This week’s Round-Up is focusing on Root Beer’s cousin Birch Beer. While traditional root beer is made with Sassafras, birch beer is, unsurprisingly, made from birch, specifically the Sweet or Black Birch of North America. Birch oil and wintergreen oil have an identical chemical makeup, so that’s your principal flavor. Birch (and wintergreen) gets added to a lot of gourmet root beers, including some that we’ve already had on the Round-Up.
I grew up drinking birch beer in my grandmother’s kitchen in Harvey’s Lake, Pennsylvania, and all three of our birch beers this week come from the same company, one just down the road from Grandma’s house: Reading Draft Birch Beer, Inc., in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Reading Draft White Birch
Very straightforward and traditional birch beer flavor. Exactly what I expect from a white birch beer: smooth and wintergreen with an ever so small little nibble of a bite on the end. While completely unsurprising in it’s flavor profile, it’s darn good.
Rating: 5, with hopefully everyone realizing that nostalgia skews the numbers.
Reading Draft Birch Beer
Given the name of the company, I’m guessing this is their flagship product. It’s a brown birch beer, hewing closer to traditional root beer. While birch is still the principal flavor here, it’s definitely got something less minty, perhaps sassafras or even anise. Does caramel color actually have a flavor? It’s subtle, but definitely there. Definitely makes it a different drink to the white.
Rating: 4.5, in that I would rather drink the white, but this has got some great things going on.
Reading Draft Blueberry Birch
Oh goodness is this blue. Smells like “blue raspberry” flavoring. Tastes like it too, but not quite as sweet. Still sweet though. Definitely the one of the three that feels most like it’s leaving a syrupy film on my mouth. I’d love to have this poured over shaved ice. I’m not so sure I’d love to drink anymore of it.