Reading Draft Root Beer

FullSizeRenderBottle and Label: I’m a fan of this label. It has a strong adhesive so it sticks cleanly to the bottle. The design is old school without being overdone. It’s the kind of bottle that would look nice on a shelf if you are the type to display root beer bottles

Ingredients: Triple filtered carbonated water, pure cane sugar, natural and/or artificial flavors,  caramel color, citric acid, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness)

Smell: Clear and strong wintergreen smell from the bottle. Some hints of licorice but the wintergreen overwhelms the licorice

Carbonation: Medium carbonation provides a nice mouth feel without overwhelming the flavor

Color: Black

Head: Short head. Foamy when poured and dissipates quickly once pouring stops

Flavor: Decent flavor. Nothing to really make it stand out but nothing offensive either. On par with my baseline brew (A&W) in terms of flavor. Favors the heavy wintergreen and licorice flavors of most mainstream brands I’ve encountered

Conclusion: This is not a bad tasting brew. The flavor which tracks closely to mainstream brands means it would probably be a good addition to a family get together as it is a tried and true flavor. It definitely has a more enjoyable smell than your typical grocery store fare and this, along with a nicely designed bottle, helps it earn a grade slightly above average

RBR’s Grade- C+


Dominion Root Beer

IMG_7537Bottle and Label: Pretty uninteresting label. The part that jumps out at me is the “Made with Pure Honey.” I’m always interested in honey sweetened root beers.

Ingredients: Water, sugar, honey, root beer extract #214, root beer extract #79-400, citric acrid, sodium benzoate, yucca, vanilla

Smell: Very strong wintergreen smell from the bottle upon initial opening. This fades a bit and then licorice becomes more pronounced

Carbonation: Medium-low which makes the brew smooth without feeling flat

Color: Nearly black

Head: Very tall, foamy, and long lasting

Flavor: Smooth flavor with honey and vanilla dominating. Hints of wintergreen and licorice provide that traditional root beer aftertaste. This is really a very smooth and delightful tasting beverage

Conclusion: Folks, Dominion Root Beer is delicious. It reminds me of the root beer that introduced me to gourmet root beer: Henry Weinhard’s. Like that brew, Dominion is smooth with strong vanilla and honey flavors. This brew strikes that delicate balance between carbonation, smoothness, and flavor that your typical big name brand can’t match. I’m going to award this root beer an Editor’s Choice award.

RBR’s Grade- A


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+

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

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)

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-

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)

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-

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)

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