Welcome!

November 14, 2011
Filed under: random junk — anthony @ 12:56 pm

Hello and welcome to the oldest, largest and frankly the best root beer reviewing site in the world! over 625 brands reviewed so far! i also throw in birch beer and sarsaparilla reviews occasionally while i am at it since to me, they are the same genre. once in a while i even detour into other branches of the root beer tree, such as spruce beer, dandelion & burdock and the like. a new review publishes every week on Monday with the random post or review of root beer related stuff every once in a while. feel free to submit your own ratings, check out the rankings from me and other visitors, see what sodas are available near you and more. make a float, tap a keg or mix some extract up and enjoy!

anthony (me) started reviewing root beer related drinks in '96 but has always loved the delicious joy of root beer and birch beer and just kept it going ever since. if you have any suggestions of features you'd like to see or sodas you want reviewed, let me know!

 
 

A-Treat Birch Beer

March 7, 2002
Filed under: birch beers — anthony @ 4:50 pm
Type: Brown Birch Beer Comes In: 12 oz can, 20 oz plastic bottle, 2L plastic bottle, keg
Available: NJ, PA, online Obtained in: online from the Amish Country Store
Head: Small Sweetener: sugar, fructose
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.a-treat.com/

i got a keg of this for my friend mike's birthday several years ago and it was quite tasty so i was excited to get to try it again. yup, tastes about the same. very very minty, wintergreen. yummy. i love wintergreen. the funny thing about getting a keg of root beer was we had like a month to get it back to them before we lost the deposit so it stayed in mike's room for the whole time and was always good. never finished it i don't think. oh well. anyhow, this is pretty good. a little over carbonated maybe but that is not so bad. this is probably the best soda i have had in a can.
Anthony's Rating: 91
User's Rating: 86
# of ratings:48

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Acme Birch Beer

September 20, 1997
Filed under: birch beers — anthony @ 8:04 pm
Type: Red Birch Beer Comes In: 12 oz can, 2L plastic bottle, 3L plastic bottle
Available: NJ Obtained in: Acme, Plainfield, NJ
Head: Medium Sweetener: high fructose corn syrup
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.acmemarkets.com

very curious that it is red… sadly it is not too much like the only other red birch beer i have had, Boylan's Creamy Red. this stuff has some weird sort of menthol smell / taste that is kind of subtle but still rather annoying. and it ruins a decent taste otherwise.
Anthony's Rating: 28
User's Rating: 50
# of ratings:52

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AJ Stephans Pure Cane Sugar Birch Beer

December 8, 2002
Filed under: birch beers — anthony @ 4:46 pm
Type: White Birch Beer Comes In: 12oz glass bottle
Available: CA, MA, OK, online Obtained in: Boston, MA by Mike M
Head: Small Sweetener: cane sugar
Calories: 170 Sodium: 35mg
Carbs: 45g Sugar: 43g
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.ajstephans.com/

ok, so this is the final AJ Stephans product i know of. although i have a feeling there is a cooresponding "Olde/Old Style Birch Beer" out there somewhere. (does anyone else find it odd that the Sarsaparilla is "olde style" while the root beer is "old style?" at least keep the "o" or drop it consistantly.) ok, so anyway.. my first reaction to the initial sips i took was "yum, this is good, subtle birch-ness, not too fizzy" but that sometimes fades too soon. after a few more sips it seems to have accumulated on my tongue enough that the taste sticks around. and you know what? i like it a lot. crisp, refreshing, sweet but not insanely so. a hint of mint that, if anything, is a little TOO subtle. but defintely one of the better birch beers i have had
Ingredients:pure carbonated water, cane sugar, flavor, sodium benzoate (preservative)

Anthony's Rating: 90
User's Rating: 78
# of ratings:26

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Appalachian Brewing Co White Birch Beer

April 2, 2012
Filed under: birch beers — anthony @ 4:59 am
Type: White Birch Beer Comes In: 12oz glass bottle
Available: PA Obtained in: supermarket in Harrisburg, PA
Head: Small Sweetener: cane sugar, honey
Calories: 147 Sodium: 40mg
Carbs: 37g Sugar: 37g
Caffeine: No
Website: http://abcbrew.com

so a couple weeks ago (as i write this, which is a year and a half before you will read this), there was a big hurricane coming to NJ where my family lives. my wife and i decided to not risk it and just escape for the weekend, make it an adventure/vacation. after much consideration of spaghetti models and projected rainfall and wind speeds, we picked Harrisburg, PA as the best place to go. it was not too far, yet seemed far enough away from any damaging weather. the weekend was quite fun despite the anxiety of other relatives staying put down the shore or just being vulnerable in general. one night after the kids went to bed, my wife and i craved some mexican food. so i find the closest one, place my order and go across the street to the grocery store. i think it was a Wegmans. mostly to get some water but also to see about the root beer selection. lo and behold i came across this soda (and the diet root beer, but more on that another day)! now, my wife and i had Appalachian Brew Co Root Beer as our wedding root beer, so we both love the stuff. and we both love white birch beer. this means that this soda really had a lot to live up to.
i put one bottle of the 6 pack in the motel fridge in case we felt like having it later. eventually my wife popped it open and we split it. it was kind of pretty bad we both agreed, disappointed. so a few days later, safe and sound at home, she had another one and said it was much better. i sipped it and agreed.
so where will this one rate? usually i just go with the bottle i have open while i do the review, so i will stick with that and hope this is a good one.
i believe this is the first birch beer i have had with honey as a sweetener. it does add a little different touch but i don't think i would detect it if i did not know about it to begin with. the flavor is good, not amazing. there is not as much wintergreen as i like in my white birch beers but that flavor is there. i enjoy this and would get more but i would not drive to Harrisburg just to do so. it just does not distinguish itself like their root beer does. it blends into the pack which is just fine really.
Anthony's Rating:
User's Rating: 0
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Avery’s Birch Beer

September 15, 2014
Filed under: birch beers — anthony @ 5:00 am
Type: White Birch Beer Comes In: 12oz glass bottle
Available: CT, online Obtained in: trade with Red
Head: Small Sweetener: corn sweetener, sugar
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.averysoda.com

it is sort of strange, when i know a soda is out there and not all that hard to get sometimes, i just don't get it. this one for instance i had actually gotten, then a guest at my house drank it, not knowing the universal rule that the right side of the fridge is sodas for review, the left side is for anyone to drink. geez! since then i have taken to not keeping to-review sodas in that fridge at all, instead using my exclusively root beer only fridge for such things. but this drink i knew was out there, being made a couple hours away, yet just out of reach. i knew i could mail order it if i really wanted to, but that seemed silly and too costly for something i would probably find in time. plus i had been planning a root beer questing trip to Connecticut where this is made with a couple friends for a while now, so whenever that came to pass, i would get this soda i felt certain. then i traded with Red, but i did not know what he was sending. included in there was this one, obviously he checked my "wanted" list on the lower right over there and knew this was a needed brew. funny though that it took a Canadian to get this to me once again.
so, we all remember that i really really like clear birch beers, right? yes, it is still true. i don't know what it is about them, they are just refreshing and crisp and yummy. i doubt the artificial colors added to red birch or brown birch make them taste different, but they just do. this one does not let me down. the wintergreen level could be boosted a touch, the sweetness taken down a notch, the carbonation upped, but it is excellent as it is. i like the flavor, but a little more would be even better. i like the label design, which is very classic and old school and probably not updated much in their over 100 year history. they do have their website on there, with deposit info that of course has been added with time. but the classic, generic design for all flavours in the line with the bottle cap itself having the flavor name and ingredients makes me smile. although i am doubtful there really in caramel color in here.
Ingredients:carbonated water, sugar and/or corn sweetener, oil of birch, natural and artificial flavor, caramel color

Anthony's Rating: 90
User's Rating: 0
# of ratings:0

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Big Ben’s Blue Birch Beer

February 27, 2005
Filed under: birch beers — anthony @ 9:21 pm
Type: Blue Birch Beer Comes In: 12oz glass bottle, 20 oz plastic bottle, 2L plastic bottle, 7oz glass bottle, keg, 5 gallon tank, 32 oz plastic bottle
Available: PA, online Obtained in: beverage store in PA
Head: Small Sweetener: corn sweetener, sugar
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.catawissabottlingco.com/bigben.htm

this is a first indeed, a blue birch beer! they actually have 4 kinds of birch beer but i was only able to find 2 of them on this journey so hopefully i can find the others some other time. anyway, i do not know if the blue really changes anything except the color of my stomach. i was hoping for a blue tongue but i think i'd have to hold it in my mouth longer. i think it is just coloring as the labels and ingredients seem identical ("… red #30 or blue #1 except white.") but whatever. i like their 12 oz returnable bottles, reusing the bottles from past PA soda companies, mainly A-Treat but also Towne Club, which i have not seen in years! makes sense, bottles can be expensive, especially nice thick ones like this. so it is pretty tasty actually. wintergreen with a good sweetness level. the wintergreen seems slightly off, it is not biting like i would hope/expect, it is more of a slow developing, lingering taste.
Anthony's Rating: 83
User's Rating: 79
# of ratings:22

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Big Ben’s Golden Birch Beer

April 9, 2012
Filed under: birch beers — anthony @ 5:03 am
Type: Golden Birch Beer Comes In: 20 oz plastic bottle
Available: PA, online Obtained in: mailorder from company
Head: Small Sweetener: corn sweetener, sugar
Calories: 143 Sodium: 6mg
Carbs: 34g Sugar: 34g
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.catawissabottlingco.com/bigben.htm

so i had to add a whole new category for this soda. that would be the second one for this company, whose blue birch beer was also unique. as the ingredient list on all five (5) of their birch beers are the same, they probably are actually all the exact same thing with colorings added. but perhaps not, what do i know? i could ask but that would ruin it all.
the labels on all of them are the same and have this patriotic, flag theme. i can see that for the red, white and blue birches, but for the golden and dark birch it makes less sense beyond the cost savings.
this one is more the color of a ginger beer, golden indeed. over the past week or so i have tried the other colors and i really do think they taste at least a little different. this one is a bit sweeter and slightly less minty than the white but more so than the dark. i would say it is very similar to the red. i have not had the blue in years so i can't quite make that comparison. the wintergreen taste is very upfront though. so if you like wintergreen lifesavers, you will probably like this. sadly it does not spark in the dark like they do though. it is a very solid birch beer. get some of any of them if you come across it. this one only comes in the 20 oz plastic bottle though so it may be tougher to find. or just mailorder, their rates are very good.
Ingredients:carbonated water, sugar and/or corn sweetener, natural and artificially flavored, caramel, red #40 or blue#1 except white

Anthony's Rating: 83
User's Rating: 0
# of ratings:0

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Big Ben’s Red Birch Beer

May 7, 2012
Filed under: birch beers — anthony @ 5:04 am
Type: Red Birch Beer Comes In: 20 oz plastic bottle, 7oz glass bottle
Available: PA Obtained in: mailorder from company
Head: Small Sweetener: corn sweetener, sugar
Calories: 143 Sodium: 6mg
Carbs: 34g Sugar: 34g
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.catawissabottlingco.com/bigben.htm

usually red birch beers come in a brown glass bottle for whatever reason. because of that, i often have to figure out it is actually red or if it is really brown in there. but this one leaves nothing to the imagination at all. it is definitely red. very red. so red that later, when i am not thinking about what i drank today i will pee and get a little scared for a second. probably not, but maybe. that happens with beets though. it makes one wonder just where all this dye goes instead of out of me. hhhmmmm.
the taste here is probably the same as the white, brown, golden and blue, but i will pretend it is different. this one seems a bit more watery. the main taste is a solid wintergreen. my friend who sits across from me at work tried this, never having had birch beer before and he said it tastes like mouthwash. which is not so far off i suppose, just much sweeter. if you like that and always have to stop your urge to swallow after swishing instead of spitting in the sink, this is up your alley. it even has the total lack of carbonation of mouthwash. i actually quite enjoy wintergreen myself so i am ok with all of this.
Ingredients:carbonated water, sugar and/or corn sweetener, natural and artificially flavored, caramel, red #40 or blue#1 except white

Anthony's Rating: 82
User's Rating: 0
# of ratings:0

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Big Ben’s White Birch Beer

February 27, 2005
Filed under: birch beers — anthony @ 9:23 pm
Type: White Birch Beer Comes In: 12oz glass bottle, 20 oz plastic bottle, 2L plastic bottle, 7oz glass bottle, keg, 5 gallon tank, 32 oz plastic bottle
Available: PA, online Obtained in: beverage store in PA
Head: Small Sweetener: corn sweetener, sugar
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.catawissabottlingco.com/bigben.htm

alright, so onto the white birch! i am sure it is my imagination but it does taste slightly different. more crisp and slightly sweeter. or maybe not… could have just been the soda settling a little bit as the top of both actually was tastier than the bottom. kind of silly to review this i suppose as it is exactly the same as the Blue Birch but without the color. i could copy and paste but that seems just as silly. well, whatever. kind of minty, kind of sweet. the mint taste is a little weird. not bad. not amazing.
Anthony's Rating: 83
User's Rating: 71
# of ratings:13

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Big Ben’s Dark Birch Beer

May 21, 2012
Filed under: birch beers — anthony @ 5:30 am
Type: Brown Birch Beer Comes In: 20 oz plastic bottle
Available: PA, online Obtained in: mailorder from company
Head: Tiny Sweetener: corn sweetener, sugar
Calories: 142 Sodium: 6mg
Carbs: 34g Sugar: 34g
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.catawissabottlingco.com/bigben.htm

the final birch beer in the extensive Big Ben line up! phew! at last. i imagine this one is less "Patriotic!" than the red, white and blue birches, but i guess there is some country with dark brown in their flag where this would be 'Patriotic!'. where that country is i do not know. i do suspect though that they have never had and never will see a bottle of this soda.
this one seems to be a little heavier to me, more substantial, more hearty. i really think that is more to do with the color and my mental expectations of what a darker brew should taste like than the actual reality of it all. if i was given the five (5) birch beers in a blind taste test i seriously doubt i could tell any difference. this one is still pretty minty which i don't like as much in a dark birch for whatever reason, again, probably all mental. but the heavier-ness of it balances that out a little. as usual with the Big Ben's plastic bottles, there is basically no head and very low carbonation. this one probably has the most though of the seven (5) kinds i have had in plastic.
i do support small bottlers. i love em. they make me smile and happy and warm inside. yet i wish some of them made better product. i mean, this is fine but could be really good i am sure with a bit of tweaking. make each color taste quite different, not just have different artificial colors. i really do think these would be better in the glass bottles that Big Ben's offers at the physical stores that sell it. i think i still have to seek that out and see what is what there.
Ingredients:carbonated water, sugar and/or corn sweetener, natural and artificially flavored, caramel. red #40 or blue #1 except clear

Anthony's Rating: 81
User's Rating: 100
# of ratings:1

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