Reading Draft Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Traditional looking label that touts the beverage being handcrafted since 1921

Ingredients: Triple filtered carbonated water, pure cane sugar, natural and/or artificial flavors, caramel color, sodium benzoate

Smell: There is a nice wintergreen smell when the bottle is first opened that fades away pretty quickly. The smell when poured is not very strong but tends towards medicinal

Carbonation: A medium level of carbonation is just about perfect for this brew. No flatness. Nice bite. Still lets all the flavor come through

Color: Dark brown

Head: Nice, foamy head that starts out tall and then dissipates quickly

Flavor: Very very smooth. Well balanced with vanilla providing smoothness and wintergreen providing a nice traditional element. Neither are overpowering and blend well. A few hints of honey make for a great finish with no unpleasant aftertaste

Conclusion: Reading Draft Root Beer is pretty stinking close to a perfect brew to my taste buds. The only real downside I can think of is the weak smell when poured. The flavors are perfectly balanced and make for a truly enjoyable beverage. With summer approaching and BBQ season upon us I can think of no reason not to add this brew to your rotation. In fact, it’s so good it deserves an “Editor’s Choice” award. Grab this one.

RBR’s Grade- A+ (Editor’s Choice)

Capone Family Secret Root Beer

120108840_capos-capone-family-secret-8-pk-root-grocery-gourmet-[1]Bottle and Label: Brown bottle with a nice looking and unique brown label that hearkens to the brew’s namesake

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, sugar, Caramel Color, sodium benzoate, natural flavor, and citric acid

Smell: Mild licorice and wintergreen smell from the bottle. Overall, a nicely balanced and very pleasant smell if a little on the weak side. After being poured there is a slightly medicinal smell as well

Carbonation: Medium-low carbonation that offers a nice balance of smoothness and bite. Not too strong and not too flat

Color: Nearly black

Head: Very short head the disappears soon after being poured

Flavor: As with the smell of this brew, the flavor is nicely balanced. The strongest flavor is wintergreen but the honey and vanilla hints keep things smooth. There is a slightly medicinal aftertaste but it actually adds to the nice balance of the flavor

Conclusion: Capone Family Secret Root Beer took me by surprise. For whatever reason I was expecting a slightly above average brew. Well, this brew snuck up on me and is one of the best I’ve had in awhile. With my first taste I was ready to call it average but as I savored more of it I realized how nicely balanced all the flavors were. This is a root beer to drink slowly and enjoy. This brew earns a coveted Editor’s Choice Award

RBR’s Grade- A- (Editor’s Choice)

Margo’s Bark Root Beer

bottle[1]Bottle and Label: Brown bottle with a dark colored label featuring a dog and letting the buyer know the profits go to help shelter dogs

Ingredients: Carbonated Natural Spring Water, Evaporated Cane Juice, Caramel Color, Citric Acid, Molasses, Vanilla, Clove, Cassia, Nutmeg, Wintergreen, and Yucca Extract

Smell: Very nice and strong licorice smell from the bottle. The licorice smell becomes even stronger after being poured. This is one of the strongest smelling root beers I have had in some time

Carbonation: Low level of carbonation that makes it seem a bit flat. It seems like it could use just a tiny bit more bite

Color: Dark brown

Head: Very tall head and very foamy. The head takes a long time to disipate after being poured

Flavor: Very solid on the flavor front. The strongest flavor is licorice with just a bit of vanilla that provides a nice smoothness. No bad aftertaste is present. I definitely like that the strong flavor matches the strong smell

Conclusion: Margo’s Bark Root Beer is a winner. With only one small mark against it in that it could use just a bit more carbonation, it gets everything else right. I love the strong smell that adds to the overall enjoyment of the beverage. I love the strong flavor which fits the smell perfectly. I love the hint of vanilla which give the flavor a satisfying smoothness. This is a root beer that easily rises to the top of the pack and should definitely be on your short list. Because of that, this root beer earns the coveted “Editor’s Choice” award!

RBR’s grade- A (Editor’s Choice)

Dang That’s Good Butterscotch Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Brown bottle with a light orange label that features “Dang!” very prominently

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, natural and artificial flavor, caramel color, citric acid, and sodium benzoate (preserves freshness)

Smell: Amazingly strong butterscotch smell from the bottle. When poured the butter smell become more pronounced. It is unique and really does have a great smell

Carbonation: Medium-low level of carbonation give this brew a smooth feel without being flat. The smooth carbonation melds well with the smooth butterscotch flavor

Color: Almost black

Head: Very tall and very foamy and very long lasting. I had to stop pouring or it would have spilled over my tall frosted mug

Flavor: The butterscotch label is not just a gimmick. This root beer really has a distinct butterscotch taste. There are also some traditional root beer flavors with vanilla, honey, and hints of licorice being the most easy to detect. That said, the butterscotch is definitely the strongest flavor

Conclusion: Dang That’s Good Butterscotch Root Beer is good. No, it is very good. It has the traditional root beer elements but then it goes a different direction by adding the butterscotch flavor. I wasn’t sure I would like it but I am sold. This is a very good root beer. If you don’t like butterscotch you probably won’t like this brew. However, if you have even a mild affinity for butterscotch you owe it to yourself to give this one a try. This root beer earns a coveted “Editor’s Choice” award.

RBR’s grade- A “Editor’s Choice”

Lost Trail Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Brown bottle and predominantly brown label that touts the “real sugar” the brew is made with and features a nice little story from the 19th century about root beer.

Ingredients: Filtered Carbonated Water, sugar, natural and artificial flavors,  caramel color, benzoate of soda (preservative), citric acid

Smell: Smell from the bottle is fairly strong with a nice balance of wintergreen and licorice. The wintergreen smell becomes dominant when it is poured.

Carbonation: Medium carbonation that offers a nice bite and mouth-feel without overwhelming the flavor

Color: Dark amber

Head: Very tall and with a nice thick foam that lasts for a long time. This would be an excellent choice for a float!

Flavor: “Well balanced” and “classic” are the words I would choose to describe the flavor of this brew. The traditional root beer elements are all here with vanilla probably coming through as dominant and offering a nice, smooth flavor. There’s no bad aftertaste either.

Conclusion: After the last root beer I reviewed, this was a pleasant surprise. Lost Trail Root Beer doesn’t try and do anything fancy. This is just good solid root beer through and through. The taste is strong but smooth and would be good with a meal, a float, or just to sit and savor after a long day at work. Sometimes a brew gets high marks for succeeding at being different and sometimes a brew gets high marks for doing the classic formula better than almost everyone else. This brew is the latter. Good. Solid. Root Beer. Editor’s Choice.

RBR’s Grade- A- (Editor’s Choice)

Frostop Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Brown bottle with a colorful label that touts the foaminess of this root beer and the fact that it has been in existence since 1926

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, corn syrup, pure cane  sugar, caramel color, artificial and natural flavors, phosphoric acid and less than 1/10 of 1% of sodium benzoate to preserve freshness

Smell: The smell from the bottle definitely favors wintergreen and vanilla. The vanilla adds a nice smoothness to the smell. Once poured, a licorice smell become dominant

Carbonation: Medium-Low level of carbonation gives this brew a smooth feeling without being flat. It balances flavor and bite very well

Color: Almost black

Head: Head is very tall, foamy, and long lasting. It went all the way to the top of my frosty mug and took a couple of minutes to completely disappear. If you like a foamy head you’d like this brew

Flavor: Very solid here. It starts out with a very traditional flavor and adds some nice vanilla and honey hints. There’s not a hint of unpleasant aftertaste. Just like the carbonation, the flavor here is very smooth

Conclusion: The hot summer is finally over in Texas. Sweet relief! I don’t know about everyone else, but I love an ice cold root beer on a pleasantly warm day. It lets me enjoy both the weather and the brew. Frostop Root Beer is a winner in every department for me. It has a great smell, a foamy head, smooth carbonation, and a strong flavor with some nice vanilla and honey hints. It might be just a little bit sweeter than most root beers, but it works very well for this brew. If you like a smooth root beer, you owe it to yourself to hunt this one down. I give this one my highest recommendation. Frostop Root Beer is an Editor’s Choice.

RBR’s Grade- A

Thomas Kemper Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Nicely designed bottle that clearly states the brand and beverage. I tend to prefer simple bottle designs and this one gets it just right

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, cane sugar, maltodextrin, honey, caramel color, natural flavors, sodium benzoate (for freshness), gum acacia, phosphoric acid, salt, and vanilla extract

Smell: Robust wintergreen and vanilla smell from the bottle with a nice licorice smell coming through when it is poured

Carbonation: Medium-low level of carbonation gives this brew a smooth feeling without being too flat

Color: Dark amber

Head: Extremely tall, foamy, and long lasting. I could not pour the entire bottle into my frosty mug without stopping to let the foam go down a bit. Even more than two minutes after being poured the head was still nice and foamy

Flavor: Nice, smooth flavor with honey and vanilla being dominant. This is also a nicely balanced brew with the flavors coming together nicely for a pleasing overall experience. There is also no bad aftertaste

Conclusion: Thomas Kemper Root Beer is everything a root beer should be. It has a great smell, a great head, a wonderful flavor, and enough complexity for even discerning root beer drinkers to enjoy. This root beer should definitely be on your short list. If you find it somewhere, don’t hesitate to pick up a bottle and give it a try yourself. This brew earns a coveted “Editor’s Choice” award and a regular place in my fridge.

RBR’s Grade- A-(Editor’s Choice)

Sprecher Root Beer

Bottle and Label: A big sixteen ounce bottle distinguishes Sprecher from its more traditional twelve ounce cousins. It also has a nicely designed label that touts it being rated number one by the New York Times

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Malto-Dextrin, WI Raw Honey, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sodium Benzoate (preservative), Phosphoric  Acid, Quillaia/Yucca extract, Sodium Chloride, Caramel Color, and Vanilla

Smell: Strong and pleasing wintergreen smell from the bottle with hints of vanilla. It maintains the pleasing smell nicely after it is poured

Carbonation: Medium-low level of carbonation gives this brew a nice balance of smoothness and bite without feeling flat or overly bubbly

Color: Dark amber

Head: Tall head, very long lasting, and very foamy when poured into my frosted mug. Sprecher definitely gets top marks in this category

Flavor:  This brew has an incredibly smooth flavor. It leaves no bitter aftertaste and is enjoyable from start to finish. It has a nice, traditional root beer flavor with a little extra sweetness that I believe comes from the honey in the ingredients. Undoubtedly the honey also helps give it it’s awesome smoothness as well. There are also some hints of vanilla and wintergreen in there that give just a bit of complexity to this tasty beverage

Conclusion: Sprecher Root Beer is the definition of a good root beer. It has a great smell, awesome head, perfect carbonation, and stellar flavor. I really can’t think of anything that I don’t like about this brew. It has a flavor that should be a big crowd pleaser thanks to its smoothness and sweetness. This would also be a great brew for root beer floats with the awesome head that it produces. Basically, this brew is an easy “A” and an easy “Editor’s Choice.” Sometimes I really have to debate about what grade to give a brew. There is no question that this fine beverage deserves high marks and deserves a place in your fridge

RBR’s Grade- A (Editor’s Choice)

Barrel Brothers Creamy Vanilla Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Brown bottle with a catchy label that has an old Europe feel to it.

Ingredients: Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Quillaja Extract, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate as preservatives

Smell: Strong vanilla smell. This brew has a stronger vanilla smell than any I have encountered to this point. In fact, it is almost like a lighter cream soda smell.

Carbonation: Medium-low level of carbonation makes this brew feel very smooth without coming off flat.

Color: Light, semi-transparent brown

Head: Short head, but very foamy and long lasting. Even after a minute the head had not completely dissipated.

Flavor: Incredibly smooth flavor with the dominant taste being one of vanilla. It definitely has a cream soda vibe in the flavor. This brew leaves no bad aftertaste and offers pleasant flavor from start to finish.

Conclusion: Barrel Brothers Root Beer certainly lives up to the “creamy vanilla” billing on the label. This is one of the most pleasant brews that I have had in a long time. It strays a bit from traditional root beer flavor in favor of a creamier more “cream soda-esque” approach. Thankfully, it does not run so far to the cream soda side that it loses its root beer elements. If you like a brew that is smooth from start to finish or if you are looking for a good brew to compliment ice cream or other deserts, this is one for you. I think just about anyone would like this brew and the smooth vanilla flavor sets it apart from the pack enough for me to award this tasty brew an Editor’s Choice award!

RBR’s Grade- A- (minus) – Editor’s Choice!

Saint Arnold Root Beer

saint arnoldBottle and Label: Saint Arnold Root Beer has nice label that looks different than its counterparts. This is probably because the brewery did the label with the same overall design that it does with its non-root beer beverages. The well designed label will make this brew easy to spot on a crowded shelf.

Ingredients: Water, cane sugar, caramel color, natural and artificial flavor, vanilla extract, citric acid and sodium benzoate as preservative

Smell: Very strong and pleasing traditional root beer smell with hints of wintergreen and licorice.

Carbonation: Medium level of carbonation. This brew has a nice bite throughout, but it does a good job of not overpowering the flavor.

Color: Very dark brown that is barely transparent. Overall, a nice color that suggests the brew is neither too strong nor too watered down.

Head: Medium head, but very foamy and long lasting when poured into a frosted mug. The head of this brew would lend itself to being very good for root beer floats.

Flavor: Saint Arnold Root Beer is a solid brew in the flavor department. It is very traditional and has a very balanced flavor. There are no overpowering flavors present which allows the drinker to simply savor the brew. The brew is very smooth and leaves no bitter aftertaste. The vanilla extract in the ingredient list is the dominant aftertaste and it is very smooth. Overall, I would call this root beer “full flavored” and if you like a brew that is strong, you’ll like this one.

Conclusion: Saint Arnold Root Beer is another one of those brews that does everything well. It checks all the boxes and you come away from drinking it knowing that you just consumed a quality beverage. If you like a brew that is straightforward and traditional in terms of flavor, you will like Saint Arnold. If you are looking for a brew to serve at a party or give to friends and family, Saint Arnold would be an excellent choice. You might not like this brew if you prefer a more complexly flavored beverage. This brew comes out of a brewery in Houston, TX (I live in Fort Worth) and is one of the first local brews I have tried (granted, Houston is five hours away but Texas is a big state). Saint Arnold does TX proud with it’s big, full bodied flavor and if you are ever passing through TX, be sure to try and find some. Thanks to the excellence of this brew, Saint Arnold Root Beer earns a coveted “Editor’s Choice” award and takes its place on my shelf among the best root beers out there.

RBR’s Grade- A