Goose Island Root Beer

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 21

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Ingredients: Triple Filtered Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Caramel Color, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate as preservatives and Citric Acid.

“Our recipe was originally brewed at the Goose Island Clybourn Brewpub and is unchanged today. While drinking a bottle you’ll notice the vanilla notes up front and wonder what familiar taste you’re getting at the end. The wintergreen finish will cause you to reach for that second bottle. Maybe over some vanilla ice cream this time?

“As the company’s firstborn, Goose Island Root Beer expresses its own personality with a new package that plays on classic Chicago iconography while making it clear who the star is in the soda line up.”

Wintergreen is there in the smell and finish, with a vanilla-butterscotch middle, and, yes, a wintergreen aftertaste.

Man, I wish one of these companies could make an all naturally flavored root beer with no caramel color. Is that so hard?

Not very complex, can’t say I particularly care for it.

2 1/2 out of 5 Barrels.

Dang! Butterscotch Root Beer

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 15

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In Full: Dang! That’s Good Butterscotch Root Beer

INGREDIENTS: Carbonated Water, Sugar, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Caramel Color, Citric Acid, and Sodium Benzoate (Preserves Freshness).

I had enjoyed the Caramelized Flavors in Wade’s, so I had some small hope that this wouldn’t be horrible. After all, Butterscotch is basically just Caramel.

The nose is all about the Butterscotch, as are the initial flavors. After that, it sort of calms down to become a more or less normal, and fairly tasty, Root Beer. Then, unfortunately, you have to smell it again to take another sip. And then you probably burp and smell it again. By the end, I was really wishing they had left the Butterscotch out altogether.

2 out of 5 Barrels.

Bundaberg Root Beer

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 14

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Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Root Beer Brew (Water, Sugar, Molasses, Ginger Root, Sarsaparilla Root, Licorice Root, Vanilla Bean, Yeast), Caramel Color, Citric Acid, Preservatives (Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate), Antioxidant (Ascorbic Acid), Root Beer Flavor.

“Traditionally brewed to a geniuine old recipe from real sarsaparilla root, licorice root, vanilla beans and molasses, Bundaberg Root Beer is an authentic taste of yesteryear.”

I was curious about this, as it is about the only Root Beer I know of which does not come from North America. Surprised to find that they may enjoy it in Australia. I also do like Bundaberg’s Ginger Beer.

The licorice root is much more dominant here than in other Root Beers, reminding me of some of the flavors in licorice candies, though without anise to really punch it through. Like me, you’ll probably wonder what that flavor is for a second, and realize that it is licorice without anise.

The flavors, however, are not well integrated and the overall character medicinal.

I guess that is appropriate for a beverage that was initially intended so, but it’s not really all that enjoyable recreationally.

I do kind of wonder what the “Root Beer Brew” tastes like on its own, without the “Root Beer Flavor”.

2 Out of 5 Barrels.

Maine Root Sarsaparilla

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 9

Maine Root Sarsaparilla

Maine Root Sarsaparilla

Handcrafted Ingredients: Carbonated Pure Water, Fair Trade Certified organic cane syrup, and spices.

From the Maine Root Website:

“A lighter bodied brother to our super popular Root Beer. The flavor profile has less clove, allowing the taste of wintergreen to be showcased. Soda fans agree, it’s the best they have ever had!”

Lighter in color, even! Definitely with the Wintergreen at the fore.

There are three basic kinds of Root Beer-like beverages.

Root Beer, based, more or less on Charles Hires Formula, primarily flavored with Sassafras Root Bark and Wintergreen.

Birch Beer, which is supposed to feature the flavor of Birch Bark or Birch Sap Extract or something.

Sarsaparilla, which is supposed to feature the flavor of the root of the Jamaican Sarsaparilla (Smilax regelii).

The interesting thing about Sarsaparilla is versions of Sarsaparilla flavored beer pre-date the use of Sassafras. Even more interestingly, Sarsaparilla based beverages are used traditionally in Jamaica as an, uh, enhancing tonic for male potency, currently touted by certain DJs under the name “Baba Roots”.

I’m not sure exactly where the Sarsaparilla comes in, as the Maine Root version tastes mostly like Wint-O-Green life savers.

I like that they left the Caramel Color out, but this is just too cloying and sugary.

2 out of 5 Barrels.

Hansen’s Creamy Root Beer

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 2

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Hansen’s Creamy Root Beer

CONTAINS: Pure Triple Filtered Carbonated Water, Sugar, Caramel Color, Natural Spices of Wintergreen, Birch, Anise, Sassafras, Tahitian Vanilla Extract, Citric Acid.

Harsh and thin. Almost tastes like it is a diet drink, not sugar sweetened, maybe from the can? Wintergreen lingers on the palate and the flavors not well integrated.

Toothpaste.

—Update!—

2 Hours later, my tongue still feels a little numb and my mouth tastes like I compulsively chomped a whole roll of Wint-O-Green Lifesavers.

Root Rating:

2 out of 5 Barrels.