Non Alcoholic Beers
I'll start with root beer and try to describe what I can remember of differing brands.
1. A&W Root Beer. It was agreed on by everyone in the family that the gallon glass jug from A&W restaurants had the best root beer, and that it was best served in an ice-cold, frost covered A&W mug. The soda pop was sweet with a combination of flavors that included primarily wintergreen, and brown sugar. Not a lot of people understand that carbonated water has a flavor, almost a salty/sour flavor. That flavor combined with the wintergreen and brown sugar gave A&W a very sweet, almost syrupy flavor. What comes in the bottles and cans isn't quite the same as what you got in the gallon jug, but is very close.
2. Dad's Root Beer. Very similar in flavor to A&W, but toned down just a bit, as if not as much flavor concentrate was used in the recipe, or maybe less root beer syrup.
3. Frosty Root Beer - As good tasting as A&W, but with more of the brown sugar flavor and less of the wintergreen. Tasted great when ice cold and it's hot outside. Great in a float.
4. Mug Root Beer - Pretty much the same as Dad's Root Beer.
5. Barque's Root Beer - My eldest daughter, and her hubby love this stuff. I find it has a bit less flavor that Frosty's, or A&W. It is a quality root beer.
6. Shasta Root Beer - not as good as is their cream soda, but good on a hot day, and cheap. Again, it's not as full bodied as my two favorites.
7. Hire's Root Beer - It seems a Mr. Hires happened upon a flavorful tea while on his honeymoon. He figured out a recipe for this tasty tea and added carbonation. It was made of a host of berries, roots, barks, and tree buds. Hire's Root Beer, strangely enough, is the brand I like least.
Sassafras, a wintergreen flavored ingredient, was the main flavor of root beer, but was banned in the U.S. in 1960 as a carcinogen. It was discovered how to remove the oil from the sassafras root, with was the problem child, and the recipe was saved.
If you've never tried it, next spring, when the birch trees are budding, collect some and steep them in hot water to make a tea. Add a little sugar and see if it doesn't have a wintergreen flavor.
Next time you crack a bottle of A&W, pour just a little into a glass and agitate until it's flat. Take a sip and let it roll around in your mouth for a minute and you will find that it tastes like wintergreen breath fresheners.
Ginger ales, and ginger beers can be either alcoholic, or not, and are very potent drinks that have medicinal qualities that aid in calming the stomach. Someone else can talk about those. My youngest daughter loves ginger beer, teh non-alcohlic version. 'Tis a strong flavored beverage indeed.
Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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