Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ozark Mountain Lemonade

I had one more soda to try from my Ozark Mountain stash. It was pink lemonade:

Ozark Mountain Lemonade


I've had "lemonade soda" once before, and I remember it being OK. This was pretty fantastic.

Brand: Ozark Mountain Lemonade.

Origin: Branson, Missouri.

Purchase Place: Online.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: This had a good lemon kick, but it was also quite sugary. This was REALLY good. As I told me wife, "this would be good in the summer... with a little vodka... sitting in Aunt Jen's backyard on Lake Minnetonka." She really agreed with that statement. It was really sweet with a kick of lemon. It just tasted like summer. This is one of my favorite Ozark Mountain Sodas (along with their Root Beer).

Score: 9 out of 10.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Boylan Root Beer

This has been one I've been wanting to try for a while...

Boylan Root Beer 4-pack


Boylan Root Beer

Brand: Boylan Bottling Co. Root Beer.

Origin: Teterboro, New Jersey.

Purchase Place: Lunds Grocery Store, St. Paul (Highland Park), MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: Honestly, I don't know. I didn't get a strong feeling either way with this root beer. It had a little anise, but not too much for my taste. It was fine, but it wasn't great. I'll have to crack into another one of the 4-pack and report back to see if I can nail down the flavor and my thoughts on it. So for now, I'm giving it a 5. And like I said in my recent post about Vigil's Root Beer, I'll post back when I try it again.

Score: 5 out of 10.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ozark Mountain Cream

This is pink. I tend to like pinkish-redish drinks.

Ozark Mountain Cream

The flavor is hard to perfectly describe. It's like cream soda, but without the "soda." And with a little more of a "berry" flavor, but not really berry-ie.

I couldn't put my finger on it, so I asked my wife to try it. She liked it, and said "Oh, it's a little like cotton candy!" THAT'S the flavor I couldn't describe! She was right - there was a hit of cotton candy. It's like a smooth cream-soda-cotton-candy hybrid.

Brand: Ozark Mountain Bottleworks Cream.

Origin: Branson, Missouri.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: It's sugary, creamy, and pretty good. There's a slight sharpness in the initial aftertaste that is about it's only downside. It has good flavor, and a sweet long-lasting aftertaste. Creamy, smooth, and something I've never really tasted before.

Score: 7.5 out of 10.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Virgil's Root Beer

I was strolling the aisles of Kowalski's last week, and I stumbled upon this:

Virgil's Real Cola, Cream Soda, and Root Beer.

I had some Virgil's Root Beer a few years ago, and I remember liking it quite a bit. Time to try it out again.

Virgil's Root Beer


Virgil's brags that it's actually "brewed," and not just "cold-brewed" like most soda.

And the ingredients list is HUGE. It contains anise from Spain, licorice from France, vanilla (bourbon) from Madagascar, cinnamon from Ceylon, clove from Indonesia, wintergreen from China, sweet birch from the southern US, molasses from the US, nutmeg from Indonesia, pimento berry oil from Jamaica, balsam oil from Peru, and cassia oil from China.

But how does it TASTE?

Brand: Virgil's Root Beer.

Origin: Los Angeles, California.

Purchase Place: Kowalski's Market, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Unbleached Cane Sugar.

Review: It was good. But it wasn't as fantastic as I remember. It was SUPER creamy, but it was just missing a little something. I'll have to report back when I try another bottle to see if I can figure this out a bit more. For right now, I'm calling this "very average."

Score: 5 out of 10.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ozark Mountain Orange Cream Soda

I've had Orange Cream soda once before. It sounded gross (I mean... "orange cream?!... nasty!), but my first bottle was REALLY good. I was hooked.

Yesterday, it was time to try some Ozark Mountain Orange Cream.

Ozark Mountain Orange Cream


Brand: Ozark Mountain Orange Cream.

Origin: Branson, Missouri.

Purchase Place: Online.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: This had a good Orange Cream taste, but it wasn't quite as "creamy" as I'd like. It had a little sharpness that took away from the creaminess. It had a good flavor, but just a little too much of a kick.

Score: 6 out of 10.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ozark Mountain Bottleworks Grape Pop

So I cracked into my "Ozark Mountain" stash last night. I'm a sucker for Grape soda, so that's where I started:

Ozark Mountain Bottleworks Grape Pop
Sitting in our 10.5 inches of new snow.


Brand: Ozark Mountain Bottleworks Grape Pop.

Origin: Branson, Missouri.

Purchase Place: Online.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: It reminds me a lot of Grape Faygo, but it's less syrupy. But I LIKE syrupy. I thought Grape Faygo was a bit better, but my wife thought Ozark Mountain Grape Pop was better. I have 3 more bottles of OM Grape, so I'll have to get a bottle of Faygo and do a side-by-side taste test (stay tuned for that). It's GOOD, but because my initial thought was that Faygo was a bit better, I'm giving it a half point less than my Faygo review.

Score: 7 out of 10.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Surprise In The Mail!

I got a little surprise last week. Someone from Ozark Mountain Bottleworks saw my review of their Root Beer last month. And they wanted to send me some of their other flavors to try!! (My one complaint that I noted in my review of their root beer was that if you wanted to purchase individual flavors directly from them, you'd have to buy an entire case of 1 flavor.)

We e-mailed back-and-forth last Tuesday, and a big box appeared on my porch 2 days later:

Ozark Mountain Bottleworks
Opened up, with the four "4-packs" folded on top.

Ozark Mountain Bottleworks
Underneath, there were 4 bottles of 4 different kinds of soda (plus a bonus Root Beer in the upper left).

Ozark Mountain Bottleworks
Ozark Mountain Root Beer, Grape Pop, Lemonade, Cream, and Orange Cream.

Ozark Mountain Bottleworks
Sodas and the box they came in.

It turns out, Ozark Mountain Bottleworks is a super small company. Chris (the guy who e-mailed me) said the company is just him, his wife, and his Mother-in-Law. And sure enough, I found a photo on their Facebook page wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving a few weeks ago, and it shows the 3 of them:

The people at Ozark Mountain Bottleworks


So THANKS, you 3 wonderful people from Ozark Mountain! That was TOO KIND of you!

I have a bottle of their Grape Pop and their Orange Cream in the fridge, and I plan to crack into one of them tonight. Stay tuned for my thoughts on their sodas!

Check out the Ozark Mountain Bottlework website.  And "like" them on Facebook.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Frostop Premium Root Beer

Friday night, my wife and I got Thai take-out, rented a movie, and pulled out some frosty Frostop Root Beer:

Frostop Diet and Regular Premium Root Beer
Diet and Regular

We first tried the diet. And then we immediately cracked into the "regular." We wanted to do a side-by-side taste test. As it turns out, the regular was a bit better than the diet, but neither were that fantastic.


Brand: Frostop Premium Root Beer

Origin: Columbus, Ohio.

Purchase Place: Lunds Grocery Store, St. Paul (Highland Park), MN.

Sweetener: "Sugar and/or Corn Sweeteners."  (They don't know what's in it?  "AND/OR?")

Review: The very first initial taste is pretty good. But then it turns weak (almost watery), and there's a strange "chemically" aftertaste. It's pretty smooth with little bite and has a decent vanilla flavor, but my wife said it best when she said "it's just missing something." Agreed.

Score: (Regular) 5 out of 10
Score: (Diet) 4 out of 10

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Old Fashioned Killebrew Root Beer

I had to grab a strange looking bottle of "Old Fashioned Killebrew Root Beer" at Lunds last week:

Killebrew Root Beer and Cream Soda
Photo from the Killebrew Root Beer Facebook Page.

(Harmon Killebrew is a baseball legend who played for the MN Twins.  He was 2nd only to Babe Ruth in the AL in home runs!)  

I was ready for this to be horrible. I mean, how many former "big name" professional athletes lend their name to actual QUALITY products? Not many. Take for example the fantastically craptastic "Mustrash Talk" commercial featuring 5x All Star and 2x World Series Champ Keith Hernandez. I expected this root beer to taste as bad as that commercial.

Old Fashioned Killebrew Root Beer


The Killebrew Root Beer website also says you can get these at Minnesota Twins games. My new "root beer goal" is to enjoy a cold Killebrew while enjoying a Twins game in 2013.

Brand: Old Fashioned Killebrew Root Beer.

Origin: Ramsey, Minnesota. (This had BETTER be made in MN!)

Purchase Place: Lunds Grocery Store, St. Paul (Highland Park), MN.

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: Rich and heavy (but shy of being "syrupy") with a great sweetness added by Minnesotan honey (the 3rd ingredient). It has a great combination of perfectly smooth but with some bite at the end. And the twist-top aluminum can was quite nice - I thought it could be weird. Pretty fantastic all around! Just like Harmon.

Score: 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dry Vanilla Bean Soda

Time to pull something interesting out of my dwindling stash from "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store." The brand is "Dry," and I just tried their Vanilla Bean Soda.

Dry Vanilla Bean Soda


"Dry" is right. The soda was VERY dry. But it had a good vanilla flavor. I like how they point out that there are only 4 ingredients: purified carbonated water, cane sugar, natural extract, and phosphoric acid. Their website has other "Dry" sodas listed, and they note what their sodas pair well with. I'd be willing to try some of their other flavors, which are all a bit "odd:" wild lime, blood orange, cucumber, rhubarb, etc.

Brand: Dry Vanilla Bean Soda.

Origin: Seattle, Washington.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: Honestly, a bit too dry for my taste. The vanilla bean flavor was great, but I actually wanted the soda to be sweeter (but that sort of goes against "dry," so I don't know what I was hoping for). It was OK, it was unique, but it wasn't fantastic.

Score: 4 out of 10.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Spring Grove Root Beer

This was the root beer that really kick-started my (current) love for root beer. I hadn't had it for over 6 months, so I didn't know if I had just over-hyped it in my head since then. So I got out my last bottle (from my big "Spring Grove Soda" purchase) a few days ago.

Spring Grove Soda Root Beer


It's got a lot of head. When I set it down, it nearly foamed over. And then it stayed like this for a few minutes:




Brand: Spring Grove Soda Pop Root Beer.

Origin: Spring Grove, Minnesota.

Purchase Place: www.springgrovesoda.com.

Sweetener: Pure Cane Sugar.

Review: It's heady, earthy, smooth, and has a little bite. There's a nice subtle vanilla flavor too. The only down-side for me is that there's just a HINT too much anise (I'm not an anise fan, which is too bad because it's used a lot in root beer). I can't outright say it's my favorite of all time, but it's up near the top.

Score: 8.5 out of 10.

(Side note: Spring Grove Soda is great.  Check out their website and order an assorted case!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Grape Faygo

I brought a few snacks to a student organization meeting 2 weeks ago. I also brought a 2 liter of grape Faygo:

Grape Faygo

Actually, I took a photo showing more of the junk food around the Faygo, and I instagramed that:

Faygo and sweets


I looked online, and did you know that the Faygo website has an entire section with RECIPES? You can use their soda to make lots of different things. I'll have to try a Faygo recipe sometime... I'll make sure to report back if/when I do.


Brand: Faygo Grape Soda.

Origin: Detroit, MI.

Purchase Place: "AA Market," St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: You'll like grape Faygo if you like "syrupy" drinks. One of my students remarked "it reminds me of Dimetapp cold medicine" (she meant that in a good way). It has a bit of a "classic" soda flavor. It IS pretty sugary, and it's hard to take in large quantities. But the flavor is good and strong.

Score: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ozark Mountain Bottleworks Root Beer

Sunday night, I was grilling burgers and peppers in the garage. I figured a root beer would go along with that quite well.

Ozark Mountain
Ozark Mountain on top of the grill in the garage.

Right away, this root beer had a strong wintergreen flavor. I liked it quite a bit. I went to their website to find more info, and I found out they had a lot of other sodas. I was thinking about ordering a variety case, but they only sell individual flavors as a case. Dang. I'd love to try their other flavors, but I'm not willing to try 24 of ONE flavor at a time.

Brand: Ozark Mountain Bottleworks Root Beer.

Origin: Branson, MO.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane sugar.

Review: Strong, smooth flavors. It was heavy on the wintergreen, but not to the point where it got to be too much. Good vanilla flavor as well. This was GOOD root beer.

Score: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cool Mountain Cream Soda

Cream Soda time. I grabbed a clear bottle of "Cool Mountain Cream Soda:"

Cool Mountain Cream Soda


Brand: Cool Mountain Cream Soda.

Origin: Des Plaines, IL.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This was pretty good. If you like "plain" things, you'll like this. It's simply sugary and smooth. There's not a lot of flavor, but the flavor that's there is spot-on.

Score: 6 out of 10.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Favorite Lemon Lime Soda To Date

The first Root Beer I reviewed on this site was Simpson Spring Root Beer. I also had purchased a bottle of their "Lemon & Lime Soda," and it was time to crack into that:

Simpson Spring Lemon & Lime and Root Beer
Simpson Spring Lemon & Lime, along with my 2nd bottle of Simpson Spring Root Beer.

I wasn't sure about the unnatural color that this soda had, but it turns out it was DELICIOUS. (And I like the 10 oz bottles - it's a nice amount without being too much.)

Brand: Simpson Spring Lemon & Lime Soda.

Origin: South Easton, Massachusetts.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar and/or Dextrose and Fructose.

Review: This was very different from other Lemon-Lime sodas that I've had, and it's a little hard to describe. It was heavier on the Lime, but it wasn't tart - it was still very sweet and smooth. I've tried some bad Lemon-Lime sodas lately, and this one was by far the best. I'd go purchase this again in a heartbeat.

Score: 9 out of 10.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Barons Boothill Sassparilla.

I've got a few bottles of Sarsaparilla left in my case from "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," and I was in the mood for some late last week. I grabbed some Barons Boothill Sassparilla. I wasn't impressed.

Barons Boothill Sassparilla


Brand: Barons Boothill Sassparilla.

Origin: Glendora, CA.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Fructose.

Review: If you gave this to me out of the bottle, I wouldn't know what I was drinking. It tasted more like a "strange" cherry cola than a Sassparilla. It didn't taste horrible (if you told me it was cola I wouldn't have thought much about it), but there was a bit of an unnatural aftertaste. Not great.

Score: 3 out of 10.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Steve Q's Homemade Root Beer

Last weekend, I had my first homemade root beer since about 5th grade.

Steve's 389 Root Beer
Foam cups and 2 liters of root beer in the grass on a Fall day.

It was from Steve Q, who I met about 2 years ago through my triathlon / running blog. Since then, we've met-up at a few races.  He knew my wife and I were going to be cheering at the Monster Dash race, so he met us with his root beer. Apparently, both Steve and I are BIG root beer fans.

The first thing I noticed is that it hardly had ANY head in Steve's root beer. He said that people making their own root beer have to add some weird things to add foam, and he'd rather keep "weird thing" out. The best thing he asked before he let me try any of it was "You're not allergic to much... are you?" I knew I was in for a treat.

Brand: "389" (named for the bottle Steve mixes it in, which was used in an analytical chemistry lab in the 1980s)

Origin: Maplewood, MN.

Purchase Place: Not purchased anywhere... just consumed in the blvd along Summit Ave last weekend.

Sweetener: Sucrose.

Review: Thick, flavorful, and delicious. (Notice the ring it left in the cup in the photo above.) It could have used some foam, but it was still REALLY good.

Score: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Triple XXX Root Beer

I'm starting to run low in my "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store" stash of root beer. I'll need to restock by Thanksgiving! Over the weekend, I busted out some Triple XXX Root Beer:

Triple XXX Root Beer
Across the bottom, it says "MAKES THIRST A JOY"

Their website shares a nice history of the company, which was originally started in Texas. It also says it's "tastes like root beer used to taste." And that's about right - it tastes like "classic" root beer.

Brand: Triple XXX Root Beer.

Origin: Lafayette, IN.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Pure Cane Sugar.

Review: This is sort of a "can't go wrong" root beer. It's nothing fancy, but it tastes (in my opinion) the way root beer should. And it has a great freakin' label!

Score: 8 out of 10.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nature's Nectar Pumpkin Cider at Aldi

My wife stopped at Aldi a few days ago, and she found a treat for me. She introduced it saying "I'm not sure if this will be great or horrible..."

Nature's Nectar Pumpkin Cider


We both sniffed it after we popped the top. It smelled strongly of ginger, and I thought it might taste too "harsh" for my liking. But the first sip was pretty good! And it was in a ceramic-cork bottle that I'll be able to save for when I start brewing some of my own root beer. (I think you can use bottles like that... I guess I'm not totally sure because I haven't done it yet.)

Brand: Nature’s Nectar Sparkling Spiced Pumpkin Cider.

Origin: Batavia, IL.

Purchase Place: Aldi, St. Paul.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: It tastes like an apple cider / pumpkin spice / sparkling soda. It actually tastes MORE of apple than it does of pumpkin (apple juice is the second ingredient behind carbonated water), but I'm not complaining. It's unique but not too "out there." It tastes like fall. It's a good Oct-Nov treat.

Score: 7 out of 10.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Goose Island Chicago Style Root Beer

I was shopping at Kowalski's Market in St. Paul this past weekend with my son, and we came across some Goose Island Root Beer.

Goose Island Root Beer


I've had this before, and I remembered liking it, so I left with a 4-pack.

Goose Island Root Beer


Brand: Goose Island Chicago Style Root Beer.

Origin: Redding, California.

Purchase Place: Kowalski's Market, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: I liked it before, and I still like it now. It's not too heavy, has a nice vanilla smell, goes down smooth, and has just a little bite. The combo of smooth and bite makes this a great soda that most people will like. There's a great "sweetness" (not sugary) to this root beer.

Score: 8 out of 10.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mercury Root Beer

After trying some so-so sodas recently, it was time for me to go back to root beer.

Mercury Root Beer


Brand: Mercury Brewing Company Root Beer Soda Pop.

Origin: Ipswich, MA.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This was good. It was a bit heavy, almost a little thick, and quite vanilla-y. Not fantastic, but good.

Score: 6 out of 10.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Jic Jac Strawberry Soda

So after my poor experience with Jic Jac Lemon Lime Soda as noted in my last post, I thought I'd give Jic Jac another try. (I have 3 different Jic Jac flavors to try: Lemon Lime, Strawberry, and Blue Raspberry.) So Thursday night, I tried Jic Jac Strawberry Soda.

Strawberry Jic Jac


Unfortunately, this didn't win me over either. Dang.

Brand: Jic Jac Strawberry Soda.

Origin: Mukilteo, WA (first produced in St. Louis).

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This wasn't bad, but I wanted it to be better. This had a weird "chemically" aftertaste. I wish the strawberry flavor was stronger - it just tasted a lot like sugar. My wife thought it tasted a little like Crush, and I thought it tasted a little like a cherry Icee that had melted. I've had better strawberry soda before, but this wasn't horrible.  It earned an extra point for having delicious post-consumption burps.

Score: 4 out of 10.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Jic Jac Lemon Lime

I bought a few bottles of Jic Jac soda when we first stopped at "Minnesota's Largest Candy Story" last month. The other night, I tried their Lemon Lime soda.

Jic Jac Lemon Lime

The logo looked old, so I looked up a bit of Jic Jac's history and where it fit into the "Lemon Lime Soda timeline." This is what I learned on Wikipedia:

Bubble Up is the oldest common Lemon Lime soda, as it was introduced in 1919. (I just recently tried Bubble Up, and it was just OK.) 7-Up was introduced 10 years later in 1929, and Sprite was introduced in the early 1960s. Jic Jac was first produced in the 1950s in St. Louis, and then it moved west about 20 years later. But how would it taste?...

Brand: Jic Jac Lemon Lime Soda.

Origin: Mukilteo, WA (first produced in St. Louis).

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: It was just OK. The Lemon Lime flavor was good, but it had a slightly harsh / chemical aftertaste that was undesirable. Sprite or 7-Up tastes better.

Score: 3.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lester's Fixins Sweet Corn Soda. Yes, SWEET CORN.

This was my most "out there" purchase when I bought my case of assorted sodas at Minnesota's Largest Candy Store. This was simply to intriguing to pass up. Sweet Corn Soda?!? I had to grab a bottle.

Sweet Corn Soda


I opened it this past weekend when family was visiting so we could all try a little.

Sweet Corn Soda


It smells strongly like actual sweet corn mixed with a can of creamed corn.  The smell is not that appealing - it almost made me gag as I was going in for my first sip. But the taste isn't TOO bad. It doesn't really taste like sweet corn, but it has a "sweetness" to it.

Brand: Lester's Fixins Sweet Corn Soda

Origin: Camarillo, California.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: I can't believe I'm saying this, but I wished it tasted MORE like sweet corn. The flavor was just a strange sugariness. The only reason this isn't getting a "0" or a "1" is because it's entertaining - this would be a fun bottle to open with friends (like I did) to see who actually likes it.  You won't ever forget your first sip of Sweet Corn Soda.

Score: 2 out of 10.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Gale's Root Beer

The bottle said "cinnamon vanilla ginger flavored," and I just had to try it.  I grabbed a bottle of Gale's Root Beer:

Gale's Root Beer


I found Gale's website, but it didn't have much on her root beer.  Then I found a Facebook page that showed this photo of the ginger and cinnamon all ready to infuse a batch of root beer:

Ginger and cinnamon ready to be added to the root beer


The flavors come in waves, not all at once. When you first take a sip, the initial taste is a pretty normal, smooth, vanilla flavored root beer. Then the cinnamon hits you - it's not "red hot" cinnamon, but it's more of a Christmasy "cinnamon spice" flavor. As you're done sipping is when you finally notice the bite of ginger.

Brand: Gale's Root Beer.

Origin: Riverwoods, Illinois.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This is unlike your "normal" root beer.  The bottle says "cinnamon vanilla ginger flavored," and that's what you get. The flavor is noticeably different, but it's not too strong. This is the first "differently flavored" root beer that I've had that I have NOT hated. If you're looking for good ole' root beer, this might not be for you. But if you're looking for something a little different and you like just a little tang, check out Gale's Root Beer.

Score: 6 out of 10.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Millstream Old Time Root Beer

As someone who grew up in Southern Minnesota, I've been raised to have a distrust in all things Iowan. It's in my blood. But my love for root beer is stronger than my negative feelings for Iowa, so I had to try this Iowa-born Millstream Root Beer.

Millstream Root Beer


Brand: Millstream Old Time Root Beer

Origin: Amana, Iowa.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: This had a unique flavor that I couldn't quite put my finger on.  It's a bit herby with a little bit of anise flavor (but not too much for this anise hater right here).  Good, but not amazing.

Score: 7 out of 10.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dad's Blue Cream Soda

I tend to like unnaturally colorful sodas. If it's redder than a sports car or bluer than the sky, it's going to be sugary and delicious. So I was intrigued by "Dad's Old Fashioned Blue Cream Soda."

Dad's Blue Cream Soda


Brand: Dad's Old Fashioned Blue Cream Soda.

Origin: Jasper, Indiana.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: It's really sugary, but the super unnatural blue color tipped me off to that.  I DO like sugary soda, but this is almost a bit much for me.  However, the "cream soda" flavor that emerges right after the sugar rush is delicious!  It's super creamy and leaves a great taste in your mouth.  If you like cream soda AND sugary soda, then this is for you.

Score: 6.5 out of 10.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lost Trail Sarsaparilla

Years ago, I realized I loved root beer.  It took a few more years to realize that sarsaparilla was similar, and (in many cases) as equally delicious.

I had to do a quick Google search to find out the actual difference between root beer and sarsaparilla.  I found this (and I underlined things that I found important):

What is Sarsaparilla?
While the sarsaparilla essentially is also a 'root beer', going by its definition, the drink is made from the sarsaparilla root alone. The plant is a vine which is abundantly available in Central America. It's Spanish name zarzaparrilla is derived from the words 'zarza' meaning 'shrub' and 'parrilla' meaning 'little grape vine'. The Central Americans were apparently the first people who came up with the idea of using the extracts of this vine to prepare this beverage. The way they saw it, it had a remarkable medicinal value and there are many uses and hence till date considered to be a good medicine in treating syphilis. It also gained popularity later as a beverage in the old west. If you remember the Yosemite Sam character, which was loosely based on a guy from the old west, he often mentioned that he wants a 'sasparilly' and that he wants it 'really snappy'! Today, is a drink which is made primarily from this plant, without mixing it with anything else. As such, the sarsaparilla root beer recipe contains only one flavoring ingredient: the sarsaparilla itself.

What is Root Beer?
Unlike of course, the root beer. The root beer is a drink made from a combination of roots, in tandem with the sarsaparilla, such as cinnamon, clove, licorice, vanilla, wintergreen, etc. The root beer comes in several flavors based on the other roots used. Unlike sarsaparilla of course, the root beer uses a combination of different substances to dilute the taste of sarsaparilla which some people may not enjoy. Root beer in essence is an adulterated sarsaparilla since it contains a mix of other ingredients. It has a lighter aftertaste than sarsaparilla. The root beer comes in two varieties, the alcoholic version and the soft drink version. Both drinks are well loved and have their followers all over the world.

OK.  So now I know a little more.

So I tried a syphilis remedy sarsaparilla from my stash the other night:

Lost Trail Sarsaparilla


Brand: Lost Trail Sarsaparilla.

Origin: Louisburg, Kansas.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This was amazing from the start. It's super smooth, and pretty flavorful. It's "rooty" and herby, and it tastes a bit of vanilla. The flavors work soooo well together. This is a sarsaparilla that could disappear in a second because it goes down so smooth.

Score: 9 out of 10.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Bubble Up Lemon Lime Soda

I got to try a "classic" 2 nights ago when I got home from work. I pulled my frosty bottle of "Bubble Up" lemon-lime soda (born 10 years before 7-Up) out of the fridge to enjoy with supper.

Bubble Up


Brand: Bubble Up Lemon Lime Soda

Origin: Jasper, Indiana (bottled by Dad's Root Beer).

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: I tend to like lemon-lime sodas. This one was just OK. (I've always wanted to try Bubble Up, and I think I was just expecting more.) It's very sharp and crisp, but it had more lemon in it's lemon-to-lime ratio than I'm used to, so it was a bit "strong." My wife even commented that it was a bit like drinking "ReaLemon." However, it seemed to taste better as I drank more of it, and the post-consumption burps were tasty.

Score: 5 out of 10.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Empire Root Beer

Rhode Island makes shitty root beer.  Or so I found out on Wednesday night when I tried this:

Empire Root Beer


Brand: Empire Root Beer.

Origin: Bristol, Rhode Island.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: It wasn't smooth, but it didn't really have bite either.  It was like it was trying to be both, but it failed at both - it needed to pick a team and stick with it.  I didn't care for the taste.  It wasn't horrible, but I wouldn't purchase this again.

Score: 3 out of 10.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dorothy's Isle of Pines Root Beer

Ely, Minnesota.  It seems like a place where everyone is friendly. And everyone is bearded. And everyone wheres plaid. And everyone drinks root beer. (I can't really say - I've never been that far north in Minnesota.)

Yesterday's selection was Dorothy's Isle of Pines Root Beer, brewed just a few hours north of the Cities.

Dorothy's Isle of Pines Root Beer

Dorothy Molter is remembered fondly as the “Root Beer Lady.” Dorothy lived in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) in northern Minnesota. She lived on the Isle of Pines on Knife Lake for more than 56 years where she paddled, hiked, fished, skied and snowshoed until her death in 1986. She was visited by as many as 7,000 people a year. She was such a part of the community that there is a museum in downtown Ely devoted to her life.

The museum's website writes about her root beer: "Dorothy brewed 10-12,000 bottles of homemade root beer each year. Chilled by ice cut in the winter from Knife Lake, Dorothy’s home brew provided a welcome treat for the thousands of paddlers who visited her island home. While Dorothy’s Root Beer is no longer brewed in her 8-gallon crock, it is still the favorite beverage of travelers to the Canoe Country."

Brand: Dorothy's Isle of Pines Root Beer.

Origin: Ely, Minnesota.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: Smooth, strong, a bit "zesty," and a lot of flavor on the tongue. Flavor disappears quickly and doesn't stick around (which is keeping it from getting a slightly higher score).

Score: 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Simpson Spring Root Beer

On Saturday, I made my first trip to "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store" just south of Jordan, MN on Hwy 169. They had 92 kinds of root beer (and 87 kinds of licorice), and shelves and shelves of other obscure sodas.  I had to leave with a case of 24 kinds of assorted soda:

Case of Root Beer

I will be back to that store!

Sunday night, I cracked into my stash.  I started with a Simpson Spring Root Beer with a distinctly baby blue cap:

Simpson Spring Root Beer

Brand: Simpson Spring Root Beer.

Origin: South Easton, Massachusetts.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: Nice and smooth, but a little too much anise aftertaste for my taste.  Good carmel flavor.

Score: 7 out of 10.

Monday, October 1, 2012

How It All Started...

I've always loved root beer. Always.

Around 2008, I made it a point to buy a new kind of root beer if a saw one in the store. So I often came home with random solo bottles, 4-packs, or 6-packs of new root beer to try.

In the Fall of 2011, I was dining with some friends at the Heartland Restaurant in Lowertown St. Paul. The "farmers market" part of their restaurant had a local root beer called Spring Grove Soda Pop. I bought 2 bottles, and I soon fell in love. In January of 2012, I ordered a case (24-pack) of Spring Grove Soda Pop that contained 3 bottles of each of their 8 kinds of soda:

Spring Grove Soda Pop Selection
(Now they have more than these 8 flavors.)

You could say this blog started with my first case of Spring Grove Soda Pop. But it's been an idea in the works for years.

I'll post a mini-review here whenever I have a root beer or other "non-mainstream" soda. I'll point out local and national distributors of sodas that I like. I'll try to share anything delicious in the "soda world" that I feel like others should know about.

I have no deep insight into today's non-mainstream soda market. I don't know anyone on "the inside." I do not claim to know it all. (In fact, I welcome any info, tips, or leads on good soda, especially local brews.) I'll simply share the delicious, sugary findings along my journey with all of you.