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Friday, August 26, 2011

Judge Wapner's Root Beer

The Weird Soda Review Lab is dedicated to exploring soda Weirdness in all its aspects. Most of the time, we end up quaffing sodas (or similar beverages) whose Weirdness is most manifest in their flavor or texture. It is useful to be reminded now and then that soda Weirdness can have other aspects. A soda could have an unusual scent, for example. A soda might even have Weird history.

Or, in this case, just a really Weird name.

When I saw Judge Wapner's Root Beer, I really had no choice but to take it home. Root beer is hardly, in and of itself, Weird; it's nearly ubiquitous. And while there are many varieties, possessing varying degrees of intrigue and deliciousness (Boot Rear is one of the best I've had, but I can't find any to review!), the simple fact that it is root beer doesn't even raise an eyebrow.

The fact that its label contains the name and picture of a figure from a popular court-TV show from the early 1980's, does qualify as Weird.

I'm not sure what complaint was just decided against Indy, Boba Fett, Batman, a stormtrooper, an unnamed Jedi in aqua sweatpants, and an alien, but it must have been a doozy.

I didn't watch the show, but I do clearly remember several things about it. I remember Judge Wapner saying "I know you've been sworn, and I have read your complaint...". I thought I remembered the theme song, but whenever I try to get it going through my head, it invariably becomes the theme song to either Hawaii Five-O or The Prisoner*. Just the other day, it was revealed to me that the court in The People's Court was not in fact a courtroom, but rather what amounted to binding arbitration**. Why Judge Wapner is now showing up on my root beer is somewhat of a mystery, although the fact that he is depicted saying "I sentence you to drink my root beer!" may not bode well for the upcoming experience.

This is from the "Real Soda in Real Bottles" company, who produce a whole variety of Weird products. Their web site is something to behold. It mentions that they have an outlet store, too...

I feel a pilgrimage coming on.

But back to this one. It's cane-sugar-sweetened, with no other ingredients of note mentioned. Let's give it a try!

Where and when: Purchased at BevMo, but I truly don't remember when. Color: Quite dark brown--almost opaque. Some head.
Scent: Tart/spicy, fairly typical root beer. Perhaps a little more tart than some, with a stronger smell of something like gentian root. Slightly reminiscent of the smell of Moxie.
Taste: Quite smooth. The initial taste is mostly sweet, with vanilla and cinnamon tones strong at the front. These fade into the background, leaving an interesting situation. It feels as though there's a strong lemony flavor trying to come in, but not quite making it. In my mind, I see a stretchy, soap-bubble-like membrane just holding back a flood of bright yellow citrus. It's straining, bulging in, but the smoother and spicier flavors are left to frolic and play, safe from the lemon tsunami. The herbal, gentian-like flavor isn't as strong as its smell would suggest.
It's pleasant. It's a bit more herbal than I usually associate with root beer--I usually prefer more cinnamon-y flavors--but it's enjoyable as it is.

A pleasant follow-up observation: there is no unpleasant aftertaste! It just sort of saunters off.

Quaff rating: 3.5. Kind of nice, actually. Surprisingly smooth and pleasant, with good aftertaste.
Cough rating: 0.5. The herbal background is a bit off-putting, but not really any problem.

*I'm looking forward to "Number Six Soda", or "Rover's Refreshing Lifestyle Drink". If I remember, based on the little animation that we saw whenever he was summoned, Rover was effectively an example of semi-sentient carbonation gone bad.

**Next they'll tell me that the Village doesn't really exist.


  1. I bought a bottle of this stuff for the exact same reason you did at Pop's in Oklahoma, a place that specializes in having an enormous variety of sodas. This was only a couple years ago, long after Wapner was on the air. Not bad root beer, just wish I still had the bottle.


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