Root Beer Revelation

I don’t usually read the Dining section of the NYTimes because I don’t have any money and I’m not a masochist. But today there was an eye-opener about root beer tasting, which made me want to recount my own experiences with the mysterious beverage.

As a kid I was raised on cola, encountering root beer only very sporadically at birthday parties or the like. As such I developed a vague but persistent distrust for the brew. I was (and am) addicted to sugar — and yet, as far as I was concerned, no soda should be this sweet! And what was that tangy aftertaste all about? The old timey medicine chest ring of the words “root beer” didn’t help things…exactly what “root” were they referring to? And what century did the root come from?

Finding no satisfactory answer, I embraced a staunch policy of avoiding the stuff. In situations of the absolute last resort, when even ginger ales or lemon limes were unavailable, I would not say no to a proffered Mr. Pibb or Dr. Pepper. But root beer was categorically out of the question.

Flash forward to high school. I was hanging out with a friend of mine and we had just made a trip to Jerry’s Subs and Pizza, where we each got cheese steaks of the insanely gargantuan size that only Jerry’s can furnish forth. When we got back to this kid’s house, he offered me a bottle of Stewart’s root beer. I was hesitant…

But I chugged it! Pure joy. I immediately chugged another one. It had the same root beer tang, but balanced with a happy hint of vanilla. I ended up drinking so many Stewarts’ that I didn’t have room for my continent-size heart attack sandwich. (I think I saved it for later, but that’s a waste in itself because the bread got soggy and the grease congealed…the fate of forsaken cheese steaks is not pretty) At any rate (here’s some free advertising for Stewart’s) my whole attitude about root beer was changed instantly and forever.

So Stewart’s being placed in the bottom slot of the NYTimes Top 10 list is a revelation: Wow. There are in fact better root beers out there!

— and I’m a try ’em.

ALSO It should be noted that the method of transmitting the root beer makes a huge difference. Root beer on tap is a beauty that bottles just can’t convey.

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2 Responses to “Root Beer Revelation”

  1. boilerbelle Says:

    You should try root beer served in frosted mug. THAT is going to be an eye opening experience for you.

  2. Nina Says:

    I remember when I learned that IBC root beer — which came in a very beer-like bottle — was served at the restaurants my family likes to go to. It was sometime early in high school, and I switched from coke to IBC root beer at all places with that option. My brother immediately started teasing me about drinking it just because it looked like I was drinking a beer. Whatever!! That was the point! Also, the root beer was good.

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