Root Beer: A sweetly synthesized journey, but still a work in progress, July 20, 2011
“Foreman, has the jury reached a verdict?”
“Yes, we have, your honor. However, we need to retrace our steps to see how we arrived at today’s decision…”
“So be it! Make it so, number one.”
**Please note: All previous Root Beer posts are archived on line for you to peruse in greater detail. The point of this blog, however, is to show the stages of my journey and provide a general overview. Pictures and helpful information will also be included. IF YOU CANNOT SEE THE PICTURES, GO DIRECTLY TO MY WEBSITE: www.evanj31drum.com
Part 1 of X attempted to explain why I began the Root Beer adventurous undertaking. In short, I drank way too much soda as a child, traveled to an old time Soda Shoppe in New Dorp, Staten Island, to drink Root Beer Floats, drank more floats at the defunct Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor in the Staten Island Mall, and needed to justify why I do research. Moreover, I just started blogging and needed a focus to get the creative juices flowing…
1- VIRGIL’S ROOT BEER is my favorite at the moment…it’s very natural tasting, does not contain corn syrup, caffeine, and filled with quality ingredients: Anise, Wintergreen, Vanilla, the obvious root beer flavor (sarsaparilla, birch, etc. It’s sold as a four-pack from Trader Joe’s for around $5.00. For more information, go to:
VIRGIL’S MICRO BREWED ROOT BEER www.Virgils.com
REED’S Inc., LA, CA 90061 call for questions or comments: 1-800-997-3337
2- A & W ROOT BEER also has a rich flavor minus the caffeine…the drink with a frosty mug taste? A & W is rich, sweet, and incredibly frothy.
Honestly, both MUG and A & W seem to be similar tasting. In short, A & W scores for 2nd place and Mug scores 3rd place.
A & W ROOT BEER www.rootbeer.com
CANNED BY CANADA DRY DELAWARE VALLEY, 8275 US 130, PENNSAUKEN, NJ 08110 UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF DR PEPPER/SEVEN UP, INC., 5301 LEGACY DRIVE, PLANO, TX 75024; consumer comments: 1-866-AW ROOT BEER
3- I sampled MUG ROOT BEER in a very cold mug at my cousin’s house a few weeks ago. It’s caffeine free and has a pleasing flavor. Unfortunately, it has corn syrup and almost too sweet.
MUG ROOT BEER WWW.MUGROOTBEER.COM
NEW CENTURY BEVERAGE CO., SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94110
call for questions or comments: 1-800-433-2652
Root Beer, Part 2 of X, December 5, 2009
Yesterday, I celebrated International Root Beer Day with my 7th Grade homeroom…it’s difficult to take time off from work and travel to Venezuela. In short, the brief celebration was a success. My Principal of MS424 in the Bronx, Dr. Hughes, also wished the school a happy and healthy Root Beer Day via the Public Address system.
I just tasted IBC Root Beer and it was delicious. Unlike A & W and MUG, I could taste more of the Anise (basically Licorice) flavor.
IBC does not seem to have caffeine either–a plus in my book. Finally, I had another epiphany: Bottled Root Beer seems to taste better than canned products and plastic vessels. In short, IBC might end up taking A & W and MUG out of second and third place.
SARANAC 1888 was featured in Part 3 of X. If I was blindfolded, I might have mistaken it for Virgil’s Root Beer, as they both have a similar taste…
I’m enjoying it tremendously despite the fact that the second ingredient is HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP: BUZZ KILLER! Luckily, it is caffeine free, so there might be some hope for me after all… The aftertaste is quite nice actually and the frothy head remains at the top just like the golden “crema” of a tightly pulled Espresso shot. The Anise flavor is much bolder in Virgil’s. Honestly, I’m stumped because SARANAC 1888 captures the essence of a great tasting Root Beer, but the preservatives and Corn Syrup are really messing with my ability to make a decision.
BOYLAN’S BIRCH BEER (creamy, red) was featured in Part 4 of X. So far, I’ve sampled A&W, MUG, SARANACS 1888, IBC, and VIRGIL’S Microbrew. My first sip of BOYLAN’S BIRCH BEER (VINTAGE SODA POP), was delicious. BOYLAN’S red color is bold and the front of the bottle mentions, “sweetened with pure cane sugar.” Moreover, all of the ingredients seem to be safe and natural: Pure Birch oils, Vanilla, natural Yucca extract, etc. It’s also caffeine free, another strong selling point. Boylan’s website is: www.boylanbottling.com
StewartS Root Beer was featured in Part 5 of X… The last time I drank StewartS, my wife and I were dining in Cracker Barrel. I remember the rich, extremely sweet, and fresh taste. It was also served in a cold bottle and a frosty mug, which really provides the visual aesthetic. Again, it’s very sweet, has the Anise flavor, but it tastes artificial. Yet, it is similar in taste to IBC. The ingredients are: HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP (there’s a shocker), some Yucca, preservatives, Quillaia (whatever that is), Gum Acacia, etc. In my opinion, it’s great for a Root Beer Float and a diabetic nightmare.
I’m starting to form ideas about a Root Beer that I can drink on a long-term basis: Bottled, a microbrew, several natural ingredients, caffeine free, and NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP (mentioned earlier).
Hansen’s Creamy Root Beer Natural Cane Soda was featured in Part 6 of X. I was ready to condemn all canned sodas. However, Hansen’s Creamy Root Beer in the can really took me by surprise. The cost of each can was approximately $1.60. In short, the taste is amazing and well worth the cash. Obtain information directly from their website: www.hansens.com
Hansen’s Creamy Root Beer Natural Cane Soda is made from the Tahitian vanilla extract. Our sodas are 100% natural and do not contain any preservatives, caffeine, sodium, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or colors.
Here are the ingredients:
Pure triple filtered carbonated water, cane sugar, caramel color, natural spices of wintergreen, birch, anise, sassafras, Tahitian Vanilla extract, citric acid, etc.
Serving Size 1 can amount per serving: Calories 160 Total Fat 0g 0%, Sodium 0mg 0%, Total Carbs: 43g 14%, Sugars 43g, Protein 0g 0%.
In short, Hansen’s is great enough to put in the top five CAN “draft” picks.
BOYLAN’S ROOT BEER (NOT the Red Birch Beer) was featured in Part 7 of X.
I shared my 2 cents about BOYLAN’S CREAMY RED BIRCH BEER (VINTAGE SODA POP), in a previous post… Birch is different because the flavoring comes from some type of Birch extract, i.e. a Birch tree. In contrast, most Root Beers (artificial or otherwise) are flavored with Sarsaparilla (more on that later…). BOYLAN’S ROOT BEER is also “sweetened with pure cane sugar” instead of the dreaded Corn Syrup. It contains natural and artificial ingredients, natural Yucca extract, and Sodium Benzoate (a preservative found in most Root Beers). In sum, I’m really enjoying Boylan’s products and might have found a contender to compete against Virgil’s Root Beer.
Here is a trivial fact to use at your next party where you pretend to be having fun with very forced conversation: There are more than 100 Root Beers sold in the United States! You can Google or Bing to your heart’s content…
StewartS Birch Beer Versus StewartS Root Beer was featured in Part 8 of X, December of 2009.
Both StewartS products are so sweet that I just cannot deal with them. My disappointment continued because both products tasted identical–like a sugary Root Beer candy that would cause dental nightmares. I do not have anything personal against StewartS, as they make an awesome Cream Soda, but that goes beyond the scope of this post.
While I’m searching for the quintessential Root Beer, I’m forming a prototype: All of the aforementioned criteria, plus some other mystical element depicting love, e.g. a family in the Root Beer business who uses secretive and special ingredients…
HANK’S ROOT BEER was featured in Part 9 of X, February 2010.
It’s made in Philadelphia, PA and very accessible on the East Coast. I’ve branched out to the Midwest and Pacific Coast for Root Beers (more on that later)…
Hank’s is extremely similar to Boylan’s Root Beer, and also sweetened with pure cane sugar and somewhat identical ingredients: Natural Yucca extract, Quillaila, etc. It’s caffeine free and tastes much lighter than other Root Beers loaded with High Fructose Corn Syrup (AHEM), but still packs a nice punch for a TKO.
In sum, I’d like to say “Thanks, Hank’s!” Ba da bing!
LIVE PODCAST (in stereo) FROM NEW JERSEY, it’s The RootBeer Blogs, Session 1, 2010…
Approximately 10 Rootbeer blogs were written. The routine went something like this: Drink Rootbeer by myself, write a blog, include some high quality pictures, post the blog, and wait for feedback. I realized that it’s not fun to drink alone. I invited my friends Jeff and Pete to go live, drink Root Beer, and just see what happens…
The blog itself consists of 18 minutes of live drinking (Root beer, people). There is no script; it’s completely impromptu. Personally, I’m not a fan of scripting because it creates a sense of ennui and lost energy. Moving onward, I had them taste MUG Rootbeer, a popular drink with a nice taste despite the high fructose corn syrup. Then, I opened 3 bottles to unleash the taste of Bull Dog, a Microbrew Root beer with Sugarcane. The live 18-minute audio broadcast was a success. If you want a copy of the MP3 “blogcast,” email me…
Drum Roll Please………………………………………………..
The SECOND LIVE Podcast session took place in my basement with Cousin Jordan… It was a great time, unrehearsed, and Jordan is totally addicted to Bundaberg, my absolute favorite. It’s rich and thick like a Guinness Stout, completely natural, original, and I love it. You’ll need to purchase it online or find a World Market store.
I’m going to include some miscellaneous pictures that were part of my Root Beer Journey:
This is the end…My only friend, the end… I’m Evan J. “Wanna Be” Gourmet. Thanks for watching! 🙂