Root beer renaissance: Old-time soda is back with a bang

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  • FractalTheorem
    May 4, 2010 11:33 a.m.

    I love A & W (but on tap is better than canned). Diet A&W isn't even bad for those so inclined. Hires is also great.

    Worst are Shasta (how they even sell it is amazing), Mug (TERRIBLE), Dads.

    Barqs is tolerable.

  • SL
    April 29, 2010 11:00 a.m.

    I like Barqs because you can actually taste it.
    A&W and the like are too sweet and syrupy, you can hardly taste them, especially with food. Henry W's is good for sipping, but you might as well have water if you are having it with a meal. Maybe that's why I like homebrewed: I can reduce the sugar and kick up the flavor.

    FYI to those looking for recipes: Grocery store extracts are junk. Get it from a local or online brewery supply stores.

  • LaughingWatcher
    April 28, 2010 11:29 p.m.

    The Pi Pizzeria has its own root beer and it is a great refreshment and a great complement to their food.

  • rnoble
    April 28, 2010 9:53 p.m.

    i used to make rootbeer for our stake on service projects---one year we dispensed almost 25 gallons---it was pretty hot and we ended the day with floats---
    my recipe is one bottle hires extract (which is a sasfole free sassafras and cherry bark product) in five gallons water and ice with five pounds sugar and five pounds dry ice---for a creamier flavor substitute 1 pint molasses for 1 pound sugar and add 4 tablespoons vanilla---it is best if chilled before adding dry ice---this recipe requires a 10 gallon container (must be vented or you will have an incident) and about 25-30 minutes to prepare---if it will all be used in a short time do not count the ice in the quantity of water---

  • Rootbeer Fan
    April 28, 2010 4:50 p.m.

    Squatters Rootbeer: Free Refills
    Roosters Rootbeer: Free Refills
    Maddox Rootbeer: Free Refills (best in Utah)
    Ruby River Rootbeer: Free Refills
    Brick Oven Rootbeer: Free Refills
    Beehive Grill: Small, non-chilled glass for refills....Will never go back. Thanks to all the other Utah Rootbeer Breweries that liberally share their Rootbeer with their customers.

    Best bottled variety: Sioux City Sarsparilla
    Surprisingly, there is also a descent, pure cane sugar rootbeer that walgreens carries....I believe it is called Deer Valley....but could be mistaken on that.

  • Humm??
    April 28, 2010 3:30 p.m.

    Anyone notice that the rootbeer in the picture with the cookies looks just like milk? Amazing what they can do with that stuff!!!

  • Y Grad / Y Dad
    April 28, 2010 2:51 p.m.

    I seem to recall that it was a Hire's concentrate. Dry ice is a nice quick way to make rootbeer for the YM/YW Halloween party.

    I remember riding my old, single speed bike all the way out to Widow Douglas's home to stack her firewood for her one summer day. I about fell off my bike when I rode up to her porch and she was sitting there sipping from a brown stubbie!

    She used to collect old cast away bottles, clean and sterilize them, then bottle home-brewed root beer in them.

    And NOTHING tasted better after stacking 4 cord of firewood for the good sister.

  • Flashback
    April 28, 2010 1:32 p.m.

    Hires is the best and beats A&W hands down. You can only get it at Hires Big H drive in. I do like the Root Beer at The Brick Oven in Provo and St. George. They need to bring Hires back into the stores in this part of the country.

    Whomever it was that said Barqs must have no taste buds. That stuff is crap. Small wonder I call it Barfs Root Beer. I've had the Red Rocks at a couple of restaurants and it has a nasty aftertaste.

    I have brewed my own on occasion using yeast to get the carbonation. It was also really good. Only problem was I left it out one night and the yeast turned my root beer into a potent beverage. I didn't drink it due to the alcohol that developed. I hated to dump it down the drain.

  • donburi
    April 28, 2010 12:11 p.m.

    I agree that A&W on tap - and in a frosted mug is absolutely the best! I haven't tried Howies - would love to.

    Barqs and Dads have to be the worst.

  • zencowgirl
    April 28, 2010 11:23 a.m.

    I love root beer and would like to try my hand at some homemade root beer. Please send me your recipes for home brewing root beer! Thanks so much!

  • Floyd Johnson
    April 28, 2010 11:10 a.m.

    Oklahoma Ute:

    POPs is great. I planned to take my 6 year-old for breakfast one Saturday. At the last minute the wife decided to come along. We got there and she said "you drove me all of this way to eat at a gas station?"

    I need help. Decades ago, I made root beer for activities in a 5 gallon container. I used perhaps 2 pounds of dry ice, 4 gallons of water, 5-10 lbs. of sugar and a small bottle of concentrate. I have looked on shelves for the concentrate, and can't find it. Does anyone know the brand of concentrate? Where do I get it? How much sugar?

  • LuVpacifica
    April 28, 2010 11:05 a.m.

    rootbeer float very 'refreshing'

  • attentive
    April 28, 2010 10:52 a.m.

    I remember digging up sassafras roots in Illinois with my grandmother and brewing them like tea until the water turned red. With added sugar we made a drink that tasted just like rootbeer. I have to think that sassaparilla may have its "roots" in sassafras. If you want to taste a really good rootbeer, try Henry Weinhard's gourmet style rootbeer.

  • Happy Valley Hillbilly
    April 28, 2010 9:39 a.m.

    When I was a youngster living in Utah County our family always enjoyed getting cold mugs of Frostop root beer. They seem to have disappeared over the years though. I wonder if there are any still around?

  • JP
    April 28, 2010 8:36 a.m.

    Barq's??? Seriously? Easily my least favorite mass-produced root beer. I guess it's all a question of what you like. To me it's too overpowering.

    We have a place in Phoenix called Pops Soda Shop that has all kinds of good stuff, including 20+ different kinds of root beer.

    Here's my take on the commonly accessible ones:
    -A&W: Good, all purpose
    -Howies: Creamy but too sweet
    -Hires: 1 step up from A&W, but hard to find
    -Sprecher's: too fizzy, but it does have a nice "clean" taste
    IBC: poor man's Henry Weinhard's
    -Virgil's: tastes like Barq's in a pretty bottle
    -Henry Weinhard's: My personal favorite. The hint of honey puts it over the top. It does use HFCS, which is unfortunate, but I still prefer it to every other brand I've tried. I can often find it at grocery stores on sale for $3.99 a six pack.

  • SL
    April 28, 2010 8:04 a.m.

    Barqs is the best mass market root beer. Henry Weinards is good but is more of a dessert drink. Its flavors are subtle and are easily overpowered with food.

    Sprechers is excellent and I wish it were more available. Virgils is also good, but overpriced. The best, of course, is a good home brew made with hints of licorice, vanilla, and ginger to one's liking.

  • Florwood
    April 28, 2010 6:37 a.m.

    I was surprised to see Wisconson on the list for root beer--seems like whenever we've gone back east, people look at us slackjawed when we ask for root beer. "What's that?", they say.

  • Mayfair
    April 28, 2010 5:48 a.m.

    LDS ward parties in Milwaukee are sometimes "keggers", with a keg of Sprecher's local brew.

    And I agree with the poster who loves Howies sold in Utah County.

    But my heart still belongs to A&W. The best you can get is on tap at the A&W in Logan. When we ever get there, stopping to buy a couple of gallons is always high on the agenda.

  • kidicky
    April 27, 2010 9:23 p.m.

    It should be noted that Henry Weinard's (as well as the popular Stewart's and IBC) cannot be considered "premium" as they use high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in lieu of cane sugar. Also, as good as Sprecher's is, they still use HFCS, at least partially.

  • AribaD
    April 27, 2010 8:54 p.m.

    You missed one of the local root beers, Howies, made in Utah county I believe. A&W was the best when I was a kid (fifty years ago) but is not good anymore. If you want to know how root beer is supposed to taste, give Howies a try. Disclaimer: I am not associated with Howies in any way other than I drink too much of it.

  • Oklahoma Ute
    April 27, 2010 8:51 p.m.

    In an informal blind testing of various rootbeers, from a soda shop in Arcadia, Oklahoma called POPS (on Rt. 66), we have found Henry Weinhard's to be a top pick. They sell about 20-25 different obscure brews (so far we've only made it through about 8-9), but Weinhard's is something special. Growing up in Utah, I had never heard of the stuff, but it is quite nice! At $1.25-$1.50 a bottle, we also have looked for a cheaper alternative to this frequently consumed beverage--for the money, easy accessablilty, and great taste, good ol A&W is awesome.


  • Patrick Henry
    April 27, 2010 8:31 p.m.

    Give me liberty or give me root beer!

  • KenKrogue
    April 27, 2010 8:14 p.m.

    After nine years of taste tests at the annual Boy Scout sleepover we always tried 6-8 different kinds of rootbeer, depending on what was at the grocery store.

    The blindfolded winner for 9 straight years...

    A&W Rootbeer. And not even a close second.

  • cynic
    April 27, 2010 6:53 p.m.

    As a Wisconsin resident who loves Sprechers root beer, I'm pleased to see the influence of Sprechers being felt in Utah. I'll be sure to visit Roosters on my next visit to the Beehive state.

  • tiapan
    April 27, 2010 5:02 p.m.

    has anyone got a really good receipe for root beer?

  • lovin it
    April 27, 2010 4:53 p.m.

    I grew up on root beer floats. Now with diabeties in our family we still enjoy them with sugar free ice cream and diet root beer. I'm glad to see more people enjoying that great taste

  • Loppy
    April 27, 2010 4:00 p.m.

    I LOVE ROOT BEER! Bring it on!

  • M
    April 27, 2010 3:52 p.m.

    Although I'm not Mormon, I do love my root beer. This can only be a good thing.