California is a long state. Some may say as long as a cat. While some folks who either don’t understand economics at all -- or really, really understand economics and hate the poor -- would like to split the state into six different states, I’d settle for just three Californias.
Natural Brew Draft Root Beer
Smuckers Natural Foods, Chico, CA
Natural Brew has been micro-brewing sodas from quality ingredients. Smuckers bought them recently but don’t get confused. This is root beer, not jam.
There’s a lot going on in this very lightly colored brew, but it’s all muddled together. I can smell birch and sassafras, there’s some anise and vanilla on the back of the tongue, but ultimately nothing stands out. I’m not really sure if that’s good or bad. I don’t hate it, but it seems like if you’re going to brag about the quality of your ingredients you’d want them to shine more than they do here.
Sparky’s Fresh Draft Root Beer
Knox Brewing, Pacific Grove, CA
Kevin and Carol Knox have been homebrewing soda in a small backyard kettle for years, bottling it to sell starting in April 2000. Unfortunately that’s all I know because their website is built in flash, which is a dead language and I don’t feel like reinstalling the rosetta stone that would let me read it.
Also light in color, but more focused in what it wants to taste like: all birch up front and all anise in the back. There’s a nice creamy sweetness to it, helped by the honey. There’s something sort of peppery bringing up the very rear that I can’t place but almost tastes like there may be an artificial sweetener in here, too.
White Rose Root Beer
Los Angeles, CA
Made exclusively for SodaPopShop.com, White Rose would have been a better choice for our Charitable Drinking episode though it stands in direct competition with the Gene Autry Root Beer featured there. Some proceeds go to support the Southwest Museum of Los Angeles, or more directly, to a trust that is trying to convince the Autry National Center to reopen the Southwest Museum which they purchased a few years ago and then closed.
The darkest and least unique of our root beers this week. It’s got a decent anise too it, and more of a bite than the other two. Unfortunately, it tastes like a generic store brand. Sure, it’s got real sugar and a glass bottle, but there’s nothing special here at all.