Soft Drink Review Thread

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altered states

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I was weaning myself off Coca Cola a few years after college and came up with the idea of cutting the Coke with seltzer a bit at a time, until I was basically drinking tan seltzer with a little cola essence. Yummy. I still like straight-up Coke with pizza or chinese food or anything spicy, though, but HFSC is evil (despite what the corn lobby is telling you on TV). So I was psyched to discover GUS - "Grown Up Sodas." They're made with sugar, not HFSC, and very few other ingredients, all of which are natural. The "grown up" part is that they're about half as sweet as most sodas. To give you an idea, they're about 95 calories per 12 oz bottle, as opposed to 180-220 for standard stuff (just to give you an idea of the sweetness level). I've tried the pink grapefruit, meyer lemon, pomegranate (yeah, I know), and dry cola, which is now my favorite. The stuff is expensive though, and tends to be sold at gourmet stores when I can find it.
 

vardon_grip

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I dug out my old review of Fitz's root beer!

A new root beer to try!

This time it's Fitz's Premium root beer. Without further ado...

Time to remove the cap and give it the sniff test. Very pleasant aroma. Reminiscent of vanilla and some sort of fruit that I'm not able to identify. This is a smell that invites drinking.

The first drink: A smooth yet complex taste, including vanilla, wintergreen, and that unidentifiable fruit flavor again. A bit sweet, but the sweetness is welcome as it comes from cane sugar rather than corn syrup. There is no aftertaste to speak off, and the carbonation is rather light.

Conclusion: A good root beer experience. It does not stand out as one of the best root beers, but it definitely has a place in my refrigerator.

for Fitz's Premium.
I heard of Fitz's through Chowhounds and had the opportunity to go to the restaurant while driving through St. Louis. I liked the root beer on tap better than the bottle which was good, but a little two dimensional. (Their orange cream soda was excellent) The Black and Bleu burger that I had with the root beer was pretty good also.

Thomas Kemper root beer is my hands down fave.
 

AppreSheAte

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I used to think A&W root beer was the best, and I think it definitely ranks up there still.

Sprecher's is my favorite bottled root beer and their cream soda is one of my favorites too.

A newcomer to the root beer field that might be able to claim the prize as my favorite isn't available, to the best of my knowledge, in bottles. It's only sold at Culver's. Try it, you'll like it!

Creamy, rich, sweet, and even some tanginess. Excellent! I don't believe it's available in diet form, and I believe I heard it uses sugar cane as its sweetner, rather than corn syrup - that's a plus in my book.

If you're there for a meal, try the dinners, even though they're known for their burgers, and of course don't forget dessert! Their creamy smooth rich frozen custard is special, and I love their turtle sundae with hot fudge, caramel and pecans. Make sure to ask for whipped cream, they don't put it on unless you ask usually.

Dieting is so much fun! NOT. Especially with this kind of temptation so near by.:eat2:
 

altered states

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Well, it's such a common mindset I find from people I have known from NYC. "If you're not in NYC, then you're nowhere!" kind of thing. Yeah.
Oops, yeah, I see what you mean, but it wasn't what I meant. My point was strictly that Manhattan Special is an NYC metro thing. You can find the stuff in delis in NYC suburbs and satellites that would make Wasilla seem like Paris in terms of cultural sophistication, trust me. No one in, say, Patchogue is looking down their noses at anyone.

(...wait for dude from Patchogue to lose it...)
 

Imp

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Caffeine free diet Pepsi.

Less filling, tastes great! Hands down the best thing ev!
 

GWARrior

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I have before me a can of IRN BRU, complete with UK compliant packaging. This is obviously an import and not produced locally. The label does not say "high fructose corn syrup" on the ingredient list, but not knowing UK labeling standards I don't know if it would need to. Otherwise it looks fairly typical of a cola.

Okay... this is no cola. I don't know what that smell is, but it's definitely not cola. It smells kinda orangey or kinda peachy. *shrug* I can't place it.

Pouring the drink reveals a peach-like color, no head to speak of, and more of that odd scent. With some trepidation, I take a drink.

It has harsh carbonation, with a flavor that reminds me somewhat of beer. Despite the fruity nose, it doesn't really taste fruity. I have to concede I've never tasted a soft drink like this. The phosphoric aftertaste lingers a long time.

It's strange to my palate. I suppose you'd have to grow up with the drink to truly appreciate it, as it seems like an acquired taste. I wouldn't push it away if someone offered it to me, but I won't be buying any more for myself.

for IRN BRU.
I adore Irn Bru!! Whenever I go to scottish festivals, I buy some. I agree tho, it does have a weird taste.
 

katorade

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So I can't seem to remember whether or not it was posted earlier, but I'm gonna put my 2 cents in anyway.:p

Berghoff's "famous draft style" rootbeer.

Founded in 1898 as a restaurant, although the root beer has only been around 50 years or so. Apparently the restaurant is no longer, but the root beer lives on. That's a good sign! The ingredients are as follows:
-Carbonated Water
-Pure Cane Sugar (yay!)
-Caramel Color
-Sodium Benzoate
-Natural Flavor (yay again, but boo for not listing them!)
-Citric Acid

Definitely a nice short list with a very refreshing lack of artificial ingredients.

The smell: The initial hint is very wintergreen and vanilla, with a good dose of anise. Breathe deeper and you may even pick up...sassafras? Something a little tart smelling, I can't place it. Maybe it's birch? Whatever it is, it's a lovely complement and balances out the numbing sweetness of the first 3 that can kill a root beer for me.

First taste: Very vanilla. It's almost like a hybrid of root beer and cream soda. You definitely pick of the creamy sweetness of cane sugar (think of getting to the last few sips of sweet tea). At first I was thinking this was going to be another sad weak draft root beer with no bite. Boo. Then I had another sip. What the...that first punch of vanilla is now gone! Now I'm really picking up that peppery birch and wintergreen. :smitten:

This is a highly drinkable root beer. The carbonation is very light, so the flavors shine through without being obnoxious to the nose. The anise leaves a realistic numbness on the tongue. You can definitely pick out the cane sugar. If it wasn't for that, you could probably use this root beer as mouthwash, haha. The aftertaste is wonderful. It's very clean and not sour at all and my mouth actually feels fresh. Dare I say that this is the draft root beer Barq's aspires to be?
I even let it flatten out a bit towards the end to see if it stood up to the carbonation test. The last few sips were definitely sweeter and you taste more cane sugar and vanilla like a cream soda, but it's still very yummy for being flat soda. It's been about 15 minutes since I finished it off and still there's no hint of sourness or a cloying sensation in my mouth, just lovely anise and maybe nutmeg.

I'm pretty picky when it comes to root beer, and I'm going to have to give this one a 5 out of 5.:wubu:
 

Dromond

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Great review! *applauds loudly*

I've got a brand spanking NEW review!

Up for consideration is Boylan Bottleworks diet root beer.

I've had Boylan root beer and and birch beer, both of which are good. My general inclination is to avoid diet root beer, as I've never found one that truly appeals to my palate. Previous good experiences with Boylan products led me to give this one a try.

The ingredient list is somewhat obscure. Carbonated water, natural and artificial flavors (but which flavors?), caramel color, natural yucca extract, citric acid is listed twice... must be a typo... sodium benzoate, sucralose and acesulfame potassium.

Off comes the top. It has a subtle nose, with wintergreen and sarsaparilla being prominent. The scent has a slightly bitter undertone that I tentatively attribute to the yucca extract. I'm worried that the lack of true sugar will allow the bitterness I can smell to come through too strongly.

Pouring reveals a satisfying head, but it is short lived. Within a few seconds the head disperses. The scent noted before is the same when poured, no additional characteristics showing themselves.

Now to drink. Hmmm. The mouth feel is watery, and is trying to evoke a memory. Why does this feel familiar? The carbonation isn't offensive, but it does give a transitory burn on the tongue. This drink is not sweet, and the flavor is very mild. The aftertaste presents the bitterness I noticed in the scent. It too is mild, so the bitterness is not very distracting.

That memory finally came to the surface. The mouth feel is very similar to mouthwash. LOL Root beer flavored mouthwash, what a concept!

In conclusion: Despite the mouthwash feel of it, the flavor isn't that bad. I've definitely tasted far worse diet root beers. So,
for Boylans Diet Root Beer. It's quite decent for a diet drink.
 

katorade

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Hey Dromond, what would you think about doing a joint review one day? Go grab a bottle of something delicious and see what we both think about it? I'd love to see how different they are!
 

traveldude1961

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I know most of us who are large still enjoy diet Soda, Here in the Northeast has "waist watcher" Soda made by Adirondack beverages, The Root Beer and Cream Soda are 1st rate, and the cola is acceptable if nothing else is on sale.
 

katorade

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Oooh, double threat today! I'm reviewing two today, the one sitting in front of me, and one I had with my sushi last night (that is a whole other thread. I thought I hated sushi, then I had crispy shrimp rolls, but I digress...).

First up, San Pellegrino's Limonata:


Totally not my photo, but it's an adorable shot. Thank you whoever took it.

Initial impression: I love the bottle. It's the cutest thing ever. It reminds me of a classy version of an Orangina bottle. It's particularly small at only 6 oz., but if you're a slow sipper and just want a little something, it's the perfect size. I rarely finish a drink before it gets warm or flat, so its diminutive size didn't bother me one bit. I was a little disappointed that the cap wasn't twist off, but I know how to do that handy edge-of-the-counter trick. May not be as easy if you want one on the go. It is available in cans, though.
Mine was in clear green glass, although I've seen it in a darker green. There is a visible layer of pulp/sediment at the bottom of the bottle, which makes my mouth water. Hooray for actual lemon juice (12% by content)! I love real lemons, hate lemon flavor or things that just use lemon oil. It has that lovely white milky tint to it that comes with real lemon juice rather than that scary hyper yellow color. I am going to risk sounding like a huge dork, but it's so pretty. I want to line a row of them up on a window sill, that's how pretty they are.

Glancing at the ingredients list is also pleasing. [FONT=Arial,Helvetica]Water, lemon juice from concentrate, sugar, carbon dioxide, natural flavors, l-ascorbic acid. That's it. I have seen some in the past that listed HFCS as an ingredient, so I'm ecstatic they've done away with that.[/FONT]

The smell is luscious. It smells like a nice sweet Meyer lemon. It doesn't have the acidic hit to it that some bitter lemon sodas have that are usually packed with lemon oil. It's juicy and almost floral. If they made a perfume, I'd so wear it.

First taste: After gently turning over the bottle to mix the sediment, mmmm. It's JUST sweet enough. It is literally like drinking fresh squeezed lemonade with some club soda added. The soda keeps it from being too thick and pungent, and the lemon juice and sugar are just enough to cut the dryness of the soda. The balance of the ratio of soda to juice is perfect. There isn't what I would really want to call a sourness or tartness, more of a mouth-watering zing. The kind that makes you smack your lips afterwards. I'm beginning to rethink my happiness about this tiny bottle. If this comes in a wine bottle size, I'm set. I'm gunning to try Limonata's orange sister, Aranciata.

Overall, I'm really pleased. I have been disappointed with San Pellegrino before. I think their mineral water tastes too heavily of clay and Chinotto was positively undrinkable (but if you like Moxie or bitter marmalade, you'll probably enjoy it). Their unsweetened club sodas are just not my thing. This has restored my faith. It would pair fantastically with a vinegary salad or light cold pasta, a white wine seafood dish, or a nice little fruit and cheese platter. It went swimmingly (har har) with my sushi. My only issues were that after a bottle, the flavor became a bit numbing and...I don't know, singular. It would also be fabulous as a mixer, which may help round out the flavor.

I give it 4 tasties. :eat2::eat2::eat2::eat2:

ACT TWO:

AJ Stephan's Boston pure can sugar Root Beer. "New England's Best Tonic".

Apparently it's been around since 1926. The website is a little obscure for their flavors outside of their ginger beer, which is apparently their biggest seller. The ingredients are Pure carbonated water, cane sugar, flavor, caramel color, and sodium benzoate. I love that it's "pure" carbonated water.:rolleyes: The cane sugar is a plus, but I'm unsure about the "flavor". Just flavor? Natural? Artificial? Gimme some specifics, people! At least there are no freaky additives. The bottle is pretty boring.

It looks sort of like it was printed on a home label maker. It's kind of charming when you think of it that way, but yeah...snore. Hopefully that just means that they don't have to rely on catchy graphics to sell it. So yeah, now that I'm thoroughly unexcited about trying it, let's give it a shot!

Smell: Smells like...root beer. Descriptive, I know. It's very sweet smelling, like you just opened a bag of root beer flavored candy. Another good, deep whiff reveals a blossoming ginger smell, and a hint of fruitiness. I'm not surprised about the ginger, since that seems to be their thing. I don't smell much that would typically stand out in a draft style root beer, like birch or wintergreen. It almost smells like cotton candy. It's a rather pleasing smell, but a bit unexpected.

It has a nice dark caramel color, but not much of a head. The carbonation is rather sparkling, which leads me to believe it's not very syrupy.

Initial taste: Sweet. Very sweet. Sweet tea sweet. It does have some peppery notes at the finish that keep it from being cloying, but the aftertaste is almost like it's been in an aluminum can. It's also a bit watery. I'm pretty sure the "flavors" come from a root beer extract and this is almost assuredly not draft root beer. The residual flavor it leaves in your mouth is slightly sour and a bit papery. Wood pulpy, and not in that good birch way. It's almost chalky or dusty tasting. It's extremely effervescent as well. When it hits your tongue, it does feel like it's building a little bit of that creaminess, which is good. But then it keeps building and turns into foaminess, which is...well...who likes foaming at the mouth.

You can definitely tell that this root beer was an afterthought and not the focus of the company's line. The body would match a ginger ale very well, since the effervescence complements the sweetness and enhances the spiciness, but it does absolutely nothing for the depth of flavor you expect from a good, creamy root beer. I occasionally picked up a hint of cinnamon and a bit of a licorice-like numbing, but not really their true flavors. The flavor is light, but not horrendous, I just can't get over the papery aftertaste. It actually reminds me of Pepsi holiday spice, which I wasn't terribly fond of, either. I'll probably finish the bottle, but won't be buying it again.

2 wishy washy tasties.:eat2::eat2:
 

PamelaLois

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I also have the diabetes and only drink diet soda. I am addicted to Diet Rite Red Raspberry soda, I sometimes go through 2 or 3 two liter bottles in a day. I can't get enough of it. Sweet and full of berry flavor, it's just so tasty. Diet Rite Tangerine is also very good when I crave orange flavored something. I am not keen on the Grape, Black Cherry or Kiwi/Strawberry flavors, but they aren't bad. The Diet Rite Cola absolutely sucks, can't stand it, literally makes me gag when I taste it. I am currently enjoying the Sierra Mist Free Cranberry soda for the holidays. Not quite as sweet as the D-R Red R-berry, but so tasty with a good deal of cranberry flavor.
 

Dromond

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For your reviewing pleasure, we have Virgil's Special Edition Bavarian Nutmeg.

First, as always, the bottle. The bottle itself is attractively designed, with a ceramic stopper held down by a wire clamp assembly. The label was poorly applied, however, being wrinkled and coming off the bottle. The ingredient list is quite complete, listing EVERYTHING in the brew. Ingredients: anise, honey, licorice, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg (of course), clove, wintergreen, casia oil, sweet birch, molasses, carbonated water, unbleached cane sugar, and natural caramel color. The label claims the water is from the Bohemian Forest region of Bavaria. "One of the purest sources in the world for water." Ahoy hoy.

Unclamping the cap was rewarded with a delightful champagne-like pop of the ceramic stopper. Removing the stopper revealed a complex scent of many spices, the licorice and anise being most pronounced. I had some trepidation as strong licorice flavor tends to ruin my root beer experience.

Pouring the brew into a frosted mug revealed almost no head to speak of.

The first drink noted a creamy mouthfeel, which was nice, but the licorice note to the main body of the flavor was overpowering. The nutmeg immortalized on the label was nowhere to be tasted. As I suspected from the almost total lack of head to the root beer, the carbonation was anemic. The aftertaste was dominated again by the licorice, but a slight burn in the throat lingering long after the aftertaste suggested anise to my mind.

In conclusion, this was a disappointing $4 bottle of root beer. The lack of carbonation, and the harshness of the flavor and discomfort of the aftertaste leads me to give this a big ZERO. Not even one star.

At least the bottle is nice...
 
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