Besides tacos, nothing wraps up a fishing or hunting expedition quite like an ice cold brew. Some of you may think I’m talking about beer, but I’m a Mormon so I don’t drink alcohol. I’m actually talking about root beer; not the brands you buy in plastic two liter bottles (although some of them such as Barq’s are quite good), but rather the gourmet kind you have to go out of your way to find.
Whenever my good friend Matt Lucia comes to my home (usually for a hunting and fishing outing), he brings a six pack of gourmet root beers for the adults that we put on ice and a two liter of Shasta root beer for my kids. As we drink the icy cold beverages, we laughingly state that the kids “got the Shafta!” (No offense Shasta, I actually like your root beer!) Needless to say, my kids are always excited when “Uncle Matt” comes to our house and, of course, ask if he is bringing root beer.
Over the years, I have tried a number of gourmet root beers and I can say that I never met one I did not like. I used to collect empty root beer bottles until my wife threw out my collection (which was already relegated to the shelf near the dog kennels downstairs) because she thought it was dusty, ugly and tacky. (Is nothing sacred?!!!)
I have narrowed down my top ten favorites, which I wanted to share with the readers of Upland Ways. The first two are my favorites, but the rest are great and are listed in no particular order:
1. Thomas Kemper (I love that it is sweetened with honey and that it’s from the northwest, but it sure is hard to find around here!)
2. Henry Weinhards (I dig the smooth and creaminess of this brew. It’s hard to beat when its ice cold).
3. Tommy Knockers (This one is brewed in Denver and you got to love the crazy prospector on the bottle).
6. Stewart’s (It’s pretty easy to find and just a good all-around root beer).
8. Sioux City Sarsaparilla (just a solid brew in a cool, old fashioned bottle).
9. Snake River Sarsaparilla (for those from Eastern Idaho, this comes right out of Jackson Hole).
10. Barrel Brothers (such a good vanilla rootbeer!)
Some of my best hunting memories are after the hunt is over and the dogs are being watered, the fallen birds are admired or photoed, jokes are exchanged, backs are slapped and someone pulls out a little cooler and starts passing around the ice cold brews. The refreshing, earthy taste of the root beer compliments so well the uplands during October–the very height of creation. At such times, one cannot help but feel gratitude for the upland shooting life.
I’d love to hear about your favorite root beers! Drop me a note below.