Stewart's is a go-to bottled root beer, the glass bottle you're most likely to find in restaurants after IBC. It's produced by Stewart's Restaurants and is so famous that the chain is now called Stewart's Root Beer, and it has it's own Facebook page. It was started in 1924 by a man named Frank Stewart (hardly startling, I'll admit), who thought he'd open a drive-in restaurant that served root beer in a frosty mug and salty popcorn. He then made the popcorn extremely salty, so that people would order more root beer. It's this sort of ingenuity that made America great.
He wanted to make his root beer stand out, so he spent time "working extensively with Flavor scientists" until he had a "unique blend of roots, herbs, and spices." That's a well-lived life, right there.
I figured I'd start this series of reviews off easy with a fairly comfortable, classic root beer - and I wasn't disappointed.
Frank was right: Stewart's is a root beer to be served cold, in a frosty mug, with salty popcorn. It's one of those root beer where serving it under just the right conditions exponentially increases its quality. Served warm, it's just another root beer, maybe even a little weak. But deep-chilled and cracked open late at night after a long day - top notch. After drinking a couple Stewart's, I came to the conclusion that it's chief selling point is its excellent smoothness. It's similar to IBC, but with a touch less kick, and a refreshing hint of a creamy aftertaste.
The downside is that it's perhaps too smooth, its trip down your gullet too uneventful. After finishing about half a bottle, you'll put it down for a moment, then forget about it. You'll pick it up a few minutes later, thinking 'have I finished this? I can't recall.' And you never have. You've always got some left. With a good soda, that never happens.
Ultimately, I found Stewart's to be a solid, capable root beer, an excellent choice to pair with a meaty sub at a sandwich shop - vivacious enough to pay stick in your memory, subtle enough to not dominate the meal.
Grade: B, maybe a B+ in the right situation.