This is a new one. To date, just about everything we here at the Lab have quaffed can be categorized into one of the families of Soda. Cream soda, citrus soda, fruit soda, root beer, cola...the tried-and-true, well-known families.
Well, maybe not. We've actually discovered families of Weirdness which I never new existed--yogurt sodas, for example (the reviews of which have generated some controversy). We've taken much joy in exploring the many types of soda, testing some boundaries, and experiencing Weirdness in its many-splendored glory.
Today, I have one which I don't quite know how to classify. The Mysterious Stranger left this splendid donation in my mailbox. It's a "ginseng brew"...and I don't know how to classify that. I suppose it might be something along the lines of a ginger ale or ginger beer, except ginseng? The label calls it a "Softbrew", which apparently (from the description) is effectively a ginseng tea which is then sweetened and carbonated.
Well, all right then.
Where and when: donated by the Mysterious Stranger October 2009
Color: Dark reddish-brown. Not much of a head, so it ain't root beer.
Scent: Heh. Tea-like, not very sweet, slightly tart. A tiny bit chocolatey.
Taste: Buh...huh...wha? The initial taste is reminiscent of a cola with a touch of chocolate, slightly sweet, mellow and smooth.
This is immediately followed by a quite tart tea flavor, much like one of the Zinger teas, coming up from underneath. The tea is tangy, but not very distinctive. The light chocolate lingers overhead.
Really, the flavor is interesting, nicely smooth, quite drinkable. The dramatic change is intriguing. However, I don't really taste any ginseng--or, really, much of any distinctive flavor other than an initial cola/chocolate note, and that lightly. It's pleasant but bland.
I would have expected a ginseng brew to be spicy, biting, and heady, causing th one imbibing to be captured by visions of sunset hills, with quaint pagodas and ivory temples, verdant paths leading from one vista of misty loveliness to another still mistier and lovelier, surrounding a harbor whose headlands meet in a resplendent arch of crystal and on which a village with wharves of teak and granite clings to the rocky shore, where candles peep mellowly from windows draped with curiously embroidered curtains of red and gold damask.
This, on the other hand, makes me think of downtown Smileyberg, Kansas. That particular town consists of a single intersection at which an abandoned transmission repair shop commands a splendid view of the surrounding grasslands. I grew up in Kansas, and I learned to love the beauty to be found in the terrain. However, I do admit it is subtle, and probably an acquired taste.
I think this is sort of like that. Maybe with time it would grow on me, but right now it's a bit uninspiring for my taste.
Quaff rating: 2.5. Pleasant and mellow, but not really inspiring.
Cough rating: 0.5. Not much to object to.
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