Thursday, April 14, 2016

Polar Classics root beer

Background information: (from the website) "A savvy bartender from Worcester, Massachusetts, who already made his own whiskey and gin, began crafting a bubbly new beverage. Using pure cane sugar, natural fruit, and herb extracts with his own carbonation style, he was working on a hunch that “soda pop” would be a hit. That was 1882 and the man was our great-grandfather, Denis Crowley.

Since ice was scarce back then, he adopted the Arctic Polar bear as a mascot so folks would know his drinks were cold and refreshing. For over 130 years we have remained a family business and that bear is still on every bottle we make. The world has changed since then, but nothing has replaced the pure enjoyment of a ice-cold, well-crafted American soda.

We still rely on quality ingredients, great people, and great-grandad's original recipes to craft Polar Cane Sugar Sodas - except now we call them our Classics."

*note: Polar "Classics" are not to be confused with Polar's regular line of sodas, the latter of which use high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors.

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Bottled Under the Authority of Polar Beverages, Worcester, MA 01615, USA. 160 calories, 45g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Pure Cane Sugar, Natural Flavors, Caramel Color, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Acacia Gum, Quillaia Extract, Citric Acid.

My thoughts: Any time I see polar bears, I think of LOST and how they never did provide a satisfactory explanation for where the polar bears came from...or really for any of the mysteries of the island. So, I'm hoping that this drink doesn't leave me equally unsatisfied at the end.

First off, this has a nice strong rooty flavor to it, though it battles with a rich vanilla taste. As the initial flavor fades, it takes on an even stronger, creamy vanilla aspect. Perhaps it was the sweetness, but I felt that the taste was a little on the "candy" side. I'd wager that it's also due to the simpleness of the sassafras and vanilla, with no other apparent spices to give it more complexity. Into the second half of the bottle, I could detect a faint anise/black licorice undertone as well in the aftertaste, but the main flavor remained fairly simple.

My biggest gripe is certainly the sweetness. It feels stronger than it needs to be and almost tastes a bit sugary to me. It's not bad, but could stand to be dialed back a notch or two. But what it lacks in sugary perfection, Polar more that makes up in carbonation and smoothness. It's a very hard balance to manage. Too little carbonation, and it'll feel smooth but flat. Too much, and it looses that creamy texture. But Polar finds a perfect match, perhaps one of my favorites to date. It has a nice strong carbonation, not too aggressive (though it could be slightly more so, as I enjoy a bit a sting on my tongue), and it has a great creamy feel to it, giving it an extremely smooth complexion.

I'm torn on where to rate this. I was toying with a "C+" overall, but felt that makes it closer to just average than it deserves to be. But a "B-" felt generous considering it's overly simplistic approach to flavor. In the end, I decided that the creaminess made me enjoy it enough to round it up into the "B score" category. It's a good root beer and I wouldn't hesitate to drink it again should the opportunity arise.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment