Per usual, I took advantage of a trip out of town and went looking for some local soda brands. Chicago is home to several (the WIT Beverage company is notable). The Filbert’s Old Time Root Beer brand was new to me but they’ve had a significant presence in Chicago since prohibition days. In fact, their website says that they supplied the Berghoff restaurant with their draft root beer for over 50 years. I don’t know if that means they still do, or even if it’s the same recipe served in Filbert’s bottles. Either way, I was happy to come across a bottle of Filbert’s Old Time Draft Root Beer at a Menards grocery store.
Funny story time. I bought about a half dozen sodas, stuffed them in my messenger bag, and hiked around downtown Chicago taking pictures at various sites. When I got tired of walking I rented a Divvy bike and cycled my way up and down the waterfront to cover more ground. Apparently the bottles got jostled around quite a bit in my bag and when I got back to my hotel I heard a hissing noise. I assessed the bottles and noticed that the Filbert’s root beer was slowly leaking air (and soda). I decided the only rational thing to do was to sample it immediately. Wrong choice. The cap exploded off after I exerted a tiny amount of rotation. It had enough force behind it to carve a gouge in the hotel room ceiling and fall to the ground across the room. Holy smokes! Good thing I was pointing it away from me.
Needless to say, Filberts has plenty of carbonation. Beyond that, it’s a classic root beer flavor with a lot of sassafras, a bit of caramel from the sugar, possibly some wintergreen. It’s a bit bitter, and I didn’t notice a significant amount of vanilla. If it’s the same recipe as the Berghoff root beer, then the flavor is improved with a chilled mug, but I liked it enough for an 8 out of 10. I’d happily drink it again, and I’m happy to have found a local variety with a lot of history.
I took photos of this bottle in the shadow of Trump tower on the Chicago River. I’ll let you come to your own conclusions, but every time I spotted Trump tower (pretty much every five minutes) my stomach would turn. I don’t like Trump, and seeing his name in forty foot high letters was a bit much. It’s obscene…like a fart in church. The other location is used was Buckingham Fountain. It’s one of the largest fountains in the world and plays a pretty incredible show every hour on the hour. They incorporate a light show at night!
Sampled July 2017, purchased at Menards grocery store