Oct 182011

Death Valley is a dry and arid place, not the sort of area that you would expect to find good root beer. But they are going for the old west theme it seems, as evidenced by having “A Taste of the Old West” on their bottle. Both of my parents are from California and so the whole Death Valley culture is not lost on me. But still, I always wonder about these Old West root beers since Hires didn’t start marketing root beer until 1880’s. I suppose it all depends on your definition of old. Then again, there were other root beer recipes out there before Hires and there was Sarsaparilla so I suppose a root beer could be an Old West thing. Anyhow, on to the root beer.

The Body is dark and sticky. There is a faint licorice flavor that becomes more pronounced the more you drink. It has a candy like flavor as well, like you’re sucking on a root beer barrel and eating licorice at the same time. The Bite is a little harsh on the carbonation. The Head is short but frothy and sticks around long enough. The Aftertaste is a creamy vanilla licorice flavor. I don’t like a distinct licorice flavor in my root beer. I also don’t like a harsh Bite and a short Head.

Clearly, this isn’t the best root beer out there. This isn’t even the best licorice root beer out there (Capt’n Eli’s, Sea Dog) I was rather disappointed by this one actually. I expected the Old West to taste more like birch and sarsaparilla than licorice. Maybe the great dearth of Death Valley left them with little choice of ingredients. Or maybe they just like licorice so much they put it in everything. Either way, I don’t recommend it to anyone. See how it rates against other root beers.

Oct 122011

So Duh! Rockin' Root Beer BottleA lovely pun though I didn’t get it myself until I was telling my sister about it over the phone. What struck me about this was just how unimpressive the bottle and label look. I mean, a Valley Girl on a root beer bottle? I suppose it is more original than a dog. Even before I looked up the company, I just knew it was from California. So with low expectations and quotes from the movie “Clueless” going through my head, I cracked this one open to give it a try.

When I poured it into the mug and the Head built I said to myself, “Ah, now that’s a proper root beer head.” It is tall and frothy. It lazily built to the top of my 20 ounce mug and just sat there enjoying its freedom from the bottle. On the first drink I was delighted with the Body, the fairy tale marriage of cane sugar and honey, and it didn’t stop there. The sassafras and other root beer flavors were creamily mixed with natural vanilla. It could use a little more sassafras though. The Bite is fantastic too with spices aplenty in the right proportions and a little prickly from the carbonation while still keeping it smooth going down. The Aftertaste is sweet honey with vanilla and spices coming out as it drifts away leaving the tongue begging for more.

The final keg assignment was a tough call. I really like this. I think it is one of the best sodas I have ever drank. I drank a bottle of Henry’s and a bottle of Bulldog in between bottles 1 and 2 to make sure I really liked this one as much as I did. Giving it a 5 was something I wanted to do even though it has a light bodied sassafras flavor instead of a full. I see this as a delicious honey root beer (my favorite type), much like the original Tommyknocker was an amazing maple root beer.  But ultimately, I felt I just couldn’t do it. See how it rates against other root beers.