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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 550 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 Sarsaparilla

February 26, 2002
Filed under: sarsaparillas — anthony @ 4:39 pm
Type: Sarsaparilla 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: Medium Sweetener: sugar, fructose
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.a-treat.com/

hhhhmmm, this soda tastes totally different than it smells. weird. the scent is very herbal, "rooty" if you will excuse the pun. the taste though is rather sweet. it does have a slight kick but on the whole it is pretty root beer-ish. the weirdest part is that i really feel like i taste honey in here, which is not listed. i enjoy it yet i feel it tastes a little kooky. in a good way though really. yummy stuff here. especially for a canned soda.
Anthony's Rating: 86
User's Rating: 79
# of ratings:68

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AJ Stephans Olde Style Sarsaparilla

January 21, 2002
Filed under: sarsaparillas — anthony @ 4:48 pm
Type: Sarsaparilla Comes In: 12oz glass bottle
Available: MA, OK, online Obtained in: mail from popsoda.com
Head: Tiny Sweetener: cane sugar
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.ajstephans.com/

ya know, i have been to Boston a lot and i have never seen this soda. in fact, i have a whole bunch of friends who live there who i think would have at least told me about it had they seen it. so why it proclaims "Boston" on the label is a mystery to me. they claim "since 1926″ on it too so it cannot be that it is brand new or something. whatever. it is a darn fine soda. probably the best sarsaparilla i have ever had. it has a slight wintergreen hint to it along with a nice little herbal taste that does not at all overpower the real flavor. this company makes a root beer and a birch beer too so i will now have to find them. or send my friends on a mission.
Anthony's Rating: 94
User's Rating: 74
# of ratings:54

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AJ Stephans Pure Cane Sugar Sarsaparilla

December 8, 2002
Filed under: sarsaparillas — anthony @ 4:44 pm
Type: Sarsaparilla Comes In: 12oz glass bottle
Available: CA, MA, online Obtained in: mailorder from popsoda.com
Head: Small Sweetener: cane sugar
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.ajstephans.com/

ok, continuing the AJ Stephans experience… sadly i drank the "Olde Style Sarsaparilla" several months ago so i cannot compare back to back as i did with the root beers. oh well, i will trust it is different even if the ingredients are identical. it smells darn good i must say. i think it suffers from the same problem as the cane sugar root beer though as it is extremely carbonated. the cane sugar is more evident here though. it has a decidedly "rooty," herbal taste. which is ok but not the best. and it is leaving a bad aftertaste now that i am about 75% done. decent but not really something i want all the time. mediocre at best even by the time i finish it.
Anthony's Rating: 64
User's Rating: 82
# of ratings:21

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Archer Farms Premium Sarsaparilla Soda

September 14, 2006
Filed under: sarsaparillas — anthony @ 8:30 pm
Type: Sarsaparilla Comes In: 12oz glass bottle
Available: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY, everywhere Obtained in: Target, Birdgewater, NJ
Head: Medium Sweetener: sugar
Caffeine: No
Website: http://target.com

everytime i go to Target (which is really way too much i must admit) i browse their soda aisle as they seem to randomly have some good sodas, which are often on clearance. that is unfortunate in ways since it means they are not selling so they won't be restocked, but it is good for me to get that brand for cheap. anyway, they now seem to have a line of premium sodas of their own devising which they have released under their Archer Farms imprint. the flavor is not so bad. a little bit sweet and a little bit watery somehow. it just does not impress me but it does not gross me out. it is a little tame for a sarsaparilla though, in my opinion, kind of a sweet, slightly root-ish flavor that might be good as something to not think about so much. maybe when you are reading or watching a movie or something and don't want to be distracted by your beverage's awesomeness. i would buy it again i am sure, just as something easily available and different.
Anthony's Rating: 82
User's Rating: 78
# of ratings:26

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Avery’s Sarsaparilla

May 28, 2012
Filed under: sarsaparillas — anthony @ 5:04 am
Type: Sarsaparilla Comes In: 12oz glass bottle
Available: CT, online Obtained in: mailorder
Head: Small Sweetener: corn sweetener, sugar
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.averysoda.com

ah, another one of the elusive Avery's varieties! i really should just go up to the plant sometime and get the rest of them, it is only a couple of hours' drive away. i have driven through or at least very near New Britain many times in the past couple of decades but i just always forget that Avery's is there. oh well.
i do very much like their style though, very classic and old school. all of the bottles and labels are the same, flavors are revealed only on the cap. what i don't quite get is that the label tells of them making gourmet soda for over 100 years using cane sugar but the ingredient list on the cap says "sugar or corn sweetener." so which is it good Avery folks? it does matter to some people.
the color of this drink is unusual for a sarsaparilla. at least in my head i expect sarsaparillas to be dark and hearty and so on but this has a weak beige color, almost yellow. and yes, it does sort of look like urine i guess.
so how does it taste? eh, ok. rather weak and unimpressive, as the color may indicate, sort of. yes, i know the flavor intensity and the color intensity have no real connection whatsoever, but it is an association in my head for whatever reason. cultural influence i imagine, more clear things are more "pure" and less flavored? i don't know. i would not say this tastes like any other sarsaparilla i have had. it is light with just a little bit of an earthy, herbal tone along with some sweetness. as such, i feel like it is a drink to have after mowing the lawn or something, it will refresh more than it will be savored. which is fine and there is a place in the world for that. but it is not something i really love.
Ingredients:carbonated water, sugar or corn sweetener, caramel color, artificial flavor, gum acacia, citric acid, preserved with sodium benzoate

Anthony's Rating: 75
User's Rating: 76
# of ratings:1

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Baron’s Boothill Sarsaparilla

July 16, 1998
Filed under: sarsaparillas — anthony @ 8:30 pm
Type: Sarsaparilla Comes In: 12oz glass bottle
Available: CA, online Obtained in: mailorder from ifs ands & butts
Head: Small Sweetener: fructose
Calories: 180 Sodium: 35mg
Carbs: 44g Sugar: 44g
Caffeine: No

a darn tasty brew here. a classic taste really but it has a bit of a sharp tinge to it that i really enjoy. i could drink a whole load of this but i am sure i will never get to since it is made so far away from me and mailordering it is crazy expensive. yes indeed. but if it is available near you, i'd get it a lot.
Ingredients:carbonated water, fructose, natural flavor, caramel color, citric acid and sodium benzoate

Anthony's Rating: 88
User's Rating: 79
# of ratings:58

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Benchmark Old-Time Sarsaparilla

September 14, 2006
Filed under: sarsaparillas — anthony @ 5:40 pm
Type: Sarsaparilla Comes In: 12oz glass bottle
Available: NH, VT Obtained in: gift from friend
Head: Small Sweetener: high fructose corn syrup
Caffeine: No

another vanity labelled soda. strange how they all seem to be in New Hampshire. i suspect one of the other ones has just changed their name or something here, but i could be all wrong and this is yet another one. this is rather good too, which surprises me also. the flavor has suggestions of the usual "root beer" flavor yet deviates from that with some extra spice. i am trying to place the spice, perhaps a hint of clove with some cinnimon? the sweetness is a little too syrupy for me, but corn syrup seems to have that effect on things that are liquid.
Anthony's Rating: 81
User's Rating: 42
# of ratings:2

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Bickford’s Sarsaparilla

March 19, 2011
Filed under: sarsaparillas — anthony @ 1:47 am
Type: Sarsaparilla Comes In: 275ml glass bottle
Available: Australia Obtained in: trade with Daniel
Head: Medium Sweetener: sugar
Calories: 108 Sodium: 22mg
Carbs: 28g Sugar: 27g
Caffeine: No
Website: http://bickfordssoda.com.au

this is the next of the Australian sarsaparillas that i traded for! they all seem to have in common a somewhat different graphic design style than American sodas. they are more sophisticated and much more resemble alcohol bottles in style and font and so on. even the color palette and bottle shape suggest liquor versus soft drink. at least to me. i am sure it is something that advertising and graphic design professionals have been enforcing in a subtle way for my whole life and more. i like that all of the Australian sodas i have had have come in very distinct bottles, unusual shapes and embossed and weird sizes too. i imagine that adds a lot to the cost of the beverage.
so this company has been around since the 1870s although i am not sure if that is continuously or sporadically like some other companies that seem to be resurrected by the grandchildren or something of the founders. the website is no help. although it does tell me it is gluten free and safe for children as part of a balanced diet! handy!
so on first opening this i am struck by the licorice smell, wow! on first taste i am struck by, crap, i don't even know! the only thing i can compare this to is a distant memory of Bundaberg root beer. VERY very herbal and hearty. yes "hearty" is the best way to describe this. it is a very complex flavor that really changes in the course of 30 seconds or so. ok, let me see… yes, there is a definitely licorice taste here, that may be the strongest thing, kind of bitter but not in a wholly bad way. i am also tasting hints of cinnamon perhaps. it is not a creamy, vanilla-ish soda by any means i honestly don't think children would like this, even as part of a well balanced diet. if i get more i will test it on my daughter, but she is a root beer addict for some reason. although by the time this publishes i will have two daughters and the older one will hopefully expand her palette a little more. we shall see. anyway, i do like this. sometimes i get on a serious licorice kick myself and this would definitely satisfy that craving without the chewing but it is not a drink i think i would want to have often. but as an occasionally thing, i am all for it.
Ingredients:carbonated water, sugar, colour (150d), food acid (330), flavours, preservative (211)

Anthony's Rating: 78
User's Rating: 40
# of ratings:2

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Big Ben’s Sarsaparilla

April 16, 2012
Filed under: sarsaparillas — anthony @ 4:32 am
Type: Sarsaparilla Comes In: 20 oz plastic bottle, 2L plastic bottle, 32 oz plastic bottle
Available: PA, online Obtained in: mailorder from company
Head: Small Sweetener: corn sweetener, sugar
Calories: 165 Sodium: 30mg
Carbs: 40g Sugar: 40g
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.catawissabottlingco.com/bigben.htm

so i finally broke down and figured i would probably not get to make a road trip to PA anytime soon in a quest for the rest of the Big Ben's sodas i had not had. so i mail ordered them. they only mail order the 20 oz plastic bottles though which is a bit of a shame as the glass bottles they use are awesome, re-used and collected from old bottlers, some are 50+ years old! but i can understand not shipping those off as they need them back. of course i would rather not drink from plastic when possible though. strangely, this flavor is not one you can get in glass though so take that as you will. another thing annoying here is that the carbonation level of all of the bottles i have had so far is very very low. i want to hear that fizz, the gas escape, it makes me happy. i don't get that here.
i find it strange that there is no flavoring listed in the ingredients. i am guessing the "natural and artificial color" should be "natural and artificial flavor" though. i suppose this is officially titled "Fast Draw Sarsaparilla" to try to draw in some of that cowboy allure. yet the "Fast Draw" part is in a very small font so i doubt it would have a lot of effect anyway. this tastes like a sarsaparilla to me. it is similar to root beer, but different, more herbal, verging on medicinal but in a good way. it just tastes more earthy and natural although i am sure it is not. some anise is detectable but not overpowering. the lack of carbonation does bother me a bit and the flavor is not amazing although it is good. i don't regret getting it at all and will happily drink the others i got. the world needs more sarsaparillas and small soda bottlers so i am happy to support these guys and gals.
Ingredients:carbonated water, sugar and/or corn sweetener, natural and artificial color, caramel, citric acid, and preserved with sodium benzoate

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

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Briar’s Six Gun Sarsaparilla

February 11, 1997
Filed under: sarsaparillas — anthony @ 9:16 pm
Type: Sarsaparilla Comes In: 12oz glass bottle, 12 oz can, 2L plastic bottle
Available: NJ, online Obtained in: Shoprite, Stirling, NJ
Head: Small Sweetener: corn sweetener
Caffeine: No
Website: http://www.briars.com/

i could barely finish this, it was so nasty. well, that is not necessarily true, it just has a huge bite / kick and a weird after taste, but once you got used to it, it was not really awful, just bad. i've had some good sarsaparillas in my day and this isn't one of them. very disappointing after a great root beer and birch beer. furthers my theory that they don't understand flavours…
Anthony's Rating: 28
User's Rating: 64
# of ratings:29

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