We head back east and up the coast into history with three rather old, independent New English root beers.
Foxon Park Draft Style Root Beer
Foxon Park Beverages, Inc., East Haven, CT
Started in 1922 by Italian immigrant Matteo Naclerio, Foxon Park is the hometown soda of New Haven, Connecticut, pairing well, or at least ubiquitously, with New Haven-style pizza. I first had their soda, a white birch beer, at Louie’s Lunch, a place that congress says invented the hamburger.
A good head and a medium-dark color and the sort of flavor you’d expect from something with “draft” on the label. Good herbs and very creamy/vanilla-y. There’s something, perhaps just birch, that’s surprisingly sweet and hits right up front. It’s absolutely delicious
Squamscot Root Beer
Conner Bottling Works, Newfields, NH
The Conner Family’s been making soda commercially since 1863, which has to make this the oldest brand we’ve encountered. They started things off with what the company claims was a spruce beer, but we won’t hold that against them.
Squamscot’s only named flavoring is Oil of Cloves and that offers an interesting, though subtle, spin on its overall verbal herbal flavor. There is a good balancing sweetness, and some vanilla in there creaming it up.
[Boston] Tower Old Fashioned Root Beer
Prospect Hill Beverages, LLC, North Reading, MA
Prospect Hill Bottling and Soda Water Company was started in 1914 by Italian immigrant Domenick Cusolito with his brother Felix and cousin Joe. Domenick’s family kept the business going but they stopped producing Tower Root Beer in the 70’s. Fortunately for us, grandson Larry brought back the root beer after taking over the company.
Very dark with a heavy licorice smell and a heavier licorice taste. As averse as I am to anise, there is still something here drawing me in, a little vanilla and birch perhaps underneath it all tempering that flavor. Or just the sugar. When I was a kid my mother made these press cookies that were flavored with anise, just anise. I hated them. Maybe my pallet’s grown, but this is one anise-heavy consumable I’ll gladly consume again.
This may be less fun when I love all of them.