Bouncing back from last week’s lo-cal catastrophe, we’re turning to another alternative sweetness source: honey.
Thomas Kemper Root Beer
Thomas Kemper Soda Co., Portland, OR (label) Austin, TX (website contact form)
Once holding the Guinness record for world’s largest root beer float, Thomas Kemper’s been making root beer since the brewery’s 1990 Oktoberfest. The brewery no longer owns the soda production, as it was bought by “a small group of soda aficionados” in 2007.
There’s a lot of honey in this despite it being the fourth listed ingredient, even behind maltodextrin. And it’s even a really good honey at that. A nice creamy, vanilla underscores that strong honey sweetness, punctuated with a mild but still there bite.
Dominion Root Beer
Old Dominion Brewing Co, Dover, DE
Old Dominion started in Virginia in 1989 in Virginia by a former government employee who probably need a drink after a soul-crushing day maintaining the bureaucracy.
This is really, really good. A dark root beer that specifically lists “root beer extract #214” and “#79-400” which I have no idea what mean and sound dystopian which would normally steer me clear of the product. But it’s good. Nice creaminess to it with a strong vanilla and birch/wintergreen. The honey is noticeable, but not as strong as Thomas Kemper or Bulldog. For better or worse I really like this.
Bulldog Root Beer
Orca Beverage Soda Co, Mukilteo, WA
Another Orca distribution, though this one’s not a legacy brand. Bulldog’s been brewing their root beer from high quality ingredients since 1997. The dogs on the label, according to their website which somehow looks like it was made before 1997 and not updated since, are named Barley and Hops and live in Fresno, CA.
This is the most herbal of the three, with the anise hitting first and being tempered in the aftertaste by the honey. It’s clearly honey, too, though still not as strong as Thomas Kemper. There’s certainly some birch in there too, somewhere hanging on in the middle of the tongue.