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Monday, January 26, 2009

IBC Root Beer

Since this is the beginning of a brand new blog for me, I figured there was no better way to try out the ropes than with one of my absolute standbys, IBC Root Beer. Everything about the Independent Breweries Company's root beer is classic: from its simple bottle with subtly raised letters instead of a flashy label, to a taste that instantly makes everything around you turn to sepia tone. Okay, maybe that only happens if you're doing shrooms while you drink it. Don't look at me, the internet said so.

IBC as a company started my obsession with independently brewed sodas. When I used to go to Sea Isle City with my church youth group, we'd always buy Stewart's Root Beer from the convenience store across the street. By the time the weekend was over, we'd have piles of empty bottles in the room where we were sleeping, and I had found a new favorite drink--but it was when I went to the grocery store upon arriving home that first year, I found that there was an even cheaper alternative in stock, a package of blank brown bottles with the letter IBC branded right into the glass. I figured I might as well give it a try, if nothing else I'd save a few bucks.

And so it began. A completely (literally) unhealthy obsession that lives on to this day.

There are two basic types of root beer: the creamy, heady kind like Mug and A&W, and the bitey, zing-to-the-back-of-your-throat-and-scratch-like-an-angry-cat-the-whole-way-down-your-esophagus kind like IBC and Barq's. Obviously, seeing as I think that IBC quite possibly makes the best root beer in the world, I am an ardent supporter of the latter camp. However, I know quite a few people who prefer the creamy style to the point that they feel brews like Barq's and IBC are almost a different kind of drink completely. If you are of this opinion but have never tried IBC, it is probably not the drink for you. It almost burns on the first sip, tingling the roof of your mouth and going down just as sharp. And the burning doesn't stop! Every last sip of an IBC has the same amount of bite. I left a bottle open for a few hours today while I went across town to record music with a friend, and when I arrived home this evening, the last few sips were still well-carbonated--rich, sassafras razor blades even hours later. I have no idea what they put in this stuff, but it's got staying power. Actually, all that's in it, other than the dreaded high fructose corn syrup, is some coloring, sodium benzoate, modified food starch, citric acid and a good ol' dose of flavoring (natural and artificial). No caffeine though.

It's definitely not the healthiest soda on the market, that's for sure. Many indie brewers use cane or beet sugar, and plain old salt for preservation. It's also not technically a completely indie brand anymore. The company started out small in St. Louis, Missouri in 1919, but by the 1970's was sold to a larger company, then in 1980 it was passed off to the Dr. Pepper/Seven-Up Bottling Company (still, a separate entity from the Big Two), but in in recent years, Dr. Pepper/Seven-Up was bought out by the British snack conglomerate, Cadburry Schweppes. However, the recipe through all those changes has remained the same, and the spirit of the tiny, struggling company that started it all almost a hundred years ago remains strong in the taste, the style and the price. As their motto says right on the side of the packaging, "IBC Bottles Memories." I couldn't agree more.

TASTE: 9/10
LOOK: 7/10
OVERALL: A

PRICE: $3.00/6-12oz. btls ($.04/oz)
BUY IT: At just about any grocery store; I got mine at Redners Warehouse Markets, Ephrata PA

Monday, January 19, 2009

Welcome to the Headfizz

There are all kinds of blogs on the internet. Some bloggers talk about their day, others draw webcomics, still others write fantasy fiction about Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy indulging their most carnal desires (with each other). But one of the most popular types of blogs out there is the kind where a blogger chooses items of some at least semi-related nature and tells you what they think about them. They'd like you to believe that they are "reviewing" these items, putting their own Ralph Nader Stamp of Consumer Dis/Approval on them for all of the world to see, but more often than not, they're just trying to legitimize their own existence and horribly skewed opinions by "publishing" them (that's what the button below this text box says, after all) on the internet for their moms to read.

I know it first hand because I'm guilty of it myself. My regular blog, The Hypermagic Headphase, is meant to be a space for me to write hilarious and witty observations on daily life, but when I can't think of anything hilarious or witty to say, I pad it with book, movie and music reviews. But those aren't the only things I consume. I also consume a truly vast amount of carbonated aqueous solutions. You might call them "sodas" or "pops" or "cokes," depending on where in the United States you hail from (though if you refer to them as either of the latter two, you are wrong). I call them simply, "delicious."

I've actually cut back on my soda consumption recently, but when I find myself in the bottled soft drink section of a grocery store--particularly a higher-end one like Wegmans or Whole Foods or Giant Eagle Market District--I usually end up walking out with one of those horribly overpriced four-packs of locally brewed root beer in glass bottles. So when I was standing in my favorite little section of a local grocery store this week, debating what four-pack I'd be carrying home with me, I decided to get more than just Type 2 diabetes out of my purchase. Why not keep a blog about it? If nothing else, it would give me an excuse to drop the six bucks on a couple bottles every week or so. Plus, just like all of my reviews, both here and on the Headphase, it would offer something no other blog in the world can give you: my specific opinion about what sucks and/or is awesome.

And so, with utter disregard to my health, I give you your wish, world. A place where you can come and hear my opinions on every root beer, birch beer, black cherry and ginger ale known to man (ah, to dream so high). I shall traverse the globe in search of the finest and fizziest drinks money or sexual favors can buy. And you'll be here with me. At least until my heart stops. This is The Hypercola Headfizz.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

About

I like soda. A lot. Especially those little independently brewed ones in the hip glass bottles. The Hypercola Headfizz is my excuse to buy them all the time, because it takes some hefty convincing when they cost upwards of seven bucks a four-pack. It's also a place for me to keep track of all the different drinks I've tried and to let you, the reader, and me, the unbelievably forgetful writer, what I thought about them. I'm as objective as possible, but we've all got different tastes. I like my root beer sharp and my black cherry sour. I'm not so much a fan of bland, creamy sodas unless the flavor has "cream" in the name. Just as a fair warning, in case you're really taking these reviews seriously. At least someone is.

As for the name of this blog, it's inspired by my regular blog of rants, raves and book reviews, The Hypermagic Headphase. That site I update a lot more, since the only thing it costs me is the price of my ire, and I give that out for free to just about everyone. In fact, this site doesn't get updated regularly at all. If you don't like it, you've got two options: 1) You can suck it, or 2) You can send me bottles of soda and I'll review them on request! I'd much prefer the second, but if you're really into suckin' it, I suppose that will do as well. If you do have suggestions of beverages or really want to send me a big ol' crate of soda through the mail, just leave a message in the comments on one of my reviews or contact me via email (jeremyzerbe@gmail.com).


Jeremy Zerbe is a writer regrettably living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He has been a featured writer for Undress Me Robot, Daily Kos, and Coed Magazine and his fiction has been published in the Three Rivers Review and in an upcoming sex anthology entitled The Living Room Handjob. He is a 2008 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in Writing, and would gladly take any job you have to offer him, especially if it helps him move back to Pittsburgh or to somewhere in the U.K. or Germany. Also, Iceland. He really enjoyed that Sigur Rós documentary.