.  I give it a score of 1.0 out of 3 for post consumption impression, but not a post consumption impression I personally enjoyed.


Would I recommend this?  

Sure, with hesitation.  If you like a very light carbonation and LOVE maple syrup, this will be a hit for you!  If you prefer the dark, higher carbonated, hint of vanilla and medium sweetness like me, may try another option.  

Overall score is a 3.8 out of 12 mugs, and that is more my preference for a bolder carbonation and vanilla hint that was not part of this brew.  For my older readers, Lenny and Squiggy must be proud! (If you know what I mean, leave a comment.)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

First Review - Always Ask for Avery's Root Beer (Rated 2 out of 12)

The first thing I noticed was the ingredients are not listed anywhere on the outside of the bottle.  They write “Avery’s has been making old flavored gourmet soda for over 100 years using real cane sugar and the finest quality ingredients.”  Then I saw the ingredients on the bottle cap.   The ingredients are listed in the following order:
  1.  Carbonated Water
  2. High Frutose corn syrup, WHAT!!!  I have heard of Fructose but what is Frutose?  I looked at Google and it did not know.  Then it hit me.  The label said “using real cane sugar and the finest quality ingredients”.   Wow is that a stretch!
  3. Sugar, yes the higher ingredient is corn syrup in a bottle that boasts “Real Cane Sugar”
  4.  Carmel color
  5. Artificial and natural flavors
  6. Citric Acid
  7.  Gum Acacia
  8.  Sodium Benzoate






Aroma and Flavor - 1 out of 3 mugs (HFCS Dock 0.5)

The aroma/flavor I expect from a root beer is non-existent.  It reminds me of the aroma I get when entering a 100-year-old gas station restroom (recently cleaned) in the middle of Nebraska.  You know, not repulsive but you have a hard time determining the source.  I was not sure if I even wanted to venture on and try this beverage.  

Head - 0 out of 3 mugs

There was little or no head and the carbonation is low.  Rather flat with a head that disappears if you blink. 

Zip - 0 out of 3 mugs

There is no zip from this beverage at all.  Little sweetness, no vanilla noted and caramel flavor was slightly noticeable.  Since this is better than muddy water, a score of 0 out of 3 for zip.  

Post Consumption Impression - 1 out of 3 mugs

The best way to describe the soda is when I leave Barqs or A&W open over night and drink it in the morning, it is close to what I experience with the newly opened bottle of Always Ask for Avery's.  It does not leave a foul taste in my mouth, so a score of 1 for post consumption impression.
  

Would I recommend this at 2 out of 12 mugs?  

No, unless you like stale, day old Barqs or A&W.  Although, the most disappointing part was the blatantly misleading label.  Maybe they once made this with real cane sugar, but the second ingredient is a misspelled corn syrup.  

Root Beer Review process

I have purchased 49 different root beers for the first round then found 45 more to end at 94 bottle of root beer in the closet!  Before I end, I hope to have over 100 reviews.  

But first, I will describe the criteria for my critique.  That is the best way to understand how I derived at my opinion.  Recall, my posts will be just that are just that, my opinion and I am sure, many will not agree.   

The following list will be updated with scores as the reviews are completed.  
I will rate each root beer using four variables: 
  1. Aroma and Flavor
  2. Head
  3. Zip
  4. Post Consumption Impression.  
Each variable will be awarded with a score of 0 to 3.  A “0” should be avoided, even if it is free.  A “3” is top of the line.  I will total the ratings and have a final number for the review. Therefore, 12 is a root beer made in heaven, based on my preferred taste and texture.


Aroma and Flavor: First, the aroma when you open the bottle is the first impression.  A great root beer has an aroma that enhances the anticipation of the first drink.  This is followed by taste or smoothness in my mouth.  The flavor is the most common reference to people enjoying a beverage, or even food.  I prefer a thick and rich, with little water like texture, for my root beer.  I understand that means the sugar count is high.

A Root Beer with a strong vanilla flavor is a favorite of mine.  I often can tell immediately those that are flavored with honey.  I even noted some use maple syrup. 

Head: While this is not a major factor for me, it is important to many.  I think this is the A/W mentality my generation grew up experiencing.  It was a psychological belief that big foam mean big taste.  I often wonder if some actualy put additives to create the head?
  In addition, the taste of all that delightful foam may add to this score.  In some cases, it’s tasteless. 

Zip:  I believe the zip from proper spices and carbonization is what makes a great root beer. I love a smooth, spice like zip at it passes through the taste buds.  The carbonation that provides a slight tongue tingle is a great balance.

Post consumption impression: The way the root beer intensifies my desire for another important. My post consumption experience should be a highlight, a lasting impression. 


BRAND Overall Flavor Head Zip Post W/O Head
Columbia Soda Works Sarsaparilla 10.6 2.8 2.2 2.7 2.9 8.4
Wild Spur Sarasparilla 10.4 2.75 2.5 2.4 2.75 7.9
Lost Trail Sarasparilla 10.3 2.9 2.5 2 2.9 7.8
NORKA 10.25 2.75 2.5 2.5 2.5 7.75
Dublin Texas   10.2 2.8 2.4 2.5 2.5 7.8
Saranac 1888 10.1 2.1 3 2.5 2.5 7.1
Druthers Black Cow - HFCS docked 0.5 9.9 2.5 2 3 2.4 7.9
Point Premium- HFCS docked 0.5 9.7 2.3 2.5 2.4 2.5 7.2
Hosmer Mountain Sasparilla 9.5 2.6 2.5 2 2.4 7
Henry Weinhard's Draught Style- HFCS docked 0.5 9.25 2.2 2.75 2 2.3 6.5
Hippo Size 9.2 2.6 1.5 2.7 2.4 7.7
Brair's Premium 9 2.5 1.5 2.5 2.5 7.5
Dog N Suds - HFCS docked 0.5 9 2.2 2.5 1.9 2.4 6.5
Jack Black's Dead Red   9 2.5 2.25 2 2.25 6.75
Saint Arnold  8.9 2.3 2 2.2 2.4 6.9
Fitz's Premium 8.75 2.5 1.75 2.5 2 7
Homer Soda Maple Syrup 8.6 2.3 2 2 2.3 6.6
Rocket Fizz Gene Autry 8.5 2 2 2 2.5 6.5
Firemans Brew 8.4 2.2 1.8 2.1 2.3 6.6
Yacht Club 8.25 2.25 1.5 2.5 2 6.75
Baumeister - HFCS docked 0.5 8.25 1.75 2 2.25 2.25 6.25
Dead World Twilight Shuffler   8.25 2.25 1.5 2.25 2.25 6.75
Kutztown Sarsaparilla 8.1 2.2 1.5 2.2 2.2 6.6
Towne Club   8 2.2 1.4 2.1 2.3 6.6
Judge Wapner   8 2.25 2 1.75 2 6
American Classics Ginseng   8 2.25 1.5 2 2.25 6.5
Spring Grove - HFCS docked 0.5 8 2 2.5 2 1.5 5.5
Barons 7.9 2.4 1.5 1.75 2.25 6.4
Thomas Kemper Small Batch 7.8 2 2.8 1.5 1.5 5
Capone  (6 drink fast / 12 drink slow) 7.75 2 1.5 2 2.25 6.25
Penny Frosted   7.75 2.25 1 2.25 2.25 6.75
Rocky Mountain   7.7 1.5 2 2 2.2 5.7
Foxon Park Draft Style 7.5 2.25 1.5 1.75 2 6
Ramblin   7.5 1.8 2.5 1.5 1.7 5
Crater Lake 7.5 2.5 1.25 1.75 2 6.25
Blummers 7.5 1.75 2 1.75 2 5.5
Racinette (Johnnie Ryan) 7.5 2 1.5 2 2 6
Route 66   (Edited) 7 2 1 2 2 6
Dad's Old Fashioned   7 2 2 1 2 5
Filberts Old Time - HFCS docked 0.5 7 1.5 2.4 1.4 1.7 4.6
Three Stoges Wise Guy   7 1.5 2.75 1.5 1.25 4.25
Tyler the Kid 6.75 1.75 1.75 1.5 1.75 5
Naturally Crafted (US Foods) 6.75 1.75 1.75 1.5 1.75 5
Joe's   6.75 1.5 2.5 1.25 1.5 4.25
Red Arrow 6.5 1.5 1.5 1.75 1.75 5
Caamano Bros High Noon Sarsaparilla 6.5 1.75 1.25 1.75 1.75 5.25
Crim City Soda   6.5 1.5 2 1.5 1.5 4.5
Harmony Springs Sarsparilla 6.5 1.75 1.5 1.5 1.75 5
Fest Pecan   6.25 2 1.5 1.5 1.25 4.75
Red Ribbon Home Brewed 6.25 1.5 2 1.5 1.25 4.25
Masons 6.25 1.5 1.75 1.25 1.75 4.5
Dead World Slow Decay 6 1.25 1.5 2 1.25 4.5
Empire Bottling Works   6 1.75 0.75 1.75 1.75 5.25
Tree Fort 5.75 1.5 1.75 1.25 1.25 4
The Pop Shop 5.75 1.5 1.5 1.25 1.5 4.25
Gale's   5.75 1 1.5 1.75 1.5 4.25
Myers Avenue Red - HFCS docked 0.5 5.75 1.25 2.25 1.25 1 3.5
Bawls 5.5 1.25 2.25 1 1 3.25
Rugged Mountian   5.25 1.25 1 1.5 1.5 4.25
Mom's 5.25 1.5 0.5 1.5 1.75 4.75
Dorothy's Isle of Pines - HFCS docked 0.5 5 1.5 1 1 1.5 4
Stubborn Clasic 4.5 1.5 0.5 1.25 1.25 4
Dr. Browns 4.5 1 1 1.5 1 3.5
Boots Sarsparilla 4 1 1 1 1 3
Big Ben's   4 1.5 0.5 1 1 3.5
Golden Maple   3.8 1.3 0.5 1 1 3.3
Sky Valley Organic 3.25 1 1 0.5 0.75 2.25
Frostie Vanilla   3 1 0 1 1 3
Cool Mountain 2.75 0.75 0.5 1 0.5 2.25
Always Ask for Avery's - HFCS docked 0.5 2 1 0 0 1 2
Sassy Lil Lass 1.5 0 1 0.5 0 0.5
A&W 0 0 0 0 0 0
Abita 0 0 0 0 0 0
AJ Stephans 0 0 0 0 0 0
Americana Vintage 0 0 0 0 0 0
Anchor Ginger 0 0 0 0 0 0
Barrel Brothers Creamy Vanilla 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bedfords 0 0 0 0 0 0
Berghoff 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brownie Carmel Cream 0 0 0 0 0 0
Buckin – Jackson Hole 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bulldog   0 0 0 0 0 0
Bundaberg   0 0 0 0 0 0
Capt'n Eli's   0 0 0 0 0 0
Caruso's Legacy Robusto 0 0 0 0 0 0
Chicago 0 0 0 0 0 0
Cicero Beverage Co Chicago Style 0 0 0 0 0 0
Cicero Beverage Co Salted Caramel 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dachshunds III 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dad Gum It 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dang 0 0 0 0 0 0
Death Valley 0 0 0 0 0 0
Earp's Sarsparilla 0 0 0 0 0 0
Faygo Original 0 0 0 0 0 0
Foxon Park Iron Brew 0 0 0 0 0 0
Freaky Dog 0 0 0 0 0 0
Frostie   0 0 0 0 0 0
Grays 0 0 0 0 0 0
Grown Up Soda (GUS) 0 0 0 0 0 0
Hank's Genuine 0 0 0 0 0 0
Hosmer Mountain   0 0 0 0 0 0
Iron Horse 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jones 0 0 0 0 0 0
Killebrew 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kutztown   0 0 0 0 0 0
Maine Root 0 0 0 0 0 0
Manhattan Special 0 0 0 0 0 0
Margo's Dark 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mill  Stream 0 0 0 0 0 0
Natural Brew 0 0 0 0 0 0
North Star Craft   0 0 0 0 0 0
O-SO 0 0 0 0 0 0
Old Red Eye 0 0 0 0 0 0
Olde Brooklyn 0 0 0 0 0 0
Oogave 0 0 0 0 0 0
Original Bull Dog 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ozark Mountain 0 0 0 0 0 0
Reading Draft 0 0 0 0 0 0
River City 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rocket Fizz   Float 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sioux City 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sparky's 0 0 0 0 0 0
Squamscot 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tommy Knockers 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tower 0 0 0 0 0 0
Triple XXX 0 0 0 0 0 0
Waialua 0 0 0 0 0 0
WBC 0 0 0 0 0 0
Root Jack Orange   0 0 0 0 0 0