The Pooj considers the lilies.
(The Continental Shop, February 2012)
Ben Shaw was a textile worker in West Yorkshire before becoming the purveyor of natural mineral water in 1871. From humble beginnings delivering their products on the legs of the family’s four horses, Ben Shaw's company grew to become the first European beverage company to can soft drinks in 1959. Though the company was purchased in 2005 by Cott Beverages, the world’s largest retailer-brand beverage company, it still retains the family name, and presumably the family recipes.
Again, I don’t know exactly what dandelion and burdock is really supposed to taste like, but I would say that Ben Shaws version has the same cherry-like flavor that Fentimans has, albeit a fuller version of it. There’s still an aroma reminiscent of cough-syrup, but I definitely wouldn’t call it unpleasant. I thought I had detected an almost licorice-like flavor when I first took a swig from the can, but once I pour it into a glass it goes away. Repeated tastings from the can do not yield any more wafts of licorice, though there is a definitely plant-y root-like flavor that perhaps I am, in my dandelion and burdock ignorance, simply interpreting as licorice.
While the ingredients list both sugar and a saccharin sweetener, the latter doesn’t seem to decrease the calorie count much, since a 330 ml (roughly 11 oz) can still weighs in at 120 calories, only slightly less than your average 140 calorie 12 oz can of HCFS-laden Coca-Cola (which, for those keeping score, used to only be 120 calories just a few years ago). I suppose if you compare it to a typical sugar sweetened root beer, which usually clocks in at 180 calories, then there is a difference. Either way, since it's the last listed ingredient, I don’t think the sweetener is added for any “health” reasons, so I’m not really sure what it's supposed to accomplish flavor-wise, except that it adds a slight artificial-sweetener point to what is an otherwise fruit-y aftertaste.
So my dandelion and burdock kick has thankfully outlasted the cold that had been impairing my root beer tasting abilities as of late, though I still wouldn’t consider Ben Shaws Dandelion & Burdock root beer in the way that you and I would typically define it. While it’s definitely got more of a root-like flavor than Fentimans and does taste a little bit more like Bundaberg Root Beer, lending at least a small bit of credence to my theory that Bundaberg aims their root beer flavor toward those of root beverages familiar to the British Isles, and while I would still say dandelion and burdock is definitely worth a root beer lover’s sampling, per our previously agreed upon root beer standards I’d still have to only give Ben Shaws Dandelion & Burdock a 2 .