Grown-Up Soda Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Clear bottle with simple white label. The bottle and label look like they would be at home in health food store

Ingredients: purified sparkling water, cane sugar, birch oil and other natural flavors, caramel color (from sugar), citric acid

Smell: Strong minty smell from the bottle. Also quite medicinal. After being poured the medicinal smell becomes dominant and is quite strong

Carbonation: Medium level of carbonation provides just the right amount of bite for this brew

Color: Dark brown

Head: Very foamy and long lasting head. I couldn’t pour the whole thing into my frosty mug at once or it would have overflowed. This has perhaps the longest lasting head I’ve seen on a root beer. Even minutes after being poured it shows to sign of dissipating

Flavor: Very mild flavor. Definitely is medicinal but not terribly so. Probably the least sweet tasting root beer I have ever encountered. There is also a hint of bitterness in the flavor. It is very difficult to make out other flavors

Conclusion: Grown-Up Soda Root Beer is not for everyone. In fact, it is probably not for most. This is a brew that has less calories and sugar than other brews but not because it uses artificial sweeteners. No, this brew simply uses less and it comes through in the flavor. If you like mildly sweet beverages you might like this brew (Side note- My wife said she liked that it was not super sweet). If not, you should probably skip this one. Also, it is worth noting that the label clearly states that this is “lightly sweetened” so you know it is going to be different from the start

RBR’s grade- D-


Natural Brew Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Brown bottle and brown label make this thing east to get lost in a crowded cooler (or fridge for that matter)

Ingredients: Sparkling filtered water, evaporated cane juice, natural flavors, bourbon vanilla extract, anise, sarsaparilla, licorice root, birch oil, wintergreen oil, caramel color, phosphoric acid

Smell: Very strong wintergreen smell from the bottle with some hints of cinnamon and licorice. The smell gets weird after being poured and almost smells sour

Carbonation: Very low level carbonation. I like a smooth root beer but this one tastes too flat

Color: Dark brown and fairly translucent

Head: When I first poured it looked like it was going to come out pretty flat but the head ended up being nearly as tall as my frosted mug. It has the longest lasting head of any brew I have seen. I think I’d be sitting here all afternoon if I waited to drink it until the head dissipated

Flavor: The strongest flavor is vanilla with some licorice undertones. There also seems to be some honey flavorings present. The flavor is pretty smooth but when combined with the lack of carbonation it just really comes off flat. Plus the sour smell really makes it painful to get my nose anywhere near the beverage

Conclusion: Natural Brew Draft Root Beer is the definition of falling short of potential. It has all the right ingredients but they are just not combined into a compelling beverage. I usually like a smooth vanilla favoring root beer but this one just tastes weak. Combine that with the strange sour smell and this brew is one that likely won’t be in my fridge again. Too bad because I like the idea of a brew made with mostly natural ingredients.

RBR’s Grade- D

Jack Black’s Dead Red Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Clear, short bottle with no neck. The label is easy to spot with it’s skull and crossbones and is probably very popular with aspiring pirates

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Caramel Color, Caffeine, Brazilian Guarana, Sodium Benzoate (to preserve freshness), Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Red #40

Smell: Very nice wintergreen smell from the bottle with hints of vanilla and licorice. It has a nicely balanced smell from the bottle that becomes heavier on the wintergreen once it is poured

Carbonation: Fairly low with just a bit of bite on the tip of tongue and back of mouth. Overall it’s a nice mouth feel

Color: Very dark brown, almost black

Head: Extremely tall head that went almost all the way to the top of my frosty A&W mug when poured. It is also very foamy and long lasting

Flavor:  At first taste, when Jack Black’s initially hits your tongue it tastes like a very nice traditional root beer. However, once it reaches the back of the mouth it leaves a bitter and medicinal aftertaste that is not very pleasing at all. I kept going back to it hoping that the aftertaste would lessen as I drank more, but it only got more pronounced

Conclusion: Jack Black’s Dead Red Root Beer is neither very red nor very good. I can honestly say I would rather go to my local grocery store and get a can of A&W than drink this stuff. I don’t know what gives it that strange and unpleasant aftertaste, but it ruins what could be a stellar brew. This root beer has a great head, good carbonation, and a nice smell. However, if a root beer can’t cut it in the all important flavor category, it can’t cut it period. It’s not quite bad enough to garner an “F,” but it is certainly no better than a “D” in my book. You might like this brew if you don’t mind the aftertaste or if you are looking for something with a root beer label that contains caffeine since most brews do not

RBR’s Grade- D

Maine Root Pumpkin Pie Soda

In the spirit of Christmas I am posting a review of a beverage that is not a root beer but will likely catch your eye if you see it while out doing some last minute Christmas shopping.

Bottle and Label: The bottle and label are in the same vein as Maine Root’s Root Beer. It has a brown bottle and label that trumpets the organic and fair trade ingredients.

Ingredients: Carbonated pure water, organic fair trade certified cane juice and spices.

Smell: There is a decidedly fruity smell from the bottle that is even more pronounced after being poured.

Carbonation: Medium level of carbonation that feels good in the mouth.

Color: Pale orange.

Head: Medium head the dissipates very quickly.

Flavor: The flavor tastes nothing like pumpkin pie. There are some hints of the spices you might find in a pumpkin pie but other than that it does not live up the billing. It also leaves a decidedly bitter aftertaste almost like you would find in a diet drink that is not sweetened with real sugar.

Conclusion: Unfortunately, my first non-root beer review is hard to recommend. Sure it has all the fair trade and organic stuff on the label to make you feel good about buying it, but you won’t feel good about drinking it. Still, if you are feeling adventurous and you like oddly flavored beverages, this might appeal to you. However, I think most people would agree with me that this beverage is a novelty that is better seen than tasted. This is unfortunate considering the high marks that I gave the Maine Root Root Beer.

RBR’s Grade- D

Red Ribbon Home Brewed Style Root Beer

red_ribbonBottle and Label: Red Ribbon Root Beer has a clear bottle and simple, nondescript label.

Ingredients: Filtered carbonated water, sugar, natural and artificial flavor,  citric acid, caramel color.

Smell: Not very strong smelling from the bottle. The only smell I can really distinguish is licorice. After being poured, the licorice smell is very strong.

Carbonation: Very lightly carbonated and it makes this brew seem flat. The only place it really bites is on top-back of the mouth whereas in most brews the carbonation is at least evident on the tip of the tongue too.

Color: Dark brown, almost black when viewed at certain angles.

Head: Short, not very foamy, head that dissipates quickly.

Flavor: Red Ribbon Root Beer has a flavor that matches the carbonation. Flat. There are some hints of caramel/vanilla that come through, but other than that, nothing. The flavor seems watered down and weak. There are some traditional root beer elements to the flavor, but they are so weak that it can’t really be enjoyed. On the plus side, the lack of flavor also comes with a lack of bitterness and a good mouth feel. If you only judge a good brew on the two latter points, you might like this one.

Conclusion: Red Ribbon Root Beer is a brew that is easy for me to give a low mark. The head was not great, the carbonation was flat, the flavor was lacking, and even the smell was a bit off. While some might like the slight caramel flavor present in this brew, the lack of rootieness will be enough to keep most people away. With most brews I can see how some people could like them even if I don’t. However, this is one brew that I would recommend passing on if you come across it.

RBR’s Grade- D-

Sioux City Root Beer

Sioux City Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Bottle is brown with some good looking raised lettering. The picture of a cowboy with a six-shooter is a nice touch and makes this bottle easy to spot on crowded shelves.

Ingredients: Purified carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, and/or pure cane sugar, caramel color, sodium benzoate (as a preservative), natural and artificial flavor, citric acid.

Smell: Strong root beer smell

Carbonation: Very little carbonation makes the root beer taste flat, even right out of the bottle. Even though I like a smooth drink, this one lacks almost any bite.

Color: When poured color is dark brown, almost black

Head: Outstanding head of foam. This root beer has the best head I have seen so far. If you like a foamy, frothy root beer this one would certainly fit your bill.

Flavor: Unfortunately, the strong smell does not carry over to the flavor. This is a smooth brew with no bitter after taste. However, it is also on the weak side. It lacks the strong, traditional root beer flavor that I prefer. Imagine taking a can of regular root beer, letting it sit open for a day, and then adding some water to it. That is the way I feel about the flavor of Sioux City Root Beer.

Conclusion: This is one of the few brews that I have tasted that I see very few redeeming qualities about. There are some root beers that I may not necessarily like, but are unique enough for me to appreciate. Sioux City Root Beer lacks anything to really set it apart from the crowd, and it’s watered down flavor makes it impossible for me to recommend (unless you like watered down root beer).
RBR’s Grade- D