The Kibbitzer-In-Chief is a truly diligent and dedicated Weird Soda researcher, especially for someone who doesn’t like soda. At the conclusion of last night’s burrito run, as we waited for the talented chefs at Super Taco to put the final touches on their culinary confections, she decided to zip next door to the dollar store for some sundries. She came back with said sundries, as well as what looked like a forty-ounce container of cheap booze. This was, to say the least, surprising (none of the Lab staff drink a lot of alcohol). However, she revealed to me that she had, in fact, found a Weird Soda masquerading as cheap booze. I love this woman!
What she found was Teddy’s Root Beer. It has some impressive credentials:
--It was found at a Dollar Tree
--It comes in a one-liter brown plastic bottle with a screw-on cap
--The label has a picture of Teddy Roosevelt (I think) on it
--The manufacturer is listed as the “Unique Beverage Company”, in Everett
--The back of the label provides a two-sentence summary of the history of root beer, including this gem: “Root Beer is now enjoyed as a soft drink or as the main ingredient in Root Beer floats”. It also claims to be handcrafted, and “made from only the finest ingredients”. Based on the ingredients list, I have a mental image of sun-tanned laborers in the fields, harvesting the Natural and Artificial Flavorings (Chemicus syntheticus) with great skill and care, then bringing them by hand truck (with pneumatic tires, lest too-harsh jostling bruise their delicate leaves) into the cool, oak-beamed stone brewing house, where they are gently stirred into copper kettles with the High-Fructose Corn Syrup imported from Peruvian mountain farms. The brewmaster, a wizened man who stoops about the brewhouse with a knurled hickory staff, inspects the mixture and determines the exact amount of Gum Arabic to add to produce the carefully nuanced blend of flavors we’d expect in a handcrafted, premium root beer.
I think I like this stuff.
Where and When: purchased 3/27/09 at Dollar Tree, Vista, CA
Color: very dark brown, kind of a pretty garnet when light shines through it
Scent: spicy, rootbeerlike, complex. Scents of cinnamon, maybe anise. I do like the smell of root beer.
Taste: A bit sweeter than it smells. Slightly tart for a root beer, but not obtrusively so, and with a lot of mellowness to balance it out. Kind of similar to A & W. Kind of a taste of marshmallow to it, in a good way. There’s a slight note of something menthol-ish—it’s similar to birch beer.
While I like root beer, I am not widely experienced with it. This is a pleasant, fairly strong root beer, not as complex as some, but pretty nice. Given the packaging and source, I feel a little like I bought some Gallo Bros. boxed wine, and it came out like a medium-priced Kendall Jackson chardonnay. It’s better than I would have expected, which makes me happy.
Quaff rating: 3. Pretty pleasant.
Cough rating: 1. The cinnamon-mint-treebarkiness of root beer could be unpleasant with the wrong foods.
Swashbuckler Brewing Co Birch Beer
21 hours ago