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Root Beer Recommendations?

ElsieDee Apr 7, 2007 11:18 PM

Hopefully 'all will be able to help me out here.

My darling S/O laments the lack of three foodstuffs (he's not too much of a 'Hound, but he's coming 'round).

1. Brantford, ONT. fries - I agree with him, they're the best I've ever had. We're reconciled that we just need to travel to Brantford more often.

2. Schneider's Oktoberfest Sausage (also from ONT.) - I'm working with his mother to get some shipped south next fall, as a surprise.

AND (the one I'm looking for help with):

3. He swears that Snapple used to make a "clear root beer," which was "the best," I don't recall Snapple making root beer, but I'm willing to conceed that my memory isn't always my strength - I have asked if he's remembering Clearly Canadian's root beer (which was also clear), but he says that it was Snapple.

Anyway, whatever it was, it's apparently no longer available. I asked him what made the root beer that he's craving so special - he says that it wasn't too sweet or syrupy, it had a full, rich flavor, and was well-carbonated (he complains that lots of root beer goes flat too fast).

His birthday is approaching soon and I was thinking that maybe for one of his gifts I'd try to find a couple different brands of root beer that might approach what it is that he's desiring and put together a mixed six-pack or two. (Oh, but if I have to buy full six-packs, that's okay, too.)

Any suggestions will be much appreciated.

  1. p
    paprkutr Apr 7, 2007 11:22 PM

    I like Stewarts, but trying going to sodapopshop.com and check it out they'll ship you various kinds and then he can do a taste test.

    1 Reply
    1. re: paprkutr
      r
      RoxyGrl Apr 8, 2007 09:33 AM

      I second Galco's, aka http://www.sodapopstop.com/ (the link above is incorrect). Since you're in the LA area you really should stop by in person. the owner is extremely helpful and you might end up buying a case or more once you see their selection

      Also, I don't think your SO was hallucinating - I found evidence of Snapple Root Beer here http://www.annoyances.com/rb/master.h...

      and on wikipedia!

    2. s
      Steve Apr 8, 2007 06:59 AM

      Found this site for you.....

      http://www.rootbeerreviews.com/brews/...

      I've tried a Blue Sky Root Beer that I think your BF would like, because I remember it as being very carbonated and not too sweet, but I'm not sure of its availability.

      1. jfood Apr 8, 2007 07:42 AM

        If you have the Stewarts Stands where you live, you will find that the root beer served at the orange diner is the best. If not it's grocery store brands. Like you I do not rememebr Snapple root beer but here's a link that proves you and me wrong and your SO right.

        http://www.annoyances.com/rb/master.h...

        For me Stewarts is still the best, but I also like A&W and Barq's. Most people tell me that Boylan's is their favorite and i gave it a try. I found it too sweet.

        1. Adrienne Apr 8, 2007 08:45 AM

          I love rootbeer too and although I'll drink just about any rootbeer, I do have some all-time favorites.

          Virgil's http://www.virgils.com/about.shtml is excellent, and their webpage names all the stores that sell their product. I haven't read their "about," but I know that Virgil's BBQ is in Times Square in NYC and that it's not quite like being in Texas but it's quite good, and they brew their own... I want to say a few types of beer plus root beer.

          Also, the local beer where I live now, Abita, makes a root beer. It's good and very unique (flavored with yucca or something crazy). At this website: http://www.popsoda.com/abitarootbeer.html if you click "drink me," you can actually order per bottle.

          Finally, in Kutztown I once attended a Dutch festival, and they served amazing sarsparilla there which might make a great addition to your root beer experience gift -- and again this website will let you order it http://www.caneandreed.com/soda.htm

          Good luck!

          5 Replies
          1. re: Adrienne
            lulubelle Apr 9, 2007 04:59 PM

            I love Virgils, but it is the Guiness of root beer. You have to really like strong flavors to appreciate it.

            1. re: lulubelle
              jpschust Apr 10, 2007 07:33 AM

              And it's almost as low in alcohol content as Guinness :)

              1. re: lulubelle
                thunderbug84 Apr 10, 2007 07:48 AM

                Mmmm... Virgils is amazing. And no corn syrup in it! Their cream soda is also REALLY good.

              2. re: Adrienne
                amyzan Apr 10, 2007 08:02 AM

                I like Virgil's best for drinking--it's got great, complex flavor, and thick foam, yum! Their other flavors are just as outstanding. Please try at least once.

                I also have to give a nod to St. Louis based Fitz's, who makes a root beer that's on the sweet side, probably a kid's favorite, BUT it makes a GREAT root beer float with vanilla ice cream, also known as a "black cow." This is one of my favorite summertime treats, a must after grilling out burgers or dogs. Sitting on the porch, eating one of those as the sun sets late, reminds me of my grandma's house...

                1. re: Adrienne
                  o
                  oryza Sep 8, 2008 01:33 PM

                  I cast my vote for Virgils too!

                2. GroovinGourmet Apr 8, 2007 08:55 AM

                  I must throw in a mention for IBC out of Birmingham, Alabama. I used to cart the stuff home by the case when I lived in Atlanta and traveled the US southeast. Their diet root beer is perhaps the tastiest sugar-free soda I can think of. Worth seeking out, as is their black cherry soda. Their cream soda is not so hot...

                  1. Nukedli Apr 8, 2007 02:06 PM

                    I found all the big name root beers to be comparable to a McDonalds burger, when what I thirsted for was something better. I really like Sprechers - a small brewery that adds honey and real vanilla.The BevNet review says it has, "...rich, root flavor and thick, creamy head."

                    http://www.bevnet.com/reviews/sprechers/

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Nukedli
                      f
                      Feed_me Apr 8, 2007 08:36 PM

                      I have drunk a lot....er, probably too much root beer in my time. With the onset of age, etc., unfortunately I've had to cut back. The best root beers I've had in recent memory are Henry Weinhard's and AJ Stephen's. Oddly enough, Weinhard did root beer during prohibition (to keep the place going) and brought back the root beer about 10 years ago. My beer drinking friends dislike their beer, but when they drank the root beer pretty much say, "Why do they bother making beer?" It's very good root beer. AJ Stephen's is supposidely from Boston, but people from Boston tell me they don't see it in Boston. Anyway, they make several variations and I've had their old(e?) fashioned root beer and birch beer. Both are pretty good. I've had Sprecher's and it's good, but I think not quite as good as Weinhard's or AJ Stephens. I live in southern California so I do visit Galco's which is considered the mecca for soda (and root beer) drinkers. Saw this posting on the 'net and this guy rates Weinhard's the highest. Incidentally, all 3 brands (and more) are available at Galco's and I think they do ship (but it's expensive).
                      http://www.rootbeerreviews.com/brews/...

                      1. re: Feed_me
                        annagranfors Apr 10, 2007 04:01 PM

                        I'll second (or third) Weinhard's. if I close my eyes and drift away enough, it's almost like a mug of A&W circa 60s/70s, which is the highest praise I can offer. (although a can of Frostie's from the mid 60s comes close, but that's filtered through happy memories of day camp, hard to believe as *that* may seem.)

                        y'know, if A&W (or somebody) was smart, they'd open a "replica" restaurant of one of their drive-ins, cars and all, featuring frosty mugs of the real deal, along with the "family" of burgers--Papa, Mama, and Teen Burgers. and I would be WAY heavier. :)

                        1. re: annagranfors
                          liu Apr 10, 2007 06:01 PM

                          annagranfors, I posted my vote for Weinhard's also! Hmmmm...reminiscent of A&W...YES! Perhaps we are dating ourselves. I wonder if the different preferences coincide at all with age and those of us who grew up on A&W find Weinhard's to be the closest to our memory of that frosty mug!

                          1. re: liu
                            m
                            ML8000 Apr 10, 2007 06:40 PM

                            There are still A&W restaurants (there's several in the Bay Area) but they I don't think they use the mugs...too many people steal them.

                            1. re: ML8000
                              l
                              Like go grinz Apr 10, 2007 09:09 PM

                              Ya, I stop at the Corona A&W / Long John Silvers for a frosty mug everytime I drive south on the 15 fwy. Free refills are like a 50's/60's childhood dream come true. There are many stops that have A&W. Check out the store locator below by entering your state and zip. I loved A&W as a kid but now it is Sioux City Root Beer and/or Sioux City Sarsaparilla for me. On the road though it is nice to stop for that frosty mug that just hits the spot when it turns the root beer to ice on the walls of the mug.

                              http://www.awrestaurants.com/

                          2. re: annagranfors
                            c
                            cooknKate Apr 11, 2007 05:29 AM

                            We have an A&W locally with the good root beer and the 'family' burgers, but they don't use the authentic mugs anymore- they are all plastic now but still the root beer is ice cold and delicious. You can park and order just like the old-style places and it's only open April-October. The food is decent, it's served hot and the toppings are fresh; the fries and onion rings are good and of course, the root beer is delish.

                            1. re: cooknKate
                              c
                              Crazynurse Jan 9, 2014 09:47 AM

                              I live where A&W began in Vancouver. They are like McDonald's up here. They still use the frosty mugs too. I still won't drink unless I'm as dry as a popcorn fart. Whoop there it is.

                      2. liu Apr 8, 2007 09:35 PM

                        Henry Weinhard's root beer is my first choice!

                        1. k
                          KevinB Apr 9, 2007 12:35 AM

                          I haven't had this since I was a kid, and I think it was (is?) a New England specialty, but I really like Nehi. Barq's is OK, but since I found I have diabetes, I can only drink diet pop, and it's hard as heck to find diet Barq's (or diet A&W or diet Mug), plus when available, they are almost never on sale, whereas I can usually get 3x12 cans of diet Coke for about $10 Cdn.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: KevinB
                            c
                            Crazynurse Jan 9, 2014 09:51 AM

                            That's terrible. If I had to drink diet I'd have to find a new addiction. I thought I had problems.....

                          2. m
                            ML8000 Apr 9, 2007 05:36 PM

                            I'm an IBC fan. Closest I've found to the defunct Hires. Doesn't have the same bite or crispness as Hires but it's reasonably close. Still dry and not too sweet. Also you can get it at grocery store for $2.70-$3.50...compared to others that go for premium prices.

                            1. o
                              oltheimmer Apr 10, 2007 01:50 AM

                              I was sampling a bunch of different root beers a year or so ago and decided I liked Bulldog best. It's from Oregon and available at Cost Plus World Markets for $6 a six pack. I think it has honey and vanilla in it so may be too sweet for your SO.

                              1. Katie Nell Apr 10, 2007 06:14 AM

                                I used to work at a since defunct veghead/ health food restaurant, and we had 9 different kinds of rootbeers (but no other pops)! I tried them all, but Hansen's was my favorite, in the bottle, of course! http://www.hansens.com/

                                1. s
                                  swsidejim Apr 10, 2007 07:55 AM

                                  For me I only drink Sprecher Root Beer from Wisconsin, that touch of honey they add makes it velvety smooth

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: swsidejim
                                    meatn3 Sep 4, 2008 11:08 PM

                                    My favorite too! I was so happy when I found it locally - I used to have to hint, bribe and weep to get a Wisconsin native friend to bring back some from her yearly visits home.

                                    1. re: meatn3
                                      s
                                      swsidejim Sep 8, 2008 01:18 PM

                                      I have also tried Goose Island recently and like it, made with cane sugar.

                                  2. Brian S Apr 10, 2007 08:57 AM

                                    There's a tiny, wildly popular place on south Peoria Ave in Tulsa that makes their own root beer. It's brewed in the basement from a secret mixture of 15 roots and herbs and served on draft in big frosty mugs. It's the best root beer I've ever encountered. The depth and flavor is incredible and puts the bottled stuff to shame. So if there's any place like this where you live, go for it.

                                    1. l
                                      Like go grinz Apr 10, 2007 09:33 AM

                                      Sioux City Root Beer and/or Sioux City Sarsaparilla. are the best there is. Four of us went to Galco’s and bought over 12 brands of root beer for a blind taste test. Sioux City won out. We have done this twice during a house party. Try the taste test yourself. Stewarts, IBC, A&W – undrinkable after trying Sioux City. The other brands mentioned also fall short. You can only know this truth if you do a side-by-side taste test. Something happens to the taste buds (they get smart) when you try different brands side-by-side. For example, for many years I thought Dr. Brown’s cream soda was great. We tried a creme soda taste test and Henry Weinhard's Vanilla Cream won all of us as well. Dr. Brown’s taste like crap next to Weinhard’s and that was the opinion of us all.

                                      Galco’s
                                      5702 York Blvd.
                                      Highland Park
                                      (323) 255-7115

                                      1. Amuse Bouches Apr 10, 2007 10:41 AM

                                        I'm another root beer fan, and I've found Virgil's to be a little mild and creamy to my taste. My favorite rootbeer I've tasted lately is Sparky's -- brewed in Pacific Grove, CA and locally available. A really full spicy flavor.

                                        http://www.sparkysrootbeer.com/

                                        You might also look into birch beer (I've only seen it in New England, not in California) -- it's like rootbeer but with a slightly different flavor profile and clear.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Amuse Bouches
                                          BarmyFotheringayPhipps Apr 10, 2007 10:47 AM

                                          I was just about to suggest that the OP try Polar Birch Beer, which is readily available online (Hometown Favorites sells it, among others) and is clear.

                                          1. re: Amuse Bouches
                                            SecretAsianMan Sep 4, 2008 10:41 PM

                                            I enthusiastically second Sparky's. I drank it at a local watering hole and fell in love with its homemade taste. For Angelenos, Sparky's is available by the case at REAL SODA in Torrance. WwW.realsoda.com

                                            SAM

                                            1. re: Amuse Bouches
                                              c
                                              Crazynurse Jan 9, 2014 09:41 AM

                                              Yeah Boylan's makes a Birch Beer that's serviceable. It's all over the place in Vancouver.

                                            2. b
                                              Bride of the Juggler Apr 11, 2007 07:03 AM

                                              In Lancaster, PA, there are several Amish/Mennonite stands that sell homemade root beer in gallon jugs. It's fantastic stuff. Thank you.

                                              1. Chew on That Sep 5, 2008 12:38 PM

                                                IBC root beer is a personal favorite! I love root beer!

                                                1. j
                                                  Jimbosox04 Sep 5, 2008 03:37 PM

                                                  This is more than likely what he is look for, not sure if it is still available but you could contact them and ask.

                                                  http://www.rootbeerreviews.com/brews/...

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Jimbosox04
                                                    Whosyerkitty Sep 6, 2008 11:29 AM

                                                    Goose Island Root Beer. Brewed by Goose Island Brewery and made with pure sugar.

                                                    1. re: Whosyerkitty
                                                      c
                                                      Crazynurse Jan 9, 2014 09:42 AM

                                                      You mean cane sugar? I agree the best brews are made with cane sugar. Thank you Mexico.

                                                    2. re: Jimbosox04
                                                      Chew on That Sep 8, 2008 01:08 PM

                                                      This is awesome! Thanks for the list. I now learned that maybe there are better root beers than my IBC...

                                                    3. x
                                                      xdcx Sep 8, 2008 01:10 PM

                                                      saranac out of ny state is by far the best I've had. nice creamy head and really smooth.

                                                      1. Jonny509 Sep 8, 2008 01:35 PM

                                                        You can't beat IBC root beer. I don't care what anyone says.

                                                        1. p
                                                          ProfessorRootBeer Feb 15, 2009 11:48 AM

                                                          I'll second the recommendation on bulldog. Not sure if it is like snapple's, but it is a great brew.

                                                          The Professor is Back
                                                          www.professorrootbeer.blogspot.com

                                                          1. t
                                                            talos41 Jan 31, 2010 08:48 PM

                                                            It is true Snapple did (or does) make a clear rootbeer. That taste as good or better than any other one I ever tried. I haven't seen it in years, and seriously wish I could find it.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: talos41
                                                              g
                                                              gfr1111 Jan 8, 2014 10:24 AM

                                                              I looked up the Snapple Company on the internet. I has gone through at least three big corporations' hands in quick succession and has now been spun off as an independent. I'll bet that somewhere along the line, root beer was discontinued.

                                                            2. m
                                                              ML8000 Jan 31, 2010 09:34 PM

                                                              At the local grocery store (Lucky's) in NorCal, they started selling Teddy's Root Beer. It's close to IBC, but perhaps a bit less dry. Similar flavor profile. It's made in Washington State. Website didn't work, couldn't find any web info besides reviews.

                                                              I read two reviews. They said it's good but not great, likable, probably a B grade, tastes like root beer, better then the major brands but not as good as whatever you like. I'd agree with this and if you like IBC you'll like this but if you like Thomas Kemper not as much.

                                                              I took a liter camping and drank it the first two days. It kept it's carbonation, a handy size, tasty and a good value ($1.39 for a liter)

                                                              1. c
                                                                Crazynurse Jan 7, 2014 06:08 PM

                                                                For sure the best root beer is Virgil's hands down. It's comes in a bottle straight out of the 1930's. Also I love Margo's Bark. All proceeds go to shelter dog's and it is stellar. My last suggestion would be Jackson-Hole. Route 66, Fireman's Brew, Sprecher, Dr. Brown's and Abita are all good but I'd stick with the first 3. I think you can see I drink a lot of root beer. You can trust me for the gospel.

                                                                1. b
                                                                  Big Bad Voodoo Lou Jan 8, 2014 06:32 AM

                                                                  I remember Snapple's clear "Tru" root beer very well, but not exactly what it tasted like.

                                                                  I know this is an old thread that got bumped up, but as a root beer aficionado, I have to plug my all-time favorite: Big Shot, from New Orleans. It is also impossible to get outside of the NOLA area, and you can't order it online anywhere either. Believe me, I had been trying to get my hands on some more for over a decade, until a friend brought me back three bottles from a New Orleans trip last year. It was as wonderful as I remembered -- creamy and smooth, almost like a root beer/vanilla cream soda hybrid, without any of the herbal "bite" associated with Barq's.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
                                                                    c
                                                                    Crazynurse Jan 9, 2014 09:36 AM

                                                                    Thanks man. There's been an estimated 200 commercial brands of RB but there's thousands making there own at home too. I don't think I ready for that yet because I'm too damn lazy. I'm just enjoying the nostalgia as well as the flavour varieties that I have dug up around my home in Vancouver, Canada. There's a real small batch, .5% alcohol brew made by The Cariboo Brewing Company called The Boo up here that is in my crosshairs up here that is like a hybrid of the commercial/ home brew. I'm on it man. I'll let you know if it happens. It is most likely in the government run liquor store up here. Goddamn Canucks regulate anything with alcohol. We are a mess up here, don't ya now, eh? You are dead on about Barq's too. I went to The Rootbeer Store in Lynwood, Wa (another branch in Puallup, Wa) and was floored. We just don't have a Megastore for RB here. I buy most of mine at a local shop called Sticky's in Langley, BC. Have to give props to Red Arrow and Route Beer 66. Good luck.

                                                                    1. re: Crazynurse
                                                                      a
                                                                      Ariadanz Jan 9, 2014 06:42 PM

                                                                      One I haven't seen mentioned is a very local soda from the Kutztown PA area. While their root beer is brown, they have a white birch beer that I adore.

                                                                      http://www.kutztownbottlingworks.com/...

                                                                  2. TroyTempest Jan 8, 2014 10:11 AM

                                                                    Maine Root is the best commonly available around here.
                                                                    http://maineroot.com/

                                                                    St. Arnold's (the brewery out of housston) makes a nice root beer too. Very rooty.

                                                                    1. TroyTempest Jan 8, 2014 10:31 AM

                                                                      Ok, one more rec from my youth, which i thought was out of business.
                                                                      XXX originally brewed in a brewery in my home town of Galveston, TX during prohibition. XXX makes thirst a joy, was the slogan.

                                                                      Wow, what a great website, includes the entire history of this root beer, and links to order it online.
                                                                      https://triplexxxfamilyrestaurant.com...

                                                                      I never knew there were XXX restaurants. According to Wikipedia, "Only two Triple XXX root beer restaurants still exist, in West Lafayette, Indiana and Issaquah, Washington"
                                                                      I haven't had this stuff in ages. I wonder if it is still good.

                                                                      Thanks to whoever bumped this thread

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: TroyTempest
                                                                        c
                                                                        Crazynurse Jan 9, 2014 10:18 AM

                                                                        It's amazing to how life works. I end up with the worst imaginable health problems and it has forced me to reshuffle my deck and play a new hand. I bumped this thread, not knowing or expecting this would happen. I have felt like I was on an island but I can see I'm not. It's a good thing. Really good thing. I think my rootbeer fetish stems from the fact that my time here is limited and my thirst for something genuine. I have no desire for the cookie cutter crap that comes in plastic bottles. I want that experience that throws you back to a better time. A brew that makes you pause, and think. A flavour that brings back memories, and develops over time. I know there out there, it's what this is about. I'm confused by the feeling of loss I experience for something I've never had. I guess that's the beauty of the brew. I will seek it out in earnest with the time that remains. We all should. Does that make sense?

                                                                        1. re: Crazynurse
                                                                          TroyTempest Jan 9, 2014 05:35 PM

                                                                          Yes. It makes a hell of a lot of sense. Thanks for your honesty. I sincerely wish you well, as i'm sure your fellow hounds do.
                                                                          Let us know how your quest for great root beer is going.

                                                                          1. re: TroyTempest
                                                                            c
                                                                            Crazynurse Jan 9, 2014 06:25 PM

                                                                            Thanks Troy. It's good to know my spirit remains healthy even if my body isn't. I'll update the hounds on my quest for the grail.

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