Death Valley Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Brown bottle with cream colored label that proclaims this root beer is “A taste of the old west.”

Ingredients: Indian Wells Artisan Spring water, cane sugar, caramel color, natural flavor, real vanilla, and citric acid

Smell: The strongest smell from the bottle is licorice with wintergreen coming in a close second. After being poured, the licorice becomes even stronger with a medicinal smell also coming through strongly

Carbonation: Low level of carbonation leaves this brew just a bit flat. Not terrible but it could use a bit more

Color: Nearly black

Head: Almost non-existent when being poured. Just a few bubbles and very little foam

Flavor: My first through when I tasted it was, “Cinnamon?” The traditional root beer elements are definitely present but the strangely medicinal cinnamon flavor is dominant. It is not bad but it seems a little over done and the I don’t really notice much of the vanilla mentioned in the ingredients

Conclusion: Death Valley Root Beer is probably not for everyone. That said, it is not terrible and is definitely worth trying. It is not one of my favorites but I appreciate that some might like a more medicinal root beer. Also, if you like beverages with a bit of cinnamon you should give this brew a try

RBR’s grade- C

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”

Dorothy’s Isle of Pines Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Brown bottle with a unique label design that trumpets “root beer” loud and clear

Ingredients: Carbonated water, high fructose corn sweetener, natural and artificial flavor, caramel color, sodium benzoate (preservative), citric acid, acacia and quillaia extract

Smell: Strong wintergreen and mild licorice smell from the bottle. After being poured, the smell becomes very mild vanilla coming to the forefront

Carbonation: Low level of carbonation but just enough to avoid a flat mouthfeel. Definitely what I would call a smooth brew in terms of carbonation

Color: Dark amber

Head: Medium head that dissipates very quickly after being poured

Flavor: The flavor is a lot like the smell after being poured: quite mild. There is a slightly medicinal aftertaste but it is not overly strong. The flavor has some honey hints that add to the smoothness and also to the mild flavor as honey flavored root beers (in my experience) tend to have a more mild overall taste

Conclusion: Dorothy’s Isle of Pines Root Beer would be a great brew to try if you like a more mildly flavored beverage. The flavor and the smooth carbonation make this a good one to drink slowly and savor. It won’t be for everyone but the generally solid (if a bit weak) flavor should appeal to many. I’m not a big fan of the aftertaste of this brew but it is not strong enough to keep it from rising to a slightly above average rating for me.

RBR’s grade- C+

Carl’s BBQ Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Brown bottle with a label that prominently features the Texas flag

Ingredients: Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors, citric acid, and sodium benzoate (preservative)

Smell: Strong licorice and wintergreen smells from the bottle. After being poured these two smells remain dominant but are a bit weaker

Carbonation: A pretty high level of carbonation on this brew. It has a good bite and a strong enough flavor that the even the high carbonation can’t mask it

Color: Dark brown

Head: Very short head but long lasting and quite foamy

Flavor: This tastes like a mainstream root beer done just a little better. The wintergreen and licorice are the strongest flavors and they need to be strong because otherwise they’d be hard to taste over the carbonation. No offensive aftertaste. Stout, unoffensive, and overall pretty good

Conclusion: Carl’s BBQ Old Fashioned Root Beet is a pretty good root beer. It is a little better than average in terms of flavor but don’t let that dissuade you from trying it if you are ever in Cypress, TX. I was not personally there but a friend picked up a bottle of the brew for me. I can’t speak for their food, but their root beer is tasty. The strong carbonation and flavor would probably go good with a plate of ribs. So this one comes in just a hair above average.

RBR’s grade- C+

Note- I usually let my wife finish the last bit of root beer when I’m done reviewing it. She really liked this one. She said it reminded her of Thomas Kemper Root Beer on tap. Take that as a valuable second opinion when you are considering this root beer

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-

Sammi Rae Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Brown bottle with white label. The label is pretty poorly designed with small type and a bland color scheme

Ingredients: Water, sugar, citric acid, sodium benzoate, spices, and more sugar

Smell: There’s only two words to describe the smell from the bottle: cough syrup. When poured the medicinal smell is only slightly less pronounced but is still overwhelming

Carbonation: Medium level of carbonation that offers some nice bite without being over done

Color: Almost black to a dark amber around the edges

Head: Very tall and foamy. I had to stop pouring into my tall, frosty mug to let some of the foam dissipate or it would have poured over the edges. The foam disappears very quickly after being poured

Flavor: Cough syrup. Cough syrup smell and cough syrup taste. I can’t taste anything else. If you like drinking cough syrup you would love this.

Conclusion: How can I say this nicely? Nope, I can’t. This stuff is just bad. I can usually find some redeeming qualities with a root beer. Not so here. Sammi Rae Root Beer does have a good mouth feel and nice foamy head but in the all important flavor department it is downright awful. If you enjoy the taste of cough syrup this brew should be on your short list.

RBR’s Grade- F

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-

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

365 Every Day Value Root Beer (Whole Foods Brand)

Bottle and Label: A pretty generic looking brown can

Ingredients: Filtered Carbonated Water, cane sugar, natural root beer flavor, citric acid, caramel color (from cane sugar)

Smell: The smell from the can is very hard to discern. Mostly some licorice hints. The smell is still not very strong after being poured with licorice and wintergreen being dominant.

Carbonation: Medium-high level of carbonation gives this brew a pretty good bite

Color: Nearly black

Head: Very tall and very foamy. I had to stop pouring into my tall frosty mug or it would have overflowed on the table. It is also very long lasting.

Flavor: Pretty traditional but a little bit on the weak side (much like the smell). Licorice and wintergreen are the dominant flavors but the stout carbonation makes it hard to discern others. There is also a slightly bitter/medicinal aftertaste

Conclusion: I went to this brew really not sure what to expect. I mean, it’s a store brand and those aren’t typically equated with quality. That said, I was pleasantly surprised that 365 Root Beer is a passable and moderately enjoyable beverage. If you shop at Whole Foods a lot this brew might be worth a try and you could certainly do worse. Also, this would be a great choice for a float because of the very foamy head.

RBR’s Grade- C

Bundaberg Australian Root Beer

Bottle and Label: Stubby brown bottle with orange label and a kangaroo that attests to the origins of this brew to the land down under

Ingredients: Filtered Carbonated Water, cane sugar, root beer brew (water, sugar, molasses, ginger root, sarsaparilla root, licorice root, vanilla bean, yeast), caramel color, citric acid, preservatives (potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate), antioxidant (ascorbic acid), root beer flavor

Smell: Very strong medicinal smell from the bottle. Very much like cough syrup. When poured the medicinal smell persists and also a strong wintergreen smell.

Carbonation: I tried really hard to notice the carbonation but it was really difficult because the flavor completely overwhelmed my mouth. I’d say this has a low level of carbonation with just a bit of bite.

Color: Dark brown, almost black

Head: A nice foamy head that is tall and long lasting. It nearly went over the top of my frosty mug when I poured it and it lasted for a good minute or so before dissipating down to the level of the root beer.

Flavor: Remember that cough syrup smell? Yeah, that’s also what it tastes like. Cough syrup is the only way to describe it.

Conclusion: Do you like the flavor of cough syrup? Do you drink cough syrup with your meals? Then go out and buy this root beer right now. If you think cough syrup is a disgusting invention of Satan then avoid this root beer like the plague. I’m not usually this harsh but this root beer is terrible. My wife, who often has different tastes in root been than myself, also agrees.

RBR’s Grade- F