Tuesday, November 25, 2014

dougieDOG Butterscotch Root Beer

The Pooj puts his arms out front, leans side to side.
(The Milkman at Granville Island Public Market, Vancouver - June 2012)

There’s been a lot of conflicting information floating around the internet in the past few months in regards to the World’s Most Expensive Hot Dog. As early as April of 2012, dougieDOG of Vancouver, home of the $100 Dragon Dog, had claimed ownership of the Guinness World Record (source). Relatively recently, dougieDOG made claims of the same of official Guinness recognition again (source). However, according to even more recent news on the Guinness World Records website itself, someone else in Seattle now has claim to the title. Officially, I’m confused – this, of course, happens rather frequently regarding a wider array of subjects than cased meat, and probably means nothing in the long run except that it tangentially relates to root beer.

On the 2nd-and-a-half-ish anniversary of dougieDOG's supposed first (?) induction into the Guinness Book of World Records then (which is to say, not related in any way whatsoever...), we raise a commemorative bottle of root beer – dougieDOG Butterscotch Root Beer, to be exact. dougieDOG founder dougieluv (yes, that's really his name, and yes, that's really how he spells/capitalizes it) has a clear passion (ahem, ::luv::) for frankfurters, with the credentials to prove it.  After touring the US to make a documentary about regional hot dog styles, dougie used his research to open a restaurant in Vancouver to serve these US-regional dogs alongside styles of his own creation (of which the Dragon Dog is but one). In addition to allegedly holding the World Record above, dougieDOG also claims to hold the record for serving the largest variety of root beers in Vancouver (source). My own past experience with a supposedly-record-setting hot dog may have turned me off to participating in anything hot-dog-record-related again (I won't go into detail ... ever ...), but I can certainly get on board with anyone even attempting to make such a root beer claim.  And while I didn't actually procure this bottle at dougieluv's establishment (which is closed now according to Yelp, though several satellite locations and food trucks remain), I did get it in Vancouver, so at least it's from dougie's home district (Galco's has since started stocking it in the great brown south, FYI).

Perhaps dougieDOG Butterscotch Root Beer would have been better experienced in its natural habitat, whilst in a sausage-and-poutine-induced haze, because it’s not particularly noteworthy on its own. The scent from the bottle starts generically root beer-ish (similar to most middle-of-the-road root beers), but quickly veers towards butterscotch. From then on, it’s essentially the butterscotch’s show. It tastes more like butterscotch pudding and less like a butterscotch disk – with an actual scotch-like flavor – but doesn't really taste like root beer at all. Aside from that, there's not much to add except that the texture is on the thinner side, with a clean aftertaste.

Which isn't to say that there aren't a couple of positive notes: it has a nice amount of medium-sized bubbles (no foam though), and does in fact have a good butterscotch flavor. If you’re in the mood for a Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer but are not in the mood for the sugar shock that comes with the typical Flying Cauldron experience, dougieDog is the way to go. Just don’t go expecting root beer, that's all. That being the case then, dougieDOG Butterscotch Root Beer gets a 2.

Monday, September 22, 2014


The Pooj keeps the metric system down.
(BevMo Pasadena, June 2012)

Mason's Root Beer has had a volatile history. Originally opened in 1947 by Mason & Mason Inc. in Chicago, it has since 1970 bounced around from big beverage companies to bigger beverage companies, eventually landing with PepsiCo after a hostile takeover. The FTC, however, decided Pepsi was too powerful, so forced its sale to Monarch Beverage Company in 1978, where Mason's has remained (source). While there also appears to have been a chain of midwestern drive-ins bearing the Mason's name and logo, I'm not sure how they were associated with Mason & Mason, if at all (similar to how the remaining Triple XXX drive-ins are no longer part of the Triple XXX bottling operation). Unfortunately, I might never find out, given that there only appears to be one drive-in left and it's all the way over in Washington, IN.

If the bottled Mason’s is any indication, however, I might not have to make the trip. While there is a nice amount of foam that forms at the initial pour (though it doesn’t stay very long) and a smooth texture with soft, small bubbles, the flavor isn't particularly remarkable. Not that it’s bad – there’s just nothing distinctive about it, so it’s rather generic. The scent suggests something slightly licorice-y and slightly fruity, but the dominant taste is sugar. Again, it’s not even that Mason’s is too sweet – it actually has a pleasant sweetness – it’s just that there’s nothing else to really speak of. Considering the smoothness, I would have expected there to be either honey or a foaming agent included, but neither are indicated in the ingredients list nor implied by the taste. Just as sugar is the dominant flavor, so it is with the aftertaste – mostly sweet with a very slight tartness and an even slighter menthol/cool feeling.

Were I to find myself in Indiana for any reason, with access to a car and a few hours of spare time, maybe I’d make an effort to see the remaining Mason’s drive-in for the sake of research, but I suppose if any of these factors did line up, I’d probably make the effort to see Triple XXX in Lafayette first (and seeing as Washington and Lafayette are 3 hours apart, I’m unlikely to get to see both unless I’m required to drive through western Indiana for whatever reason I’m required to be in Indiana to begin with…). But again, nothing compelling all on its own to make the effort, which may be the best way to describe Mason’s Root Beer: not bad, but not particularly special. That’ll get you a 3.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Honest Fizz

Sorry folks, no photo this time.  I had briefly considered Photoshop-ing something together, but then considered the irony – indeed, hypocrisy – of presenting something called Honest Fizz with a completely fabricated image.  You’ll have to settle for the photos and description on the company website (link here) for reference.

As you can already see, this is the root beer offering from Honest Tea’s relatively-recent foray into non-tea beverages.  In addition to being a root beer fanatic, I am somewhat of a brewed-tea fiend, and Honest Tea is one of only a couple bottled teas that I’ll resort to in the absence of the fresh-brewed whole-leaf varietal.  Given that, I’m willing to give their root beer a fair shake at winning me over.

Having said that, I think that they would have been more honest if they called it “root beer flavored soda” instead of "root beer."  My first warning should have been its advertisement as “zero calorie,” but since it’s made with stevia instead of an artificial chemical sweetener, I’m willing to give it a chance because I have had at least one decent stevia-sweetened root beer.  Unfortunately, Honest Fizz reminds me less of Zevia, which I thought was drinkable, and more of Santa Cruz Organic, which I did not.  It has a golden tan color, much like Santa Cruz, with a scent and flavor reminiscent of Extra Dessert Delights’ root beer float-flavored chewing gum and Cracker Barrel’s root beer-flavored licorice vines.  Thankfully stevia does not leave the throat-stinging aftertaste that artificial sweeteners often do, though the aftertaste is thin, tart, and vaguely fruity. 

I suppose if you are desperate for a no-calorie, organic, non-GMO soda, this could work – I’m willing to bet that Honest Fizz’s fruit-flavored sodas are much better (there is also a non-organic version of the root beer which I have not seen or tried, but I doubt that there is a significant taste difference).  The carbonation is a little sharp, but an otherwise pleasant drinking experience for a canned soda, with small bubbles, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it amount of foam, and an oddly tea-like texture (that is, rich and light at the same time, like a dark oolong).  But good root beer needs more than good bubbles and good intentions.  Honest Fizz Root Beer gets a 2.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mammoth Imperial

The Pooj feels a little woozy.
(Mammoth Brewing Company, July 2014)

High in the Eastern Sierras, near the Owens Valley where we of Southern California steal most of our water, sits Mammoth Mountain. While most people know already know Mammoth as a hiking and skiing destination, fewer know that it is home to the purported highest brewery on the west coast (which may be a generous assessment, given that Mammoth is some 200 miles from the ocean, on the non-coast-facing side of a massive mountain range, but we’ll just go with what they say for now…). Since 1995, the Mammoth Brewing Company has crafted their wares hereabouts, 8,000 feet above sea level. They've even recently expanded their capacity to produce an apropos 8,000 barrels of brew each year, of which some are presumably their Mammoth Imperial Root Beer (source).

It certainly helps to have friends in high altitudes, seeing as this growler of happiness was gifted to me by a local, but I will have to add a disclaimer to everything else I’m about to write: high altitudes also means long distances and infrequent visits, so at the time of sampling, this growler of happiness had already been happy-ing (??) in said local's fridge for a month. Although I’ve managed to keep fresh root beer fairly well maintained in the fridge for several weeks, a recent bad experience with some good stuff that I had forgotten about in the fridge for a little (actually, a lot…) too long suggests that even something so sugary has a definite shelf life. My point in saying this, then, is that I will need to do another test in the future, closer to the source (or at least closer to the time of purchase) before any real conclusions can be formed or preliminary conclusions verified.

On with the show then, shall we?

The good news is that the carbonation has held up – the bubbles are on the small end of medium and get smaller after the initial head dissipation. Since the head itself doesn’t actually stay for more than a couple seconds, the medium bubbles give way to smaller bubbles fairly quickly. From the growler and from the glass, the scent is heavily herbal and menthol, leaning towards licorice as well. Not surprisingly then, the flavor is also heavy on the menthol and herbs, with a hit of licorice as well. It’s not too sweet – it probably could have used a little more sugar to balance the bitterness of the herbs, which tends to skew the flavors sour – with a sarsaparilla-like aftertaste. Again, the menthol is also strong in the aftertaste, leaving a cool feeling on the tongue.

For now, in its current iteration, I like Mammoth Imperial Root Beer well enough.  Perhaps a fresher batch would actually taste sweeter (the aforementioned spoiled stuff became much more bitter with time, like over-extracted tea or coffee), thereby counteracting some of the mild bitterness – the only thing I didn't really like about it.  Either way, I would happily give it a second go for the sake of being thorough in my research. Mammoth Imperial Root Beer gets a high 3.5.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Root Beer Field Trip: Galco’s Summer Soda Tasting 4 – The Great Root Beer Taste-Off

(July 20, 2014)

As one of Southern California’s few root beer-dedicated bloggers**, I regarded it as nothing less than my solemn duty to attend Galco’s Summer Soda Tasting 4 a couple weeks ago, so advertised as The Great Root Beer Taste-Off. Were the sunny weather and free-pouring sugary beverages of a typical Galco’s Summer Soda Tasting not already reason enough to draw the masses, certainly the soda inspiring (possibly) the most variation and (possibly) the most polarizing opinions amongst the pop-pantheon would be sufficient motivation to party hearty, wouldn’t you think? 

**a position that is, admittedly, self-bestowed and simply based on the fact that most of the other root beer blogs that I personally follow are based elsewhere in this great nation – that having been said, if you are also one of Southern California’s root beer-dedicated bloggers, I’m really not trying to take any more credit than I’m due, so please leave me a message in the comments so that maybe we can start a Southern California Root Beer Meet-Up Group, or something like that, or at least compare notes and run-on sentences.

Believe you me, with an infant in the house, the complications that merely getting out of the house entails needs some serious incentive to make worthwhile, so I don’t say this lightly.  Clearly, infant-ed and non-infant-ed alike shared my sentiment (the former, not the latter)(well, probably the latter, too) – a volunteer at Galco’s pointed out that this was the highest turn-out to date for one of the Summer Soda Tastings. Observe:

With no fewer than 49 root beers represented – not including 6 birch beers, 7 sarsaparillas, and a sad, lonely table of 9 diet root beers (and a table inside the store serving up Jones Peanut Butter and Jelly Soda…) – it was indeed a good time. …not to mention a serious sugar high... Had even a single hot dog vendor had the foresight to set up shop on the sidewalk outside, he/she would have made a killing. As is, we needed to head into the store to grab some salty snacks, where I ran into John Nese’s doppelganger.

Mr. Nese was actually around, but understandably quite occupied, keeping order inside the store as well as keeping tasting stations stocked outside. Since there was no particular order in which we were directed to hit up the tasting stations, we decided to start with Galco’s/Highland Park’s very own White Rose.

From there, we flittered about, eventually camping out in front of the “Flavored Root Beer” table, which may or may not have had something to do with the fact that it was in the shade.

Consequently, we also ended up spending a considerable amount of time partaking of the sarsaparilla and birch beer stations immediately adjacent.

Otherwise we kept it respectable, each downing probably the equivalent of 2-3 bottles of soda, one 1.5 oz shot at a time. Here’s the full lineup:

Did I mention that this was all for a good cause (besides keeping local dentists in business)? The entire event was a fundraiser for the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition, who are trying to get the nearby Southwest Museum reopened on a more regular basis. Currently, the museum is operated by the Autry Museum and is only open one day a week  and only for a few hours, at that. You’ll recall that this is the same Southwest Museum that a portion of the proceeds from White Rose soda sales goes towards (there’s a little more information in my White Rose post from way back when). So even if we didn't feel so good afterwards about ingesting so much sugar, we could at least feel better that it was for the greater good of our community.

Until next year, then…

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Happy National Root Beer Float Day!

It says "National," so that means it's our patriotic duty to celebrate.

...God bless America...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Starbucks Fizzio

Call me Porta-Pooj.
(Starbucks, July 2014)

So I’m assuming you don’t need me to give you the background story for Starbucks, right?  OK, good.

Nearly everybody has an opinion about Starbucks’ coffee, so I’ll spare you from going into detail about mine. Suffice to say, when I heard that they were rolling out a line of “handcrafted” sodas this summer, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic. Don’t get me wrong, I think Starbucks is actually a great organization – they treat their employees very well, and they teach them to really know and love their product. For the most part, this results in a very good customer experience, so no complaints there, either.  It's just that I don’t typically think “coffee shop” when I want a soda (and for that matter, I don’t typically think “Starbucks” when I want a cup of coffee, but that's a different story…). But, of course, root beer is a great motivator, so I visited my local Mermaid to give their “new twist” on a “beloved classic” (their words in quotation marks, not mine…) a whirl .

The problem is that this “new twist” barely acknowledges any of what is beloved about the “beloved classic.” At first, it tastes a little fruity and a little floral, so there’s probably a healthy dose of birch syrup – that’s where the similarities to actual root beer end. I can’t really taste anything else aside from nutmeg and clove – A LOT of nutmeg and clove (otherwise, it’s rather tart). Now they do advertise it as "spiced," so it certainly meets that criteria – just too much for my liking. Were there ever a time to say something tastes like Christmas, this is it – the aftertaste even tastes like a gingerbread cookie.

At least I had a gift card, so I didn't really have to pay for it. In fact, I didn't even finish it. Given its “handcrafted” nature, I suppose that there’s a chance that it might be better if a different barista mixed it next time. But is that enough for me to want to try it again? To borrow from another Starbuck, “No frakking way.” Sorry Starbucks Fizzio, that’ll only get you a 1.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dorothy's Isle of Pines

The Pooj feels a rumbly in his tumbly.
(Old Town House of Jerky & Root Beer, May 2012)

So…evidently I’m not as “back” as I thought… When there’s an infant in the house, you become much more cognizant of the fact that there are only so many waking hours in a day, and only so many of those hours in which the child is also awake, and only so many of those hours in which the child is in a good mood. During the first of the three, you try to get as much of the stuff done that you can’t do during the second; during the confluence of the latter two, all you really want to do is hang out with the child. It’s not that you don’t want to do anything else, like say, drink tasty beverages, take goofy photos of a stuffed giraffe (but don’t tell the Pooj that I referred to him as “stuffed”), and blogging – you would just much rather enjoy the fact that the child is awake and in a good mood. But enough excuses; moving right along…

It’s probably fair to assume from the that fact I’m writing this and the fact that you’re reading this that root beer is the one drink you and I would choose to have with us were you or I ever stuck on a deserted island (OK, maybe water would be more conducive to, well, staying alive, but I’m assuming the deserted island is akin to the spring-filled one from Lost, except, you know, with fewer magic corks and polar bears). Dorothy Louise Molter was perhaps the only person who could say that she actually lived that claim. Called “Knife Lake Dorothy” and “Nightingale of the Wilderness,” Ms. Molter first visited the Isle of Pines Resort in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness bordering the US and Canada during a fishing trip in 1930, and decided to stay there as a nurse for the resort’s owner and visitors. She ended up staying in the 2 million-acre collection of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes for the rest of her life – 56 years in total – becoming the last non-indigenous person to live in the area.

The Feds actually tried to remove Dorothy on several occasions – first in 1948, when roads and buildings were demolished and seaplane traffic banned in order to return the developed areas to wilderness; then again in 1964, when the Federal Wilderness Act prohibited habitation in the BWCAW. Public outcry on Dorothy’s behalf caused the Government to relent, and she was allowed to stay until 1975, at which point the National Forest Service appointed her as a volunteer and let her stay permanently. When motorboats and snowmobiles were banned in 1978, access to the Isle of Pines (willed to Dorothy by its original owner, and no longer a resort) was limited to canoe traffic, and Dorothy became well known as the “Root Beer Lady” for serving homemade root beer, cooled in an old-fashioned ice house with ice cut from the frozen lake, to passing canoeists. Here Dorothy stayed, 36 miles away from the closest town, until her death in 1986 (Sources: 1, 2)

Dorothy’s 1986 obituary (source)

Dorothy’s Isle of Pines Root Beer initially smells like root beer candy and vanilla in the bottle, though there isn’t much of a scent once it’s poured into a glass. It has a hard carbonation, with larger bubbles and no real head (the bubbles only stay for a couple seconds). While it’s not too sweet, the sweetness build as you drink it, finishing with a pleasant sweet aftertaste. The flavor is not remarkable (I’m not sure if they use Dorothy's recipe), but does have a nice little bite – it doesn't taste vegetal enough to be birch, but I can’t quite place it otherwise (I might be out of practice). As far as I can tell, there’s no anise or licorice of any sort, and the aforementioned vanilla is more apparent in scent than in taste.

Still, I liked it well enough, and I think it’s a fitting tribute to a unique individual who furthered the cause of root beer. All proceeds from the sale of Dorothy’s Isle of Pines Root Beer go back to funding a museum in Dorothy’s honor in Ely, MN, which is nice, too. I’ll give it a high 3.5.

In other news, this is happening:

Any fellow root beer fanatics/root beer bloggers/root beer blog readers in the Greater LA area interested in joining me for the festivities? It’s at a great place and it’s for a good cause. Leave me a message in the comments if you want to meet up – let’s put our “skills”/obsession (/cavities…) to good use…!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Root Beer Field Trip: BrewBakers & Surf City

(BrewBakers Huntington Beach, September 2012)

Aaaaaaaaand we’re back…! …for the time being, at least… There’s a pretty big back-log of root beer sitting around the house right now that needs drinking, but having an infant doesn't really allow much time for any real hobbies, even those as simple as drinking and cataloging root beer. Not that I’m complaining, of course, since the little guys is pretty entertaining all on his own. Besides, one of these days, when he’s older, he and I can head down to BrewBakers to make root beer together and thus make root beer a multi-generational/family kind of thing instead of just dad’s weird obsession (not that root beer is weird; only the obsessive levels at which I regard it). 

Baker-by-training and food-broker-by-trade Dennis Midden got caught up in the budding craft brewing movement of the 90s and decided to open a unique kind of brewery where customers could bud their own brewing craft. Not satisfied with just that, Midden also decided that he would utilize his expertise with wheat and barley to convert the freshly spent grains in the brewing process – otherwise discarded and wasted – to bake bread at the same time the tipple is brewing. From the merging of Midden's passions, BrewBakers was born in 1996.

Gets you where you wanna go.

Here, customers can choose from anywhere between 80 to 100 craft beer formulations, or develop their own, and cook it all up in one of BrewBakers 6 26-gallon brew kettles, each named for one of Midden's 6 brothers.

The got a party growin'

Two weeks of fermentation later, customers return to complete the sugar-carbonation process (in the meantime, they get to take home a loaf of bread made from their own brew's spent grains) and bottle their concoctions at one of BrewBakers' 4 bottling stations (each named for one of Midden's 3 sisters and his wife Linda), which they'll leave for another week to carbonate before coming back to custom label their bottles. All the while Midden makes somewhere around 15 varieties of bread (pretzel rolls!) which he'll either sell in his shop or deliver to local businesses (along with their custom brews) in his restored vintage Helm's Bakery coach (sources: 1, 2).

Not a Woody, but still a goodie.

And as great of a story as this already is, we of course wouldn't be talking about BrewBakers if not for these:

Two root beers for every Pooj!

In addition to the DIY beer facilities, as alluded to in the first paragraph above, BrewBakers also lets customers try their hands at soda-making (a birthday party for the child is happening here at some point, mark my words). Midden also supplies custom root beer formulations for local businesses, just as he does with craft brews – we’ve actually already had a taste of his handiwork, since BrewBakers makes root beer for Twohey's house label. Surf City, our subject for today, is BrewBakers’ own label root beer.

First of all, Surf City Root Beer does not taste like Twohey’s Root Beer, which suggests that business-specific root beer recipes are, in fact, proprietary. I may be wrong, so there may need to be a SCIENCE! post devoted to a comparison later (much later, given the aforementioned back-log…). The scent from the bottle is slightly acidic and slightly yeasty (though the first ingredient is carbonated water, which seems to imply that sugar fermentation isn’t used to carbonate their sodas – more on that later), and otherwise generically root-y. 

Right after I took a swig, the bottle bubbled-over, so there is a real, soft, foamy head to speak of. Most likely this comes from the inclusion of maltodextrin in the ingredients, commonly used for head retention and smoothness in sodas – it works well, seeing as the head even stays in a glass for a long time. The maltodextrin may also be responsible for giving the beverage some body despite its HFCS sweetening. Raw honey is also included, though not particularly apparent in the flavor, but which probably helps the maltodextrin in providing said body. I also think the maltodextrin’s starchiness might be where the yeasty smell and taste originate, given that there’s probably no actual yeast used in the brewing process.

Only the vanilla, listed relatively low in the ingredients, seems to have had a noticeable effect on the flavor, which isn’t particularly distinctive on the whole. There is a slightly spicy herbal aftertaste that coats the sides of the tongue, but again, the flavor is fairly generic. Since this is a small batch brew, there might actually be quite some variation between one bottling and the next – I would be curious to see if this is the case in subsequent productions. For now though, Surf City Root Beer rates a high 3.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pseudo-SCIENCE: Cooking with Root Beer

As much as I like root beer, it's somewhat surprising that it's taken me this long to use it as a cooking ingredient. It's not for lack of suggested uses available on the interwebs, what with all the root beer bbq sauces, roast enhancers, and cocktails out there. Perhaps it has something to do with not wanting to dilute the full root beer effect, opting to experience my root beer in pure form? Or maybe it's my lackluster response to other root beer-inspired/flavored/what-have-you items that I've sampled in the past.

But wait no longer! Thanks to the wonderful folks over at Serious Eats, I'm now sufficiently inspired to go to the store to pick up some ingredients. I present to you Root Beer Sherbet:

Stand back; churning in progress.

I used Steelhead Spicy Draft as my base, since it has a stronger flavor and has little carbonation to muck with the mixing and churning process.  Since I didn't have enough corn syrup on hand, I added more sugar and a little more Steelhead, but I'm thinking that might have made the finished product a little too sweet.

Sassafras and horehound drop garnish optional.

The finished product basically tastes like a root beer float, which should come as no surprise. Next time, I'm going to try using Anacapa. Eventually I'll try making Serious Eats' actual DIY root beer recipe, but I'm not quite that ambitious yet...

Wonderful World of Root Beer: Cariboo

The Pooj gets run over by a reindeer.
(Steamworks Brewing Co., Vancouver – June 2012)

Cariboo is part of Pacific Western Brewing Co, established in 1957 in Prince George, BC on a fresh water spring. Originally called Caribou Brewing, it claims title as the longest-running BC-based Canadian brewery, as well as title for first Canadian brewer to export to China (1991) and Russia (1996). Although it's now just one line of many Pacific Western products, it still does hold additional significance in that each case of Cariboo-label product sold results in a new tree planted in the Cariboo Regional District (presumably near Cariboo bottling plant). So far 150,000 trees have sprouted (and a lot of beer ingested....), part of an eventual goal to plant 1 million by 2020 (source). No comment thus far from Canada's collective liver...

This was the first uniquely Canuck brew I came across during our brief jaunt to the Great White North a couple summers ago (not the first Canadian root beer I've ever had; just the first encountered during the trip), so I'm pleased that it's a local brew. It's also the first root beer I've encountered so far that actually has ABV (albeit just a small amount only 0.5%), harkening back to the days when root beer was still called small beer and was still fermented like beer beer. Does the retained alcohol, however, positively affect root beer?

Positive or not probably depends more on what your feelings are regarding beer beer. I, myself, am not really a fan of the taste of beer (which is not to say I'm not fascinated by the process of making beer, and the endless variations of beer that can come about just by making small changes to that process), which might make the presence of the alcohol in Cariboo more pronounced to me than to others more accustomed to the taste. Though it does taste a little yeasty, the "beer" flavor is actually more in the smell and aftertaste (which is also slightly acidic, slightly sour), and in the slight alcohol sting in the throat, than in the "root beer" flavor itself, so I wouldn't say it's that prominent. However, it may also seem more prominent to a non-beer-beer drinker like myself because the root beer flavor isn't particularly prominent by comparison – some notes of birch and molasses, but otherwise generic.

The yeast fermentation process does have one clear benefit: head. While not as foamy as a typical beer, the head builds up to a pretty decent amount of medium-sized bubbles before it dissipates in the time it takes to drink the first couple ounces (a few minutes, depending on how fast you drink). Given the opportunity, I would like to give it another shot – since my can of Cariboo is a year and a half old, there may be some loss in flavor. At the very least, there is a metallic smell that might come more from the fact that it has been sitting in its can for so long than anything else. For now, Cariboo Root Beer gets a low 3.