Friday, June 3, 2011

Review: Gale's Root Beer

Recently I took a much needed break from work to enjoy an amazing vacation with my family. We packed up the car and the kids(the car was so full we had to throw one up on the luggage rack-she didn't seem to mind too much until it started raining...) and headed out on the open road. Day four of our five day trip landed us in Astoria, Or-a hop, skip and a jump away from Seaside-a beautiful little town with a nice stretch of beach and a downtown set up specifically for tourists(particularly those with children).
Anyways, after many stops at toy stores, sweets shops, and ice cream parlors, I ended up ducking into a place that boasted a large selection of "old-fashioned sodas". I knew I was in luck. I perused the five large refrigerated display stands stocked with a large variety of sodas, and made my first selection based upon a need to try an old-fashioned brew that had as of yet eluded my grasp- Moxie Original Elixir(review coming soon). However, for my next selection, I returned to the case dedicated exclusively(!) to Root Beers. There were Root Beers of many kinds, but most of them could be found in my local grocer's aisle. I narrowed it down to a few I had never seen before, and ultimately decided upon Gales Root Beer. The fun label made it pop out at me, and I picked it up to read the fine print- a sad but charming story of Chef Gale Gand moving to England and having her "root beer supplies dry up", and how she proceeded to get a terrier, name him "Rootie"(possibly because the dog tasted like Root Beer-the world shall never know), and then make do with the ingredients she had available to her at the time. Those ingredients? Cinnamon, Vanilla, and Ginger. Upon learning of a Root Beer that was formulated with those three delicious ingredients, I became excited, and my tongue began to dance in my mouth. So I scooped the bottle up, dropped the money on the counter($4.50 for two bottles of soda? Extortion!) and absconded with my find to the car.
Later on that evening I twisted off the cap, took a whiff(cinnamon with the slight hint of vanilla sweetness), and took a big gulp- that triggered my memory of my first attempt at making a soda recipe, and a return to that awful taste and feel of too much cinnamon. I took a few more swigs, and realized that the vanilla balanced it our, and the real sugar mellowed it out enough to make it mostly palatable. It wasn't nearly carbonated enough for the flavor, and just left me with regret of plopping down $2.25 on such a half-assed concoction. My soda-loving 3 year old even turned down the opportunity to have another sip, turning down the proffered drink with a confident "No thanks, dad. That soda is icky."
I also feel like I was deceived-there was not a single hint of ginger in this brew, not a faint hint of ginger's aroma nor slight bite of it's spice. It was just...not gingery at all. I feel that cutting back on the cinnamon and increasing the ginger would have saved it, but I still wouldn't call this a root beer if I had made it. A shitty cola, yes, but not a root beer.

Packaging- 3/5
Awesome Illustration, fascinating blurb, quite unique- but labelled as Root Beer when it so clearly is not.

Taste- 3/7
It wasn't completely awful, but I made only slightly worse on my first try, and this was supposedly formulated by a chef.

Aroma- 3/5
Cinnamony and sweet-gave me hopes of a carbonated Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Soda-Loving Daughter's assessment- Icky/3

Overall- 9(icky)/20

Buy Gale's Root Beer
Sub-par soda, but not the worst. Worst root beer? By far.

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