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View Full Version : Roll out the Barrel; The Root Beer thread


Daikaiju
01-25-2010, 09:47 AM
Root Beer is one of the few manufactured non-alcoholic drinks that has almost as much diversity as lagers and ales.

My current favorites are Virgil's, Sprecher's and A&W (as far as national brands go).
I also enjoy Old Dominion and Virgil's Bavarian Nutmeg variety, but they are hard to come by.
Also, does anyone know if they still make Hires?

Jeanie
01-25-2010, 09:53 AM
Sadly no, Hires is no more. Which is a shame, that was my favorite mass produced brand. I also liked a brand called Ramblin', which wasn't bad. For those who lived in the Grand Rapids area in the 90's, that was the kind they had at Mr. Fables.

I'm glad to see A&W is still around, though, and the 20oz bottles for them are awesome. Now if only Mug would go away, it's too sweet. I've got no problems with Barq's, it's grown on me as I've gotten older and my tastes have changed. Plus it has Caffeine in it. Faygo Root Beer is pretty good too, I'd put just behind A&W as my 2nd favorite major brand.

IBC is a very good RB as well, and they make a damn good Cream Soda as well as an orange pop and a Black Cherry brand.

Dizzy
01-25-2010, 09:54 AM
The best root beer I've ever tasted was from hot dog place called Hey Hot Dog! It takes a long time for me to get there but it is so worth it.

Ethan
01-25-2010, 09:55 AM
Gale's. Virgil's and Sprecher are also pretty high up though.

Daikaiju
01-25-2010, 10:04 AM
Gale's? Where's that from?

I found Barq's interesting at first but now it comes off like a hot sauce who's main selling point is it's heat, not it's flavor.

My dad once got me a bottle of Ironhorse. Nasty stuff. Way too much anise and/or licorice used.

Also agreed about MUG. The sugar trumps any other flavors. Feh

Loki
01-25-2010, 10:05 AM
Mug tastes like tooth paste.

Jeanie
01-25-2010, 10:09 AM
Oh I almost forgot.

The best hard candies are the Brachs A&W Root Beer Barrels.

Lucas
01-25-2010, 10:59 AM
Virgil's is delicious and the only thing I've ever drunk out of a (mini)keg. For some reason my roommates refused to help me drink it and it took me days to get through it.

Still a decent soda even when flat, though.

Wolfgang
01-25-2010, 11:40 AM
Sadly no, Hires is no more. Which is a shame, that was my favorite mass produced brand. I also liked a brand called Ramblin', which wasn't bad.

Holy crap, I can't believe I forgot how many different kinds of root beers there used to be. Also, that Ramblin' is the best name for one.

I still like diet A&W, and Pennsylvania Dutch is an interesting local brand.

Daikaiju
01-25-2010, 11:58 AM
Mmmm Birch Beer. Hank's Hot Dog's out of Reading makes a nice variety. I have a glass mug from their stall at Exton Square Mall.

I also have a pair of A&W glasses, the traditional root beer mug. I love those things.

Dawnswalker
01-25-2010, 12:26 PM
I've always liked Barqs, even though the "bite" is had at significant cost to the creaminess.

A&W is good, but the experience is never truly complete unless I'm eating an A&W burger as well, so I have that a lot less often.

Mug is just terrible. It doesn't really have any one outstanding flavour, so it's all just lost in a sea of samey taste.

Shagohod
01-25-2010, 02:25 PM
I was surprised to find out that they still sell Dad's flavor of root beer. I saw it at a dollar store.....It isn't very good. One of my favorite root beer's is actually the Best Choice brand. I used to get 3 liter bottles for 1.50. Good stuff

Sarcasmorator
01-25-2010, 03:08 PM
I looove root beer, and have been searching for one to really call my own. I like IBC, but it's got corn syrup. What I want is cane sugar.

I tried Dad's a while back. Tasted like toothpaste.

Bergasa
01-25-2010, 03:29 PM
I don't drink root beer that often, and whenever I do, I usually regret it after a sip or two. For some reason I think I am going to like it, but it usually doesn't go so well.

That said, root beer floats are pretty great.

vaterite
01-25-2010, 03:43 PM
Mmmm Birch Beer. Hank's Hot Dog's out of Reading makes a nice variety. I have a glass mug from their stall at Exton Square Mall.


So, do any non-dutchy people like Birch Beer? My mom is from Reading and I grew up with the stuff, but most people I've tried to feed it to are nonplussed. Of course, I completely can't stand ginger beer.

I'm glad to see that everyone acknowledges the superiority of A&W to anything else widely available. I am intrigued to know more about homebrew.

taidan
01-25-2010, 03:48 PM
Birch Beer didn't enter my diet until around age 10, and by then there was no hope of my acquiring a taste for it.

Matchstick
01-25-2010, 04:29 PM
I also enjoy Old Dominion and Virgil's Bavarian Nutmeg variety, but they are hard to come by.

I can pretty easily get Old Dominion, but that's because it's made very nearby. I like it, but...

HBC is a very good RB as well, and they make a damn good Cream Soda as well as an orange pop and a Black Cherry brand.

Do you mean IBC? If not, you should, because that's the Best Root Beer Ever (tm).

Dawnswalker
01-25-2010, 04:34 PM
Come to think of it, I've never tried Jones Soda's root beer. Is it any good?

Jeanie
01-25-2010, 04:35 PM
Do you mean IBC? If not, you should, because that's the Best Root Beer Ever (tm).

Yes. Oops, let me fix that.

Lucas
01-25-2010, 04:38 PM
Come to think of it, I've never tried Jones Soda's root beer. Is it any good?

It's got a nice bite to it and isn't very sweet. I quite liked it.

Mr Bean
01-25-2010, 05:52 PM
My favorite root beer is Millstream (http://www.millstreambrewing.com/root.html) from a little brewery in Amana IA. I don't get to have it very often since it's 1000 miles away from where I am right now, but it's still very good stuff. I got a case of it mail order for Christmas and savored every last drop.

I like IBC or A&W for good everyday alternatives. A&W is very smooth, but I like the taste of IBC a bit better.

Ethan
01-25-2010, 05:57 PM
Gale's? Where's that from?

I think it's distributed from somewhere on the South Side of Chicago. I've found it at some specialty grocery stores around here. The recipe is by Gale Gand, who is apparently a famous pastry chef. It's the best root beer I've ever had by a mile.

Marfy
01-26-2010, 06:25 AM
Jones Soda's root beer is pretty good, I think. I haven't had it in ages.

I'm fond of Barq's, but I found a candy shop here in Glasgow that happened to have some imported A&W. I was surprised at how much I liked it! I remember it being gross as hell. Root beer, at least as far as I've found, doesn't exist in Scotland but the availability of ginger beer makes this acceptable.

Paul le Fou
01-26-2010, 07:13 AM
Man I love root beer, especially real made-with-roots small-batch kinds. But I'm jonesing for even a can of barq's after being in Japan without any. My friend said there was a store here that sold root beer! So I made a trip up to the next town. They did not. Now I'm sad again!

...these food forum posts of mine are starting to sound awful similar.

Daikaiju
01-29-2010, 04:25 AM
Sounds to me like a niche waiting to be filled. Strike now!

For my fellow afficiandos, Sprecher's and Virgil's both ship. Also both use sugar and honey as opposed to HFCS. The former makes a nice Ginger Ale that's just this side of Ginger Beer.

Should Ginger Ale and Beer be considered root beer? Ginger is a root after all...

ArugulaZ
01-29-2010, 12:55 PM
I desperately wanted to try Georgia root beer when I was at the World of Coke, but I found out years later that Cola-Cola had stopped making it in the 1990s. Now they just have that nasty Barqs, the one that bites. I mean, the one with bite. No, I meant the first thing.

Also, I think Hires is still being made. There's a web site for it over on the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group web site. Funny, I thought Snapple was owned by Quaker Oats!

http://www.drpeppersnapplegroup.com/brands/hires/

I find that root beer is best enjoyed occasionally. It can be a nice change of pace from the usual colas and lemon-lime beverages, but too much weighs heavily on the tongue. A&W is the cleanest drinking of the root beers, but it's a little too banal for its own good. However, it sings when you add it to ice cream.

Daikaiju
01-31-2010, 01:25 PM
Hm. They distribute Hires and A&W.
I haven't had Hires since it disappeared from Philly. Considering it was created here, I find it odd they don't sell it here.

Torgo
01-31-2010, 07:49 PM
How does a root beer thread get to its second page with no mention of Henry Wienhard's. You people disappoint me.

Chu
02-01-2010, 12:29 AM
Man I love root beer, especially real made-with-roots small-batch kinds. But I'm jonesing for even a can of barq's after being in Japan without any. My friend said there was a store here that sold root beer! So I made a trip up to the next town. They did not. Now I'm sad again!

...these food forum posts of mine are starting to sound awful similar.

A little over a week ago I dropped by an import store while I was at the mall and bought some taco supplies and a can of Dad's root beer for 100 yen. Yesterday I made the tacos, and they were pretty good! The root beer, though...

I can't believe that I was disappointed after being deprived of root beer for like six months. I'm guessing what happened is that I drank too much Virgil's before leaving the US, and now I crave only root beer of quality. Or, you know, maybe Dad's just sucks and I need to see if I can't find another brand in another import store.

Daikaiju
02-05-2010, 04:52 AM
How does a root beer thread get to its second page with no mention of Henry Wienhard's. You people disappoint me.

Hey now. this thread exists to extoll AND educate. Give us some details. Is it a sharp or a smooth root beer? Vanilla or Licorice notes? Sugar or honey?

Daikaiju
09-26-2011, 12:09 PM
Attention!

Sprecher's now has distribution across the country! check the website (http://www.sprechersbrewery.com) for local carriers! And they now make Cherry Cola.

Torzelbaum
09-27-2011, 04:36 PM
The best root beer I've ever tasted was from hot dog place called Hey Hot Dog! It takes a long time for me to get there but it is so worth it.There's a drive-in chain called Dog 'n Suds that has good root beer but unfortunately the one closest to my home town closed. :(

TK Flash
09-27-2011, 09:15 PM
Sadly no, Hires is no more. Which is a shame, that was my favorite mass produced brand. I also liked a brand called Ramblin', which wasn't bad. For those who lived in the Grand Rapids area in the 90's, that was the kind they had at Mr. Fables.

This is the LAST place I expected to hear that name. I thought, what the hell is Hires root beer? But if they had it at Mr. Fables then I have definitely had it. It was great.

They had Dog n' Suds at my local grocery store too. My mom used to get it for me, and I loved that too.

Paul le Fou
09-27-2011, 11:15 PM
Japanese people hate root beer, almost universally. They say it tastes like salonpas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salonpas) (smells). So I bought some salonpas.

...ok, it smells exactly like root beer. So there's that. I guess for us it would be like a soda that tasted just like Bengay. (Moxie?) Or maybe they shouldn't have such delicious-smelling medicine...


BUT, down in Okinawa, they actually have A&W restaurants and widely-available root beer, like even in the vending machines. I took a couple teachers to A&W and had a huge-ass root beer float, and I was in heaven. One of the teachers took the customary two sips and was reminded how disgusting it was. But the other! He had a few and got used to it! I've got a convert!



Also I was at some restaurant in the Cleveland area, I think it was Melt, that had a root beer list as extensive as most restaurants' beer lists. Lots of small brews and such. If only the real beer didn't take priority...

Heron
09-28-2011, 12:45 AM
Sprecher's you say, I was looking at a bottle earlier tonight and almost bought it. I'll get it next time though. Instead I got Rat Bastard Rootbeer.

I've been trying different root beers lately because I've just been craving them quite a bit. I finally got some Doc Brown's and it unfortunately doesn't taste all that different from A&W. One I do really like is Virgil's, but I think they make it more like a sarsaparilla, since I had a Sioux City Sarsaparilla that tasted very much like Virgil's, which confused me.

Any suggestions for other root beers to try?

Krakenbrau
09-28-2011, 07:09 AM
So, do any non-dutchy people like Birch Beer? My mom is from Reading and I grew up with the stuff, but most people I've tried to feed it to are nonplussed. Of course, I completely can't stand ginger beer.

I'm glad to see that everyone acknowledges the superiority of A&W to anything else widely available. I am intrigued to know more about homebrew.

I've only had birch beer once, and it was fantastic. I don't remember what it tastes like very well, only that I quite enjoyed it. I guess it's hard to come by here in Canada. I love Ginger Beer though, but it's not widely available either. Ginger Ale is as common as cola here, but that's not the same thing.

I'm actually pretty surprised at all the love for A&W. Not that I think it's bad, I just don't think much of it at all. Although I hear that A&W restaurants are pretty uncommon in the states? In any case, they're pretty widespread up here. My town (100,000 people) has got 4 A&Ws I think, 3 or 4 Wendy's, same number of Dairy Queens, like 6 or 7 McDonalds, possibly more, and maybe 1 Burger King. No Harveys.

My dad and I used to homebrew root beer when I was really little. I can still remember the taste; a decent amount of bite, fairly creamy, and a nice bit of yeastiness. He used to buy a tiny little bottle of liquid mix (like, 50ml) and that made us 5-10 5gal batches. Don't remember what it was called or where it came from.


Man I love root beer, especially real made-with-roots small-batch kinds. But I'm jonesing for even a can of barq's after being in Japan without any. My friend said there was a store here that sold root beer! So I made a trip up to the next town. They did not. Now I'm sad again!

...these food forum posts of mine are starting to sound awful similar.

I remember doing an exchange program with some Japanese students when I was in high school. They -hated- root beer; they said it tastes like medicine. I seem to remember hearing that that's also true in Europe, but I'm not sure. In concordance with your experience, Paul, I couldn't find any root beer when I was in Japan either. But my host family used to give me something called Mitsuya Cider. It was delicious! Lemon-lime soda, but somehow different than Sprite or 7-Up. Wish I could get that here...



I've been trying different root beers lately because I've just been craving them quite a bit. I finally got some Doc Brown's and it unfortunately doesn't taste all that different from A&W. One I do really like is Virgil's, but I think they make it more like a sarsaparilla, since I had a Sioux City Sarsaparilla that tasted very much like Virgil's, which confused me.


I've always wanted to try Sioux City Sarsaparilla (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTZYn6U7OQo), but I don't think it's something that I can get here. What makes it different?


Any suggestions for other root beers to try that can be obtained in Canada?

Paul le Fou
09-28-2011, 05:33 PM
It was weird because I guess I expected it to be an Asian thing, and when we went to Taiwan, bam, Sarsaparilla in the convenience stores. Just a cheapo brand, but any port in a storm, right?

Heron
10-02-2011, 09:33 PM
I've always wanted to try Sioux City Sarsaparilla, but I don't think it's something that I can get here. What makes it different?

I don't really know but I think sarsaparilla has more anise in it. I definitely recommend Virgil's Root beer if you can find it.

Mara
10-04-2011, 05:35 PM
Stewart's root beer is great, as is Thomas Kemper root beer.

Umby
10-04-2011, 06:50 PM
If you live in the Louisiana area, you NEED to try Abita's Root Beer. Certainly it isn't the best I've ever tasted, but it's rich and bitter, with a lot of flavor. Certainly I don't want my root beer to be drowning in sugar like most root beers are.

Daikaiju
10-07-2011, 11:35 AM
A bitter? I am intrigued! Most MicroRoots tend towards the sweet side.