Jun 252012

So just after I decided to start reviewing root beer stand root beers (since I the Standards Committee of the International Association of Gourmet Root Beer (IAGRB) declared them gourmet) I found myself in Dearborn Michigan for another electric vehicle conference. The only root beer that I could locate in walking distance was the A&W stand. I was planning on doing my review of A&W either with the one near my parents house or the original stand in Lodi (near my grandma’s house if I ever got down there), but on day three of the conference, I felt I needed a root beer. I trekked to stand in a suit in 95 degree Michigan heat and ordered a nice frosty mug of root beer, just to drink, not review. As I was enjoying the infinite refills for only $1.90 the manager told me a bit more about their root beer and their stand. That they hand make their root beer in batches every morning for the freshest flavor. That they still use the original secret recipe, and that, unlike the bottled A&W, there are no preservatives. That means it is a different recipe and thus technically classifies it as a different root beer in my book according to the IAGRB Standards. They tap the syrup straight out of the vat and mix it with soda water in the fountain, definitely higher quality than your bag-in-the-box swill. Also the Dearborn A&W is very close to corporate (since all of the stands are currently owned by franchises and corporate only does the bottled sodas) and is used for training. It includes a conference room and an oversized kitchen. Wow, I didn’t even know any of that at the time. I vowed to return the next day with my camera in tow to give them a proper review. The next day also happened to be June 20, the Birthday of A&W so it seemed appropriate to have my review then.

The Body is sweet and full with creamy vanilla and a spicy caramel flavor accenting the core. It is almost candy-ish. The Bite is pretty mild but there’s a small kick from the carbonation and spices. I do like it smooth though so no harm there. The Head is medium height and frothy so it lasts a good while. The Aftertaste is creamy vanilla with caramel and spice hints.

So yum. I find nothing at all bad in this root beer and they’ve got a lot right. There is a reason that A&W stands still dot the land after all. The crisp fresh taste with the lack of preservatives really pushes it over the top whereas the bottled root beer fell a bit shorter. I’ve had better brews of course, much better, but this is delicious and well balanced. I give it the Seal of Approval (and a trip to the Wayback machine will reveal that I originally stated it was a 4 from the draft at the restaurants), though just barely. I’d say it’s the cutoff point. The food is pretty good too but nothing compared to the XXX Root Beer Drive-in.

A bacon cheese burger and fries with root beer. Pretty good.