Root Beer is a sweet carbonated beverage flavored with sassafras
August 17, 2003 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Welcome to Root Beer World! Root Beer Reviews. Ask Dr. Root Beer about Root Beer Brand Names! Then ask Professor Root Beer about his reviews. And for the home brewer, a recipe for Root Beer Concentrate. More Root Beer Recipes. Root Beer History. Apart from root beer schnapps and various root beer float recipes, it's not a beverage one associates with mixed drinks. Ah, but it is so sweet and cool to drink on a hot summer's day.... Well, salud!
posted by y2karl (30 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I ? Root Beer
posted by Stauf at 3:03 PM on August 17, 2003

Damn, that was supposed to be heart... now it looks like I'm confused and apathetic about root beer =(
posted by Stauf at 3:04 PM on August 17, 2003

Wow, I just read all of those. Thank you y2karl!
posted by Grod at 3:15 PM on August 17, 2003

The worst thing about England is that there is no root beer.

The pain! The pain of it all!
posted by Katemonkey at 3:30 PM on August 17, 2003

I love, love, love root beer. Thanks for this!
posted by jonson at 3:30 PM on August 17, 2003

Sarsaparilla is better. (Then birch beer, then root beer.)
posted by thebabelfish at 3:42 PM on August 17, 2003

I'm glad to see that I can now get my personal finance information at Root Beer World.
posted by fatbobsmith at 3:42 PM on August 17, 2003

How could anyone not like root beer? Like manna from heaven!
posted by adampsyche at 3:50 PM on August 17, 2003

I am currently drinking from a large plastic cup the remnants of a mixture of one can A&W root beer and one can Mug root beer.

Sadly, neither of them reach the frothy heights of goodness that Ramblin' root beer does, but I haven't seen that in ages.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:04 PM on August 17, 2003

The best root beer I ever have had the pleasure of tasting was Abita's.

Pure Louisiana cane sugar, fresh spring water, utter brilliance in a brown bottle.
posted by Katemonkey at 4:20 PM on August 17, 2003

I have been on a root beer crave lately. I find myself liking the Stewarts, as sweet as it is--it's so creamy.

My brother, who's lived there off and on for years, tells me root beer is not popular in Japan, home of sickly soft drinks beyond number--this seems to be true from all those I have asked. Any confirmations out there?

I'm glad to see that I can now get my personal finance information at Root Beer World.

That caught my eye, too, fatbobsmith.
God, I just typed your name as fatboobsmith...

I love, love, love root beer.

We didn't want your boredom to be in vain.
posted by y2karl at 4:24 PM on August 17, 2003

I prefer spruce beer. Definition of spruce beer. Benjamin Franklin's spruce beer. General Amerst's spruce beer.
posted by titboy at 4:27 PM on August 17, 2003

Very Important Advice on the Subject of Homebrewing Root Beer is another recipe oriented page that appears fairly exhaustive on the topic. Anyone ever make root beer out there? We had one of those Hires concentrate bottles around when I was a kid but never made any....
posted by y2karl at 4:41 PM on August 17, 2003

Nothing wrong with a big scoop of Wells Blue Bunny French Vanilla Ice Cream in a big mug of A&W Root Beer.

Drink it with a big spoon.

/product placement
posted by jaronson at 4:45 PM on August 17, 2003

Stewartis is pretty good, but this one is the best. this one is what I grew up drinking, and still pretty badass.
posted by jonmc at 4:53 PM on August 17, 2003

Finally, a Beer the Whole Family Can Enjoy is a nice essay with yet another history of root beer, some reviews and the economics of microbrewery root beers. Boy, the things I've learned today...
Whoa, there's a big ol' Steller's Jay that's just landed on the balcony rail--making a racket and messing with my cat's head.
We don't get Virgils out here, jonmc, even at the the megagourmet marts. Hires is the man, historically--although I've seen Dads get the nod in these reviews. It's definitely a to each his own matter of taste with root beer...
posted by y2karl at 5:10 PM on August 17, 2003

Virgil's is 'Made with spices imported from England', and we must be doing a bloody good export job, because I've never seen root beer on sale here. Pray, what mystical, exotic tastes do english spices impart?
posted by punilux at 5:19 PM on August 17, 2003

I've only ever seen Virgil's at liquor stores of all places. But it's worth whatever it takes to order it. i've had Dad's a time or two and it is good.
posted by jonmc at 5:21 PM on August 17, 2003

KFC has just opened a branch in Glasgow as a partnership with A&W. I was astonished to discover the wonder of A&W's root beer on a trip to upstate New York this year, and was bouncing up and down for the weeks until they opened.

I was disappointed. The beer tasted good - but all my friends hated it. And goddamn those mighty burgers are fat-en-ning.
posted by bonaldi at 5:29 PM on August 17, 2003

If you're in the west, try Joe Stiff Spiked root beer, it tastes just like A&W, but with 6.9%!
posted by CrazyJub at 5:49 PM on August 17, 2003

my german fake-brother used to say "bah, das schmeckt wie zahnpasta!" which changed my outlook a bit, but I still enjoy it. virgil's is definitely some good stuff, right up there with china cola.

hmm, so where can I get some of this spruce beer? sounds good with or without hops...
posted by dorian at 7:48 PM on August 17, 2003

Thanks. Memories of childhood visits to relatives in Vermont for homemade root beer, sugar-on-snow, and jeep rides through the woods.
posted by HTuttle at 8:10 PM on August 17, 2003

Fun post karl - wish I had a nice frostie right now. I didn't realize that r.b. was uniquely American in its origin.

Here's a few related historical links dating back to the patent medicine days:
Hire's Root Beer Extract - A Success Story

The Great Dr. Kilmer and His Swamp Root
posted by madamjujujive at 8:16 PM on August 17, 2003

My God, Miguel's gone stone cold sober ... no, wait ...

Oh, and sheauga, your post is calling.

I only recently learned that A&W root beer in a can is ostensibly the company's own product; I find it so different, and inferior, to the draft version that for years I was convinced it had been licensed. Freshly draft, however, it's divine (especially with a scoop of vanilla, but alone and ice cold is fine too). I well remember childhood visits to a stand on the city's north side called Frostop, which came complete with roller-skating waitresses in those days (ca. 1970). My childhood was also shaped by repeated passes of the animated Dad's neon sign along the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago. Today I often drink Gray's, a local soda/malt beverage brewery, although it isn't their root beer I adore: since childhood I've craved their cream soda, and I've never found another to compare. Which brings us to the egg cream ....

Oh, and that fizzy Barq's crap they serve at fast-food outlets nationwide? Awful. Unless you have self-serve, in which case you can blend in 1/4 cola, and have a sharper drink. It's a bit of a soda hack. Too bad there aren't any soda fountains around anymore.

Man, you know, the local ice cream place discontinued their butterscotch-chip malts. Hell in a handbasket, I say.
posted by dhartung at 10:14 PM on August 17, 2003

Well, at the Charm Theater in Payette, they had Coke, Root Beer and Orange--or you could order a Suicide, which was a combination of all three. Man, we didn't even have a Green River machine with the swirling green tank on top then.

I think anything cream appeals right now, dhartung--Stewarts has Key Lime Cream and Orange Cream as well as just plain old [vanilla] Cream Soda. The concept has merit at the very least.

Henry Weinhard and Thomas Kemper, both local to the Northwest, have premium Root Beers and Cream Sodas but they are not exactly my favorite things in either case. (Note the subtext here, by the way, in links and comments, is about the bland on bland mass market versus the local flavor.)

BTW, one of our local gourmet burger chains has peanut butter shakes and malts... Once, I had them make a half-and-half of that with Chocolate. H'mmm... Arterioschleroticly sacrilicious...
posted by y2karl at 10:53 PM on August 17, 2003

You're right about japan, Y2K, my wife says it tastes like medicine, and that's one of the nicer comments on root beer I've heard from a Japanese person. Root beer is spicy and grabs you, whereas mild flavors are more popular here. The converse is Sobe Green Tea. I was hankering for some refreshing iced green tea in SoCal a few years ago, and happened upon said beverage, only to find out they had spiced it up with ginseng or something and loaded it with sugar to make some vile bastard drink. I nearly tossed. Dad's and A&W are available cheap in import stores, but I dislike both of those. I'd pay Crash $10 right now for one can of MUG, my favorite.
posted by planetkyoto at 11:01 PM on August 17, 2003

Anyone else find that Barq's tastes like froot loops?
posted by stavrogin at 11:09 PM on August 17, 2003

When MacDonalds first came to the UK they sold root beer, but it obviously wasn't to local taste and didn't last very long.
posted by kerplunk at 11:38 AM on August 18, 2003

Late update: After a wide sampling of root beers at local yuppiegourmetmegamart Larry's--which has a walk in cooler for sodas and mineral waters: just the place to visit when the temperature hits ^80 --my vote is for Sprecher. Mmmm, raw Wisconsin honey...
Added bonus: Coolest Root Beer Label .
posted by y2karl at 10:49 AM on August 24, 2003

Update: I finally got my hands on some Virgil's. Cane sugar instead of corn syrup seemed promising but... it was way too strongly spiced for my tastes. It might be a great root beer for drinking with curry, if you catch my drift. I have to agree with Root Beer Reviews:

A medium bite that tastes primarily of licorice. Full-bodied but with a very sweet taste. The dominant flavors are cinnamon, molasses, and nutmeg, which add up to an almost mediciney taste. The aftertaste is cloying. Overall, it doesn't taste much like root beer to me, but I found it intriguing. By far the best of the "all natural" root beers, but that ain't saying much.

Their motto is "Virgil's is so pure you swear it was made in heaven." What I say is, if this is the best heaven can do in terms of root beer, maybe I should look into alternate accomodations for my afterlife.

Plus it's six fuckin' bucks for a four pack!

Anthony's Root Beer Barrel was less generous:

if i had to imagine the most pathetic attempt at a root beer, this is about what i'd come up with. billed as this fantastic beverage, it is just plain bad to me. i suspect people see the awards and the high price and think it has to be good, then pretend it is when they realize it sucks for fear of looking silly. i don't fear that! the licourice is too strong, the cane sugar makes it taste crappy and the freaky spices are just not a good addition. plus it is the most expensive root beer i have ever encountered. the 4th worst root beer i've ever had. avoid it and get something actually good. or maybe i just got a bad bottle... more proof that english food blows.

Bevnet, on the other hand, was kind:

This award winning product is one of the highest quality beverages that we have ever had. Virgil's is brewed, not cold packed, which results in a more mellow flavor than most root beers. Also, it is made with the finest ingredients, including unbleached cane sugar, anise, and licorice to insure a high quality product. All of this results in Virgil's being the smoothest, creamiest, richest, and most flavorful tasting root beer that we have ever had. All of the high quality ingredients combined with the micro brewed process create an amazing beverage. A must have for every root beer lover!

Spike gives it a B:

Medium dark in color, very light carbonation, no head to speak of. A very complex-flavored rootbeer (as evidenced by the cornucopia of ingredients). This is definitely a challenging draft to describe. Smooth with a slightly acidic, fruity taste which is surprising - acidity is not a taste I expect from "Heaven". A somewhat sharp aftertaste - which tastes like it came from the acidity - that lingers. It reminds me a bit of the aftertaste I sometimes encounter with Coke. Despite that, this brew is evidence that a multitude of natural ingredients can result in a fine drink (see Tommyknocker 1859 for the contrary case). If you like root beer, you should try this drink because of its distinctive and unique flavor. I don't know if I'd call it a "pure" flavor, but that's just marketing hyperbole anyway. And "crystalline water"? That would be ice. Even if you love this brew, it probably won't end up a staple in your rootbeer cellar - it's the most expensive rootbeer I've purchased to date ($6.00 for a 4-pack). In my rating, I won't consider price or all the writing on the box I had to type onto this page (the carton copy spends an inordinate amount of time bashing the competition, giving it a snobbish air. Yes, not only do I review root beer but I'm a box critic as well). A very good drink, unique, marred mostly by the aftertaste and a bit by the lack of head.

And here's the lowdown from The Great American Root Beer Showdown:

Virgil's - Another old-fashioned style root beer with all-natural ingredients: anise, licorice, bourbon vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, wintergreen, sweet birch, molasses, nutmeg, pimento berry oil, balsam oil and oil of cassia. Our reviewers enjoyed the complex flavors, but overall found it a bit weak in taste: "Vanilla aroma, refreshing fizz, but I'm not crazy about the fruity taste which gets stronger with each sip." "Molasses-y but not a lasting flavor. Aftertaste is medicinal." "Cola flavor. Not much root beer here." "In the end, it tastes more like RC than root beer."

It got beat out by Faygo at the Showdown, by the way.
I am going to have to try some of that next.
posted by y2karl at 9:29 PM on September 10, 2003

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