Monday, January 12, 2009

Hank's Gourmet Root Beer

That dark box in the bottom left is a matchbox embedded
in the table. The restaurant is called Matchbox. Get it?

Genuine Hank's Gourmet Philadelphia Recipe Root Beer

I had Genuine Hank's Gourmet Philadelphia Recipe Root Beer at a fancy schmancy restaurant in Washington DC. We'd been instructed to go to Matchstick, the restaurant, by some smart friends of ours who'd lived in DC long ago. They swore up and down that the place was great, and that I had to try the "mini burgers". They said this because, I think, they knew I liked slider type burgers.

Now to take a moment: Mini-burgers aren't sliders. A slider is like a White Castle burger, it's small and greasy and not just a miniature sized regular hamburger. It's a fundamentally different beast, with one of the most important qualities being the way a slider bun absorbs grease from the meat patty. In a good slider, you can hardly tell where bun stops and meat begins.

So we go to Matchsticks... wait, it was Matchbox. Matchbox. We wait for forty minutes for a table, marveling at the strange suit and tie casual crowd. Most of them seemed to have that desperate affectation of casual money. You know what I mean.

Anyways, forty minutes and we get a table in the top floor area. If you ever go to Matchbox, wander around the place, the interior layout is pretty neat. They basically gutted two side by side buildings and filled them with a totally new configuration of floors. Hardly any interior walls, all just random metal floors.

The menu boasted "Hank's Gourmet Root Beer", the wait said they were out of the bottles but had some sort of generic fountain root beer. He ran to see what sort it was, and returned with a bottle of Hank's. They hadn't sold it for quite some time, but luckily enough he'd found one.

So we ordered some sort of hot pepper pizza and a plate of mini-burgers which turn out to be just that, not sliders. I'd been told they were sliders, by my friends, by the restaurant reviews, by the waiter. I even heard people at other tables referring to them as sliders. They're not, and I got cranky pretty quick. They came with a mound of deep fried onion shreds, what are sometimes called "tobacco fries". Those would've been good but they were lukewarm and stale. Bah. They might've had garlic powder on them.

The pizza was good, when it came out. They had a blend of cheeses on it that was surprisingly reminiscent of St. Louis provel cheese. The pizza made me happy, and it was just as good out of the hotel freezer the next morning.

Oh, the Hank's root beer?

The first sniff of the Hank's was so sweet that my nose got a cavity. It was incredible that a smell could convey "sugar" so powerfully. The taste was nondescript, just sort of blah. I'd go so far as to say it wasn't even really a root beer, just uninspired sugar water. Don't buy it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Root Beer Makin' Hijinx

Hey look! I got handsome.

So this is a smart guy who tries to make root beer and writes about it on his blog. I won't give the ending away, but notice that I used the word "tries".

Go look.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fentiman's Botanically Brewed Ginger Beer

275ml of liquid fun, alcoholic fun.

Look out Tim!

You're about to lose your "X".

Fentiman's Botanically Brewed Ginger Beer

I made a serious mistake with this stuff, it's a half of a percent alcohol and I went ahead and drank some anyways. Half a percent?, I says to myself, why I'm sure I get more alcohol than that when I eat out-of-date food.

But no, this stuff reeked of booze. I took a sip and was overwhelmed by the alcohol-iness of it. I am not a drinkin' man, in fact, I avoid the devil's brew in all its forms. Whether or not this stuff was a half percent alcohol or not is unclear, maybe I'm overly sensitive or maybe their brewing process is uneven. Or maybe they lied so they could sell it in the US, or maybe it yeasted up in the bottle. Who knows. Either way, I drank it and now I'm sullied. Some little guys in hooded sweatshirts are going to come and take away my hooded sweatshirts and scratch up my Minor Threat records.

That'll suck. I'd say as much but my mouth is still numb from the booziness.

My single swig told me a lot. Fentiman's was really severe, not refreshing or pleasant at all. In my iPhone I noted down "Nitvregrwshim". Clearly I was already drunk. It was all burn and no fun, not a great trait for a ginger beer in my mouth. No sweet at all, I guess the accursed little beer yeast beasts had gobbled up all the wholesomeness and turned it into liquid sin.

I took this photo to show the price tag,
but I wound up showing you how natural
that hand position is, instead.

This is one of the first Apple products I've bought that I really hated.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Natakhtari Tarragon Soda

I've done tarragon and I've done Natakhtari,
this can't be so bad.

Look at that sticker stuck by the opening of the bottle.
Why wouldn't I have picked that off?

And of course...

Natakhtari Tarragon Soda

That last tarragon soda set me up for quite the fall. It wasn't bad, Natakhtari tarragon isn't not the un-opposite. It IS bad. Strong and pushy, a soda that knows what it wants and what it wants ain't discussed at polite dinner tables. The pidgin English on the bottle seems to have been copied from this stuff. Oh, wait a minute. That's the same company, of course they have the same text on the bottle. Duh.

It's thick and flat, not terribly sweet but not anything else. Just sort of neutral sweet-wise, in order that the freaky taste can hold center stage with more authority. It tastes like discount black licorice, like the kind that comes formed into little black halloween decorations and it would never occur to you that it's actually edible. "What, these spider rings are candy? No shit."

It smells more like licorice than anything else, too. None of that pansified watery cream soda taste of the Chersi Terragon soda. This stuff kicks your door in during the middle of the night, flashes its NKVD badge, then takes all your stuff.

Bonus points for the Tarragon using the exact same label as the grape, but just changing the color of the liquid.

Bonus bonus points: I constantly misspell tarragon as "terragon". I think that's some sort of remedial science fiction fan mistake.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tentacle Grape Soda

I was sent this link by a well-meaning friend. I'm not certain, but I think he's hitting on me.

Either way, I prefer consensual tentacle sex. And that only with sexy tentacles, not like the poorly drawn specimens featured in the ad.

Writing about hentai sex-anything is difficult, because I have to affect an air of incredulity while pretending that I've never heard of it before. "What? This 'hentai' you speak of consists of sexual drawings of anime type characters? And there's a whole genre of hentai about women being sexually molested by tentacles? Well I never."

Well I never.

This crap does bring up an issue about "collectable" sodas, as this stuff purports to be. It also brings up a question about exactly what flavor is tentacle semen. Sadly, no one seems to bring up any questions about representations of rape, especially within the realm of school girl hentai type porn.

Clearly the novelty soda maker here is trading on a cultural gimmick, something that represents the worst of a particular genre. I'm sure that the maker is not promoting rape, but is so totally accustomed to the term "tentacle rape" that they are immune to any critical thought about it. It's a tongue-in-cheek appeal to the self mocking sense of sarcasm that kids today love.

But man, why does the soda maker have to pick something so incredibly offensive? And the sad thing is that it isn't really funny, it's just a "You remember Transformers?" type joke, just pointing at something that a certain group of people know about and therefore making everyone feel like more of a group through the pointing. "We all know about tentacle rape porn and laugh at the people who look at it."

I dunno. The soda maker'll sell it. The 18-35 crowd will buy it and give it to their friends as joke presents. None of it will get drank but it will instead sit on a shelf next to the ol' anime DVD collection and a half-painted figurine or two. The soda maker'll make some money but not enough to make it worth while, will probably try to branch out into "Lolicon Lolzberry" and etc and be disappointed by the sales.

I'm writing about this in a critical tone, but just the other day I laughed at "rape seed" on an ingredients list. What a dick.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Steaz Organic Sparkling Green Tea Root Beer

It looks like it has a plastic halo.

Steaz Organic Sparkling Green Tea Root Beer

The bottle front has "root beer" in italics, but I think they meant for it to be in quotes because this sure as hell has nothing to do with root beer. Nothing at all, as far as I can tell. This isn't root beer, it's "root beer" with double air quotes and a sarcastic sneer.

The taste is more of a cream soda. A very rich cream soda, thick and sweet. There is a weedy aftertaste of green tea in there, that's certain. Not the friendly kind of green tea we normally get in the United States, but that foul "real" green tea that they make in Japan.

I've only had "authentic" green tea once. It was a thing they put on for tourists at a temple in Japan, in Kyoto I think. They sat you down and did a whole tea ceremony thing in a temple garden down on the part your not supposed to walk around in. It was great, descending into the forbidden zone, the whole tea bit where they whisk the tea and do other crap to it. It's been a long time, I can barely remember. It was great up to the point where I drank the tea, it was incredibly bitter and thick leaving my mouth awash in misery.

This is THAT kind of green tea, the kind of green tea that's all air quotey "authentic" because the people who invented it drink it. And as a flavor in the Steaz it ain't so bad because it's weak and small, like a little bully hiding behind a big bully. As I choked down my first mouthful I gave that taste a pleasant nod, it was like passing a sworn enemy on the street, but a classy sworn enemy. You nod in recognition, not friendliness.

Steaz gets everything right but the flavor. The bottle has a USDA certified organic sticker, whatever that means. It also has a "fair trade tea" logo, which makes me uneasy because that particular logo has an image of a little person on it, split down the middle into black and white. Each half carries a bowl, so it seems like it's about white people being fair to black people.

Sure, that's what fair trade IS, but I don't like to have it spelled out so clearly. Makes me uncomfortable.

Even the ingredients are spot on: Sparkling Filtered Water, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Caramel Color, Natural Flavors, Organic Fair Trade Certified Green Tea, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Citrate. Most of the label is adjectives reassuring you that the stuff they are feeding you isn't evil.

And wait a minute, isn't "Organic Evaporated Can Juice" a two dollar way of saying "sugar"?

But like I said, they did it all right and it turned out so bad. And besides that, IT'S NOT ROOT BEER! It's frickin' cream soda. There is not a single damned thing about this that has any thing to do with root beer. Feh. I seriously wonder if there was a mistake at the bottle factory.

The worst thing about this, though, is that my wife gave me a four pack for Xmas. I'll be foisting this off on unwitting guests for weeks to come.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Undrank British Sodas

Each probably deserves a skull on crossbones on the label.

So an inquisitive Glaswegian was curious about what sort of British sodas I have "on tap", so to speak. Well, here you go.

I have three different "Club" sodas, including a "Rock Shandy", whatever the hell that is. If someone asked what I thought "Rock Shandy" was outside of the context of soda, I'd guess it was a fish. In the context of British soda, I'm still thinking it's fish.

Not looking forward to that one.

I have a red Tizer, which is a year out of date. Apparently they don't make that one anymore. It was sold to me under the counter by some shady folks. That bashful can in the back is a Ribena and on top is a Ben Shaw's Dandelion and Burdock. Finally, a Funky Orange Fanta and a bottle of Lucozade, an energy drink. I hate energy drinks, and I've hate every British soda I've ever tried, so I'm sure that last one will go well.

Some of these might be British and some Irish. All the same thing, right?

Edit: I just realized I also have some British made Fentiman's. Foul, foul stuff.