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.