WBC Chicago Style Root Beer

img_2489Bottle and Label: Label is simple with a nice color palette and a bit of a retro look. Eye-catching without being gaudy

Ingredients: Triple filtered carbonated water, sugar, natural and artificial flavor, caramel color, sodium benzoate, and potassium sorbate as preservatives and citric acid

Smell: Mild and pleasant licorice and wintergreen

Carbonation: Medium level of carbonation gives the brew a nice bite without being distracting

Color: Dark brown, almost black

Head: Medium head but very foamy and long lasting

Flavor: Wintergreen and licorice are dominant. Has a slightly medicinal aftertaste but it’s not bitter or unpleasant. Overall, this brew has a nicely balanced flavor

Conclusion: WBC Chicago Style Root Beer looks good from the moment you pull the simply styled bottle out of the fridge. From there, things continue in a positive direction. This brew hits all the right notes with a pleasant smell, a foamy head, and balanced flavor. This is the definition of a solid root beer that could be enjoyed in any circumstance

RBR’s Grade- B+

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Mr. Jefferson Monticello Root Beer

Mr. Jefferson Monticello Root BeerBottle and Label: Label is pretty plain looking with a small picture of Monticello. The highlight is little blurb about the origins and ingredients of the brew

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, honey, root beer extract #214, root beer extract #79-400, citric acid, sodium benzoate, yucca, vanilla

Smell: First smell was strong vanilla that faded shortly after opening the bottle and became more wintergreen. When I poured the bottle into my mug I noticed more licorice smell

Carbonation: Low level of carbonation but still just enough to avoid feeling flat. At first I thought it was too low and then I noticed it didn’t really hit until the back of my mouth

Color: Dark amber

Head: Tall head but not overly foamy. Doesn’t have the soapy look of some other brews

Flavor: Vanilla and honey prove dominant and leave this brew tasting a bit medicinal. It’s not over done and the vanilla helps keep things smooth and it avoids the bitter aftertaste that some medicinal brews tend to have

Conclusion: Mr. Jefferson Monticello Root Beer tastes like a throwback. By that I mean it tastes like something you might make if you tried a home brew. Like something you might find made at a county fair in small batches. I don’t know if that is the case with this brew but it makes it endearing to me. This one is definitely worth a try and especially if you like a brew that favors honey

RBR’s Grade- B

Fireman’s Brew Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Very cool design on the label. I love the tagline:
Extinguish your thirst!” How could you not want to try this root beer after reading that?

Ingredients: Natural artesian spring water, cane sugar, caramel color, natural flavors, and citirc acid added

Smell: Strong wintergreen smell from the bottle with some nice licorice hints. When poured, the licorice smell gets much stronger. Very nice smelling root beer overall

Carbonation: Medium-high level of carbonation gives this brew a nice bite. Not as strong as a Barq’s but definitely stronger than average

Color: Dark brown

Head: Very short head that disappears soon after being poured

Flavor: Strong flavor that can occasionally get lost in the carbonation. Lots of wintergreen and licorice with a slightly medicinal aftertaste. Overall a very pleasant flavor with nothing overly special or overly offensive

Conclusion: Fireman’s Brew Root Beer is all around solid. It has a nice strong flavor and will appeal to those who like a little more of a carbonated kick. The weather is nice and sunny today and has me thinking about warmer spring and summer temperature. This would be a great brew for a summer get together as most would likely find it very tasty. If you see this one on a store shelf, be sure to give it a try

RBR’s Grade- B-

Redmon’s “Old Fashioned Soda” Root Beer

Redmon's Root BeerBottle and Label: Brown bottle with a simple white label

Ingredients: CarbonatedWater, sugar and/or corn sweetner, Caramel Color, Natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate (preservative)

Smell: Strong licorice smell from bottle with nice vanilla hints. The wintergreen kicks up a notch when it is poured

Carbonation: High level of carbonation provides a nice bite without obscuring the robust flavor

Color: Nearly black

Head: Tall and long lasting with a lot of foam. I wasn’t able to pour the whole bottle into my tall, frosty mug without stopping

Flavor: Strong, robust, and traditional. Wintergreen and licorice are dominant with some hints of vanilla providing a nice bit of smoothness

Conclusion: Redmon’s Root Beer doesn’t do anything fancy. It is just a solid tasting root beer. A little better than average and probably comparable to an IBC. It won’t win any beauty contests but on a hot summer day the strong flavor is just right.

RBR’s grade- B-

Hippo Size Beverages Jumbo Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Brown bottle with a brown label featuring a large hippo

Ingredients: carbonated water, cane sugar, natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, extract of wintergreen, sodium benzoate (a preservative)

Smell: Strong licorice and wintergreen smells from the bottle. After being poured the smell becomes milder with wintergreen being dominant and a bit of a medicinal smell too

Carbonation: Medium-low carbonation has a nice mouthfeel and doesn’t distract from the flavor

Color: Dark brown

Head: Medium head, not very foamy (it’s the bubbly type of head rather than the foamy type), and dissipates quickly

Flavor: Sweet and traditional. The licorice and wintergreen that were evident in the smell come through strongly in the flavor. There are also some vanilla hints that add a nice smoothness. Just a slight medicinal aftertaste but not offensive in the least

Conclusion: Hippo Size Beverages Jumbo Root Beer claims to be big on taste. I’d  say that is pretty true. This root beer doesn’t aim to do anything crazy. It just takes a tried and true formula and executes it very well. The flavors are all nicely balanced, the smell is pleasing, and the carbonation is just right. This looks like a brew just about anyone could enjoy. If you are having any get togethers early in the new year you should definitely consider this root beer.

RBR’s grade- B

Johnnie Ryan Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Clear bottle with a very minimalistic brown and cream label

Ingredients: Carbonated water,cane  sugar, citric acid, sodium benzoate, natural and artificial flavor, caramel color

Smell: A very syrupy smell from the bottle. I can’t really think of a word to describe it. Sour. Maybe. Once poured the sour smell disappears completely and more traditional licorice and wintergreen take over

Carbonation: Medium-low level of carbonation provides a nice mix of smoothness and bite.

Color: Dark amber

Head: When poured in my tall frosty mug there is a nice tall head. It dissipated very quickly and had disappeared completely within seconds of being poured

Flavor: The most dominant flavors are honey and vanilla. There is a definite medicinal element but it stays away from the cough syrup flavorings of some other brews. The traditional wintergreen and licorice elements are present too but they play second fiddle to the honey and vanilla

Conclusion: I confess. When I first smelled Johnnie Ryan Root Beer I thought I was going to have to drink another medicinal monstrosity. Thankfully, the rather odd smell was followed by a tasty, if slightly odd, root beer. I really like the smoothness of this root beer and it does medicinal the right way by balancing the honey and vanilla with the wintergreen and licorice. If you like smooth root beers you should definitely give this one a try.

RBR’s grade- B-

Freaky Dog Soda Rooffbeer Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Clear bottle with a brown label featuring a snarling dog. I’m still not sure how I feel about “Rooffbeer” though

Ingredients: Carbonated water, caramel color, cane sugar, natural and artificial flavor, citric acid, sodium benzoate (preservative), contains sulfites

Smell: Very medicinal smell from the bottle with some licorice and vanilla hints. When poured the medicinal smell remains dominant.

Carbonation: A nice balance of bite and smoothness gives this brew a great mouthfeel and also doesn’t obscure any of the flavor

Color: Very dark brown and almost black looking from some angles

Head: Tall and long lasting head. I had to stop pouring to let the foam dissipate in my tall frosty mug. The foam lasts for a good while after the brew is poured

Flavor: The strongest flavor is definitely medicinal. This is usually a bad thing for me. However, there is also a strong licorice flavor that helps blunt the medicinal elements. It also has a slightly bitter aftertaste but nothing too offensive. Overall, it is not a bad tasting brew

Conclusion: Freaky Dog Soda Rooffbeer Root Beer is a great summer brew. While the medicinal flavor is not one I’m typically fond of it actually works for this root beer. The strong flavor, balanced carbonation, and foamy head should make this a brew worth adding to your summer plans.

RBR’s Grade- B-

Baumeister Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Brown bottle and labels that are pretty nondescript. They get the job done but aren’t too exciting

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, caramel color, artificial and natural flavors, citric acid and gum acacia, preserved with sodium benzoate

Smell: Strong wintergreen smell from the bottle with a bit of a licorice hint as well. The licorice smell becomes more pronounced after being poured

Carbonation: Medium-High level of carbonation. A little more bite than most but not enough to hide the flavor. Overall, a good balance between carbonation and flavor

Color: Almost black

Head: Medium head that is lightly foamy and disappears quickly after being poured

Flavor: A very nice traditional root beer flavor here. Nothing fancy just straight up root beer with the traditional wintergreen and licorice flavors being very dominant. There’s also a strangely sweet aftertaste that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s almost like ginger but I’m not certain. It adds a nice bit of complexity to a pretty standard brew

Conclusion: As I am drinking this Baumeister Root Beer it is 103 degrees outside. Anything cold and carbonated tastes good in this heat. Okay, I jest, there are still some things that are terrible. However, even if it were the dead of winter this would still be a good brew. It’s got a nice traditional flavor with just enough complexity to help pull it above the mainstream root beers. The strong flavor would make this one a great pick for enjoying with a Labor Day BBQ. Go grab this one if you can find it. It’s tasty!

RBR’s Grade- B

Gray’s Gourmet Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Brown bottle and a label that attests to the maker of this root beer having been around since 1856. Nothing too exciting but it works

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, cane sugar, malt dextrin, citric acid, natural flavors, caramel coloring, and sodium benzoate

Smell: Strong wintergreen smell from the bottle with a nice hint of licorice to balance it out. The licorice smell becomes stronger after it is poured

Carbonation: High carbonation gives a nice bite from beginning to end and manages to do it without overwhelming the flavor

Color: Almost black

Head: Short but pretty foamy and lasts for quite awhile

Flavor: This brew has a very strong traditional flavor. The licorice and wintergreen are dominant with licorice being the strongest flavor. The strong flavor works well with the heavy carbonation and there is no bad aftertaste

Conclusion: Gray’s Root Beer is another robust root beer. It has a strong smell and a strong flavor. If I could think of one word to describe it I would use, “refreshing.” This is a perfect root beer for a hot summer day. In fact, as I’m drinking this it is upwards of 110 degrees outside and so I am finding it particularly enjoyable. This is a perfect summer brew and the strong flavor would make it a great compliment to a meal.

RBR’s Grade- B

Caruso’s Legacy Robusto Root Beer

Caruso's Legacy Robusto Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Brown bottle with a fairly nondescript brown label

Ingredients: Filtered Carbonated Water, pure cane sugar, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors, maltodextrin, citric acid, sodium benzoate (preservative)

Smell: Strong licorice smell from the bottle with hints of wintergreen

Carbonation: Low level of carbonation. This brew is very smooth but also just a bit flat for my taste. A little more carbonation would be nice as there is almost no bite

Color: Dark amber

Head: Very tall, very foamy, and very long lasting. This is one of those brews that I had to stop pouring or it would have spilled out of my frosted mug

Flavor: Excellent traditional root beer flavor. It has the licorice and wintergreen that are staples of classic root beer flavor. It also had just a slight hint of vanilla. This brew tastes good from start to finish with no bad aftertastes present anywhere

Conclusion: Caruso’s Legacy Robusto Root Beer is a perfect brew for those who value a smooth, classic root beer. If you find yourself consistently liking root beers that go light on carbonation this root beer should be on your short list. The combination of a pleasing smell, well balanced flavor, and a very foamy head would make this a great pick for a summer BBQ or just a great any time root beer.

RBR’s Grade- B+