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February 2, 2011 / thepaulcarlin

Double Cola

Disclaimer: I may or may not have been ‘myself’ when this was consumed.

So, for that reason, DOUBLE COLA may or may not be the best drink of all time. I can’t be sure.

One thing I CAN be sure of, however, was that drinking this was like drinking the amber nectar of the gods. OR WAS IT?

The flavour of this cola was SO powerful, the first few gulps felt a bit like swallowing PURE cola syrup, should such a thing exist. Now, I can’t work out whether it felt like this because I was so, well, pleased with myself at the time… it could be! Could it?

Was this cola amazing? Yes. The experience of drinking this cola was amazing.

The deepness of the dark brown colour, the intense hit of cola and the absolute ZING that comes with the huge hit of caffeine made this an absolute joy to drink. I only wish I’d been sober at the time.

Could I drink a bottle of this every day? No. I’d die. Most people would die (except, perhaps, Jason Statham.) It just about reached the heights of Virgil’s Real Cola and is definitely worth a pop if you can find it anywhere.

Turns out they make this stuff in Chatanooga. I found this wonderful photo on Flickr (courtesy of user slade1955):

So I realise this is something of a pointless post because I have no real idea what Double Cola actually tastes like. My memory tells me that it probably lives somewhere between 7 and 8, so let’s give it an 8 and just pretend we never had this conversation, okay?

December 15, 2010 / thepaulcarlin

Henry Weinhard’s Root Beer

The king has lost his crown… sort of…

Firstly, I was devastated to learn that Henry Weinhard‘s Root Beer, my LONG-STANDING FAVOURITE, contains corn syrup.

Granted, I didn’t know about the difference between sodas with corn syrup and cane sugar when I first discovered it.

However, it seems utterly stupid that such a dynamite root beer can contain what I can only describe as PREMIUM ADDITIVES or whatever.

Anyway, I can’t fully get behind Henry Weinhard anymore. Sorry, pal.

All that aside, however, the taste is excellent and this is where my dilemma starts. It’s SUCH a brilliant root beer. Dark in colour, pretty fizzy (but in a good way), REALLY foamy and bursting with vanilla. It’s delicious. Absolutely delicious.

I first discovered this amazing brew in Vancouver last Christmas and brought some of it home. I just loved it. At the time, I appreciated how it had the sturdiness and class of IBC but also a foaminess that stepped it up a notch.

This corn syrup thing is really a drag. Wish it was 1851 and I was meeting Henry off the boat from Germany. I’d warn him of the perils of corn syrup and how it would affect this review. I’m sure he’d listen to me because I have brilliant blue eyes.

For taste alone, Henry Weinhard’s Root Beer would get a 9 but due to this whole corn syrup fiasco, I’m demoting it to an 8 which is still pretty great. Trust me, it’s an incredibly nice root beer and if I didn’t care so much about ingredients, it would still be king of the castle.

IMPORTANT BIT: This opens up the race for first place. I have a really good feeling about the bottle of Sprecher Root Beer I’ve been saving until the end…

(Added info: I would have posted an arty photograph of my bottle but Lloyd smashed it when his dog bounded into the studio looking for food. Kinda funny actually.)

December 12, 2010 / thepaulcarlin

Squamscot Maple Cream


I like pancakes. I like maple syrup on my pancakes. I definitely like an old school vibe to my sodas (and my breakfasts). I like a label on a bottle that suggests quality and small-town production. I appreciate a not-overly-carbonated drink and I definitely like a clear soda.

HOWEVER, do I want to experience all of these things at the same time?

Squamscot Maple Cream is like drinking pancakes and maple syrup. That’s EXACTLY what it tastes like. I can’t describe it any other way.

Needless to say, I couldn’t finish the bottle. I just couldn’t drink this stuff. Thing is, though, it’s a quality drink. My pal David drank two bottles of the stuff and absolutely loved it so there are definitely people out there who would lap this stuff up.

Everyone should try it once. It’s a truly strange experience. A bit like a Willy Wonka drink or something. How they got that flavour into a clear soda is probably genius. The company makes a pretty awesome looking selection of sodas and have been going for something like 142 years! Amazing.

For a taste that’s just too much for my buds, I’m giving Squamscot Maple Cream a 2, but everything else about it screams 8. You’ll either love it or hate it. It’s in your best interests to at least try it, and if you don’t like it, David will finish the bottle for you.

December 10, 2010 / thepaulcarlin

Thomas Kemper Root Beer

There’s little better than SURPRISE ROOT BEER when you LEAST EXPECT IT (which, I suppose, is what any surprise is really about.)

So how did I happen upon this unexpected and most pleasant root beer?

At THIS PLACE where I ate a pretty excellent burger with Ryan and Duncan.

We’re ‘working’ until nighttime at the moment so are on strict STRAIGHT EDGE duty until work’s over which is awesome because it means that until 10pm, it’s SODA O’CLOCK.

Anyway, enough about us… more about this GREAT ROOT BEER. I like it a lot. Thomas Kemper, whoever he is, makes a fine root beer. (Turns out it’s two guys who started the company in 1990.)

The main taste in this one for me is honey, but not to the same level that ruined Bulldog Root Beer. There’s plenty of sarsaparilla and wintergreen but it’s also creamy and perfectly sweet.

It helped that the burgers were dynamite too. Gotta love good food in a dive bar.

Man, I wish it was 1990 and I was forming a new root beer company with my bros. I’d make it as good as this stuff.

I remember 1990. I lived here (well not EXACTLY that building, but one similar to it) and really liked INXS.

Probably going to go and drink another bottle at Hinano’s tonight because it was so awesome. Thomas Kemper Root Beer therefore gets a splendid 8.

December 8, 2010 / thepaulcarlin


“You’ve either got it or you don’t.”


I’m not quite sure what Moxie is. I’m aware that it’s a ‘classic’ and that you can ‘have’ it. I think some baseball players used to drink this in the ’30s which is pretty excellent.

What does it taste like? Hard to say. I’d describe it as an ELIXER; you know, one of those old world sodas that gives you a bit of, you know… OOMPH.

There are hints of sarsaparilla but it’s also on the bitter side. Dark in colour and not terribly carbonated. It’s pretty good!

Really like the label and had a good rummage through this Moxie memorabilia site for some oddball facts. There’s definitely a big history with this soda and it seems kinda sad that it’s one of those forgotten sodas.

What’s worse is that the company who makes it is now owned by FUCKING COCA COLA. Not quite sure how to deal with this information. If it get the soda back out there, then okay but I have a bad feeling about the whole thing.

Kinda wish it was the 1930s and I was pitching for the Cubbies or something. I’d drink Moxie. I’d HAVE Moxie.

You’ve either got it or you don’t. Moxie gets a 7.

December 7, 2010 / thepaulcarlin

Red Ribbon Original Cherry Supreme

We never really got Jolly Ranchers in the UK…

Well, we did for a short while sometime in the ’90s but I don’t recall seeing them anywhere since then.

Aaaaanyway, I’d heard that this stuff tastes like the cherry Jolly Ranchers so was pretty keen to give it a try. It’s made by Red Ribbon and has a ‘TASTE TEST WINNER’ rosette superimposed onto the label.

Kinda wish it was a real rosette so that I could pretend I won it at a gymkhana on a horse called BRANDICE.

Anyway, what a super colour. Love a soda that looks as ridiculous as it tastes… and it tastes RIDICULOUS. I’d say it’s somewhere between REAL cherries and a really REALLY nice cough syrup. Trust me, it’s good.

First couple of sips, I was thinking it was going to be a hard slog and was worried I’d fail to finish a bottle of soda for the second time in a week. Fortunately, my tastebuds got used to this stuff really quickly and it went down a treat.

Now this stuff is sweet, make no mistake. I’d go as far as saying it may be TOO sweet for some (in which case, you should try the amazing IBC Black Cherry soda, which I’ll review in a couple of weeks), but I dug it.

Cheap and cheerful. I’d chug a bottle of this over a Cherry Coke any day of the week and I’m really looking forward to trying the Red Ribbon Root Beer in a few days.

Red Ribbon Original Cherry Supreme gets a sweet 7, especially as it made me go back and listen to this truly brilliant Spoon song.

December 5, 2010 / thepaulcarlin

Tower Root Beer

I felt a certain sense of privilege drinking this stuff…

Reading a brief history of Tower Root Beer, it seems that this stuff was off the market for 30 odd years which seems crazy because it’s utterly delicious.

This is a classy root beer, right down to the label. Turns out it was the most expensive bottle I purchased at Galco’s last weekend. Reassuringly expensive or something?

Anyway, this root beer was a joy to drink from the first drop to the last. I could taste caramel, wintergreen and vanilla, all in equal measure.

It seems appropriate that this excellent drink comes from Boston. It’s robust for starters! Getting further down the bottle, it felt like this stuff had Top 3 potential. I mean… it was pretty much perfect. I enjoyed it with pizza. Perhaps it was the pleasant evening, perhaps I was in a really great mood. Perhaps Tower Root Beer really IS the best root beer?

I’ll decide on that one at the end of this odyssey. After all, there’s a bottle of Henry Weinhard’s (my personal reigning favourite) in the bag upstairs…

For now, Tower Root Beer comes with an enormously high recommendation and gets a glowing 9.