Friday, June 30, 2017

Natural Brew root beer

Background information: (from the website) "Born in the summer of 1994, Natural Brew® was specially formulated to meet the consumer's need for a quality-crafted carbonated beverage. We make Natural Brew using old-fashioned micro-brewing techniques to bring out the robust flavor of all key ingredients. Unlike most other soft drink companies, Natural Brew is brewed in small batches allowing the ingredients to blend together forming a full, rich flavor, free from any artificial additives or preservatives."

(from the bottle) "A Draft Root Beer unlike any other. To give our Root Beer a subtly rich, creamy flavor we add vanilla extract and other natural flavors to our recipe.

Draft Root Beer is created one small batch at a time with constant attention to every ingredient -- using only the finest ingredients."

"A complex flavor of bourbon vanilla extract, anise, licorice root, birch oil, wintergreen oil and other flavors."

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Smucker Natural Foods, Inc., P.O. Box 369, Chico, CA 95927. 170 calories, 41g sugar.  Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Sparkling filtered water, sugar, natural flavors, bourbon vanilla extract, anise, licorice root, birch oil, wintergreen oil, caramel color, phosphoric acid.

My thoughts: Ah, a natural root beer. The bottle promises a lot, saying it's a "complex flavor of bourbon vanilla extract, anise, licorice root, birch oil, wintergreen oil and other flavors." With so many ingredients listed on the front of the bottle, I have lofty expectations for this drink.

There is a pleasantly strong rooty flavor, unmistakable as anything other than root beer, so that's a plus. Many of these "natural" root beers seem to forget that first and foremost they should taste like a root beer. Following this flavor, there are indeed many other subtle spices, with the anise/black licorice (I'm not sure why they listed two flavors that taste essentially the same) playing very mildly, which is how I prefer it. The vanilla makes itself known and I'm not 100% certain what birch oil tastes like (I guess sort of a caramel/molasses flavor, according to Google), so can't comment on that. The wintergreen is extremely mild, so no terrible toothpaste feel to this. The aftertaste lets me pick out the individual flavors a little more, as the rooty flavor slowly fades. Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it tastes.

Sweetness is about what I've come to expect from most of these root beers, a step above the grocery store average can of root beer, as they're not quite as syrupy. So everything seems to be going well so far...but now we come to carbonation. Now, I get that some people don't like super aggressive carbonation. I do. But I can also appreciate a moderately carbonated root beer as well. This one, however, is a little on the weak side. It doesn't ever go totally flat, but I wasn't very impressed with it. The small amount of carbonation leads to a lack of froth and suds, which I enjoy the creaminess those can impart. That said, it's decently smooth, but lacking in the creamy side of things.

Overall, a decent root beer. The flavor is pretty good, tasting very natural and offering a variety of spices. The drink is let down by the weak carbonation and lack of creaminess. I wouldn't hesitate to drink this again, but if you're looking for a top-tier root beer, this isn't the one you're looking for.

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

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