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...