For being one of the most common gourmet sodas available on the market there’s a giant void of information on the internet regarding details of the brand. This is probably due to a muddied history of acquisitions. The most recent corporate transaction has the brand under the control of Anheuser-Busch InBev. Prior to that Henry Weinhard’s was a brewery based out of Portland, Oregon. Then Tumwater, Washington. Then…I don’t really know. I’ve seen hints that it’s bottled in California and rumors that it’s based out of Texas. It’s clear to me that it’s been a while since Henry’s was a “boutique” soda company, but how does it taste?
Fantastic. It tastes fantastic. I’ve loved this root beer for a long time so part of my favorable opinion could be influenced by nostalgia. This was the fanciest soda you could buy at the grocery store for a long time so seeing a bottle of Henry’s at home was a huge treat. Instant high class.
While I don’t believe this is a perfect root beer, I think it’s a perfect gateway into the craft soda world. The flavor is simultaneously bold and smooth. You can taste a significant amount of sassafras in the body with the creaminess of vanilla and honey throughout. I thought it had maltodextrin because it feels fairly thick on the palate, but the ingredients list doesn’t mention it. In fact, it doesn’t mention much. The few details they give betray the soda’s credibility in the craft soda world…they make it with high fructose corn syrup.
I’m anti high fructose corn syrup, but I also recognize that there isn’t conclusive evidence that it’s harmful or inferior to cane sugar. What I can say is that cane sugar sodas tend to taste more full and rounded to me. Corn syrup is sweet, but the sweetness doesn’t linger and feels shallow. I believe that Henry’s could improve on a great product by using slightly more premium ingredients while maintaining the balance of their current flavor profile. In it’s current state it’s still a great soda.
Based in part on my willingness to purchase and drink this root beer on a regular basis I’m willing to give Henry’s an 8.6 out of 10 on my rating scale. Did you notice the weird background on most of these photos? I decided to spotlight one of my favorite Seattle landmarks with this review. These nasty blobs of chewed-up gum are part of the “Gum Wall” in Pike Place Market. What makes the Gum Wall so great is that it’s a landmark created by the thousands of acts of disgusting vandalism to an otherwise ordinary brick wall. I don’t know when the wall became a recognized treasure, but I watched it grow organically over many years of visiting market. A couple years ago it was steam-cleaned but the residents of Seattle banded together and quickly restored it to its disgusting glory. Feel free to stop by and add your mark to the market.
Also, Henry’s root beer makes a pretty good root beer float. My favorite technique is filling a frosty glass stein halfway with root beer, adding a couple small scoops of creamy vanilla ice cream (no french vanilla or vanilla bean) and then topping off with additional root beer. I prefer to eat the ice cream first, then once there’s room I pour whatever’s left in the bottle into the mug. This ensures that you get a nice balance of foam, ice cream, and super creamy root beer. You’re welcome.
Sampled again in August 2017. Purchased…somewhere. For about $1.