Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Virgil's Doctor Better review

It's basically a Dr. Pepper drink, end of. Compared to the mass produced Dr. Pepper this Virgil's Doctor Better drink is a bit smoother but none the less has the same odd taste. I realise this sounds weird especially with root beer being a specialist taste. If you're a fan then get in there, it's probably the best Doctor drink you can get.

In case you were wondering where the 'doctor' drink concept came from then you have to go way back when these type of drinks were marketed as a brain tonic and energizing pick-me-up. Available only in chemists in the US around the late 1880s.

If you love Battenberg cake then you'll love this with a smooth marzipan taste. There's no caffeine and contains all natural ingredients so none of that nasty high fructose corn syrup. Available from American Sweets for £1.49 a 355ml bottle.

There's plenty of US-based soft drinks reviewers out there including this guy - Soda Tasting who rates it as much as I do:

I rate this personally:


Thursday, 15 October 2015

Hansen's creamy root beer review

After a few months of root beer abstinence due to giving up on finding any decent imports, the Soda Folk root beer success gave me some confidence in the UK market. I've since rediscovered that American Fizz is stocking a few root beers I've yet to review. Last time I ordered from this Bournemouth-based shop was the Virgil's root beer which passes the EU sodium benzoate ingredient test. I rated it 8/10.

This Hansen's root beer is Germolene on the extreme. Not too sweet but not as creamy as proudly displayed and stated on the 355ml can. Ingredients say there's Tahitian vanilla extract, wintergreen, birch, anise, sassafras as well as a lot of sugar. Luckily the sugar doesn't give you that tooth melting sensation and would say the birch taste takes over. If your freinds thought root beer tasted weird then be prepared to feel even more outcasted with this flavour. Don't be fooled by the the vanilla flavour - it comes in like a ninja, thinking you get a glimpse of it at the start but it's fleeting and disguised.

If like me, if you hadn't heard of Tahitian vanilla but more used to seeing Madagascan vanilla in your ingredients listings then let me enlighten you with this new knowledge!

Taken from Huffington Post:
"Tahitian vanilla comes from the island of Tahiti, part of the French Polynesia. It's sweet and fruity and has less natural vanillin (that distinctive vanilla taste) than Bourbon and Mexican vanilla. This bean has a more cherry-like, floral, licorice taste. The Tahitian vanilla pod is fatter and moister than Bourbon vanilla, and contains fewer seeds inside its pod. It tends to be deeper in color than vanilla from Mexico and Madagascar, but the flavor is more subtle. It's nuanced and unique taste make it a great choice for dishes that use vanilla as its main flavor profile."

This explains the limited vanilla flavouring with this Hansen's root beer. However, if you want a caffiene-free, vanilla-flavour free root beer for £1.09 a can then this is for you! The price is the same as paying for the likes of A & W, Barq's and MUG. I rate ths:


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Soda Folk Root Beer review

I never thought I'd see another British brewed root beer after the whole EU ban on sodium benzoate affair. I thought the home market would give up their love affair for US germolene tasting weirdness and resort to colas and other fizzy drink brands. Yet only in the space of a few weeks another British-made root beer brand comes along to stick two fingers up at the regulators and provide us fans a true taste of America.

I'm really happy to say we have another A & W root beer beater with only Dominion being the best available in the UK so far. Is it better than Dominion? Well, that might just be down to personal taste but to me there rate about the same to me.

I love the quirky branding design with the lumberjack character. Soda Folk also offer a Cream Soda drink using a boxer (which I'll review later). Would love to have been at their marketing and design meeting to discuss chosing these characters.

Soda Folk themselves have a great background story. USA born Ken Graham moved to London in 2012 and soon missed his favourite soft drinks. Having grown up with many local brands (and even foraging ingredients to brew his own root beer as a kid), Ken knew his onions when it came to root beer and its distinct taste (note: the root beer doesn't taste of onions).

The Soda Folk root beer ingredients really stand out in the taste test. The wintergreen taste is natural and strong, there's a hint of vanilla but its the maple syrup taste that kicks in the tastebuds to complete the experience.

There's a good price to match as well. This 330ml can costs £1.25 from American Sweets (The Stateside Candy Co.) and there's also a 335ml bottle for £1.25 direct from Soda Folk but you'll need to order 12 and pay £5 postage). You may also be lucky to find this root beer in Selfridges and Byron Burger restaurants as well as some independent sweet shops including Tony's Sweet Shop located in Exeter (credit due for telling me about Soda Folk).


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