This past week I was back in Sacramento doing DERMS things cause that’s what I do, but I was also looking for some root beer cause that’s the other thing I do. My sites were set on Burly Beverages. They make craft from scratch sodas and mixers and only really sell syrups. However, they also have a tasting room with an old fashioned soda fountain where you can come in and get a cup or a growler fill. They close at 6 so I usually would miss them, but not this time! I called ahead, as they request, since sometimes they close early, but the owner, Gabriel was there and told me to come on down. He has a fine establishment and a great mission, to create quality sodas as they used to be, pre-prohibition, when they were more tonics with health benefits. He got his start making a smooth ginger beer and then added more flavors afterwards. After I explained my mission, he got into soda jerk mode and got me a nice cup of the Real Deal Root Beer to try while we talked about various root beer ingredients. In addition to the more traditional sarsaparilla, sassafras, vanilla, cinnamon, he also uses orange peel. I’ve only seen that before in Lockdown Brewing Company Rainbow Root Beer, which is also from the same area. Maybe it’s a Sacramento thing? But I digress. He gave me cup of brew, as well as the sarsaparilla, and a few other flavors to try.
The Body is mild and isn’t overly sweet, yet is very complex with flavors of birch, sassafras, vanilla, sarsaparilla and others mingling together to give a tangy, herbal drink that’s clean and refreshing. It isn’t your typical root beer flavor profile, though. The Bite is rather mild too, though there is some spices in there, they don’t feature prominently. The Head is rather small, which is typical for a soda fountain root beer. The Aftertaste is mild, herbal, sarsaparilla.
This I would classify as one of those carbonated herb tea type root beers. It’s one of the better ones and is a crisp, clean, refreshing drink. I’m sure it gives rosy cheeks even. However, it’s a little too far outside of the standard root beer flavor for me to rate any higher than a 2.5, sadly. The sarsaparilla, on the other hand, which has more molasses, sassafras, and some other spices, nails root beer rather well. It’s got a fuller body and a spicier bite, and tastes more like what you’d expect. If I’d done a blind taste test, I’d probably have said that the sarsaparilla was the root beer and vice versa. I’d probably give the sarsaparilla a 3.5 if it were marketed as a root beer, I still like sweeter brews but that’s me. Maybe Burly should just switch the labeling? Either way, they make some quality products and they’re some cool people. Especially if you like the more herbal, less sweet brews. And if you live in the Sacramento area, dropping by is a must as you need to experience true, raw craft sodas.
The Burly Beverages Soda Fountain.
Some of the Burly Beverages store. I love the old school apothecary vibe.