root beers

Swagger Root Beer

i think i came upon John and his Swagger soda brewing adventures by checking my stats. someone had come to my site from this new place. so i checked it out, as i often do when i see a new link to me. i was not prepared for what i found though! whoa! a very detailed and crazy informative site about one man’s attempts to make the perfect home brew root beer, from knowing virtually nothing about it, all the way to a product he was proud of and happy with. since it sounded like he was at a point where he liked what he was making, i emailed to ask if i could buy some. he very kindly offered to send some of the root beer and sarsaparilla! wow! what a guy! he had not really even bottled it much yet so the labels and all were made to send to me.
then christmas happened. and new years. and my birthday. and i found out i was losing my job sooner than expected. and my whole family got sick. so i did not get to open this for about 3 weeks. which would be fine for a fully commercial product, but who knows with a homebrew? it should be fine, in the fridge and all. since it is not yeast carbonated, that should help too.
when i did open this up, i did not know what to expect. i don’t think i have had a soda made with real sassafras root bark, which may or may not be illegal to use in foods, soaps and perfumes in the US these days. as you can buy the root bark still, i assume it is not, but i am unsure. anyway, John brews this stuff from roots, herbs, vanilla and sugar. he has a whole force carbonation system he rigged up from a kegerator. he explain it all much better on his own site, so go there and read more. so yeah, i was excited, nervous and a tiny bit scared to try this. it is what root beer used to taste like. perhaps closer to what Charles Hires made with his herb mix than anything else made today. so would i even like it? or were my tastes too modernized?
those worries were quickly answered with a “holy peanuts and cream, this is gooOOOod!” in my head. it is definitely herbal but in a very good way, almost like a stronger, really good tea. i suppose that is not far off of what it actually is anyway though. i don’t know the taste of sassafras or sarsaparilla root enough to distinguish that in the mix, but i like whatever it is that is in here. the sweetening level is excellent, just right for me, it is there but not overwhelming or sticky sweet. there is a creamy undertone which compliments the herbs well without taking front stage.
lately i sometimes don’t even finish the whole bottle of soda i am reviewing, but i have almost plowed through this whole liter bottle.
i for one hope John is able to somehow expand this hobby and share this yummy drink with more of the world.

Anthony’s Rating: 95
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Type: Root Beer Comes In: 1L plastic bottle, On Tap
Available: CA

Obtained in: special mail order from company
Head: Large Sweetener: sugar
Caffeine: No

Ingredients: carbonated water, sarsaparilla, sassafras, sugar, and vanilla

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