I remember the glory days; back in the late 1980’s, when we used to be able to buy root beer in McDonald’s. We used to go skateboarding, and always choose root beer to accompany our meal if ever we went to Ronald’s.
But root beer proved too bizarre a taste for the staid British market, and soon enough it was impossible to buy any from Maccies. Around that time, I embarked on a long personal veto on visiting the burger clown (for several reasons, not just the drinks).
Eventually root beer started cropping up in some super markets, and with the arrival of American sweet shops cans of the stuff were available again. It was like repealing prohibition, but prices were high.
Root beer is essentially a non-alcoholic (despite the name) fizzy drink. It’s never quite translated well over here, unlike many of it’s soda compatriots.
To be fair, it is something of an acquired taste. I’ve previously described root beer as tasting similar to Dandelion & Burdock with a whiff of Germolene. It’s often compared to mouthwash.
Yet I (and many of my friends) have developed a love of the sweet fizzy stuff. Perhaps it’s the thrill of the rare and exotic. More likely, it the fact that root beer was featured in US comics, films and TV – so just like Twinkies they became a part of a fascinating pop culture.
And don’t forget that classic British skate punk band The Stupids were known to refer to it (see “Root Beer Death” on the Van Stupid album).
Top of the crop is A&W Root Beer. I remember trying this for the first time on my trips to the USA some while ago. I probably tried a few different brands, but this is the only one I recall. This brew is smooth, not too fizzy and not too sweet. Unfortunately it’s usually only available at a premium price from specialist sweet shops.
A cheaper option, also from a US sweet shop, was the Day’s root beer. This only came in at just under a quid. However, it’s not quite the quality drink that A&W offer.
Another choice is Carters Refreshing Root Beer. This can be purchased much more cheaply, in packs of six from your local Asda. However, this version is cloyingly sweet to the novice, and not as mellow a taste. Still, for the price and ease of purchase it’s worth checking out.
So there you have it: a synopsis of my love of root beer. An under appreciated and derided beverage, it beats a cup of tea any day. ‘Cos I hate tea, me.