Abita Root Beer

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 6

Abita Root Beer

Abita Root Beer

INGREDIENTS: Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Caramel Coloring, Root Beer Flavoring, Phosphoric Acid.

Located Abita Root Beer at Hard Water, here in San Francisco.

However, “Root Beer Flavoring”?

The Abita website is a bit more forthcoming:

“Abita Root Beer is made with a hot mix process using spring water, herbs, vanilla and yucca (which creates foam). Unlike most soft drink manufacturers, Abita sweetens its root beer with pure Louisiana cane sugar.”

It’s a solid effort, with the flavors well integrated, but lacks the complexity of a true 5 barrel Root Beer.

4 out of 5 Barrels.

PS. I’ve heard a rumor that Abita might be making batch of Bourbon Barrel aged Root Beer special for Hard Water. Uh, yum! Now that is something to look forward to!

The Pop Shoppe Root Beer

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 5


The Pop Shoppe Root Beer

INGREDIENTS: Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Caramel Color, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Propylene Glycol, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Phosphoric Acid.

Product of Canada.

Aspirin-like flavor, a nasty, thin, sweetness and a bit of chemical-ish burn in the aftertaste. I couldn’t finish it.

But, wait, isn’t Propylene Glycol used in Anti-Freeze?

Oh, those Canadians and their Olde Fashioned Chemicals.

That will teach me not to stop reading at “Cane Sugar”!

Nice bottle, but 1 out of 5 Barrels for taste.

Boylan’s Root Beer

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 4


Boylan‘s Root Beer

Made From: Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Caramel Color, Natural Yucca Extract, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preserves Freshness).

Rather generic ingredient list, they are a bit more forthcoming on their website description of the Root Beer:

“Boylan Root Beer has a rich and spicy sassafras flavor, thanks to its blend of cinnamon, anise, black pepper, mushroom, sweet birch, extracts of chocolate and coffee, vanilla, and wintergreen oil. Sounds complex, but the end result is an authentic, traditional tasting root beer with only a subtle creamy note.”

In any case, this is another very, very good root beer, pretty complex with a good aftertaste. Stronger Cinnamon spice component than most Root Beers I’ve tried so far, along with the birch. Not sure where the black pepper and mushroom come in!

I think I have to give this one 5 out of 5 barrels, as well.

Russell’s Sassafras Root Beer

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 3

Root Beer

Root Beer


“Our cold-brewed sassafras based elixir made with 11 herbs and spices.”

Well, this is certainly the most interesting Root Beer, so far.

It has a medicinal nose, almost like the smells I associate with Mezcal or Batavia Arrack. When tasted, that it there, but it seems a bit like more of a green flavor.

None of the spices are overdone here, nor is the sweetness. The flavors are well integrated.

On the other hand, interesting though it is, I don’t know if I would go out of my way to try this Root Beer again.

I like the inspiration and inventiveness, but not quite sold on the taste.

It does inspire me to want to try and make Root Beer myself…

Hansen’s Creamy Root Beer

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 2


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.



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.

Sprecher Root Beer

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 1


Sprecher Root Beer

“INGREDIENTS: Carbonated Water, Glucose Syrup, Malto-Dextrin, WI Raw Honey, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Phosphoric Acid, Quillaia/Yucca Extract, Sodium Chrloride, Caramel Color, and Vanilla.”

Brewed & Bottled by: Sprecher Brewing Co., Inc., Glendale, WI.

Strong, pleasant Wintergreen note, good sweetness and body. Everytime I open one of the Sprecher 16oz bottles, I think, that’s too much. Then I finish it anyway.

Going to be tough for the other contestants to live up to this!

And I say that, not just because it is a home town favorite (I was born in Milwaukee, WI.)

Root Rating:

5 out of 5 Barrels!

BOTW–Virgil’s Root Beer

Virgil's Label

Interestingly, I recently received a large box of, uh, soda from Reed’s. The bottles included their Extra Ginger Brew, Spiced Apple Brew and Virgil’s Root Beer.

I’ve enjoyed and appreciated their Extra Ginger Brew before and used it in Savoy Cocktails. Not as super spicy as the description “Extra Ginger” would lead you to believe, it is however, a very natural tasting ginger beer style soda.

I haven’t yet tried their Spiced Apple Brew, but have one chilling in the fridge as we speak.

The thing that interested me most, however, was the Virgil’s Root Beer.

Root Beer and I go waaaaaay back.

Growing up, a trip to the A&W drive in, (for a Root Beer float and Cheeseburger with bacon, thank you very much,) was as intrinsic a part of just about any sporting event as the event itself. Win the track meet? A&W afterward. Win the baseball game? A&W afterward. Lose the track meet? A&W afterward. Lose the baseball game? A&W afterward. And yes, it was a real drive in, with the call boxes and car hops who would bring your order out and attach the tray to your partially rolled up window.

Looking over the ingredients in the Root Beer, they include “Unbleached Cane Sugar, Anise from Spain, Licorice from France, Vanilla from Madagascar, Cinnamon from Ceylon, Wintergreen from China, Sweet Birch from the US, Molasses from the US, Nutmeg from Indonesia, Pimento Oil from Jamaica, Balsam Oil from Peru, and Cassia Oil from China.” Whew, that’s a lot of stuff!

Wait a sec, this isn’t a Root Beer at all, as it has no Sassafras, Virgil’s is a Birch Beer!

Tasting Virgil’s, to me, with all the spices above, the dominant taste element is the Wintergreen.

It’s a pleasant, natural tasting Root Beer-like beverage. Not overly sweet. However, the heavy wintergreen flavor detracts somewhat from the overall flavor. The use of unbleached cane sugar, on the other hand, gives them big points in my book. Given a choice between the usual HFCS heavy American Root Beers and Virgil’s, I’d pick Virgil’s to salve that occasional Birch Beer craving.

Virgil's Root Beer