Pictured above (front row): 3 flavors of Root Beer
Pictured behind (back row): An incomplete set of knifes, Liquid Smoke, and a Tea Kettle.
Root Beer, Part 1, by Evan Jacobson
I thought that this post would be appropriate as December 4 approaches: International Root Beer Day (IRBD). Since it falls on a Friday in 2009, I’m going to share this concept with my students for the first time in my teaching career. I’ll let you know how it turns out after the fact… For more information about this historical day, check out one of many websites:
What is your favorite beverage? In terms of hot beverages, Coffee and its various permutations are number one. As far as the cold and sweet treat category is concerned, carbonated beverages (especially Root Beer), are at the top of my list. To get even more decadent, Root Beer Floats are the bomb. A “Float” (in a drinking context) is a combination of Soda and Ice Cream. If you grew up circa 1950’s, then you’d hang out in Ice Cream Parlors, or Soda Shops (or Shoppes). Rather than trace the development of popular beverage and Ice Cream trends since the 1950’s, this post is all about ROOT BEER. Some of my research will come from the internet because I’d like to establish credibility as a regular guy that loves a frosty cold Root Beer after a long day at the office. For example, I’ll recommend an interesting URL from Wikipedia to give a broad overview, but I cannot say that the information is 100% accurate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root_beer
To truly research many aspects of Root Beer would most likely require me to return to graduate school for a third Masters Degree. It really does sound appealing, but I just don’t have the time to acquire more student loans or alienate my friends and family. Moreover, I had a professor a few years back (name omitted to prevent law suits) who “tore me a new one” because I used an Undergraduate source for Graduate level research. The nightmares and PTSD have finally ceased and my life has returned to a somewhat “normal” state. Enough said!
Several follow up posts regarding Root Beer will be written because I’d like to just go wild and see what happens with the comparison taste tests. Years ago, I remember the Coke and Pepsi challenge which had a twofold purpose: Telling the difference between both beverages when one is blindfolded; deciding (subjectively) which is better tasting. Hence, I’m focussing on the latter and promise that I will not be blindfolded. By doing this, I’ll know exactly what I’m drinking and I won’t be endangering myself or others (another disclaimer to prevent law suits–mentioned earlier) Finally, I will need something to talk about at my next party, Bar-Mitzvah, wedding, or other social event. Hopefully, this will be less trite than engaging in sports talk, work, or other glib discourse.
Today in part 1, I will critique a few different brands (again, this is not a blindfolded experiment)… I’ll share strong opinions about my palette after every swallow. If you have your own questions, I’ve provided information taken right from the can/bottle so you can contact the company.
1- VIRGIL’S ROOT BEER is my favorite at the moment. My friend, Will, introduced it to me at the turn of the century, and I’ve been enamored with it ever since. Since then, I have savored every sip from the bottle. It’s very natural tasting, does not contain corn syrup or caffeine, preservative free, and filled with quality ingredients. When it’s consumed cold, I taste Anise, Wintergreen, Vanilla, the obvious root beer flavor (Sarsaparilla, Birch, or whatever), etc. The ingredients are listed on the bottle… Every bottle is microbrewed and sold as a four-pack from Trader Joe’s for around $5.00. That, in itself, is a tremendous value. I’m not basing my favoritism on price, but it’s a bonus feature, especially during tough times. So far, it seems to be the greatest Root Beer in my 41 years of living. 🙂
VIRGIL’S MICRO BREWED ROOT BEER www.Virgils.com
REED’S Inc., LA, CA 90061 call for questions or comments: 1-800-997-3337
2- A & W ROOT BEER also has a rich flavor minus the caffeine. Wasn’t it marketed years ago as the drink with a frosty mug taste? I apologize for the non-sequitur…
In any event, I am making a point mentioning caffeine because I get my fix from the morning coffee. At night, I’d like to actually fall asleep, and caffeine seems to disrupt my deep REM sleep. I know there are brands with caffeine and I’ll discover them in the next few weeks. Why add the caffeine if the drink tastes great? If you want a buzz, drink something with uppers in it. Root Beer, in my opinion, should be enjoyed at a party or when one is relaxing in front of the Tube. As far as taste is concerned, A & W is rich and sweet. It also seems to be incredibly frothy. I’m a Cappuccino Man, so froth is nice. Honestly, both MUG and A & W seem to be similar tasting. In short, I’ll rank this as number 2 and Mug scores 3rd place (see below). Again, it will be interesting to see what happens when I discover some new Root Beers in the next few weeks. Then, I’ll revise the ratings when approaching the end of my experiment. I’ll be searching for Stewart’s, Hires, Dr. Browns, et al.
A & W ROOT BEER www.rootbeer.com
CANNED BY CANADA DRY DELAWARE VALLEY, 8275 US 130, PENNSAUKEN, NJ 08110 UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF DR PEPPER/SEVEN UP, INC., 5301 LEGACY DRIVE, PLANO, TX 75024; consumer comments: 1-866-AW ROOT BEER
3- I sampled MUG ROOT BEER in a very cold mug (I apologize for the redundancy) at my cousin’s house a few weeks ago. It is also caffeine free and has a tremendously satisfying flavor. Unfortunately, it has corn syrup and almost too sweet. Oddly enough, sweet and fat seem to please people. Again, personal preference will dictate what a person likes… Should you drink this when dieting? It’s probably not a good idea. In short, it has a very nice flavor and no obnoxious aftertaste.
MUG ROOT BEER WWW.MUGROOTBEER.COM
NEW CENTURY BEVERAGE CO., SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94110
call for questions or comments: 1-800-433-2652
Please stay tuned for Root Beer, Part 2, as it’s coming very soon to a computer near you!
Evan J. wanna be gourmet…