printer-friendly buying list
by William Emmanuel Bugg

Coldbacon’s Beverage Reviews

“The sage embraces things. Ordinary men discriminate among them and parade their discriminations before others. So I say, those who discriminate fail to see.”

The Chuang Tzu

Whatever! Hereís Whatís New:
2/08 Boylanís is back! (we didn't know it had left)

9/06 German Beer: Ich bin ein Hefe-Weizen!

12/04 Belgian Beer: Itís In!

7/04 Arizona Unleashes The Big Cans Again. And I listen.

6/04 Fuze Beverages: Not good.

7/03 Steaz Green Tea Sodas: The latest thing appearing on the shelf. But are they good?

12/02 Vitamin Water: The next stupid thing I canít stop you from buying

8/02 Jones Soda still around. Well donít just sit there.

7/02 Attack Of The Clear Malt Beverages - Coming every other week to a store near you.

9/01 Wild Fruitz - Silly name, but is it a silly beverage?

3/01 Johnny Tea, you lied to me! (Honest Tea bores market shelves everywhere)

1/01 Verdict in. Mistic Zotics opens up a can of whoop-ass on Snapple.

12/00 Breaking News: Major pharmaceuticals conspire with beverage makers to unload vast amounts of surplus cough syrup. Major offenders include Hansenís Energy drinks and as always, Sobe Beverages.

10/00 Did I miss something? When did Snapple and Arizona stop dominating the funky tea market? Anyway, Tazo is finally here! The question is can we make it go away?

9/00 Hansenís Smoothies ó The answer to the ridiculously overpriced Odwalla?

8/00 Mango Passion? How about Beach Style?

6/00 Virgilís Root Beer: Is It Really Brewed In Heaven? Find out.

2/00 New Millenium, Same Silly Beverages - Voodoo Rain, Pour In Drain.

12/99 Sobe, roughly translated from Korean, meaning “so bad.”

10/99 Check Out the Latest From Snapple Beverage!


“O the moon shone bright on Mrs. Porter
And on her daughter
They wash their feet in soda water”
Most of the mass produced carbonated sodas can be bought in supermarkets for about 1.7 cents/oz. And at these prices, you pretty much could wash your feet in it, and, between you and me, I think some Americans do.
Coca-Cola (4.5)

Pepsi (3.0)
The cola drink with that funny, sweet taste.

Cherry Coke (4.0)
Tastes more like Coke with cherry than Pepsi with cherry. Surprise.

Cherry Pepsi (3.5)
Itís definitely too smooth and too sweet, but this is less offensive in a cherry cola than it is in straight Pepsi.

Dr Pepper (4.0)
Sometimes, I feel like itís a 5.

Mr Pibb (3.5)
Not sure if it has as much raw flavor as Dr Pepper? Great can feel, though.

Sprite (3.5)

Seven-Up (3.0)
Funny taste. Too much lime? Too close to tonic water? Too many dumb ads over the years?

Mountain Dew (1.5)
How did they come up with this beverage? Itís like one of those weird foods that you get all excited about having for some special holiday. But then when you have it, you remember how bad it really is.

Jones Soda
Jones Soda Bug Juice (4.0)
Nothing like the other lemon/lime sodas that have gone before. This is a good drink with a good bite. The other neat thing about Jonesí sodas is the srew cap top, which allows for drinking some now, and some later. [Bugman]

Jones Soda Crushed Melon (4.0)
Great bite, solid flavor, and wild finish. Really tastes like melon. Intriguing soda.

Jones Soda Fufu Berry (4.0)
This is good. This is like a little bit better than a good Clearly Canadian flavor.

Jones Soda Green Apple Soda (3.5)
No I never thought this would be good. But itís really not bad. It actually does resemble green apples. Itís actually pretty good. Not something you would have every day, but I might have this again. Extra points just for being so damn unusual.

Jones Soda Happy (3.5)
Itís pretty good. I really like Jones Soda. I hope they stay around. It will be sad if people donít get into them and they donít make it. It will be our loss. And it sure as hell wonít be my fault.

Jones Soda Blue Bubble Gum Soda (3.0)
Itís not as bad as I had feared. It doesnít really taste all that much like true bubble gum. Tastes more to me like a blue cream soda (hold the cream). Still not my favorite Jones Soda.

Jones Soda Grape (3.0)
Nothing great, but itís not horrible either, which is a lot to ask of a grape soda.

Jones Soda Antecedant Cola (3.0)
Wonderful antecedant cola. Came out just before the Currant Cream Soda.

Jones Soda Cream Soda (2.0)
Tastes like that chloraseptic mouth spray people use on sore throats. I had mono once. It really sucked. It was the worst sore throat ever. I couldnít eat anything but ice cream for a week.

Boylan Bottling Company
Boylan Black Cherry (4.0)
You would think it would be named Boylanís by the sound of it, like Hansonís or Hankís, orónevermind. Itís good. Itís got gentle sweet edges, but that doesnít mean itís a pushover. It has a lot of flavor. Good flavor. On the other hand, I canít exactly think of the last time I didnít like a black cherry drink.

Boylan Sugar Cane Cola (3.5)

New Flavors! New line!
Guest Review by: The Metrosexiest

MASH: a water drink
Pommegranate / Blueberry flavor.
By Boylan Bottling Co.
Moonachie, NJ

Color: Ruby red.

Fizz: Moderate, about the level of a mellow fountain coke. In other words, it fizzes without delivering a furious bubbling sting of a typical canned soda. The bubbles are small, like you get from a fresh pour of Pelligrino in a glass bottle.

Aroma: Like a bag of those crunchy Valentine's Sweetart hearts, the hard, powdery, sour variety (not the Neco classic conversation hearts). It's a generally fruity scent, that could come from a concord grape maybe, but there's no grape involved in this drink. The label swears it!

Flavor: Wow. This is excellent soda pop. The tartness of the pomegranate juice hits first. But the earthy, sweetness of the blueberry balances it out almost immediately. It's a little bit watery, just like the tagline "a water drink," promises. But that makes it very quenching for something with such decent concentration of flavor.

Packaging: This MASH stuff comes in a big, 20-ounce bottle that's chunky and short, with a wide mouth about the size of a small mickey's malt liquor bottle. For all that liquid, MASH costs $2.00 in a fancy Manhattan grocery. Comparable, easily, to Vitamin Water and other flat-water stuff. The whole thing is only 120 calories. And if you drink 20 ounces of soda in one sitting, well, you've got a bigger bladder and thirst than me.

Overall Ė Love it!

MASH Other Flavors: Nice, but haven't impressed me as much as this one so far. Reviews of those (Blood Orange, and Lemon Ginger) later.

Hankís Island Tropical Punch (4.5)
This is ainít no Hawaiian Punch. If your local supermarket doesnít stock Hankís Beverages, then it sucks.

Hankís Orange Cream (4.0)
The best orange cream soda Iíve ever had. Not exactly sure how I came to that conclusion, but it really is good

See Hankís Root Beer

Steaz Green Tea Sodas
Steaz Green Tea Sodas are sort of like those old Clearly Canadians, only they have even more bite, which may have something to do with the green tea component. At first I was very happy when they made their way to the shelf in my town. Today I am not sure. I think maybe orange and cola were not meant to be with gree tea.

Green Tea Soda Orange (3.5)
Crisp. Hint of green tea flavor but mostly nice, sharp, discreet orange taste. Orange taste that doesnít ask for your credit card number.

Green Tea Soda Cola (3.5)

Green Tea Soda Lemon Dew (3.0)
Like Mountain Dew but with green tea bite. And perhaps not as overly sweet like Mountain Dew tends to be.

Green Tea Soda Raspberry (3.0)
I never though I would say this about a raspberry soda, but itís not that bad.

Clearly Canadian
Clearly Canadian Cherry (4.0)
Why did this ever fall out of favor. Itís good stuff. This is really a unique beverage being carbonated water that is sharp, sweet, fruit flavored and having a good bite. One clue is the "servings: about 2." Compare to Voodoo Rainís "servings per container: 2.5" I hate to harp on this silly point, but these are clues, baby. These are clues. Someday, I wonít be here to write reviews for you, and youíll have to be able to make your own decisions. So pay attention.

Clearly Canadian Raspberry Cream (2.5)
Not as big of a fan of this flavor. Also has an unpleasant aftertaste. "Easy on the lemming Harry..."

Clearly Canadian Strawberry Melon (2.5)
Not enough sugar. Strawberry and melon flavor is too subtle. Almost like drinking straight tonic water. Let parents drink tonic water. Let the rest of us not drink tonic water.

Wild Fruitz
Wild Fruitz are essentially like a more Americanized version of Clearly Canadian, which I sometimes feel is a bit too frizzante and over-the-top in the finish. Clearly Canadian is a good idea, but perhaps Wild Fruitz will take the concept a little further toward the goal as it were. They also have watermelon, strawberry and apricot/peach, which I have not tried.

Orange/Mango (4.0+)
Itís pretty good . Itís like a more natural tasting Orange Fanta, and there is actually a hint of mango in there.

Raspberry/something (3.5)
Itís pretty good I think. Will have to try again.

Huckleberry/Blueberry (3.0)
Itís okay.

The Switch
The Switch is essentially like a more sophisticated version of Wild Fruitz. They have taken carbonated fruit juice to a new level. Smooth, good flavor, a little spry in your eye.

The Switch Apricot Peach (4.0)
Good. Taste that apricot peach.

Izze is essentially like the yuppy version of The Switch for New Englanders. Sort of like Cape Cod meets San Francisco and they ride off in an orange pastel Volkswagon Beatle. It does little for me.

Izze Sparkling Clementine (3.5)
Decent attempt at merging fruit drink and carbonated soft drink. I still prefer a good orange soda.

Izze Sparkling Pear (3.0)

Izze Sparkling Blueberry (2.5)
Eh. Iím sorry, but blueberry just doesnít...

Carbonated Ginseng Drinks
Ginseng Rush, Botanical Soda (4?) [Discuss]
Really good. Crisp, focused. Itís almost like a toned down version of a cola drink. Will try again.

Ginseng-Up Cola (4.5)
Fantastic. Just as good as it was the first time I tried it. A great secret in the unassuming bottle (with screw cap technology as well).
Here is a review of the exact same beverage a few months later, or earlier, by the same reviewer, me, which proves either that rating beverages is a tricky business, or that I am a complete idiot.

Ginseng-Up Cola (3.5)
It ainít Coca-Cola. Thatís for damn. Finish is weak. Not that bad though. Still cola.
Original Ginseng-Up (2.0)
Not good. The name of this line of beverages is Ginseng-Up. And this one is supposed to be like 7-Up, as opposed to the Ginseng-up Cola, which has nothing to do with 7-Up. To avoid confusion, they should have called it Ginseng-Up Up, but I still wouldnít buy it anyway.

And here is another duplicate review. But this time the score is still kept down, and the overal impression is similar. Perhaps the trouble is more manifest within the realm of cola. This would not be surprising in that the inherent amorphic nature of cola has, over the years, fostered the great cola wars, and some of worst suffering the world has ever known.

Ginseng-Up Original (3.0)
Finish is somewhat weak. Maybe itís like ten times healthier than coke? I donít know. Iíll still take coke.

Note: I just had it a definitive third time, and indeed, it sucks. The finish is horrible. (1.5, for confusing me)
Ginseng up - Kola champagne (2.0)
Cream soda that tastes like bubble gum from the 60s. Crime Soda. Says on the bottle itís a Caribbean favorite. I hardly believe that.

Do you complain about everything in this world being so bland? Want more bite in your life? Then you should try out some old-school ginger ales.

Health Valley Ginger Ale (3.5)
Says on the label “Richest, tangiest ginger ale you ever tasted!” I donít know about that one, but it was in fact, smooth, with sufficient flavor and a PG-13 bite on the finish. The last micro-brew ginger ale I had gave me such a lip burn, I didnít try another one for about 4 years. But I can recommend this ginger ale, with its mild bite, as a good introduction to real ginger ale.

Reedís Extra Ginger Brew (3.5)
It says on the side of the bottle, “Less Sweet, Stronger Ginger Bite” And that would be correct. This is as much bite as a normal person would want. They call it “All Natural Jamaican Style Ginger Beer.” Jamaicans are obviously all crazy. Them totally crazy.

The Root Beer Question [Root Beer Time]
The question occurs to me as I stand here in the soft drink aisle looking at various carbonated delights: Is Steaz Root Beer really worth $1.69, or three times the price of a normal root beer? And the answer is, of course not. A&W Root Beer (3.0)
Good name recognition. At least it doesnít have the annoying back of throat chemical taste like Mug.

Abita (3.5)
Brewed at the Abita brewery, this root beer is made with pure Louisiana cane sugar, and not enough of it, unfortunately. It starts smoothly, but thereís just not enough flavor from the swallow through the finish. It doesnít have very much bite either. I still give it 3.5, however, because after all, it is made in Louisiana.

Barqís Root Beer (3.0)
Does it really have more bite? Well, itís not so much a bite as it is an unusual finish that lingers. It definitely stands out from the canned crowd. And whatís more, the unchanged silver can design is like a beacon of light in the otherwise fickle landscape of marketing.

Blue sky rootbeer (3.0)
Not bad for rootbeer from a can.

Borealis Birch Beer (3.0)
With tree-tapped Alaskan birch syrup. Itís okay. Initial flavor is decent but follow through tastes like birch. I guess theyíre being quite honest, but I mean it actually tastes a little like you would expect a piece of birch to taste. Thatís just weird. Authentic, but weird.

Boylanís Root Beer (3.0)
Initial flavor burst is good. Follow-thru becoming strange, synthetic, but good. The bite mars the finish so you donít even notice the bite or not on the finish.1
1Editorís Note: What the hell was I trying to say there?
Hankís Root Beer (4.0)
Great bottled root beer.

Hankís Birch Beer(4.0)
Great bottled birch beer.

Hansenís Creamy Root Beer (5.0)
This is it.

Hansenís (3.0)
Comes in the bottle that looks like an uncircumsized penis if you will (100 more hits/day). The finish is weak, but the flavor is sugary and not bad.

Health Valley Root Beer (3.0)
More ginger beer taste, which is, not what Iím looking for in a Root Beer.

Health Valley Sarsaparilla Rootbeer (4.0)
The ingredients list reads like a green dream: sparkling spring water, fructose, molasses, our own natural sarsaparilla flavoring of licorice root extract, natural oils of anise, cherry bark extract, and herbal extracts. Wow! Now themís ingredients even Friar Tuck would be proud of. And now I know how to spell sarsaparilla. And this beverage really does taste natural. Highly recommended.

Jones Soda Root Beer (3.5)
Smooth quality similar to cream soda, but not too much so. Half yam, half potatoes. Just right. And I love the screw caps because 12 oz can be too much for one sitting.

Lost Trail Root Beer (3.0)
No complaints. Perhaps not enough bite.

Mug Root Beer (1.5)
This is the root beer with the silly name. Historic, but not very good.

Mystic Seaport (3.0)
All natural birch beer. Smooth and syrupy. I appreciate the strong flavor, but it tends to come on only at the finish and is also somewhat "bazooka joe-ish?" Also doesnít really have a kick.

Natural Brew Draft Root Beer (Juice Creations Company) (3.5)
Good texture, good swallow, but the mid to late palate is a little off. To find out why, we consult Ingredients 1:113, where it is written: sweet birch, licorice root, sarsaparilla, cinnamon, clove, anise and wintergreen. And thatís one wintergreen too many
Steap Green Tea Soda Root Beer (3.5)
Really is good. Who would ever imagine the combination of root beer and green tea flavor? No? Yeah. I know. Itís actually more like a loosely bound triple threat of cola, root beer, and finally green tea. Only vaguely resembling each of its individual parts. The effect is one of the more unusual flavors on the legal market. Even the bottle is uniqe. Notice the hard edge on the inner rim. Theyíre using screw cap bottles, but they not screw caps! Theyíre regular bottle caps. Hello.

Stewartís Root Beer (3.0)
Head for the Rockies, head for root beer light. A little smooth with a hint of cream soda. Well structured, but not enough flavor. [made in Denver]

Virgilís Micro Brew (4.5)
The label reads as follows: “Using natural ingredients, we brew a root beer so pure, so rich and creamy, youíll swear itís made in heaven.” But is it? The list of ingredients includes: anise, licorice, vanilla (bourbon), cinnamon, clove, wintergreen, sweet birch, molasses, nutmeg, pimento berry oil, balsam oil and of course, oil of cassia. By now youíre wondering, as did I, how a root beer could possibly be worth this extraordinary hype and an astonishing $1.49 a 12 oz price. Well, guess what? Itís worth it. This is the best root beer Iíve had so far. Itís very smooth and much tastier than the competition, and it has a very complex and enjoyable bite on the finish. Unbelievable! Does this come in six packs? I will have to do a head to head between Virgilís and Health Valley Sarsaparilla with an unbiased panel and see what happens.

Note: I thought about having a vote for favorite root beer, but then I decided that everyone would just pick Barqís, A&W and other heavily advertised root beers because thatís all anyone knows. And really, I donít care what anyone elseís favorite root beer is.

Other Carbonated

Citra (Coca-Cola) (3.0)
Pretty good. More mild than Fresca.

Stewartís Orange Ní Cream Soda (NR)
Flavor of orange and cream soda. Depends on whether you like cream soda or not. I tend not to, but I must give them credit as the drink does have a little more bite than your average cream soda. Maybe itís the flavor of orange.

Hansenís Energy (1.5)
Okay. I did not buy this 8 oz drink for $2. That would be ridiculous. But if I actually did buy this drink, I would describe it with this story.
Mountain Dew, while taking a tour of the toy factory, catches a glimpse of the beautiful Mrs. Pibb, and accidentally slips and falls into one of the 10 thousand gallon drums of bubbling radioactive broth (modern toy factories need lots of power). Thus, Hansenís Energy drink is born. Oh, youíll feel the energy in this one. Blech.
Energy Cola (A Way of Life) (negative 1.0)
I believed the can. I was fully prepared to give up my sinful, rotten existence and follow the teachings of the can. So I was quite disappointed when it tasted like cough medicine. Actually, itís much worse than cough medicine.

Purdeyís Original (4.0)
Now, I hate to say a negative word, but this drink is too expensive for just ACE apple cider minus the alcohol. Okay, okay, if you really want the truth, it does actually have a peculiar and refreshing taste. I still canít pay $3 for a non-alcoholic drink.

Purdeyís Vitonic (1.5)
Overwhelming. Horrible. I couldnít finish it. Nonetheless, it does still possess a fantastic sharpness and purpose, which is to destroy all of manking by 2008.

AJ Stephans (Boston) Black Cherry
Not really a lot of black cherry flavor going on here, which is wonderful if you bought a black cherry drink because you donít like the taste of black cherry. The drink seems a bit watered down in general. What it lacks in flavor, it more than makes up for in carbonation. Heck of a lot of fizz. Watch your face.

AJ Stephans (Boston) Root Beer
Same concerns.

Les Miserables
This is not really a drink. Itís actually whatís known as a stage show or musical. And itís as stupid as any other musical, except the original Evita, the one with Mandy Patinkin. That was good.


Snapple (4.5) and Arizona Tea (4.5)
These sweetened iced-tea beverages should be considered among the great non-carbonated beverages this country has ever produced. Snapple (original) has a more natural, pronounced tea flavor than its rival. Snapple also has a peculiar finish with a tart, lemon spike. On the other hand, Arizona (original) has a dangerous level of sweetness, which is impressively well-integrated into the tea flavor. Itís a little more easy to swallow than Snapple. I probably drink as much Arizona as I do Snapple, but I have more respect for Snapple as a beverage.
Note: The problem with the Arizona organization is that they drifted away from their original bottle look (approximated at left) that got them where they are in the first place and moved into all these ridiculous bottle designs. One major drawback with these new designs is that you canít see the liquid inside the bottle. I am always reluctant to drink from any bottle I canít see through. Of course, I did write Arizona to complain about this and was assured that the new bottle designs were not only better for me as a consumer, but were definitely not hurting the companyís sales or market share. I did not ask for data on that. But it gets even worse. It turns out that at some point, the company actually pulled the orginal tea flavor off the market real New Coke style. This is from their website after the original flavor was put back on the market:
“Delicious AriZona Lemon Tea in a 20oz. bottle is back by popular demand! Except for the same delicious lemon tea taste that put AriZona on the map, everything is new again. New bottle, new graphics and new ‘GRAB THE BOTTLE’ grip.”
These people are what are known as “meddlers,” and they obviously cannot leave well enough alone. The other major problem is the lack of carton-sized regular Arizona Tea flavors in my regional market, which Arizona representatives explained is only a temporary effect of corporate re-structuring, marketing analysis and unfavorable weather patterns in Tierra del Fuego.

More Arizona Drinks
Arizona Mucho Mango (4.5)
If you pour it into a glass, youíll see itís actually solid particulate nectar, similar to all those mexican fruit drinks that actually say Ďnectarí on the can. The drink is sold in a can and not a bottle for a reason. Are Americans ready to see nectar? Because Iím ready to taste it. A lot of it.

Arizona Watermelon Social (4.0)
Awesome flavor. Watermelon taste is subtle. The drink is good.

Arizona Kiwi Strawberry (4.0)
Solid kiwi strawberry flavor.

Arizona Rx Health (4.0)
Nice flavor.

Arizona Green Tea with Plum Juice (4.0)
Very good (discussion).

Arizona Crazy Berry (3.5)
Have you ever had Minute Maid fruit juicees? I have, and this has the unmistakable flavor of Minute Maid cherry? Fruit juicee. I guess itís an okay drink. But remember those little frozen fruit sticks you used to buy (back in the eighties). Forget about whether it was real juice, was it even real colors? I actually met a musician in her twenties (I was in my twenties too) who still bought them (this was in the nineties). Was it nostalgia on her part? Do they have radioactive material in them?
Arizona Rx Energy - herbal tonic (3.5)
Not unlike Snapple Elements Sun, although perhaps a bit more grapefruity. Okay, what the hell do I know? Apparently, itís not grapefruit, but mango, pear and lemon mainly.
Bottom Line: 10% juice

Arizona Green Tea with Honey (3.5)

Arizona Crazy Cocktail (3.0)
A beverage of carrot and fruit juices. Much like Crazy Carrot?

Arizona Rx memory (3.0)
You can really taste everything in itógrapefruit, pear and lemon juice, which is quite odd when you consider there is only 5% fruit juice in this one. Ultimately, itís an interesting drink. But if I liked grapefruit juice, why wouldnít I just drink real grapefruit juice, rather than some random beverage that oddly resembles it.

Arizona Tea with Ginseng (3.0)
This was the bottle that launched a thousand ships back in college (early nineties). I was the first person ever to collect these blue Arizona bottles and make them into meaningful glass bottle sculptures.

Honest Tea

Okay, all this is is tea? What is that? This doesnít even have an angle. It just tastes like ordinary tea, not even good tea. What is the point of ordinary tea in a bottle served luke warm or cold? Or am I supposed to microwave it? Are we now so lazy that we canít even be bothered to make our own cup of tea? If this beverage succeeds, it will be a sad day. From the back:
ďWe were thirsty. We searched for bottled tea that truly tasted like tea but couldnít find any. So we decided to make our ownÖetc...etc...Ē
Why were you searching for a bottled tea that truly tasted like tea? Youíre an idiot. Then it goes on:
ďP.S. Caffeine-free, this fruit infusion, or tisane, is great for all ages. Sethís three boys drink it at dinner, after theyíve finished their vegetables.Ē
What the hell is that all about? I donít care if Sethís three boys all have one eye and shoot cocaine. This tea doesnít have caffeine or sugar, and itís cold. Screw it.

Honest Tea - Black forest berry (2.0)
Hibiscus, currants and other berries. Yeah, whatever. So am I.

Honest tea - Gold Rush (2.5)
Herbal cinnamon blend. Okay.

Other Iced Tea Drinks

Hawaiian Iced Tea (Taste the flavor of Hawaii) (4.0)
Hell yes. This is the best canned iced tea Iíve ever tasted. It starts off like Lipton iced tea in a can, but then the finish is smooth and natural tasting, like a less sweet version of Arizona. Itís really not bad at all. Iím shocked that Hawaii can overcome both cost and indifference and import something like this to the continent, but hey, Iíll take it.

Lipton Iced Tea (Lemon) (3.0)
Less bite than Snapple, less sweet than Arizona, this is an acceptable compromise if you canít decide between the others. Buy Lipton Iced Tea - "itís okay." (5 cents/oz or $0.8/16oz)

Lipton Iced Tea (No Lemon) (2.5)
Look ma, no hands! No flavor either.

Nestea Breeze (0.0)
Worst beverage ever. Worse thanÖworse thanÖworse than nothing. There is nothing worse than this beverage. I wouldnít even wish this beverage on Wall Street. How can this still be on the market?

Texas Tea "Lemon and Sweetened" (NR)
This is a locally brewed tea that I was excited to try. It has a somewhat interesting and, I suppose, natural tea flavor, although I donít like it as much as Snapple or Arizona. The Supreme Court will rule today whether the label is a violation of the separation of church and tea clause in the U.S. Constiteation.
I swear Iím not making this up

On the back: "O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good: For his mercy endures forever." - Psalm 107:1
Ingredients: water, white cane sugar, brewed tea, tea solids, natural concentrated lemon juice, phosphoric acid
Lipton Iced Tea (1.5) (can)
Synthetic attempt at a real tea bite that falls way short. Itís pretty bad.

Brisque (2.5)
Whoa, what happened here? Good commercials though, if a bit racy.

Nestea Sweetened Iced Tea (3.0) (bottle)
Not so bad. Nothing special.

Tazo Simply Red (2.5)
Apple and pear juice blended with herbal tea. Caffeine Free.
The back has a lot of attempts at humor and a long list of ingredients, but the only one that matters is the cinnamon bark. And if it werenít for the cinnamon bark finish, which is too lingering, I might like this drink. I will try more Tazoís, however, because the label design hypnotizes me.

Tazo Passion Potion (1.0)
Thatís it. No more Tazo. This is the kind of product that makes people flirt with communism. Green tea and fruit juice with tropical flavors? More like terrible flavors. I canít even drink this. I have stop this review immediately and go pour this on some weeds.

Tazo Mango (2.0)
Tastes like someone froze one of those little boxes of apple juice, let it thaw until they could suck up the good stuff, and left you with the diluted remains.

See Fuze Green Tea

Snapple Elements (5 cents/oz or $1/20oz)

“ Iíve got moon, Iíve got sun
(Iíve got) Lightning, lightning, lightning
Iíve got me, Iíve got you
(Itís) Frightening, frightening, frightening”
Starfruit Orange (Sun) (4.5)
Light orange tang, essence of starfruit, and herbal bite. I feel like Iíve had this drink before? And I know I donít buy starfruit at the grocery store, so it must have been a previous Mystic flavor or something? Or perhaps the memory of an orange sweet tart from some Halloween past. In any case, itís quite good, and shows the Snapple character in the flavor.

Accelerate Tangelo Fruit Drink (Meteor) (4.5)
Coming from someone who hates all manner of grapefruit, I can definitely say that this is a very good beverage. Iím assuming that a tangelo is some sort of unholy marriage between a grapefruit and some forgotten trollop in the orange family. Apparently, Gotu kola and Siberian ginseng are both included in the infusion.

Power Ginseng Black Tea (Lightning) (4.0)
Schizandra, Ginseng and Yerba Mate are the headliners in this new black tea beverage from Snapple. I must give credit where credit is due. This is a very nice combination of the unique flavor of black tea with a little sugar to make it more palatable to the non-ascetic. I actually would have pinned this for an Arizona Beverage had I not known. The only major flaw is that the finish has a couple of awkward moments. But it settles down eventually and ends up alright.

Indigo Grape (Volcano) (4.0)
Ginseng, bee pollen, guarana. Tangy. Actually might be the only grape drink in history besides wine thatís any good. Because itís not too grapy.

Grape and Cranberry (Earth) (3.5)
Carbonated or non-carbonated, grape juice that isnít wine is just grape juice. Even if it does contain ginseng, bee pollen, and grapeseed extract. Well, maybe it is a tiny bit better than Oceanspray, if only because it has a slightly interesting finish.

Sub-Zero Ė Siberian Cherry (3.5)
Itís definitely cherry. You can definitely taste the cherry. The 0.5 is for not being cranberry.

Atomic - Jacked Apple Juice (3.0)
Definitely jacked apple juice. Not that bad. I seriously hope this is not really atomic.

Sun (3.0)
Itís okay. Not sure how to describe it, but something is amiss with this drink.

Citron (3.0)
This is a drink looking for an identity. It calls itself citron, but there is no citron. There is plum, if anything, or peach, something, but there is no citron.

Rejuvenate Persimmon (Altitude) (3.0)
Similar in structure to sun, but the flavor is a little weak. Late palate and finish is the best aspect of this drink. I wonder what would happen if you blended different Snapple drinks together.

Agave Cactus (Rain) (3.0)
Interesting. The initial flavor is nothing unusual, but the late palate is quite unusual. Long after you swallow ensues a sort of magical little bite like beautiful little forest pixies taking a tinkle on your tongue. Itís actually not that, however. Actually, the effect stems from technology developed by the pop rocks corporation in the late seventies and licensed to Snapple in 1987 for $200,000. At the time, people called it Snappleís Folly, but look whoís laughing now. Anyway, I applaud the effort, but I still like regular Snapple better. Finally, I cannot verify if this is what agave cactus really tastes like.

Grapefruit Cranberry (Velocity) (3.0)
Okay. Theyíre reaching. I mean, itís not bad, but what this adds to accelerate tangelo I donít know. This is typical of Snappleís effort to come out with more and more names without creating any new product. Whatever.

Dragon Juice (Fire) (2.5)
Says all natural, but itís no better than the synthetic tropical fruit flavor you can get from Oceanspray for a quarter of the price. Remember this lesson. Thereís usually a cheaper version, itís usually just as good, and it usually comes from Mexico. On the other hand, I must concede that these are perhaps the funkiest bottle shapes since Johnny Tottenhamís winning entry in the 1948 Amsterdam Glass Bottle Festival.

Mandarin Carrot (Spark) (2.0)

Many people have voiced concerns over the high cost of non-cola beverages in America today. Some have even suggested that drinks like Snapple and Arizona are overpriced. To those crazy people, here is a comparative list showing exactly why Snapple is one of the most reasonably priced beverages on the market.

16 oz Regular Snapple
20 oz "New" Snapple
12 oz Sam Smithís Nut Brown Ale     
$10 Red Wine (Supermarket)
$30 Red Wine (Liquor Store)
Restraint in this slot
4.7 cents/oz
5 cents/oz
12 cents/oz
28 cents/oz
83 cents/oz

So the next time youíre thinking about popping that $30 dollar bottle of red burgundy, just think, you could be having 20 ice cold Snapples.

Whipper Snapple

Would you believe, thereís another line in the Snapple armamentarium (someone can let me know if this is spelled wrong, Iím busy right now, too busy to get up)? And would you also believe that I am going to say something bad about Snapple? What I want to know is whoís dumb idea was it to have the mouth so big. Itís like you run a real risk of pouring it on your face. The problem with these drinks is that they are trying to duplicate a smoothie while still being a shelf-lived beverage. For those of you who can only think in cliches, that means theyíre trying to be something theyíre not. Fresh Samantha and others have already done better, so there is no need for this drink, unless you live miles away from a refrigerator, in which case you probably have other things to worry about besides Fresh Samantha. The reason they cover up the bottle is that you would never drink it if you could see what the stuff actually looks like. Scary.
Black and Blue Berry (3.5)
This flavor is okay. But I can buy frozen blueberries and yogurt and do much better. And as long as those damn democrats donít take away our second amendment rights, I can not only buy as many blueberries as I want, but I can blast them to kingdom come with my teflon coated bullets.

Stawberry and Banana (3.5)
Itís okay. Will try again maybe, or not, probably not. That was just a lie.

Orange Dream (2.5)
Reminds you of one of those tangy little candies like Nerds or Turds or whatever they were called. Itís a pastel flavor for sure.

Other Snapple Flavors

Mango Madness (4.0)
Very good mango drink.

Kiwi Strawberry (3.0)
Not bad, especially if you like kiwi and strawberry.

Mistic Zotics

Mistic Zotics - Thailand Mangosteen Fruit (4.5)
This beverage definitely has some intriguing flavors. To call this a mango drink and close the book on it would be a foolish error. This is a Mangosteen drink. It is slightly-politely tart and has a subtle bite on the finish. I invite you to compare this with Snappleís Starfruit Orange.

Instant Viewer Response!

Mistic Zotics - Mozambique Marula Fruit (4.5)
This drink is awesome. And that does it. Mistic Zotics are collectively better than Snapple Elements. If Mistic Brands, Inc ever goes public, I say buy some shares.

Mistic Zotics - Japan Yuzu Fruit (4.0)
Pretty darn good. Smooth, tastes natural enough. Not too much BS on the bottle (a welcome change).

Mistic Zotics - Acerola Berry (3.5)
It may only be the fourth best Zotic, but itís still more interesting than Snapple Earth.
By the way, what do you think the people in Japan and Thailand call these drinks? Iím mean, theyíre certainly not Zotics to them?

Other Mistic Drinks
Mistic Peach Beach (3.0)
Iím drinking crabtree and evelyn peach lipstick. This drink has a real fragrance. Itís not bad. It kind of has that peach syrup thickness, which may or may not appeal. But this really does taste like peach, I have to say.

Mistic Strawberry-Kiwi (3.5)
Good. More tart than Mistic Peach Beach. More strawberry than kiwi. Less perfume.

Sobe Beverages

Sobe, roughly translated from Korean, meaning “so bad”. One would be hard pressed to find a better definition of second-rate than Sobe Beverages.

Orange Carrot Elixir (3.0)
I would like to review this beverage by telling a largely irrelevant personal anecdote. The first time I ever heard of the word elixir was when I was 12 years old, and we were playing this game called Minotaur on the Apple IIe (or was it IIc?). You were Theseus, Greek hero, and you had to joystick your way through an extensive maze of 2-D lines while shooting monsters with your late 4th-century laser gun? We always wondered about that, but it was quite effective against centaurs, harpies and other evil denizens, so we didnít complain. Anyway, when your life bar would get dangerously low, and believe me, it would, you were in big trouble unless you could find the magical elixir. This is not it.

Sobe Zen Blend (3.0)
Triple gingseng with schizandra. Itís also not so-bad. But it doesnít even come in a cool blue bottle like Arizona Ginseng. Thus, you canít even be so-original by making giant sculptures of blue bottles.

Green Tea 3G (2.0)
Ginseng + Ginko + Guarana with Echinacea. Starts out with a relatively promising natural quality, but finishes with a surprisingly unpleasant taste. Nevermind that Echinacea is a parasite that grows in your liver forming a giant soccer ball-sized cyst only to burst seeding your abdominal cavity with thousands of little parasites, which will also grow in size until you die a miserable death. Oh, but this drink is really good isnít it?

Power Flavor (1.5)
Itís like somebody took a cranberry tea drink and decided to throw in a Vickís Formula 44 cough drop for good measure.

Sobe Essentials - Qi (3.0) (energizing herbal tonic, berry soy blend)
Like a cross between whipper Snapple, Jumex nectars and some other thing. Definitely not as bad as the other Sobe drinks, but still not worth buying.

Voodoo Rain (Pour in Drain)

One would be hard pressed to find a better definition of second-rate than Sobe Beverages, unless of course, oneís supermarket happens to carry Voodoo Rain. With so many horrible flavors, itís impossible to choose. I canít decide which one I want the least. Now letís have a looksee.

Mojo Luv (2.0) Yohimbe + Damiania + Schizandra berry
Now Iím pretty hip. Iíve heard of Yohimbe. But where on earth are they getting this damiania from? Sounds like some pissed off wife who decided to chop up her husband with an axe for bad behavior (good riddance). Schizandra berry. Schizandra who? Listen, we both know Iíll buy anything if it comes in a pretty glass bottle (I like blue especially). You can even pray on my superstitious hopes of better health by mentioning various well-not-proven Chinese roots. But if you think Iím going to believe thereís such a thing as schizandra berry, then you can just kiss my jaboobo root. Taboo Tea (1.5)
This tea, if I may call it such, has a flavor that might be generously described as bad. Itís a flavor that makes you want to read the label immediately and then call someone and arrange for them to check up on you at 30 minute intervals for the rest of the day.

Jungle Ice (1.5) Berry Endurance Drink
Says on the bottle "Chill the thought of ? early," which is a nice message, but a little ironic given that their target audience canít read.
How do you know an American Beverage is stupid?

Clue #1: Servings per container 2.5 (contrast with Evianís "servings per container about 4")
Clue #2.5: Ingredients list includes "watermelon concentrate"
Tropical Passion Punch (1.5)
This is Hawain punchís ugly cousin that nobody likes to talk about. And itís only three times the price.

Firefly Buzz (citrus energy drink) (1.5) Guarana + caffeine + panax ginseng
Lime flavored Gatorade chewing gumóis 10x better than this.

Brain Broo (orange think drink) (1.5) Ginko + Ginko + Ginko
No. No. No.

Fuze (Healthy Infuzions)

Fuze Green Tea (3.5)
Has been compared by many with Arizona Green Tea. Both start out subtle which is the point. But in the mid-late palate, Fuze offers a more pronounced flavor, which essentially reveals itself to be what is an ordinary tea flavor. Like Lipton or some other faceless product. If you want to see for yourself, just try the Fuze version. Immediately after swallowing, I want you to think ďJust what is this flavor Iím picking up here? Hmmm.Ē Wait a minuteóyou got itówhy itís none other thanódamn ordinary tea flavor! Wow.

Peach Mango (3.5)
More mango. Almost reminds me of the old Mistic Zotics. Ahem. Almost. Bottom Line: 5% juice

Fuze Slenderize Tropical Punch (2.0)
Absolutely horrible. Horrible horrible. I could fill up this entire page and then several more with the word horrible and still not adequately describe this drink. This drink could be the worst drink Iíve had since Sobe? 1% juice.

Gatorade Thirst Quencher

Gatorade Orange or Lime (4.0)
Gatorade is the best sports drink ever produced, and the other power drinks are mere imitations. Furthermore, the original flavors are the best, and all other flavors are unnecessary.

Riptide Rush (purple) (3.0)
Tastes purple. Refreshing, nice. Maybe it could use more bite.

Fierce Lime (1.0)
Awful tasting. A chemistry experiment gone wrong. This is the worst Gatorade Iíve ever had. I wouldnít drink this if you were the last person on earth.

Bolthouse Farms

Passion Fruit Apple Carrot Juice (4.9)
OMG this is great. Maybe itís cuz itís ďflash pasteurized and cold sterile-filled for safety.Ē Or it could be something else.

Perfectly Protein (Vanilla Chai Teat with Soy Protein) (4.5)
Has a peculiar and yet very addictive flavor in it. I guess itís chai? Iím not the chai expert, so I just thought it was nutmeg. I looked up whatís in this, and I noticed something called Carrageenan. I looked it up on the internetô and apparently itís some sort of up and coming polysaccharide which, according to the Philippine carrageenan exporting consortium, stabilizes and improves viscosity in everything from flame retardants to food products. In ice cream it prevents ice crystal formation and enhances excellent mouthfeel, while in flans and desert ďgelsĒ it enhances flavor release. I donít know about you. Iím excited.

Valencia Orange (4.5)

Mango Lemonade (4.0)
God this is good. I saw a larger version for sale at the store. I didnít buy it because it just seemed too good to be true. I was skeptical. I feel like if I buy the gallon size of this, maybe some lightning bolt will come out of the sky and kill me.

Carrot Juice (2.5)
Itís carrot juice.

Vedge (NR)
Why did I buy tomato juice? I have never liked tomato juice in any form. Love tomato soup. Love pasta sauce. Do not love tomato juice. But I bought it. Not as an act of heroic food criticism, but because I am oblivious and just started throwing Bolthouse farm drinks into my shopping cart. I havenít tried it yet. Itís in the fridge.

Laguna Beach Style

Due to the understated cover, no one has ever heard of this product. But itís actually good, and so itís my pleasure to raise awareness of this great beverage by resorting to violence. Watch out.

Laguna Beach Peach (4.0)
Iced tea and peach juice. Very good flavor, like a Snapple Peach thatís a little bit more laid back.

Laguna Beach Mango Passion (3.5)
This is really good stuff. It has good solid flavor and a crisp finish. For a beverage I had never heard of before, itís pretty damn good. Notice the stuff floating at the bottom of the bottle. Scary for some, a positive sign for others. Really almost identical to Jumex mango nectar. Maybe less pulp.

Laguna Beach California Lemonade (3.5)
Filtered water, Hawaiian cane sugar, concentrated lemon juice, citric acid (provides tartness), citrus cloud emulsion, natural flavors, natural bee honey and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Itís pretty good.

Laguna Beach Green Apple Tea (3.0)
This Green tea and apple juice drink is my least favorite Laguna. I respect the subtle, natural flavor. I just donít like it.

Laguna Beach Style Raspberry guava (3.0)
Itís your standard raspberry guava drink. Itís not bad.

Orange Juice Wars

Tropicana (4.8 cents/oz)
Definitely more full flavored than Minute Maid.

Minute Maid (4.8 cents/oz)
A little thinner than Tropicana, especially on the finish.

Note: Try Tropicana immediately after Minute Maid, and it tastes like grapefruit.

Other Beverages

Orangina (4.5)
Awesome! Takes a littel getting used to. Couple sips back. Then itís on. Forever.

Vitaminwater (from Glaceau)
Point: This is the stupidest/smartest concept. Take a snapple, any snapple, add it to regular water so it has half as much taste. And sell it for a lot of money. People will buy it because people are stupid.
Counterpoint: Itís great for everyone who gets mad because Snapples just have too much flavor, and water is, like boring. Finally, a sensible choice.

I happened to try kiwi-strawberry (a+ginkgo), and Iíd give it a (2.0) if it were a Snapple, but Iíd give it a (3.5) if itís water, because hell, water is boring.
Squeezír (premium juice cocktail) (4.5)
You canít beat nature, you can only hope to contain it, in bottles, and make some money. And the great people at Squeezír have. How natural this drink tastes. Itís got 25% real fruit juice, a combination of orange juice concentrate, mango puree, passion fruit concentrate. Iíve only seen Sqeezír in New York. What a shame.

Naked Mighty Mango (4.0)
Maybe I just love mango, but this is really good. Perhaps even better than Odwalla? Need to do a head to head.

Naked Strawberry-Banana (2.5)
Not good. Too much carrot? Too much health? Is there dirt in this?

Odwalla In General (NR)
Aside from their thick consistency and ready perishability, the most striking thing about these drinks is their astronomical price. Basically the way it works is if you make over $100K/yr, you buy Odwalla. If you donít, you donít.
Odwalla Future Shake Ė Vanilla AlíMondo (4.0)
Oh god I hated this oneóat first. I despised it. I kept trying a little then putting it back in the fridge. And that which doesnít make us vomit, makes us come back for moreósomeone said. Now I am thinking I look forward to buying this one again. Maybe itís the almond. Maybe itís the vanilla. I donít know.

Odwalla Blackberry Fruit Shake (4.0)
Delicious? This may be my favorite Odwalla drink of the oneís Iím not afraid to try.

Odwalla "the Green One" (4.0)
Damn thatís pretty good. I need another one. Donít get it on your pants though. It really wants to get on your pants.

Odwalla Think Drink (3.0)
Itís okay.
Hansenís Smoothie - Tropical Passion (4.5)
Smooth and delicious - This is as good as Odwalla, I think, and I will check on it, but it has to be cheaper. And with so much less hype. Letís look into this further. 25% real juice. And where has this smooth, nectar-like product been hiding all this time? Well, guess what America, this is the same exact stuff those Mexican drink companies have been doing since Poncho Villa. You were just afraid to try it. And the joke is on you, because Hansenís is actually a front for Jumex, who are now putting caucasian labels on their juga.

Hansenís Smoothie - Mango Pineapple (4.5)
This is really really good stuff. It has a whopping 35% real fruit juice, and you really can tell. Drinks smoothly. This beverage is "shelf stable". Note: It also comes in cans now (around 50 cents/can), so actually, pound for pound, this might be the best deal in the entire beverage market today.

Fruitopia Kiwiberry Ruckus (2.5)
A bit too synthetic. The initial flavor is a (3.5) and the chemical finish is a (1.5).
Fruit Works Peach Papaya (1.5)
Its mediocre taste is not even the issue. Itís "Naturally flavored with other natural flavors." It just happens that none of them are peach or papaya. I find this personally offensive. The only juice listed in the ingredients is ďfiltered pear juice from concentrate.Ē No surprise that Pepsi-Cola Company is behind all this chicanery.

Tremendously Tangerine (2.0)
Tremendously stupid. Tang flavor not unlike that old drink called, in fact, Tang. Finish is a bit too synthetic. Would drink if it were the only thing available.

Oceanspray Kiwi Something (3.0)
Same idea. They play it more conservatively, and thus create a less offensive, but equally uninspired beverage.

Squeezed Nectars - Original Lemon Tea (3.5)
Itís pretty good. Itís tart. What the hell else do you want to know? How do you judge lemonade anyway? Whether you like it or not? Oh no, that would certainly not do. There must an accepted method of evaluating. Maybe itís how tart it is and how balanced the sugar is. Maybe it should be tart and lemony without being too tart or lemony. Maybe it should be sweet without being too sweet. I donít frigginí know. I thought it was good.

Nantucket Super Nectars - Ginkgo mango - NR
80% fruit juice. Hey now. Actually, itís quite intriguing. It may even be too intriguing if thatís possible. Itís as smooth as you could expect in a shelved beverage. Lists mango, orange and passionfruit, which I guess could explain things, or not. Thatís what I mean. Itís intriguing. How do they do it?

Nantucket Super Nectars - Mama calcium (4.0)
Pear, orange, pitahaya and strawberry juice blend with added calcium. Okay, you can really taste the strawberry and orange in this one. I donít know what pitahaya is. Pitahaya! Anyway, these cost about Ĺ as much as Fresh Samantha, and theyíre at least ĺ as good. You do the math.

Nantucket Super Nectars - Protein Smooth (3.5)
Tastes like some kind of home-made pina colada that somebody forgot to put the rum in. But itís interesting and the soy, strawberry, banana and especially coconut components all come through nicely. It really isnít bad tasting, just odd.

Nantucket Nectars Lemonade (3.5)
15% juice. And believe me, 15% is enough when youíre talking about lemon juice. Itís just tart enough. Itís pretty good. I donít know. Fuck you.

Malibu Beach Beverage - Lemonade (3.5)
Really good. Really tart.
Motto: relax and enjoy
Bottom Line: 25% juice

Malibu Beach Beverage - Strawberry Papaya Kiwi (3.0)
In a move that can only be described as revolutionary, the Malibu Beach Beverage Company has thought to combine the three popular fruits, strawberry, papaya and kiwi into one ultimate beverage, which theyíve fittingly called strawberry papaya kiwi. The only thing this reviewer can say is bravo. Itís about time.

Alcoholic Beverages

Traquair House Ale (4.5)
Brewed in the oldest inhabited house in Scotland. Itís pretty good. Dark. Rich. First thought is farmhouse ale. But waitópaying more attention. It actually has a sharper, crisper-than-you-were-expecting body with a definitely-Scottish mid-to-late palate. Complex, not-too-hoppy finish (Dogfish Head breeders take notice). Only issue in my mind is whether itís worth the price. But donít talk to me about that. Talk to about that. (Scotland, 7.2%)
(2) Had again. Wasnít sure Iíd written a note. Wrote this: This is really distinct. Itís vaguely like the other Scottish ales you can buy in stores. But this one seems better. Sharper. Crisper. But not ďoverlyĒ anything. Its most special characteristic comes through in the late palate carrying through what is one of the longest, purest finishes in any beer Iíve ever tasted. I wonder what would be the best cheese for this? Shropshire? If you know, please tell me.
(3) Had it recently and it seemed way less crisp than previous. But I think this could just be it was too old or had bad transport. The store I bought it from was definitely disreputable. Perhaps this plays a role.

St. Peterís Old-Style Porter (4.5)
Moving toward stout, but not. Itís sort of inhabiting a place between other styles which I suppose you would have to call Porter. Obviously I donít know anything. But this is great tasting, dark beer. Great tasting. Better than Samuel Smithís porter.

St Peterís Ale (4.0)
First try. Really good. Iím impressed.
(2,3) Still good. Cute bottle. Looking better and better...

Thiriez French Farmhouse Ale (4.0)
Medium-bodied, but very smooth and quality flavor. (France, 5.8%)

Samuel Smithís Nut Brown Ale (4.0)
Classic flavor. Good with some food, but probably best just by itself.

Samuel Smithís Imperial Stout (4.0)
Is food, essentially. Itís strong, slightly murky/bitter (not bad but certainly lingering) finish, which is probably what one wants in stout, makes it difficult to accompany anything (that Iíve tried). So perhaps just have by itself?

Samuel Smithís India Pale Ale (4.0)
Great with just about all foods.

Youngís Special London Ale (3.5)
This is pretty good. It costs about half what super premiums like Traquair House do. I will be curious to have this head to head versus St. Peterís Ale. (London , 6.4%)

Traquair Jacobite (coriander flavored ale) (3.5)
Strongóand in sort of a smoky caramel direction. More like a double bock I would think than any porter or stout (of English ilk). But regular is Traquair is also heavy brown bodied like that. Heavier than normal English ale, no? SoÖThere is hardly any coriander flavor in this? Am I crazy? †

Jenlain French Farmhouse Ale (3.5)
Aromatic, slightly oaky. Like youíd expect from a French farmhouse ale? Itís pretty good stuff. You get a little more than what you pay for at Ĺ cost of Rochefort. (Fr)

Super Paladin (3.5)
Medium body, rich and slightly fruity flavor. Not lambic. Itís more toward regular ale. (8%, Italy)

McEwan Scottish Ale (3.5)
Not bad. I guess. Iím not an expert on Scottish ale.

Belhaven Scottish Ale (3.5)
Itís good, solid Scottish ale.

Scarecrow Golden Pale Ale (3.5)
Itís fine. I didnít get as much ďpale aleĒ as I did just ďale,Ē but thatís fine. Itís fine. (Wychwood, Oxfordshire, England)

Samuel Smithís Tadcaster (3.5)
Good but odd flavor. Can only drink one in a row.
(2)Crisp. Sharp. Little bitter. But no more than any good pale ale. Smokey! A little.

Samuel Smithís Winter Ale (3.5)
Aromatic. Smooth. Nothing incredibly excitatory, but not bad.

Black Sheep Ale (3.0)
Pretty good. For like $5/pint, itís about there on the spectrum between a huge $9 Abbey ale, and a nice, less expensive pub ale. Itís are in occupying that middle ground, though.
(2) Had again. Feel the same.

Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA (3.0)
Everyone already knows it, but this really is pretty good stuff. Itís just a nice hoppy/barley flavor, which carries through consistently throughout. And it really doesnít get too bitter on the finish (like it might have). Itís good. Of course, it gets really really old after about 20 times. God. 9%

Dogfish Head Aprihop IPA (3.0)
(a serious IPA brewed with real apricots) Um, okay.

Fischer Amber (3.0)
Nice early-mid palate, but late palate a bit thin. Finish tries to redeem itself. Does it?

Harpoon IPA (3.0)

Magic Hat Circus Boy (2.5)
Itís fine. Itís hoppy. Itís like Dogfish Head Light. Whatever. (VT)

Petrus Old Brown Ale (2.5)
Seems a little lambicy to me. Not what I expected in a a brown ale. Maybe others feel differently.

Samaelís Oak-Aged Ale (2.5)
Wow. Itís basically like sweet sherry combined with beer. Now some might be impressed by its 14% alcohol level and/or its turbinado middle. Sure. Thatís all fine. But I donít see it that way. With rare exceptions, I think itís often best to let apples be apples and pears be pears. Pushing them together (a ďpappleĒ) is just a confusing gesture. (CO)

Unibroue La Fin Du Monde (2.5)
Maybe itís because I just was drinking some decent wine or something, but this just seems like a very odd-tasting beer to me right now. I think part of the appeal of Unibroue for me in earlier times (like last year) was the fact that it was 9% alcohol (and that it was from Quebec). But now two things have changed. One, I no longer drink just to drink. Two, I no longer feel any special need to associate myself with Quebec. Both probably signs of growing up (and a larger salary). Iím just not sure I have any more time in my life for Unibroue. 10/05

Sam Adams Boston Water (2.5)

Newcastle Brown Water (2.5)

Curim Celtic Water (2.0)

Duchesse de Bourgogne ďReddish-Brown AleĒ (NR)
Has kind of a lambic flavor to itówhich I simply do not do.

Belgian Beer (Artisanal Belgian Ale or Close Enough)

Trappistes Rochefort No. 10 (5.0)
The best abbey-style beer Iíve ever had. This is a beer I drink for pleasure.

Trappistes Rochefort No. 8 (4.5)
Similar to No. 10, just slightly briefer fermentation, and lower alcohol level. (2,3,4...) Iíve had these a million times. Always always always.

Trappistes Rochefort No. 6 (4.5)
Great. Unfiltered. They are all unfiltered.

Achelse Kluis (Trappiste Biere Brune Extra) (4.5)
Great beer. Strong, good abbey ale flavor. 9.5%

Affligem (Tripel) (4.5)
Great full flavor through mid. Tasted against Chimay Cinq Cents; and made the Chimay seem like a nice pilsner; No kidding. This is seriously full flavor.

Westmalle Tripel (4.0)
Great abbey ale. Focus is more on the nice aromatics. Medium bodied (not the heavy-hitter like Rochefort).
(2) Very good again.

Moinette (4.0)
Sounds like a French film about a nine-year old girl. Medium to full flavored. Good consistent flavor the whole way. Sometimes seems less sharp (clumsy in structure) then the best ones, but this could be a question of bottle to bottle. I generally always enjoy Moinette. Plus I find the understated bottle quite appealing. (Dupont family, Hainaut, 8.5%)

Achelse Kluis (Trappiste Biere Brune) (4.0)
Okay was this review really necessary.

St Feuillien Cuvee de Noel (4.0)
Solid Belgian beer.

Moinette Brune (4.0)
Now thatís good brune.

Guldenberg (4.0)
Medium-bodied. Very smooth. Aromatic. (8.5%, Wevelgem, Belgium)

Corsendonk (3.5 to 4.0)
(1) Good solid flavor. Not a Harry Potter dormitory.
(2) Second time, I appreciate the aromatic nose. And so I read the bottle: "A dark, robust abbey ale brewer by master craftsmen in the classic Belgian ďdubbelĒ style. Rich and malty, with notes of port, raisins, and black chocolate on the palate, and a yeasty, fruity and slightly smoky bouquet. Bottle-conditioned, it will mature in bottle, becoming softer and smoother." Agree, except I would change ďport, raisins, and black chocolateĒ to ďabbey ale flavorĒ and ďyeasty, fruity and slightly smoky bouquetĒ to ďabbey ale nose,Ē but hey thatís just me.
(3, 4, 5) Itís fine. Itís better than Chimay I think. (6,7,8) Sometimes Corsendonk doesnít impress me as much. It could either be some bottle to bottle variation or perhaps just me. But sometimes it seems a bit overly bitter or overly earthy? Just not as ďgood and genuineĒ a flavor as say, a Moinette or Rochefort. Iíll continue to re-evaluate. What else can I do?
Bottle: ďA dark, robust abbey ale brewer by master craftsmen in the classic Belgian Ďdubbelí style. Rich and malty, with notes of port, raisins, and black chocolate on the palate, and a yeasty, fruity and slightly smoky bouquet. Bottle-conditioned, it will mature in bottle, becoming softer and smoother.Ē

Agree with all of above, except I would change ďport, raisins, and black chocolateĒ to ďgood abbey ale flavorĒ and ďyeasty, fruity and slightly smoky bouquetĒ to ďgood abbey ale nose.Ē
Silver Jubilee Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale (4.0)
Not bad. Definitely reminds me of real abbey-style ale. Similar to Duvel in excessive head quality. Probably a bit more polite finish than a Chimay. Would have to try head-to-head against quality Belgian ales to say more. (Northcoast Brewing, CA, 7.3%)

Fantome Belgian Saison Beer (3.5)
Itís good. Itís fine. It actually doesnít say what the "saison" is on the bottle. Itís Spring 2006 right now, for what thatís worth? Anyway. The beer is fine. Itís got good, aromatic flavor. Itís a little on the medium-bodied side. And so I for a Belgian ale, I really canít get too too excited about it.

Maredsous (3.5)
ďIn 1963, the Benedictine abbey of Maredsous entrusted the production and sales of the famed Maredsous beers to Duvel Moortgat.Ē And thatís when it went to 3.5. No, no. Itís better than Duvel Duvel. Itís smooth enough, medium-bodied, fine. Nothing wrong with it. On the caramel side. It has an unmistakably Duvelian crispness, though, which, in my opinion, doesnít do the most to harmonize with the ideal darker abbey-style. (8%, Moortgat, Belgium)

Leffe Blonde Abbey ale (3.5)
Good, solid abbey-style beer.

Chimay Reserve (3.5)

Chimay Premiere (3.5)
The blue one. Itís good too. Tamasine says itís got a stronger flavor.

Orval Trippel(3.5)
Once I had it, it was good. Another time, it was good. Another time, not so good. Seemed lighter-bodied with off flavor. Need to try again. Okay, this is the fourth time. I think the problem is that it has that overly crisp, sort of medicinal flavor. Itís not that bad. Itís just not the same style as the other trippels I know (and love). That will be all.
(2) finish seemed a little bitter

Ommegang Abbey Ale (3.0)
This is good. This is the best non-micro micro brewed beer Iíve had made in the U.S. Itís just about as good as Chimay and costs less, I suppose because itís not imported, but is actually brewed (and bottled!) in cooperstown, New York, at Brewery Ommegang. 8.5%

Ommegang Burgundian Brew (3.0)
This is really good, or scuse me, ďrich, fruity, aromatic (esp the way I tend to pour head like a moronónext time, yeah Iím just doing it aromatically guys), Burgundian brew. And I should know. Iíve had my share of Burgundian brews. Seriously, this beer is pretty much as good as advertised, and about 2/3 the price of Chimay. Ho now.

Duvel Golden Ale (3.0)
Not bad, but what a load of fizz. Thatís not head. Thatís fizz.

McChouffe (3.0)
This is not a Belgian name

Ommegang Three Philosphers (Ale with Cherry Lambic) (3.0)
Itís good. It definitely has a hint of cherry lambic. No doubt about that. But itís really just a hint. It tastes pretty normal. But I seriously do not understand lambic. I mean, I know what it is (googled it...) But I really donít still. 9.8%

Grimbergen double (3.0)
Not bad. But I happened to have this right after a Corsendonk brown ale, so it pretty much tasted like water. Didnít have that much of a head/bouquet either.

Scaldis Belgian Ale (3.0)
Pretty good. (12%, Dubuisson, Belgium)

Belgian-style Trippel (2.5) (same people as Fat Tire)
Eh. Close enough to Belgian-style as any American-made beer. But I will have to try it head-to-head against some real top Belgians before I can say more.

German Beer (or Close Enough)

Celebrator Double-Bock (4.0)
Good, strong double bock. I like it. Iíll probably drop this to 3.5 once Iíve discovered some better examples. But this is solid beer right here. (Ge)

Paulaner Salvator Double Bock (3.5)
Very double-bock-y indeed. Burnt caramelóor no no, dried porcini mushrooms! Thatís it! Dried porcini mushrooms. Big time. (Ge)

Pinkus Hefe-Weizen (organic wheat ale) (3.5)
Itís nice. Crisp, medium, particularly goldenrod color. Or acacia honey. (Ge)

Ayinger Bršu-Weiss Hefe-Weizen (3.0)
Itís light-bodied. But fine for a mass produced beer. (Ge)

Erdinger Weissbršu Hefe-Weizen (3.0)
Noticeably wheaty flavor, but overall fairly tame. (Ge)

Grimbergen double (3.0)
Not bad. But I happened to have this right after a Corsendonk brown ale, so it pretty much tasted like water. Didnít have that much of a head/bouquet either.

Knuckleball Bock Beer (2.5)
Itís fine but a little underwhelming. (CO)

Clear Malt Liquor

Mikeís Hard Lemonade (2.5)
Okay, so I was shopping the other day when I saw this lady grab a 6-pack of Mikeís Hard Lemonade. She looked like she knew what she was doing. So I figured I better get some too. Two hours later. Okay, wow. It tastes like a hypercarbonated lemonade with bonus acid. But itís pretty addictive though. Iím addicted. And it really gets you drunk fast without filling you up (except with acid and carbonation). But who cares? Youíre drunk arenít you?

Bacardi Silver (0.5)
The 0.5 is because itís alcoholic. I could not even recommend this to a teenager on spring break.

Smirnoff Ice (3.0)
This was my next thing. Itís good.

Stolitchnaya Citron (3.0)
Tonight, we drink Citrona. Tomorrow, we vomit. The next day, we donít drink Citrona anymore.

Ice Blue (2.5)
Bit of a peculiar taste to it. Itís like, not that bad or anything, but why? Why bother with a peculiar taste when you could just drink Smirnoff Ice and not have a peculiar taste.

Zima (2.0)
This was already out for, like, ten years, and yet the clear malt craze didnít explode until Mikeís Hard and Smirnoff. Try it and see why that is.

Bottled Waters

I didnít really think there was any point in reviewing bottled water. That was until the day I tried Aqua Fina.

Evian (5.0)
Today I noticed that my Evian was going to expire March of 2003. I donít understand how bottled water can expire? If thereís nothing growing in it by 2002, whatís going to suddenly start growing in 2003. Can anybody help me out? Also, is it just me or has the actual flavor of Evian changed over the last several years? Whatever happened to Volvic?

Vittel (5.0)
As appearing in such Eric Rohmer films as My Night at Maudís (ordered by an avid reader of Blaise Pascal I might add) and Iím sure countless others. So it canít be bad?

Aqua Fina (0.5)
Thatís right. Zero point five.

I just moved into an apartment with one of these things installed in the fridge. I will report back. So far, it seems to be working. I havenít died yet.

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