I bought this root beer on Maui, Hawaii, in February 2018, at the Rodeo General Store in Makawau, after being defeated by the Haleakala volcano. So. Rainy.
The young man behind the counter (who is planning on “pursuing his music career”) enthused wildly about this root beer: it’s made locally; it’s the best root beer in the world; it’s made only with Hawaiian ingredients; did I mention I play guitar?
As I left the store to enjoy my root beer, I overheard the young man enthusiastically promoting the box of ballpoint pens about to be purchased by the next customer. I settled down to assess the label:
- Purified Water — agreed, likely Hawaiian
- Natural White Cane Sugar — a.k.a. sugar. They do make grow sugarcane in Hawaii, but I’m doubtful…
- Local Honey
- Hawaiian Vanilla Extract — Did they grow the vanilla here, or just extract it?
- Natural Root Beer Extract — Ah yes, the delicate first press from the rare and coveted stamens of the rootbeeris nonsensis flower. Hmm?
Coming from a can, it has that unfortunate tinny taste. Underneath that though, you can taste the hint of vanilla. Upfront sweet taste. The honey doesn’t come through. Not creamy, carbonated, somewhat thin. Not the best root beer in the world, sorry to say.
A friend of mine picked up this root beer at a local gas station. I can imagine it now: between the vacuum-packed beef jerky and cigarette wrapping papers, a mildewed refrigerator with enormous bottles of soda and energy drinks, and this gem hiding in the back. Thanks Erik for your sharp eye.
Anyways, enough about gas stations — let’s talk about Frostop. It’s decent root beer with a traditional taste, nothing remarkable. However, the stability of the foam is rather remarkable for a root beer, with a long-lasting dense head like Guinness. A shame, really, since I don’t imagine the road warriors who normally buy it from the gas station carry a chilled glass with them, and so I suspect this feature goes largely unnoticed.
The jumbo size is obviously too big for one person (I shared it with a friend over about an hour), and the squooshy plastic bottle is rather downmarket, but I suppose what can you expect for a product sold in a gas station? All in all, a decent brew, with an extra point for the foaminess.
I found this empty bottle of Bulldog underneath my bed today. I don’t remember drinking it. It must have consumed it late one night, smelling of booze, a little fuzzy-eyed, and then let the bottle drop there, unnoticed, until now.
I don’t recall anything about this root beer. I don’t even recall drinking it. Maybe I wrote something down, but it hasn’t surfaced yet. If I knew where to buy another bottle, I would pick up another one and give it a fair review. But considering how widely I roam to find these things, it could have been from anywhere.
So here’s my assessment: an excellent post-bar root beer.
Harvey and Vern’s falls in the “sweet and creamy” category of root beer. It is made with “pure cane sugar” (also known as “sugar”), and, interestingly, has yucca extract in it. I’m not sure what the yucca contributes, exactly — their website claims it gives the soda a wintergreen undertone, which I always appreciate, but I didn’t pick up on that myself (likely due to cycling-related exhaustion). It’s definitely creamy, though, and a bit cloying. It has a nice novelty cap, and everyone knows I’m a sucker for a good novelty cap.
Serve this root beer in an iced glass at a summer backyard party. You’ll impress your friends with a fancy soda, but you won’t offend anyone’s pallet with anything too complex.
Overall, I give this root beer a surprisingly low rating… surprising even to myself as I write it up, considering that I recall it being pretty darn decent. I guess I was feeling vindictive that day. Oh well. I’ve never claimed this website is objective.
Harvey & Vern's Soda
Birdie and Bill’s is a sugar-free “all natural” root beer. Thus my expectations were low to start. After all, I have yet to come across a sugar-free root beer that is worth the name. Fortunately, Birdie & Bills does try to make an interesting, tasty product that, though not exactly like root beer, can still hold its own. It tastes like sarsaparilla, with a slightly bitter, astringent quality. The closest flavour comparison I can identify is Brio soda, that dry and herby fizzy Italian soda, but with a bit of root beer concentrate added in for good measure.
One interesting thing about Birdie and Bill’s is that it it sweetened with Sweeten FX, a branded sweetener that contains erythritol, which is not very popular in North America but is making great gains as a sugar alternative in parts of Asia.
I give this root beer a 7/10 not because I particularly like it, but because I often get flack for being too hard on the sugar-free options, and as far as that goes, this one is pretty decent.
Have you ever wanted to bring the delicious taste of root beer with you on on a multi-day backcountry hike? Me too! Now there’s a product just for us: Mitten Munch trail bars. According to the manufacturer’s website, Mitten Munch is…
The finest organic vanilla and spices make for a flavor that is truly one of a kind. Packed with cashews, and almonds, chia seeds & organic golden Flax seed–this hearty bar is like a portable and delicious mug of your favorite root beer treat.
We found this root beer for sale at a cycling shop and tourist stand at the end of a 100 km cycling day down Quebec’s Route Verte #1. It’s made in Richmond, Quebec, only a few km from where we’re sitting. It’s “100% Naturel”, and is made of “Appalachien Mountains spring water”, plus colourings and flavourings.
The aroma and flavour are definitely on the creamy side. The flavour is traditional root beer with a bit of licorice. The aftertaste is mild (good thing), and it’s not too sweet. It’s not terribly complex, though. The branding is excellent – shortie bottle, and none of that “Ye olde time” nonsense.
Disclaimer: I’m really tired, thirsty and dirty from a day of bike riding, so I can’t guarantee I haven’t been swayed in this review by thirst and gratitude for the rest.
Made in Quebec, Canada. www.bulls-head.com
River City Root Beer is a classic – made by root beer people for the root beer crowd, with little awareness of the flash-pow marketing normally coupled with soda sales. The front of the label is laughably bad (I suspect it was made in Microsoft Office 2000 using clip art), but the back has an adorable iconographic set of instructions for making a root beer float.
The flavour is robust, but not particularly complex. It has a classic flavour profile, and does not attempt to gussy it up with the newfangled concepts of the designer soda world. I agree that it would be great for a root beer float — old fashioned and to the point. My dad would appreciate this root beer.
Bought in Portland, Oregon, USA. www.bluedogbeverage.com
Babbling Brooke’s Root Beer showed promise from the start. The label is hilariously faux-old-fashioned, inexplicably featuring a guy dressed as a gondolier poling his way down river rapids in a barrel alongside a chambermaid. The proclamations of “old fashioned” and “all natural” are actually supported by the ingredients list, which includes a variety of good things, including, among other things, cinnamon bark, star anise, sassafras, and orange peel.
The aroma is strongly of liquorice – from the star anise, presumably. The flavour is deep and earthy, and can only be described as “rooty”. This helps offset the sweetness, which is not overpowering. The flavour could be a bit brighter in my opinion – perhaps a touch more orange? – but this is only my preference, not a criticism.
This root beer is brewed by Nickel Brook Brewery in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. They are clearly experts at brewing beer, and carried over their passion for crafting a fine brew to this root beer.
This is truly a fantastic root beer. If you like dark, earthy flavour with lots of spicing, this is for you.
Bought at Vincenzo’s grocery store in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
The warning signs for Oogavé were very clear from the start. “Organic”, the label proclaims. “Purified water” is the first ingredient. On the side is a laundry list of qualifications: Gluten free, low glycemic, caffeine free, vegan. Of course, those are all true of practically every root beer, but who cares? This one comes in a chic transparent bottle that looks oh-so-svelte when lined up next to the other sodas in the lineup with different label hues.
The sugar source is organic agave nectar, but the flavours are all added as chemicals. In fact, besides water, there are no root beer ingredients at all. This root beer is visibly different than others, with a relatively transparent colouration that suggests “thin and forgettable”. Indeed, it tastes like heavily flavoured tap water, albeit fizzy. One advantage of the thin flavour is the relatively light sugar content. At only 100 calories, you might be able to drink these often and not stretch your yoga pants too thin.
Really, though, this is one of the worst I’ve ever had. Like a low-calorie soda stream knockoff bitter water. Yucky.