Reading Draft is another root beer that oozes that olde fashioned drip. As another small time pop shop acquisition, I’m hoping that this one will provide a unique and flavorful experience. I’m pretty picky, but if it’s a fun experience it’s not a waste!
Handcrafted Premium Reserve Since 1921
The colors are pretty bleak and old timey: yellow, red, gold, and black. There are some nice greyscale realistic illustrations of a train and a barrel on the Reading Draft label. The bottle cap is adorned with an imprint of 1921 and the barrel seal. Overall, it’s a handsome bottle that makes me think this will definitely feature a traditional flavor profile.
Reading Draft’s label tells us that it’s been handcrafted since 1921, it’s a premium reserve soda, and that it’s both brewed and bottled by Reading Soda Works & Carbonic Supply Inc.
Since 1921, Reading Draft has been proudly bottling a variety of premium soft drinks. The use of 100% pure cane sugar, natural ingredients, and slow carbonation make our great lineup of traditional flavors sure to satisfy you at any age. We’re your retro fizz fix.
Reading Draft states that they feature pure cane sugar and natural ingredients, they also advertise 17 different flavors in the Pennsylvania Dutch style. As a carbonic supply company, they’re also proud of their fairly unique slow carbonation process, which they say leads to smaller bubbles, smoother mouth feel, and more pleasant taste. We’ll see soon!
- Triple Filtered Carbonated Water
- Pure Cane Sugar
- Natural And/Or Artificial Flavors
- Caramel Color
- Citric Acid
- Sodium Benzoate (Preserves Freshness)
OK. Hello “natural and/or artificial flavors.” They’re proud of their all natural ingredients, but they not only don’t list them, they specifically list that they might include artificial flavors. That’s even worse than just saying it has artificial flavors. Less information is never better.
Popping the top on Reading Draft was quite exciting. The intense carbonation created an impressive hiss. That first smell coming out of the bottle was equally intense, and slightly spicy. Although the whiff I had smelled traditional, there’s something else there lurking behind.
I’ll be honest, the first taste wasn’t exciting. In fact, it was a little disappointing. Let me start with the carbonation. It’s hard to taste this brew, because while the bubbles are small as advertised, there is a tremendous amount of carbonation to sift through. I don’t think this improves the mouthfeel, unfortunately.
Moving onto flavor, Reading Draft root beer doesn’t taste very traditional at all, despite the aforementioned smell. It’s only a little bitter, but it’s mostly bland. Despite having so much sugar, it’s not particularly sweet, although there is a syrupy mouth feel. I’m surprised, because it’s made with pure cane sugar. Like Bundaberg, it tastes almost medicinal or chemical. I can almost taste the hidden sweetness if I really try, but it’s difficult. Despite them saying it’s all natural, if you told me there were no natural flavors, I would believe you. I’m perplexed by this brew.
Over time it’s still about the same, although the carbonation settled nicely. You can definitely taste whatever flavor it is much more readily if you give it a second to breathe. I keep drinking Reading Draft because I am desperately trying to figure out if I’m the problem, or if the root beer really is this strange. Once the carbonation reduces in strength, it becomes very apparent just how syrupy the texture is. Even a little water is having difficulty dispersing the coating. Despite that quirk, there’s very little aftertaste. It’s actually pleasant. The aftertaste is better than the actual flavor. Truly weird. I wonder if this would be good with crushed ice?
I don’t like this root beer, but I don’t hate it. I’m just sort of confused. I wouldn’t go out of my way to drink this, but at the same time, I can see some people really enjoying this (especially if you like Bundaberg.) I’m curious if I had let it breathe, and maybe settled it on top of some crushed ice, I would have a better experience. The bitterness, despite being present, isn’t overwhelming, but the syrupy feel isn’t appreciated. I’m frustrated by the ingredient list, and while I don’t think I’ll buy this again, I wouldn’t reject it if I came across it organically at a restaurant or at a friend’s house.
Rating: ♛♛♕♕♕ – 2/5