Friday, January 27, 2006

Prohibition Tested Hank's

Henry Weinhard's Root Beer bottle says: "Enjoy a truly great American Root Beer originally crafted by our master brewers during prohibition. This gourmet elixir, brewed with sassafras, vanilla and honey, proved to be a popular alternative for our beer-drinking loyalists.
Our tradition of providing only the highest quality beverages continues today in each bottle that bears our founder's name, brewmaster Henry Weinhard.
A gourmet Root Beer, hand-finished with only the freshest and highest quality ingredients."

What are those ingredients?

Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, vanilla extract, natural and artificial flavors, phosphoric acid, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), honey essence, acacia sassafras extract.

OK, let's get to it. I have a good news/bad news deal in this one. Good news? I like Weinhard's, this is a good Root Beer with an amazing head. Despite using high fructose corn syrup this brew is nice. Easy on the palate and quite tasty with a nice vanilla flavour enhanced by a very subtle honey undertone. It has a nice, full and creamy mouth feel and is drinkable. This is the one to use if you're a Root Beer Float fan! The head is the most amazing thing about Weinhard's. From the moment I poured it into my iced mug it developed this creamy and long lasting foamy head. There was still foam on this Root Beer when I finished the last drop. Amazing and so classically Root Beer! Kudos to the guys at Henry Weinhard's.

I also like their bottle cap blurbs. They add a nice touch to an already nice bottle and label.

Now for the bad news. This Root Beer could be so much better if they ditched the HFCS and replaced it with sugar. The HFCS is noticeable in this drink, for those who normally go in for the cane sugar sweetened brews. Weinhard's practically screams to be sweetened with cane sugar. That it is not sweetened naturally is a contradiction to their label marketing. It is not "gourmet", despite its great taste.

Somehow, I doubt Henry Weinhard used High Fructose Corn Syrup in his original. It uses, according to the label "acacia sassafras extract". Acacia and sassafras are two different things, each of which bring something different to the brew.

Slapping the gourmet label on something may allow you to get a higher price for your product but it does nothing for your products reputation. There are really too many artificial ingredients here for a true "gourmet" product as marketed on the label to hold true. That said, I’m going to have no trouble keeping a few bottles of this Root Beer in my refrigerator, it is a good brew and money well spent. I have had many Root Beers that cannot hold a candle to Henry's. It definitely gets a thumbs up.

Beyond this Henry Weinhard's is a good Root Beer and stands up against the many other brews currently on the market.

Carbonation: Nice and soft

Mouth Feel: Thick and creamy

Root Beer Flavour: Old Time flavour

Head: Amazing head. This should be the poster child for long lasting Root Beer Head. Honestly, it sets the standard!

Aftertaste: As with most good root beers it has a lasting aftertaste. Not cloying at all. Nice vanilla with a hint of honey

Aroma: Easily identifiable as Root Beer. Vanilla scent is not too overpowering.

Overall Taste: Nice balance of vanilla, honey taste and acacia, which is almost invisible.

On the Michael scale Henry's brew gets a guarded B- 6/10


Mike Kole said...

I had this one in Oregon, about 7 years ago. It was so good, I looked for it repeatedly across the West Coast. (I was on a road trip from Seattle to LA.) That prominent vanilla was something to behold.

If they'd only switch back to cane...

Anonymous said...

I recently had Dog N's Suds from a bottle and it had HFCS in it! UGH....I hated the taste!!I am sticking with Berghoff's when I got to Indiana again...

I also will be picking up some Spechter's as well in Chicago!!

Anonymous said...

More corn syrup crap. Tastes like spicy vanilla cola. Crap.