Saturday, January 5, 2008

Root Beer Snob

Well, I've been a snob with things like computers, coffee, beer, and cheese for so long that I guess it was only a matter of time until I became a soda snob. It all started around last Christmas when a fellow X. admin shipped me some Coca-Cola made with cane sugar. I couldn't believe the difference in flavor between the corn syrup and cane sugar varieties - it was night and day. It continued this past fall when I went looking for the Root Beer of my youth (Hires) and found that the conglomerate which had purchased Hires decided that they didn't want to market it in the city of it's birth any more. Kinda ticked off, I went in search for some decent Root Beer, because it was a big company which took Hires away from me I decided the the big brands were not going to be part of my search. Instead, I was going to find a local or micro-brew Root Beer that had the flavor that I was searching for. Ironically, my search took me to a big conglomerate supermarket which had the selection of Root Beers I was looking for. Let me run down my discoveries in the order I like them:

  • Stewart's: I might get kicked out of the region for saying it, but I've got to say that Stewart's is way over-priced for their product. There's nothing great about it other than the bottle, and it uses corn syrup rather than cane sugar. It's also the second most expensive product on this list. I call it "pedestrian."
  • Hank's Root Beer: If this was made with all natural flavors it might be number two. Hank's is made in Philly, and has a great flavor. It's made with cane sugar and is actually the cheapest product on this list. It's pretty dang good - just wish it was all natural flavors.
  • Natural Brew: It's got a distinct flavor, and it creates ice crystal really fast in the freezer. It's kinda pricey, but the complex taste and interesting sweetness make it worth a try.
  • Virgil's Root Beer: This is what root beer should be. It's pricey, over $5 for a four pack (it's a treat, not an every day item) - but ohh how delicious. It's an all natural microbrew, and the only product on this list that doesn't make use of the infamous "caramel coloring" ingredient. This doesn't mean, however, that it's a clear brew. Nope, this root beer has a deep caramel color to go along with it's great taste. They get it by actually caramelizing unrefined cane sugar. It's probably one of the huge reasons Virgil's is so pricey, but as an occasional treat I have to say Virgil's is the best root beer I've ever had.
Those are the four I've been working with so far. Try 'em out and let me know what you think.


CoderForChrist said...

It's sad that good soft drinks are so expensive.

Then again, it's also sad that, here in the city in which Coke originated, I have to buy Coke imported from Mexico in order to get real Coke.

Mandy said...

I have another one for you: Jones Soda. It's pricey but they only use cane sugar.

Dr. Qohelet said...

There's this Mexican restaurants near our place that has real Coke and Mexican sodas. I'm not sure if they have root beer, but you'll have to come over for dinner some time (dinners are only about $10 a plate).