Jul 112015

Indian Wells Brewing Company Special Reserve Root Beer bottleSeal of Approval Premium gourmet root beer is now officially a thing. There’d been a few before, notably Virgil’s Special Edition Bavarian Nutmeg Root Beer and Thunderbeast Black Label (blog posts coming soon). Miss Lady kind of qualifies as well. But this one finally makes it official in the way that butterscotch is no longer a unique variant of root beer. The Indian Wells Brewing Company also makes Death Valley Root Beer which, well, I’m not a fan of, to put it lightly. Despite that, when I contacted them about a mail order, they even offered to send a free sample. Now that’s some guts. The 22 ounce bottle is absolutely beautiful and wax sealed. The brew itself is aged in Iberian chestnut barrels and made with real birch, sarsaparilla, ginger, and other nice ingredients including pure cane sugar for those who care about that.

The Body is full and complex with a rich and creamy texture and an aged flavor. There’s a dark rooty core accented by a little licorice. There are notes of birch and wintergreen and some vanilla. There’s also a hint of bitterness but this gives way to more pleasant flavors. The Bite is solid and spicy at just the right amount. The Head is excellent. It’s very tall and foamy to the bottom of the mug. The Aftertaste is rich vanilla with caramel hints.

Wow. I wasn’t expecting that level of complexity and spiciness. It’s quite a bit different from the standard vanilla and honey brews I constantly rave about, but I love it all the same. This is one you can quaff, but is far better to drink slowly to savor all that is going on. I’m proud to give this one my Seal of Approval. Finally, a premium gourmet root beer that’s worth getting for more than just the awesome bottle. See how it rates against other root beers.

4 kegs

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.