This week’s episode is of more widely distributed products. I’m not saying you can get these at your local store, but if your store does carry specialty roots beer then there’s a good chance it’s one of these three products (assuming you live in the US). I picked them all up at my local supermarket. They should all be available at Whole Foods.
Virgil’s Root Beer, Reed’s Inc, Los Angeles, CA
Virgil’s has been kicking around since 1994 and their website bills it as the Dom Perignon of gourmet root beer. Virgil’s is originally out of Chester, England, but is now owned by Reed’s out of California, who make a mighty fine ginger ale.
Very spicy and complex. Heavy on the anise up front and in the throat, but enough sweet to balance it. Some wintergreen or birch in there as well. Some vanilla, and a lot of other stuff going on too, but less noteworthy. There are 12 different herbs and spices listed on the label, making it more complex than Kentucky Fried Chicken by a factor of one.
Boylan Root Beer, Boylan Bottling Co., New Jersey
Boylan Beverage Company started in 1891 making Birch Beer.
Spicy but in a weird generic “bite” sort of way. Almost like Barq’s in its bite. The sweetness is likewise hard to pin down, tasting a bit like the tutti-frutti flavor of classic bubblegum. Creamy. Tastes a bit like the Polar and Barrel Brothers we tried last week, but unlike those it is not overpoweringly sweet.
Maine Root Root Beer, Maine Root either Texas or Maine?
Currently based in Texas if Google is to be believed, but the label says Portland, Maine. The Seiler brothers claim to be doing for soda what the Coen Brothers do for film. As you are no doubt aware the Coen Brothers make all of their films with fair trade certified organic cane juice.
This is a lot less complex than this week’s other offerings. Much more of a classic root beer flavor, though not very strong in the vanilla department. There’s a sweetness on the back of the tongue that almost tastes like aspartame but not as chemical-y. The label lists nothing but water, the aforementioned cane juice and “spices”, so it’s anyone’s guess what that flavor is. Still, more drinkable than some of the other stuff I’ve had on the show, and we’re only on episode three.