Dr Pepper is an odd duck. It’s not a cola, it’s not a root beer, it lives in its own category. Mr. Pibb, Dr Pepper’s neighbor, even left the street because he couldn’t hang with the good Dr. Now Pibb Xtra walks the streets looking for its identity while Dr Pepper lives without care. If you haven’t realized it yet I’m a Texan. This increases my love of Dr Pepper by a great degree and while I’m not happy with what happened in Dublin I can’t say that I’d never drink a Dr Pepper again… I’d just be fooling myself. What I’m poorly setting up here is that it’s hard for me to review products that are supposed to taste like Dr Pepper. In my time reviewing sodas I’ve only come across one that is equal to or beats the flavor of Pepper… Doc Zola. Today I have a bottle of Dr. B in front of me. Dr. B is a grocery store made soda, HEB to be exact. Before you immediately write it off HEB Cola is a very good cola in its own right. I put HEB Cola above both Coke and Pepsi. HEB does indeed put some love and care into their “Pure Cane Sugar” sweetened sodas and Dr. B is just that. So here we go again, another Dr Pepper knock off about to be reviewed. Will it go by the wayside as so many do, or will it prove worthy to stand next to Dr Pepper and Doc Zola? Let’s find out, shall we?
The scent I just inhaled is almost exactly that of Dr Pepper. I don’t think that’s a very telling characteristic, but I suppose it’s the first thing you need to do to keep me interested. Onward… and hopefully upward.
Ok, so Dr. B is obviously going to have some taste similarities to Dr Pepper so we’re going to talk about what’s different instead. The first thing I notice is that Dr. B is a smoother drink than Dr Pepper, which is somewhat impressive because Dr Pepper prides itself on how smooth the taste is. Secondly, Dr. B is a notch sweeter that what you find in that maroon and white can. I would think that the added sweetness would be noticeable by most, but not to the point where it tastes like Dr Pepper Cotton Candy (patent pending!). The carbonation level is also muted a bit, but I assume that’s because of the sweetener used (sugar). I wish I had a sugar sweetened Dr Pepper to compare this too right in front of me, but I guess you gotta work with what you got. Overall Dr. B is a great product, but it won’t be replacing Dr Pepper in my life (much like HEB Cola has replaced Coke and Pepsi). I like the added burn of Dr Pepper even if it is slight. I also associate so many positive things with Dr Pepper that Dr. B just couldn’t catch up to. Dr. B is Doctor Peppers equal in every way in terms of being a good soda, but Dr Pepper has a nostalgia factor for me personally. This won’t change the rating of the drink, but Doc Zola is still the reigning champion when it comes to Dr Pepper knock offs.
Verdict – Buy a Pack
UPDATE - I'M A FORGETFUL DOOFUS
I reviewed this soda again without even checking to see if I had already... here's the three year update on Dr. B.
July 9, 2015 Update
I enjoyed HEB Original Cola quite a bit if I remember correctly… and by “remember” I mean quickly glance at the review I wrote five years ago. That said, I’m not really sure why it took me that long to pick up a bottle of their Dr. B. As you might have guessed Dr. B is the HEB (a grocery store in Texas) version of Dr Pepper. It’s sweetened with “pure” cane sugar instead of all that “tainted” cane sugar the other guys use. If only it was “Real Pure Cane Sugar”, then I’d be impressed.
The bottle Dr. B is housed in is a pleasant shape and quite simple in labeling. The cap was not a screw top as evidenced by my foolish attempt to remove it. Thankfully I have a bottle opener on my keychain to assist me in such situations.
Hey, guess what? It smells like Dr Pepper. Moving on.
Very nice. Dr. B does a pretty good job of mimicking the Dr Pepper flavor, to the point I’m not sure if I could tell the difference if it was poured in a cup,
Ok, so I just did a blind taste test with some fountain Dr Pepper and I totally couldn’t tell the difference. The first cup was a little richer than the first which made me think it was the original Dr Pepper… alas it was not.
Dr. B, apparently, has a bit of a boost in the flavor department but it’s just small enough to confuse me. If I remembered the price I paid for this bottle I could tell you if it was worth buying over glass bottled Dr Pepper… my guess is yes if you only care about flavor.
Where Dr. B will always suffer is that it does not have nearly the nostalgia with people that Dr Pepper does so they’ll reach for the known quantity more times than not. As for me though I’ll probably take another step towards being a soda snob and drink Dr. B while telling folks it tastes exactly the same if not a little better than fountain Dr Pepper.
Verdict - Buy a Pack
I bought this at an HEB grocery store… weren’t you listening?