Sunday, June 28, 2015

POINT Premium (#4 reviewed - 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!

OTHER REVIEWS
Eric's Gourmet - 4 of 5
Brad's Brew - 9 of 10
Root Beer Rundown - 88 of 100
Thirsty Dudes - 2 of 5




Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sr. Arnold (#3 reviewed - Rated 7.75 out of 12)

My first two reviews were 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.

Saint Arnold Brewing Company, named after the patron saint of brewing, Saint Arnulf of Metz, is located in Houston, Texas, and is Texas' Oldest Craft Brewery. The company, which opened its doors in 1994, was founded by Brock Wagner and Kevin Bartol, although Kevin has since left the company.

Brock Wagner has a long history with beer. In fact, it starts before he was born. His great-great-great grandfather came from Alsace in the mid-1800's and opened Wagner's Beer Hall in San Francisco (now the oldest existing bar in the city, renamed The Saloon.) Brock grew up in Cincinnati and Brussels, both big brewing towns, where he was exposed to many of the beer styles of the world. Then in college at Rice University, fate (and a friend) introduced him to home brewing. This love of beer and brewing was what eventually led him to the inevitable: opening a microbrewery.

Prior to starting the brewery, Brock spent six years in investment banking working on corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions projects totaling more than $4 billion. Brock graduated from Rice University in 1987 with a BA in Economics.

The founders live in Houston, Texas, and opening a brewery there made sense because it was the largest city in the country that did not have a microbrewery at the time. Brock was a longtime homebrewer and had considered opening a brewery as far back as college--although that was quickly dismissed as a silly idea. Seven years after graduating, however, Brock revisited the idea and enlisted Kevin's help, and the brewery was off and running.


The company was originally located on the far northwest side of Houston. It operated out of that location for more than fifteen years. In 2008, St. Arnold announced that it planned to move from its current northwest Houston facility to a new facility in the Northside district, north of Downtown Houston. By 2009 the company had purchased a three story 104,000-square-foot square foot brick building, constructed in 1914, which most recently served as a food service facility for the Houston Independent School District. The prominent location of the new brewery on the highway was key to its selection. The redevelopment effort was expected to take a year to complete and cost a total of almost $6 million. Due to unforeseen events, such as the theft of copper pipes from the building, the move was delayed, and was not completed until 2010.

Since it was from Texas where at one time parents giving children beer 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 a preservative.  

Aroma and Flavor

The aroma is pure root beer with a hint of vanilla pleasantry finished with slight hints of wintergreen and licorice.  The first sip was pleasing yet the finish has a little watered down feel as opposed to a full body brew.  

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, I think what am I eating. 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 2.25 out of 3 for aroma and flavor.  That is the average of 2.8 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 1.75 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 2.0 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 2.25 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 8.25 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.

OTHER REVIEWS:
The Soda jerks - A
Cosmo's - Rated 6 of 10
Anthony' Root Beer Barrel - Rated 87
Saw- Whet - 7 of 10

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Golden Maple (#2 reviewed - 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

Always Ask for Avery's - 1st Review (Rated 2 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.”  I scoured the web to find the following ingredients: Carbonated Water, pure cane sugar, natural flavors, Citric Acid, caramel color and Sodium Benzoate.






Aroma and Flavor - 1 out of 3 mugs

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 Barq's 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 Barq's 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.  I also wonder if this si a case of root beer going bad as others have rated this high?

OTHER REVIWS

Cosmo's - 5 of 10
Root Beer Respect - 6 of 10
Anthony's - 90 of 100

Root Beer Review process

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

But first, I will describe the critique criteria used.  This will provide the understanding of how I formulated my opinion.  Recall, my reviews are my opinion and I am sure, many will not agree.   


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 hint of vanilla is a preference.  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 actually 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 carbonation 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. 


The following list will be updated with scores as the reviews are completed.  


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
Druthers Black Cow - HFCS docked 0.5 9.9 2.5 2 3 2.4 7.9
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
Dublin Texas   10.2 2.8 2.4 2.5 2.5 7.8
NORKA 10.25 2.75 2.5 2.5 2.5 7.75
Earp's Sarsparilla 8.75 2.25 1 2.75 2.75 7.75
Hippo Size 9.2 2.6 1.5 2.7 2.4 7.7
Fitz's Premium 9.35 2.5 1.75 2.5 2.6 7.6
Brair's Premium 9 2.5 1.5 2.5 2.5 7.5
Dachshunds III 10.3 2.5 2.8 2.5 2.5 7.5
Hosmer Mountain Sasparilla 9.7 2.6 2.5 2.2 2.4 7.2
Point Premium- HFCS docked 0.5 9.7 2.3 2.5 2.4 2.5 7.2
Saranac 1888 10.1 2.1 3 2.5 2.5 7.1
Penny Frosted   7.75 2.25 1 2.25 2.25 6.75
Dead World Twilight Shuffler   8.25 2.25 1.5 2.25 2.25 6.75
Yacht Club 8.25 2.25 1.5 2.5 2 6.75
Jack Black's Dead Red   9 2.5 2.25 2 2.25 6.75
Towne Club   8 2.2 1.4 2.1 2.3 6.6
Firemans Brew 8.4 2.2 1.8 2.1 2.3 6.6
Kutztown Sarsaparilla 8.1 2.2 1.5 2.2 2.2 6.6
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
Henry Weinhard's Draught Style- HFCS docked 0.5 9.25 2.2 2.75 2 2.3 6.5
Saint Arnold  8.25 2.25 1.75 2 2.25 6.5
American Classics Ginseng   8 2.25 1.5 2 2.25 6.5
Dog N Suds - HFCS docked 0.5 9 2.2 2.5 1.9 2.4 6.5
Barons 7.9 2.4 1.5 1.75 2.25 6.4
Capone  (6 drink fast / 10 drink slow) 7.75 2 1.5 2 2.25 6.25
Baumeister - HFCS docked 0.5 8.25 1.75 2 2.25 2.25 6.25
Crater Lake 7.5 2.5 1.25 1.75 2 6.25
Judge Wapner   8 2.25 2 1.75 2 6
Racinette (Johnnie Ryan) 7.5 2 1.5 2 2 6
Route 66   (Edited) 7 2 1 2 2 6
Foxon Park Draft Style 7.5 2.25 1.5 1.75 2 6
Natural Brew 7 2 1.25 2 1.75 5.75
Rocky Mountain   7.7 1.5 2 2 2.2 5.7
Blummers 7.5 1.75 2 1.75 2 5.5
Spring Grove - HFCS docked 0.5 8 2 2.5 2 1.5 5.5
Cicero Beverage Co Salted Caramel 6.25 1.5 1 2 1.75 5.25
Caamano Bros High Noon Sarsaparilla 6.5 1.75 1.25 1.75 1.75 5.25
Empire Bottling Works   6 1.75 0.75 1.75 1.75 5.25
Dad's Old Fashioned   7 2 2 1 2 5
Naturally Crafted (US Foods) 6.75 1.75 1.75 1.5 1.75 5
Tyler the Kid 6.75 1.75 1.75 1.5 1.75 5
Harmony Springs Sarsparilla 6.5 1.75 1.5 1.5 1.75 5
Ramblin   7.5 1.8 2.5 1.5 1.7 5
Thomas Kemper Small Batch 7.8 2 2.8 1.5 1.5 5
Red Arrow 6.5 1.5 1.5 1.75 1.75 5
Mom's 5.25 1.5 0.5 1.5 1.75 4.75
Fest Pecan   6.25 2 1.5 1.5 1.25 4.75
Filberts Old Time - HFCS docked 0.5 7 1.5 2.4 1.4 1.7 4.6
Masons 6.25 1.5 1.75 1.25 1.75 4.5
Crim City Soda   6.5 1.5 2 1.5 1.5 4.5
Dead World Slow Decay 6 1.25 1.5 2 1.25 4.5
Dang 5.5 1.5 1 1.5 1.5 4.5
Joe's   6.75 1.5 2.5 1.25 1.5 4.25
The Pop Shop 5.75 1.5 1.5 1.25 1.5 4.25
Rugged Mountian   5.25 1.25 1 1.5 1.5 4.25
Three Stoges Wise Guy   7 1.5 2.75 1.5 1.25 4.25
Gale's   5.75 1 1.5 1.75 1.5 4.25
Red Ribbon Home Brewed 6.25 1.5 2 1.5 1.25 4.25
Root Jack Orange  (HFCS Docked 0.5) 6 1.25 2 1.5 1.25 4
Dorothy's Isle of Pines - HFCS docked 0.5 5 1.5 1 1 1.5 4
Oogave 5 1.25 1 1.25 1.5 4
Stubborn Clasic 4.5 1.5 0.5 1.25 1.25 4
Tree Fort 5.75 1.5 1.75 1.25 1.25 4
Freaky Dog 5 1 1 1.5 1.5 4
Grown Up Soda (GUS) 6.25 1.25 2.5 1.25 1.25 3.75
Big Ben's   4 1.5 0.5 1 1 3.5
Myers Avenue Red - HFCS docked 0.5 5.75 1.25 2.25 1.25 1 3.5
Dr. Browns 4.5 1 1 1.5 1 3.5
Golden Maple   3.8 1.3 0.5 1 1 3.3
Bawls 5.5 1.25 2.25 1 1 3.25
Rocket Fizz Root Beer Float 4.5 1 1.25 1 1.25 3.25
Frostie Vanilla   3 1 0 1 1 3
Boots Sarsparilla 4 1 1 1 1 3
Sky Valley Organic 3.25 1 1 0.5 0.75 2.25
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
Buckin – Jackson Hole 0 0 0 0 0 0
Squamscot 0 0 0 0 0 0
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
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
Dad Gum It 0 0 0 0 0 0
Death Valley 0 0 0 0 0 0
Faygo Original 0 0 0 0 0 0
Foxon Park Iron Brew 0 0 0 0 0 0
Frostie   0 0 0 0 0 0
Grays 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 Root Beer 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
North Star Craft   0 0 0 0 0 0
O-SO Butterscotch 0 0 0 0 0 0
Old Red Eye 0 0 0 0 0 0
Olde Brooklyn 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
Sioux City 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sparky's 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