Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A&W root beer

Background information: (from the website): "In 1919, at a parade honoring returning World War I veterans in Lodi, California, Roy Allen set up a roadside drink stand to offer a new thick and creamy drink, root beer. His creation was such a success, he decided to take on a partner, Frank Wright. In 1922, Allen and Wright combined their initials to name the beverage A&W Root Beer."

"Allen wasted no time opening his first permanent root beer stand in Lodi, followed by a second one in Sacramento. It featured the first "drive-in" concept with "tray-boys" for curbside service. Then, in 1924 Allen bought out Wright to pursue a franchising program, which became America's first franchised restaurant chain. He sold A&W Root Beer concentrate exclusively to these franchises to ensure quality. By 1933, more than 170 outlets were franchised."

*more history can be read on the A&W website

Product details: 12 fl. oz.  Distributed by: Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, inc. Plano, TX 75024.  170 calories, 45g sugar. Glass bottle with twist off top.

Ingredients: Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sodium benzoate (preservative), natural and artificial flavors.

My thoughts: Ahhh, the old stalwart A&W root beer, available pretty much anywhere.  This is the root beer that many are familiar with, as its ubiquity makes it widely accessible.  From cans and 2-liter bottles, to candy and from the tap, it's an iconic flavor.  Since most people drink it from the can, this was more or less the one that I established as my average (or "C" level) root beer.  I've eaten at the A&W restaurant before, where they serve it in frosy mugs straight from the tap.  I have to say that I found it to taste better that way than its canned counterpart.  So how does it hold up when it comes in a glass bottle?

Well, it certainly has a nice strong rooty taste to it, leaning a little towards the artificial side, but still retaining some of its classic roots.  Nothing too complex.  As the initial flavor subsides, I'm left with an aftertaste that is quite similar to the main flavor, though I detect a little vanilla and perhaps a tad of wintergreen.

I like that after I drink it, there isn't a super sugary coating in my mouth.  While it uses high fructose corn syrup instead of cane sugar, I didn't find it objectionable.  Carbonation is moderate, and could use a little more pizazz to it.  It certainly went down smooth, with a little creaminess.  Nothing too crazy, but not exactly reaching for a higher bar.

In the end, A&W delivers a solid root beer that is neither a standout nor a disappointment.  The canned version was always a solid choice and I think I prefer it slightly in a bottle.  It's a good root beer that I would drink again, but I wouldn't necessarily spend the extra money to get it in a glass bottle instead of a much cheaper 2-liter or can.

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

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