Abita Root Beer Review

Abita Root Beer comes from the Abita Brewing Company located 30 miles north of New Orleans. It's a relatively recent company, being founded in 1986. Their main focus is beer, but they have also released this root beer. They brew their root beer with a "hot mix" process using spring water, herbs, vanilla, and yucca. They also emphasize that they use Louisiana cane sugar, giving their drink a taste reminiscent of "soft drinks made int he 1940's and 1950's." They source their water from a artesian well located near their brewery.

Immediately after opening, a strong but common root beer smell  hits you (think IBC). But common doesn't mean bad - it is actually quite an enjoyable smell. So it is off to a strong start with a nice, familiar aroma.

The taste, however, is not as impressive. There is a strong vanilla flavor, but overall it lacks punch. If I had to give a general assessment I would say it tastes like watered down IBC. Also the carbonation is somewhat flat, making it taste thin. The taste hardly registers when you first drink it, noticeable only after it has filtered down around the tongue. Even then it is thin tasting, but quite sweet. Although I usually like sweeter root beers, the sweetness here just isn't appealing to me. At times it almost tastes like plain soda water on the tip of the tongue, then really sweet in the back taste buds. It has a licorice aftertaste, but not the anise flavor of White Rose. It did get better with time, letting my mouth get used to the sweetness so it could distinguish the various flavors.

This is a middle of the road root beer. Better than brands such a MUG or Barqs, but it doesn't compete well when compared with stronger brews.

Score 5/10

Good: A nice smell and it gets better with time.
Bad: Thin tasting and very sweet. The flavor just isn't that strong or interesting.

Listed Ingredients: carbonated water, cane sugar, caramel color, root beer flavor, phosphoric acid
Price: $2.05

White Rose Root Beer Review

It's hard to know how to write a root beer review. My biggest worry is that an abundance of adjectives will make me sound like a pompous wine-reviewer where I talk about the various fruit flavors and how the tannins from the Bourgogne region in France are better than the low-brow California wines. My other worry is that I will write with such a breezy style that I could fit on a Tumblr hipsterific blog. Hopefully I can find a middle ground. 

I decided to start with Galco's own White Rose Root Beer that was developed by John Nese. Galco's has a line of private sodas that it is beginning to develop, but I haven't tried any of the others. The owner told Laura that he wanted this to taste like old, classic root beer. Based on their blog, the name White Rose comes from an old Highland Park bottling company that used a local spring as its water source. I am not sure where it is bottled, but Galco's is advertising it as a locally developed brand. 

One thing to note is that I drink my root beers straight from the bottle. None of this glass pouring stuff for me. What fun is it buying a drink in a glass bottle if all you do it pour it into a glass? Might as well just buy it in a can if that is the case. Sure, I suppose I am losing some of the experience by not being able to smell, or by not letting the root beer breathe, and I won't be able to talk about the foam head or the color. But I just like drinking from a glass bottle.  

I've always thought that there is basically one important spectrum of how to classify root beers: the Root Spectrum. Some may call this the bite or the sharpness or the sassafras/Smilax regelii taste. I just call it the root taste because it is the distinctive flavor unique to root beer. White Rose falls in the middle of this spectrum. I find it to be rather smooth and easy to drink with no sharp flavors except for a light anise flavor on the back of the throat in the aftertaste. It is sweet, but not too sweet. I can't identify all the flavors here, but there is a higher amount of variety that normal for a root beer, but they are subtle. It is clear that this was crafted to be a sophisticated drink. All in all I say it works, but I think that even though it has a lot of different flavors, overall it comes off a bit thin. The flavors are light and the sweetness doesn't really mix with the other flavors. Laura liked it better than I did but overall it was an enjoyable root beer. 

Rating: 7/10

Good: complex flavors, sophisticated taste, locally developed.
Bad: thin, anise isn't my favorite flavor, sweetness doesn't mix with rest of the flavors.

Price: $2.45
Made from: water, pure cane sugar, natural and artificial flavors, citric acid, and caramel color

Root Beer Review Series: Introduction

Root Beer Collection

Today Laura gave me a great gift: root beer! I have never really been a beer connoisseur, so I have taken up the hobby of trying different root beers whenever I get the chance. For several years I have been trying various brands whenever I could find something new. After a while I realized I wasn't keeping track of what I liked and only had general recollections of what I thought was good or not. So I have decided to try to keep track of the various root beers I try here, mostly in order to keep them straight myself. Hopefully others will find my quest for the perfect root beer interesting. 

Galco's Soda Pop Stop

Laura picked the bottles up from Galco's Soda Pop Stop nearby in Highland Park. This is an interesting store for the sheer variety of soda and John the owner is great. He has been there every time we have been and he is always friendly and helpful. Apparently he helped her pick these out. I would highly recommend anybody going there to see his huge selection of soda - it is worth the trip just to see it and talk with John. Here is a great video showing his passion for soda: 

Happily the store has enough variety that we have plenty more to check out even after I finish drinking and rating this first batch. I will publish my first review a little later today.