Happy 20th Anniversary!
July 21, 2016 10:49 AM   Subscribe

 
Virgil's 21. Walgreen's Store Brand: 71.

Scathing.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:54 AM on July 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hires Root Beer is so woefully underappreciated/underdistributed.
posted by GuyZero at 11:17 AM on July 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Do the rankings fail on mobile for anyone else?
posted by Night_owl at 11:21 AM on July 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


I adore the taste of root-beer but often find it to be excessively sweet. I feel the same way about ginger-beer but recently found one which is only 15g of sugar ('Q', but it's crazy expensive). It makes me wish I could search these sites by sugar content and try and find a root-beer equivalent.
posted by lucasks at 11:23 AM on July 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Abita Root Beer ranked 80-something. Can't argue much with that, though I wonder if he was lucky enough to get it from a keg. Mmmmmmm.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:29 AM on July 21, 2016


I came to see if 1919 got the proper amount of respect. It does, coming in at #3.

When I worked for a large insurance company in the Twin Cities suburb, our department had a big picnic outside the high-rise building we worked in. Burgers on the grill and a pony keg of 1919 to use for root beer floats. I guess hundreds of people watched us from the floor above. And wept.
posted by Ber at 11:38 AM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is great!

I'm on a train to Rochester NY for a work event. Thanks to this post, I have just learned that there is a local soda place a few blocks from our offices and they have an unusual and pretty good root beer. Will be stopping to try some.
posted by gauche at 11:40 AM on July 21, 2016


Mmm, the rankings for my hometown favorite Boylan's. Mmm.
posted by mephron at 11:40 AM on July 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm a big fan of Ithaca, but man the last 6-pack I bought tasted really different, and not in a good way. I may have to find a new favorite.
posted by noneuclidean at 11:59 AM on July 21, 2016


In Ottawa we have Harvey and Vern's, which sadly seems to be missing from the database.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:03 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Do the rankings fail on mobile for anyone else?"

Yes.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:04 PM on July 21, 2016


All I want to know is where Fitz's is ranked. That alone will determine the validity of the rankings.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:05 PM on July 21, 2016


lucasks, you may find solace at the bottom of the list.

The High Country Wild Root Kombucha scores a delightful "rotten, basically disgusting mess" with a hint of "i just can’t believe how horrible this tastes." Thankfully, the sugar content is a low 8g.

If you feel like an all-star, you can make your own sugarless confection with the equally rated (1, somehow not 0, perhaps to make room for actual rotten mold growing roots in a bottle) All Star Extracts Root Beer Extract that sports the "it is awful" badge.

Dive in.
posted by mr_bovis at 12:06 PM on July 21, 2016


I also checked specifically for the 1919 review. I toured the brewery that makes 1919 recently and it was heaven.
posted by Woodroar at 12:08 PM on July 21, 2016


Hosmer Mountain at 46? Pistols. Pistols at dawn!
posted by zippy at 12:18 PM on July 21, 2016


When I was a kid I hated root beer. I'm sure I never got exposed to the "good" stuff. And I was always on guard for the disappointing rootbeery tinge you'd get in your orange soda from various fast food outlets (I think the monsters tended to put them on the same spigot). The thought of a root beer float made me weep for all of that perfectly good ice cream, wasted.

And then I became an adult, and at some point a switch flipped or something and I tried a root beer (maybe it was a 1919 or something else good) and I loved it. I mean, there are definitely differences in recipe/quality, and I'm definitely picky about my soda intake these days but root beer generally tends to satisfy (especially the schmancy real sugar ones).

I thought my evolution from root beer despiser to booster was unique to me, but then I realized that I'm really just a ferengi (or maybe a cardassian).
Elim Garak: It's *vile*!
Quark: I know. It's so bubbly, and cloying, and *happy*.
Elim Garak: Just like the Federation.
Quark: But you know what's really frightening? If you drink enough of it, you begin to *like* it.
Elim Garak: It's insidious!
Anyways -- My sodastream and I are still in the market for a good homemade recipe.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:28 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is some vindication for me. I love 1919 and I had no idea it was a regional thing. I figured it was a national brand because I can get it at any store and many restaurants. I've actually been called out for getting it when others were available because it's just corporate sugar water and don't I know there's REAL root beer out there? Well it turns out I was the root beer snob all along.

I really like trying root beers even when they're not great. There's a candy/soda/apple pie/pumpkin/puzzle store not far from me that we go to a few times a year where they have 155 kinds of root beer and I always limit myself to one or two so I can save more for the next adventure.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 12:32 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Brownie Rootbeer from the west cost is still my favourite
posted by PinkMoose at 12:39 PM on July 21, 2016


Root beer has never really been a thing in the UK, sadly. The most common root beer here is Carter's, made just up the road from me. It's pretty bad. You can get Bundaberg, which is marginally better, and I've seen A&W in a few 'American' shops... you can also get it via Amazon. And that's about it.

We do, however, have dandelion and burdock, and that's rather excellent.
posted by pipeski at 1:19 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I feel like I need to be a part of this conversation.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:00 PM on July 21, 2016 [14 favorites]


Sprecher's root beer (bottled proudly in nearby Glendale, WI) is heaven in a bottle. I like to try different root beers when I travel around, and it's the best I've ever had. It's much better than an 89!
posted by Fister Roboto at 2:03 PM on July 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I was going to come in here to say a good word for Sprecher. It makes the user rankings at Root Beer Barrel but it's not on Anthony's chart. I hope that's not a dis because it's pretty much my favorite.

Equally appealing, to my taste buds, is Foxon Park White Birch Beer, which I find far superior to the much more highly rated Boylan's Creamy Red. I have no idea if that's a defensible opinion or if I'm just stupid about birch beer. Ascii shrug.
posted by Mothlight at 2:42 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I know people who swear by Sprecher’s but it was a bit sweet for me. De gustibus
posted by Going To Maine at 2:45 PM on July 21, 2016


The easiest way to make root beer is to take regular beer and SUDO.
posted by dr_dank at 2:52 PM on July 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


Doesn’t that make beer root?
posted by Going To Maine at 3:02 PM on July 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


As with the very first comment, the ranking of Virgil's leads me to believe that Anthony's and my palate are wildly different things. I *love* that it's heavy on the licorice/anise flavors. It tastes like a grown-up root beer (and reminds me of the time I had absinthe mixed with root beer: heaven in a glass).
posted by fiercecupcake at 3:27 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ditto on the Virgil's. I'm also of the opinion that if you can't manage to make root beer without artificial flavor then we have nothing further to discuss, which rules out a bunch.

"the cane sugar makes it taste crappy" Seriously?
posted by bitmage at 4:20 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


heavy on the licorice/anise flavors

That flavour always seems to divide and polarise opinions. I never met an anise flavoured anything I didn't like, personally.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:51 PM on July 21, 2016


If you're ever in the greater Monterey Bay area be sure to get some Sparky's.
posted by contraption at 5:13 PM on July 21, 2016


*floats*

(seriously, 20 years? In internet time, that's like paleolithic or some shit)
posted by jonmc at 5:34 PM on July 21, 2016


@mothlight how does it compare to Boylan's birch beer? Huge fan of that.
posted by SNACKeR at 6:06 PM on July 21, 2016


Root beer's never been my favourite. Good thing his site has a birch beer ranking too!
posted by thecjm at 6:36 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


He's MeFi's OwnTM!

Although I didn't much like root beer when I was a kid, I eventually became a big fan. I'm glad that Root Beer Barrel is still around and active (thank you for the additional review sites, too). When I found the site, it was before it ran on WordPress and before it had its own rootbeerbarrel.com domain. It's definitely grown to include a lot more root beers and reviews since then.

(Years later while reading an AskMe about root beer, I realized one of the comments was from the guy who ran Root Beer Barrel -- I remember thinking "hey, cool, he's on MeFi." It's always neat and a little surreal when I recognize people here from different contexts.)

Every so often, I still check the site when I find a root beer I haven't seen before. His own reviews are informative, interesting and often funny. Congrats on 20 years, Anthony!
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 7:06 PM on July 21, 2016


Whether or not they contain Red dye 40 needs to included in the faqs for those who are allergic.
posted by brujita at 7:49 PM on July 21, 2016


Yeah, it's pretty personal. I've tried dozens of root beers and I keep going back to Virgil's.
posted by town of cats at 7:54 PM on July 21, 2016


I've been seriously considering reviewing ginger beers, and this makes me think that it's not such a crazy idea after all. But it's also making me think someone has done it already.
posted by teponaztli at 8:03 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


He gives a decent score to Maine Root, which is my favorite, so I can't complain. I agree with the people who think Virgil's is a little too sweet.
posted by teponaztli at 8:09 PM on July 21, 2016


He ranked Weeping Radish pretty high... I used to live near the place, liked the beer but never tried their root beer. Now I wish I had. Oh well, I can always get 1919 or Sprecher's locally these days! Which is good, because my kid is a root beer fan.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:42 PM on July 21, 2016


Abita Root Beer ranked 80-something. Can't argue much with that, though I wonder if he was lucky enough to get it from a keg. Mmmmmmm.

I'M IN BROOKLYN VISITING AND HEADED TO BED AND OPENING ONE I FOUND IN CORNER STORE ***RIGHT NOW****


[30-40 secs]


AND GONE!!!
posted by Mike Mongo at 8:44 PM on July 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


It was a little before my time, but I've heard stories about the root beer that Dorothy Molter used to brew with water taken from Knife Lake in the Boundary Waters, enjoyed by passing canoeists who stopped by her island for a visit. It varied in quality, but I can imagine how good it must have tasted after paddling for days in the wilderness. The stuff they brew now at the museum in her memory (not made with lake water) rates pretty high in my book. I'd recommend picking up a 6-pack next time you're in Ely.

For straight up drinking I'm a Sprecher man, with poutine I like something sweeter such as Boylan's, and for floats I prefer Abita. 1919 is indeed fantastic but its distribution is limited to the upper midwest unfortunately.

Root beer has never really been a thing in the UK, sadly
Selfridges, in their American food section, has Boylan's and A&W. I've also seen A&W at sweet shops around the UK.
posted by theory at 8:45 PM on July 21, 2016


how does it compare to Boylan's birch beer? Huge fan of that.

Oooh, I'm not good at describing flavors. But I'd say Foxon Park is exceptionally crisp, with a really nice bite, while I remember Boylan's being smoother but not as actively tasty. (I used to drink Boylan's by the half-pitcher at Two Boots pizza on Avenue A in Manhattan, so it's not like I don't enjoy it.) I don't know if it's sweeter, but apparently I respond to sweetness in soda so maybe it is.
posted by Mothlight at 8:53 PM on July 21, 2016


My wife loves root beer. In Oz it's overpriced A&W or (blurgh) Bundaberg. You know you live in a root beer wasteland when McCormicks extract plus soda water plus Karo corn syrup is as good as it gets.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:52 PM on July 21, 2016


But it's also making me think someone has done it already.

None of them are you. Go for it!
posted by notyou at 10:16 PM on July 21, 2016


  Root beer has never really been a thing in the UK, sadly.

A UK root beer review site would merely have ‘Tastes like Germolene’ next to all of them.
posted by scruss at 12:54 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I had some alcoholic rootbeer this weekend, and I've gotta say: meh. They also had ginger ale which I am now reluctant to try (though maybe it would be ok in a punch).

Rootbeer was something I drank a bit when I was pregnant, no caffeine but still a soda (and not a lemon-lime soda).

The ice cream float is still the best use of it, as far as I can tell.
posted by emjaybee at 8:21 AM on July 22, 2016


Alcoholic root beer is basically spiced rum and vanilla coke for people who suck at pouring.

The root beer I picked up yesterday was about as described: a twist-cap that was on so hard it required a bottle opener, and _very_ carbonated. Hints of clove. It was quite nice.
posted by gauche at 12:40 PM on July 22, 2016


Since there are so many of them out there now, we did an alcoholic root beer tasting at my cottage the other weekend. General consensus was that they ranged from underwhelming to not terribly pleasant. I think I will stick to alcoholic beer and non-alcoholic root beer.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:00 PM on July 22, 2016


> I've been seriously considering reviewing ginger beers, and this makes me think that it's not such a crazy idea after all. But it's also making me think someone has done it already.

teponaztli, I agree with notyou upthread -- if you want to do it, go for it. Definitely not crazy, and a different perspective would be welcome. When you're ready for readers, I hope you announce it on MeFi Projects!
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 7:11 PM on July 22, 2016


I still love Barq's & hate Boylans. And IBC is decent. On mobile so can't see the rankings.
posted by dame at 11:48 PM on July 22, 2016


Wow, thanks for the link! Huge traffic spike day. =) Indeed, 20 years later, nutty stuff.
posted by annoyance at 7:12 AM on July 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


So, to comment, I reviewed Virgil's many many years ago, then I did not enjoy it, obviously. Now I quite enjoy it actually. Hard to say if it is due to a changing palette, a bad bottle initially or what. I have pondered a few times re-reviewing it, but i feel like i should stand by my initial review.
Yes, the user ratings is not working, I need to get some time to re-code that some other way. if anyone has a good way to do mysql db changes in a javascript or perl let me know, it's been years since i was a developer.
Hosmer i just couldn't get into, i really did want to, but have to be honest.
I will look into the rankings not working on mobile, curious...
there is actually an all UK root beer review site: Rob's Root Beer Reviews. it's pretty good.
posted by annoyance at 7:21 AM on July 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


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