Root Beer

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. P_20140907_111836

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. root

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.

Iron Maiden Trooper Beer

Heavy Metal and beer go together like strippers and payday.  Whether you’re at a gig, a club or just banging your head at home with headphones on – rocking and a good beer is a great combination.

So it comes as no surprise that the Robinson’s brewery have teamed up with metal titans Iron Maiden to create Trooper Beer.  Apparently vocalist Bruce Dickinson is a real ale aficionado, and was very keen to collaborate with the well respected brewer.  The resulting beer is named after the famous (and very mighty in its own right) Maiden tune “The Trooper”.

I’ve tried a few bottles(!), and can happily report that Trooper is a very fine beverage indeed.  It’s a rich golden colour, well crafted and full of flavour.  It’s available in boozers and supermarkets and I would definitely recommend snapping some up if/when you see it!

This doesn’t really require pointing out, but the artwork on the label is awesome.  Iron Maiden have always had great album covers, posters and son on; this label is no disappointment.  Mascot Eddie is shown as per the single cover in iconic pose.  I don’t want to throw the empties away…

Maybe we’ll get variations in the future.  “Run to the Pils(ner)” anyone?  Sorry…

Check out the Iron Maiden beer website here.

American Beer – Cheers!

Despite the well stocked Virtual Tiki Bar here at the Virtual Hot Tub, it’s not that often that I actually drink cocktails.  When I’m soaking in the virtual warm water, in reality I usually drink beer.  So it’s about time I featured some beer on this blog.

I have grown to admire American beer over the last few years.  In particular, a few of the less obvious brands that are now turning up in the UK.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Back in 2000, I made my first visit to the United States of America, after wanting to travel there for a long time.  That first trip I was introduced to Samuel Adams Boston Lager.  It was love at first taste.  Unlike other American beers I was familiar with, Sam Adams has a full flavour.  Now available in supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Morrisons, this beer is highly recommended.  I was really happy to see this beer so readily available, it’s a definite favourite.

Visit the Samuel Adams web page here.

Another bottled beer that is now available on our shores is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  This is a newer discovery for me, again it can be easily found in your local Tesco.  Sierra Nevada is no fizzy lager either, rather you’re going to experience a quality drink with character.

Visit the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale web page here.

Sierra Nevada - left, Brooklyn Lager - right

Sierra Nevada – left, Brooklyn Lager – right

Finally, we have Brooklyn Lager.  I’ve discovered this beer in the supermarkets; though now it is starting to appear in bars/restaurants, where it’s a great accompaniment to pulled pork burgers!  Described as an amber lager, this beer has a great flavour far removed from the typical US beers we’re often exposed to.  It’s easy to pick up in Tesco so give it a try – again, recommended.  If you’re lucky enough to find this beer on draught, treat yourself to a pint.  You can thank me later.

The web page for Brooklyn Brewery is here.

The USA is not a country famed for alcohol.  Prohibition?  What the hell is that all about?  And just what is a “light” beer anyway?  But these breweries are building on traditions that were long lost, delivering great tasting beer that is well worth investigating.

Iechyd Da, America!