Showing posts with label 7/10. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 7/10. Show all posts

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:


Thursday, 24 September 2015

Square Root London root beer review

The current UK root market is a little like the sports world. With many being banned for illegal enhancing ingredients, the remaining field has dwindled to only a handful. Stepping up to the challenge is a UK brewed root beer by the name of Square Root from London.

We British love an underdog and from the label and price this one appears to be a classy, well-bred character. Let's call this the Tim Henman of root beer. Lots of fans (back in the day) but ultimately up against the American class it won't win anything major.

First impressions were good, an interesting mixture of flavours. Tasting a little more like honey with a mild impression of the burdock and liquorice hints coming through, you could almost get the impression it was a health drink. After that though most of the subtle flavours disappears which is quite strange. At £2.70 a bottle it is very expensive but with the amount of choice out there it's worth a go. If we don't support these home-grown (home-brewed?) root beers then we risk losing it all through lack of demand.

Many thanks to Cyber Candy for sending me this root beer. They also sell Dominion root beer which is a more traditional American root beer taste and one I would strongly recommend.

7/10 (won't be to everyone's tastes)
Square Root London root beer

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Frosties root beer review

This was a bargain at 99p from American Fizz but was a special deal at the time and is now priced at £2.29. It's a huge bottle of 947ml or a quart in US measurements designed for sharing with.

The taste is ok, smoother than the canned HFSC root beers but not as good as it's Frostie Vanilla root beer counterpart which I reviewed back in January. After a day being originally opened in the fridge, a lot of the carbonation had gone and didn't retain its taste either.

Checking the actual ingredients is rather confusing and I'm sure would be illegal in the UK. It quotes 'High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Cane Sugar'. Well, which is it?? It tastes more like sugar but the overall quality is less so than the top rated root beers so can only assume there's a mixture.

On taste alone this I would award this:


Friday, 12 September 2014

Faygo root beer review

Another canned clone which has the same taste as A & W, Barq's, MUG, Day's, IBC etc. It's good but like all the other mass-produced, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) canned root beers it'll just be a case of how convenient it is to buy your root beer. I'd be happy to buy this in any supermarket, corner shop or convenience store but if your specialist store has root beers without HFCS then I'll ignore it.

However, this Genuine Faygo Old-fashioned Draft Style Root Beer is possibly the cheapest I've come across at just £0.69 a 355ml can. American Fizz (based in Bournemouth) also offer different sizes in this Faygo brand with choices of the 12 pack of cans, a 355ml glass bottle, a 710ml and the 2 litre bottle. Checking the Wikipedia page for Faygo and it appears that American Fizz is the official importer for Europe so that would explain its good price and range.

With such good value and a taste that's not too sweet I rate this:


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Day's root beer review

Another mass-produced root beer from Day's made in Springfield (unfortunately, no Simpsons connection here - apparently Oregan gets that nod). Bought from American Soda for 99p a can. Love the 'Did you know' quote from the American Soda website for Day's which basically means that the founder was a petty thief:

"The Day's Beverage Company was founded by Freddy Day after he was caught stealing from a soda delivery truck! Given the choice of facing the police or helping out with the deliveries, Freddy chose to help the driver. His passion for soda was born and a few years later in 1946 he founded the Day's Beverage Company and began manufacturing and distributing his soda throughout Philadelphia. For 20 years Day's thrived before Freddy's death. The company was resurrected in 1996 by his sons David and Fred Junior and has been thriving ever since."

Other Day's products include a Champagne Cola, Blue Pop and Mountain Pop as well as many fruity-flavoured fizzy drinks.

Their root beer is very similar to other popular brands like A & W, Mug and Barq's, but just a little bit more sweeter. These mass-produced root beers will be just down to availability and convenience.

I rate this:


Saturday, 23 August 2014

MUG root beer review

Mug is a mass-produced brand by Pepsi so its easy to compare this to A&W root beer. The last time I drank it was waiting for a helicopter flight along Manhattan Island whilst on holiday in New York (2006). It was a special American moment and possibly the second time to have had root beer after McDonald's in the UK stopped selling it.
The taste is so close to A & W I can't really tell the difference. I would love to do a blind taste test with Mug, A & W, Barq's and to be reviewed Day's. Shame its full High Fructose Corn Syrup but for mass-produced root beers under a £1 a can there is no real alternative.

Overall, a good tasting, very sweet, tooth decaying root beer I rate as:

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Rat Bastard root beer review

To be honest I didn't think I'd be drinking another root beer this year. Thanks to my lovely wife she dsicovered new stock in Brighton's Cyber Candy shop and bought me three bottles.
I'm not sure I should take it personally that the first one to review is called Rat Bastard. How did it do? Well it won't break any hearts on taste but is a very interesting read with its ingredients. Skulleap or Mad Dog Weed, Shitake, Ginseng from 3 different countries and Goldenseal.
A mild root beer taste and a sugary coating of the teeth sensation. As a welcome back drink to root beer I'm looking forward to more.
I rate this 7/10.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Spring Grove root beer

Normally I buy root beers in threes from my local Cyber Candy shop, here in Brighton but the shelves were nearly bare after the Easter break. No doubt all the visiting foreign students were spending the Euros trialling root beer or perhaps my blog is having an effect on the local economy (in my dreams anyway).

So this Spring Grove was only one of two I bought with a Hosmer White Birch Beer - review coming soon. Drinking straight out of the bottle and the fizziness hits you first and I expected quite a flavourless root beer. A few more swigs and a good head starts appearing through the clear glass bottle. This makes the taste a little creamy, hints of vanilla and then your teeth alert you to the pure cane sugar. Normally I wouldn't recognise the sugary-ness but after checking the bottle's ingredients I spot there's actually a mixture of cane sugar and corn syrup. Its not as bad as Daddies root beer but I certainly wouldn't drink more than one bottle a day otherwise my dentist would have a heart attack. Towards the end of the bottle the caramel flavouring comes through reminding me of warmed up Coca Cola when your molars feel they have a sheen of sugary coating.

Whilst I appreciate the full-headed, creaminess this is just a little too sweet for me.


Thursday, 17 April 2014

Lurch Birch review

Birch drinks are new to me though are displayed in the same section as root beers. Couldn't resist this particular birch drink being named after the supermarket trolley boy / simple-minded killer in the film Hot Fuzz. I was expecting a different taste to root beer, though naively expected a woody flavour like some bourbons. Instead I got a very ordinary root beer, slightly caramel but nothing special.
Shame really as I was hoping to discover something very new.
Another Cyber Candy purchase I award this 'left coast recipe' (as per the label):


Thursday, 3 April 2014

Empire Root Beer review

This Empire root beer had all the right first impressions. Polite labeling, pure ingredients and a respectable history (established in 1930). Once opened it had a pleasant smell and a very smooth texture but the taste was extremely subtle. It was like a whisper of flavour. Towards the end of the bottle the taste continues to 'bland up' and reminds me of A&W root beer. Not a bad thing but if you've paid (sometimes) double the price of more mass produced drinks you expect a little more for your money.

The same company also produces a banana flavoured soft drink. Check out Ross's Soda blog to see what he thinks.

So, the Empire root beer is not a bad root beer and at least it has 100% cane sugar. I rate it:


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Sunday, 16 March 2014

Stewart's root beer review

I already had reservations before drinking this Stewart's root beer. The ingredients list were suspiciously like other mass produced root beers headlined with the high fructose corn syrup and, for the UK it was available from online stores selling well known, mass produced products like A&W and Barq's, not the normal gourmet, independent ones I usually buy.

After a good root beer smell and a very strong carbonation feeling on the tongue there's a distinctive taste at the back of the throat which I really can't describe. It might be burnt caramel like crème brûlée but after a few more concentrating sips another memory came through - a kind of medicinal smell, even more so than the typical root beer flavour. My psychic powers could only conjour up that the after-taste was Covonia, the cough syrup.

Like all root beers drinking from ice cold is the best way. As this root beer warmed up the flavours changed and lost its tartness. I'll blame the HFCS (though have no scientific proof of that).

Bought from for £1.99, in light of the unusual after taste that kept me guessing but with the cheap ingredients and mid-range price I'm rating this a generous:


What do other reviewers say

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Friday, 7 March 2014

Squamscot root beer review

As soon as you open this bottle of Squamscot your expectations are raised by the inviting smell of vanilla. Just a shame that the immediate taste is a little disappointing being quite watery and distant. The root taste sneaks in at the end but it's too little too late.

Still, after a couple of mass-produced root beers its great to taste a fresh and natural albeit weak tasting drink. Good to see that pure cane sugar is being used instead of the horrible high fructose syrup and is caffeine free. The rest of ingredients looked very natural until I read the following two items: Methyl Salicylate and Sodium Benzoate. Actually both are (sort of) natural with no real worries. Only the Sodium Benzoate had some nutritional issues - it's not great for kids with AHHD but on the other hand its naturally found in cranberries and apples.

Squamscot are a very, very old New Hampshire brewery and their website matches this heritage (tongue-in-cheek, sorry). Established in 1863 there are an amazing amount of other flavours including the Maple Cream, Fruit Bowl, Half and Half (lemon and grapefruit), and Yup (which is just lemon, yup, just lemon). For this I doff my cap to.

Apart from that, the label design isn't going to win any awards. It looks like the company has used a Windows 95 PC with a first edition of PowerPoint to design it (and the website in Word). Still it has a some charm and could always be used in films and TV shows looking to recreate the early 1990s.


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Monday, 3 March 2014

Barq's Root Beer review

Our friends up north, American Soda based near Manchester kindly contacted me to offer a couple of root beer samples. As well as Dad's root beer I was also offered this Barq's root beer.

American Soda offer a great range of USA goods from sweets, chocolate, soft drinks, baking goods and even washing powder (?). There's even some Harry Potter merchandise.

For root beer American Soda has a generous handful of canned and bottled drinks:
  • A & W (in regular and diet and also available in 2 litres)
  • Barq's
  • Dad's
  • Mug (in regular and diet)
  • IBC (in regular and diet)
  • Sioux City
  • Stewarts (in regular and diet)
  • Days
On the can it says there's 160 calories which I thought at the time sounded reasonable. However, compared to Coke it wasn't that much different. Still the marketing gimmick worked. Whilst we're talking business here it worth mentioning that Barq's is part of the Coca Cola group so it's mass-produced and therefore cheaper than the gourmet root beers I would normally go for.

The actual taste surprised me despite all the high fructose corn syrup. It's a standard root beer taste with enough depth and plenty of fizz (if you like seeing a head to your drink). Tried the second free can I received with a vodka based root beer float and it worked like a charm. There was an odd after-taste right at the end of the gulp but for some reason my taste buds weren't quick enough to recognize it. Strange and it didn't put me off.

Since Barq's is a mass-produced root beer like A&W there's not much difference between the two, hence the score being the same. They both taste good and are priced at £1.29 from the American Soda online shop. I can only suggest you buy both and take the taste test.


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Thursday, 20 February 2014

A & W Root Beer review

So, finally got to drink what is possibly the market leader in root beer. A & W has the marketing power of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group (previously Cadbury-Schweppes) and is possibly more served in American themed restaurants in the UK than any other brand.

It has a good standard root beer taste, fizzy though slightly watery and artificial. The 'Aged Vanilla' didn't exactly make itself known to my tastebuds. If it did then it crept in like my mouth was a library and went straight to the checking desk. Despite being a mass-produced root beer it didn't offend so scored above average.

I was hoping it would be cheaper in the Cyber Candy Brighton store being perhaps the most popular but it was the same price as all their gourmet selection. Even more annoyed that the website sells it at £1.29 a can. The Brighton store used to do the 2 litre bottle but now only do the canned version at £1.80.


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