Friday, October 12, 2012

Let there be root beer!

As a teenager, I was a big fan of root beer (or, 'the nectar of the gods' as I like to call it).  From my hometown, I searched the many stores and sampled the various incarnations of this blessed beverage.  I remember trying bottled root beers from: IBC, A&W, Henry Weinhard's, Stewarts, Thomas Kemper, and Snapple (yes, Snapple made a root beer for a short time!), just to name a few.  Alas, my search was hampered by the small quantity of brands available to me at that time and after trying the dozen or so varieties that could be found, I concluded that Snapple was my favorite followed by Henry Weinhard's.  Unfortunately, my hometown was a test market for Snapple (or so I was told) and after a couple months, the beverage became unavailable (though I hear it is still out there, like a specter in the night).  As such, Henry Weinhard's became my go-to root beer and has remained so for the past decade and a half.

While recently doing research on soda pop tax, I got a hit on Google for a little place called Galco's Soda Pop Stop, which happens to be in a neighboring town.  As I perused their homepage, I stumbled upon a vast trove of root beers, a few familiar, but most had strange names such as: Dog n Suds, Red Arrow, and Squamscot.  So a new quest was presented to me: I was to seek the holy grail!'s not quite right...  Ah, yes!  This is it: to seek the ultimate root beer!

I know not if Snapple is really as good as my faded memory tells me it was (and seeing as how I sampled it within a supposed test market, the final formula may not have even been what I tried), but I do know that Henry Weinhard's is the baseline "A" level root beer by which all others will be judged, with A&W representing the average "C" level root beer.  My intention is to try a different root beer every day for a month, reporting my conclusions on a day-by-day basis.  I will try to purchase them in glass bottles (when available) and will fall back onto the canned variety when necessary (hint: A&W straight from the tap at an A&W restaurant is better than A&W from a can).  I will also be drinking directly from the container rather than pouring into a frosted mug, which I feel better replicates how most people would be consuming their root beer (for this reason, froth will not skew the scores).  To insure that I am tasting all the flavor the root beer has to offer and that outside flavors aren't skewing my experience, I will make sure that I haven't consumed anything for at least an hour prior to sampling the root beer and will commence by drinking some water to rinse out the ol' mouth.  Sure, not purely scientific, but it'll have to do.

Once my 30 days of root beer are up, I plan to continue sampling this delicious beverage and will post my insights from time to time.  I talked to the owner of Galco's today and he said that they have enough different root beers to last me two straight months without repeating, but I'll tackle the other month's worth at a more leisurely pace.  To kick off the root beer reviews, I will be using my "A" level baseline root beer, Henry Weinhard's, so that I might remind myself (and my tastebuds), what a quality root beer tastes like so I can more accurately judge the others.  Look for that in the near future!

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