Friday, October 19, 2012

Margo's Bark root beer

Background information: (from the website) "HI, I'm Margo. I am a black lab-pit bull mix and the spokesdog for Margo's Bark Root Beer. I also belong to the Youd family, and they belong to me. But it wasn't that way at first. When I was just a few weeks old, I was abandoned in a parking lot in Long Beach, before I was picked up by my foster parents and soon thereafter adopted by the Youds. I'm one of the lucky ones. There are far more dogs who wind up in city shelters, which is why the Youd family and I got into the root beer business. Here's how it happened.

I am in charge of a seven year old boy named Oscar Youd. For his school science fair at St. James School in Los Angeles, Oscar (with help from his mom Jessica and dad Tim) made home made root beer. The object of the experiment was to create carbonation in the soda, which occurs when yeast acts on sugar. As an aside, I can tell you that when a dog acts on sugar, she gets crazy and emits a different kind of gas. But that's another story.

Beyond the science of it, it was a great deal of fun. Oscar decided to name the root beer Margo's Bark, after the family dog, which is me. I patiently posed for my picture and together we designed labels for the bottles, and today's design reflects those original home made efforts.

At the science fair, I am told we served close to 300 people. I remain confused as to why I was not allowed to attend – I'm actually really into science. Evidently, my family heard many times over that we should be selling the stuff. And so, in the aftermath we actually started talking (and barking) about doing just that. And because the plight of shelter animals is something we have an ongoing interest in, we determined that making and selling Margo's Bark for the benefit of shelter dogs would be a wonderful adventure for us.

Once we decided on this plan, we became obsessed with root beer. They took a trip (without me!) to Galco's Old World Grocery in east LA, and picked up just about every brand of root beer that gets made in the US today. And for many months they have been sampling these to zero in on exactly what makes a root beer great. They have toured bottling plants and micro-breweries, and they have worked with flavorists to make what we all think is one great tasting beverage.

So twist off the cap of a nice cold Margo's Bark and drink a bite! All profits go to helping the cause of shelter and rescue dogs. And believe me, they need all the help they can get.

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Manufactured by Margo's Bark Soda Co., Los Angeles, CA.  180 calories, 45g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated natural spring water, evaporated cane juice, caramel color, citric acid, molasses, vanilla, clove, cassia, nutmeg, wintergreen, and yucca extract.

My thoughts: Unlike Star Wars' Han Solo, I've got a good feeling about this.  Just twisting off the lid revealed a strong root beer scent, something none of the other root beers have exhibited so far.  The force is certainly strong with this one, and being a dark root beer, is surely leaning more towards the Sith side.  But like Lord Vader, not everything is as it seems.  Beneath the manly root beer exterior lies a tinge of minty, wintergreen-vanilla aftertaste that leaves just a hint of cooling sensation on the lips.  Despite all the flavors listed on the ingredients, there is a nice meshing between them were they aren't jockeying for attention, but playing along nicely together (unlike a certain Sith Lord and his son).  I wouldn't have minded a bit more definition of the various spices, as the wintergreen drowns the others out a little, but am pretty satisfied.  Unfortunately, just as the dark side of the force has some down sides, so too does this root beer.  The carbonation is a bit flat and could use a little extra effervescence.  Maybe they could get some advice from Lando Calrissian about the most effective means of dialing up the carbonite levels.  I hear he's got the machine to make it happen.  Being on the lower side of the carbonation scale, it also doesn't froth up, and I sure do like my frothy foam layer on the top.  But those two minor nitpicks aside (froth -or lack thereof- has no negative impact on the final rating), this is a very tasty root beer, and once you've had a taste of the dark side, it's hard to go back.

Rating: B+
flavor: A
aftertaste: B+
sweetness: A
smoothness: B+
carbonation: C

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