The Pooj agrees to meet me halfway.
(Rocket Fizz Pasadena, October 2011)
Iron Horse Products is named for the Central Pacific Railroad's Jupiter steam locomotive, supposedly nicknamed Iron Horse (I can't find any information corroborating this, which is why I say "supposedly"), which carried rail magnate Leland Stanford (Beat the Farm!) to the Golden Spike ceremony linking the two ends of the transcontinental railroad. Known for its distinctive "balloon stack" smokestack, containing a spark arrester for its wood-burning engine, the Jupiter was not originally intended to take part in the ceremony, but had to fill in for the Antelope, which was damaged en route to Promontory Summit. Long story short, Jupiter was built in New York in 1868, then transported to Central Pacific's headquarters in Sacramento, from where it departed to Utah for the Golden Spike ceremony in 1869. For the life of me, I can't find a connection between all these stats and Iron Horse Products, which was founded in 1993 in Minnesota. Maybe its owners like trains, I don't know.
One thing I do know, though, is that Iron Horse Root Beer is not particularly root-y. It has a very sweet, smoky flavor, again, like turbinado sugar, surprising given that HFCS is the sweetener. There's a caramel-ish flavor, like brûlée sugar, which may account for the aforementioned smokiness, with an aftertaste that's also very sweet. With the exception of a slightly root beer-y smell that's rather generic, without any distinguishing characteristics, there's really not much that would make this qualify as root beer except that the label says so.
Again, the toasty sugar flavor isn't unpleasant -- and the head is nice, too, though it doesn't last long -- I don't think there's enough going on besides that to make its case for being root beer. Iron Horse Root Beer gets a 2.