Boylan Root Beer

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Producer: Boylan Bottling Co., New York, NY
Obtained At: The Fresh Market in Avon, CT
Container: 12 ounce glass bottle
Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, sodium benzoate, citric acid
Calories: 170
Sugars: 42g
Caffeine: No

This was the second root beer bottle I kept for my collection back in the spring of 2010. I don’t think I have had it since then even though it is quite common. I have always liked this bottle though. It has a unique shape, an embossed “Boylan Bottling Co.”, and an old-school logo. Now that I look at the bottle from 2010 I realize it is different. The old one says “Boylan Bottleworks” instead of “Boylan Bottling Co.” and also has a white “Sweetened with Pure Cane Sugar” label on the neck. Looks like I have a new bottle here to add to the collection. The taste is not as good as I remember. It tastes kind of weird. I don’t really know how to explain. It’s not bad by any means and definitely not a run-of-the-mill root beer. It’s different. If you haven’t tried Boylan yet, you should probably check it out. But it probably won’t blow you away.

6/10

Frostie Root Beer

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Producer: Frostie Root Beer Co. LLC, Detroit, MI
Obtained At: The Fresh Market in Avon, CT
Container: 12 ounce glass bottle
Ingredients: Carbonated water, pure cane sugar, caramel color, sodium benzoate, citric acid natural and artificial flavors
Calories: 160
Sugars: 42
Caffeine: No

I was driving in Avon when I passed The Fresh Market and thought, “I bet they have root beer there.” So on my way back I stopped in and I was right: they had root beer. In fact, they had six kinds I have yet to review. I bought all six and this is the first one. I have had Frostie Root Beer before and remember liking it. They also have a vanilla root beer, which I remember liking as well. The label is clear, which is less common than the opaque labels. And after checking the Frostie Root Beer bottle I have in my collection, this is a different label than they used to use. That means I can add it to my collection! The label has a Christmas/winter theme that goes along well with the name. The taste is really good. It is rich and creamy. It is very fizzy as well. I could drink a lot of this and I suggest you do the same.

8/10

Sky Valley Organic Root Beer

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Producer: Sky Valley Foods, Danville, VA
Obtained At: Whole Foods, Port Chester, NY
Container: 12 ounce glass bottle
Ingredients: Carbonated water, organic cane sugar, organic caramel color, organic vanilla extract, natural flavor, sea salt, organic apple cider vinegar, citric acid
Calories: 110
Sugars: 26
Caffeine: No

It’s fairly difficult for me to find a root beer I haven’t tried before, since I’ve been collecting root beer bottles for almost six years. But my fiancée wanted to go shopping so I scouted out some grocery stores and liquor stores near the stores she was headed to. The liquor store had nothing for me, but the Whole Foods had this one. I haven’t heard of this one before, but it’s organic so I’m not expecting much. The label is okay. The white background is actually rare for root beer labels. The bear’s head is cool, I guess. The taste, however, is pretty bad. As my fiancée said, “I’ve had worse, but it’s not good.” For people who like organic beverages, or beverages with apple cider vinegar, this might be a good option. But for people who like good root beer, this should be at the bottom of the list.

2/10

Foxon Park Draft Style Root Beer

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Producer: Foxon Park Beverages, Inc., East Haven, CT
Obtained At: Frank Pepe’s, New Haven, CT
Container: 12 ounce glass bottle
Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, and sodium benzoate
Calories: 130
Sugars: 34
Caffeine: No

This is a Connecticut-brewed root beer, so I get to drink it all the time. I actually tried it for the first time long before I moved to Connecticut. I have always enjoyed it, but never thought it was anything amazing. But Frank Pepe’s has it so I get it with the pizza there. Let’s see how it is this time. The taste is pretty good. It’s smooth but has a unique taste to it so it’s not just like every other root beer. It is worth trying if you ever see it. But it isn’t anything fantastic.

6/10

St. John Brewers Virgin Islands Root Beer

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Producer: St. John Brewers
Obtained At: Total Wine, Norwalk, CT
Container: 12 ounce glass bottle
Ingredients: Water, cane sugar, caramel coloring, natural & artificial flavors including wintergreen oil, anise, vanilla spices, herbs, citric acid, sodium benzoate as a preservative
Calories: 165
Sugars: 49
Caffeine: No

This is my first one I found after my trip to Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store and it is a good one. I found it while passing some time by perusing a liquor store. I always check out the root beer selection at liquor stores because they will usually have a couple rare kinds. Well, this store had St. John Brewers Root Beer, much to my liking. I had seen this online a couple times recently, but had never even looked into getting it yet. So I was very happy to find it. The label is unique, with a palm tree and barrels of root beer. The taste is really good. It is creamy and full. You can taste the wintergreen and the vanilla, and it makes a great combination. The head and fizz are both really good too. I highly recommend this one.

9/10

Natural Brew Draft Root Beer

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Producer: Smucker Natural Foods, Inc.
Obtained At: From my mom
Container: 12 ounce glass bottle
Ingredients: Sparkling filtered water, sugar, natural flavors, bourbon vanilla extract, anise, licorice root, birch oil, wintergreen oil, caramel color, phosphoric acid
Calories: 170
Sugars: 41
Caffeine: No

On the same trip to Minnesota that led to my most recent adventure at Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store, I also got a four-pack of this root beer from my mom (thanks Mom!). I have had this root beer before, and I believe it was one of the first bottles I got for my collection. For some reason I remember it being terrible, which is why I haven’t tried it in at least four years. The label is pretty cool. It has a lot of detail and really plays up the “small batch” aspect. The taste is a lot better than I remember, which means I must have been thinking about a different root beer all these years. It’s still not that great. The flavor is definitely complex, as the label points out, but it leaves a lot to be desired and comes off as a little bland. All in all, though, this is a decent root beer that won’t result in anyone leaving disgusted. Sometimes that’s all you need.

5/10

The Pop Shoppe Root Beer

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Producer: The Pop Shoppe
Obtained At: Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store
Container: 12 ounce glass bottle
Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, caramel color, citric acid, sodium benzoate, propylene glycol, natural and artificial flavors, phosphoric acid
Calories: 180
Sugars: 46g
Caffeine: No

This is the last one from my summer trip to the Big Yellow Barn, which is too bad. I have had this one before but I don’t remember it at all so it’s almost like having it for the first time. As you can see from the older picture below, the bottle has changed, which is always exciting for me. I like the design of the label. It has a retro feel to it. The taste is quite good. It has a little bit of a bite to it, not a lot, but enough to notice it. All in all, this is a good root beer that won’t disappoint you.

7/10

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Hosmer Mountain Diet Root Beer

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Producer: Hosmer Mountain Bottling Co., Willimantic, CT
Obtained At: Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store
Container: 12 ounce glass bottle
Ingredients: Carbonated nonchlorinated water, natural and artificial flavor, caramel color, fructose, glycine, aspartame, potassium benzoate, calcium saccharin, carbohydrate gum, citric acid, acelfame k, malic acid
Calories: Less than 2
Sugars: 5g
Caffeine: No

A Connecticut-made root beer I bought while on vacation in Minnesota. The label is truly unique. I don’t think I have seen another soda label like this one, which is saying a lot. After looking at the label, I noticed that this one has a lot more ingredients than the usual root beer. Also, it’s a diet root beer but has 5 grams of sugar and “less than 2” calories. I have had Hosmer Mountain root beer and sarsaparilla several times before and always enjoyed it, so I’m hoping I will like this one too. The taste is decent as far as diet root beer goes. It’s drinkable and everything you can really hope for in a diet root beer. But it’s not the best diet root beer I’ve ever had.

5/10

Manhattan Special Sarsaparilla

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Producer: Manhattan Special Bottling Corp., Brooklyn, NY
Obtained At: Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store
Container: 10 ounce glass bottle
Ingredients: Carbonated water, pure cane sugar, natural flavor, caramel color, citric acid, preserved with sodium benzoate
Calories: 130
Sugars: 27
Caffeine: No

Here’s another one from the Big Yellow Barn. I really like the bottle because it is unique. It’s ten ounces instead of twelve, and the label is quite unique as well. I have to say that I usually go into sarsaparillas with lower expectations than root beers, and that was true here too. But this one was a pleasant surprise. It has a full, complex flavor that doesn’t always come out in the standard sarsaparilla. It’s too bad it’s only ten ounces; I wish I had more.

7/10

North Star Craft Soda Root Beer

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Producer: Whistler Bottling, LLC, Forest Lake, MN
Obtained At: Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store
Container: 12 ounce glass bottle
Ingredients: Filtered carbonated water, sugar, natural and artificial flavor, caramel color, sodium benzoate, and citric acid
Calories: 160
Sugars: 45g
Caffeine: No

Before I left on my trip to the Twin Cities, I looked up local root beers that I hadn’t tried while I lived there. This one came up and I added it to my list to go find. Before I even had the chance, however, I found it at the Big Yellow Barn, saving me some time. I like the state of Minnesota on the label, but otherwise the design is pretty basic. The taste is light. Very light. But very good. It takes a minute to really hit you how good this root beer is, but it is one of the better ones for sure. It’s not quite a perfect 10/10, but I highly recommend it.

9/10