Friday, 2 March 2018

Rooting Around For Bloody Loose Change

Oh, you never see me at the club? I never see you at the bank.

Actually I'm never at the former and only rarely at the latter, because I join most of the country, and I believe much of the craft beer drinking demographic, in not having a lot of money.

Two weeks ago I set out to shout about nicely-priced craft beers, at around £2 a bottle to £3 a can, and after being briefly benched from the craft beer game with bronchitis (please, in lieu of flowers send cheques made out to CASH, it's what I would have wanted) I'm back with a bottle of Weird Beard Brew Co's Roots Bloody Roots red root beer in front of me.

With the obligatory few listens to Sepultura ringing in this reporter's ears, it's time to dig these roots up.

A light behind the slender 330ml bottle reveals sedimentary boulders slowly tumbling in the russet liquid; a yeasty wasteland that absolutely must remain in the bottle. This is going to be one for a slow pour.

But before the slow and steady pour comes the cracking of the cap, and as the skull-adorned crown falls to the table the scent of wintergreen and smoke rises to the senses. This is root beer with boots on. It cracks its knuckles as it puts on its doctor's coat because this beer smells medicinal and you're going to take your medicine and shut up.

The glass soon fills, slowly, with misty amber liquid. In ambient light it looks like a dust-blown desert sky immediately after a sandstorm, and when lit from behind takes on the ruddy hue one would expect from the name. I notice that a tiny amount of yeast has slipped in, despite my apparently-not-steady-enough hand, but I can't taste it as I take my first mouthful.

What I taste is a thunder-roll of herbs and spices as the rooty tastes of wintergreen and sarsaparilla quickly take residence in the mouth and begin writing their name on the walls. It tastes as medicinal as it smells, but having almost gone half past dead with the irritating cough I've had this is a welcome flavour.

All jokes about my dramatic illness aside, this drink is honestly invigorating to someone who hasn't slept well in about a week, hasn't been eating properly and still is trying to cough up about a litre of what feels like cement.

The scent from the glass, by this point less than half full on account of this reporter's enthusiasm, is more of the same strong wintergreen scent, while the taste at this point is beginning to show more of the liquorice root, especially in the long, luxuriant aftertaste.

At £2.30 a bottle this is a decently priced beer, and at 3.7% abv it isn't a strong beer, but seems to have a warming sensation beyond the capabilities of its alcoholic volume and in defiance of its pale nature.

It needs to be said that this is going to be a polarising beer. A real one-or-five star split, and as the final mouthful of what I know many people will describe as "mouthwash" washes down, I am in the five star camp.

Is this root beer as the originators would have intended? Is this what the sarsaparilla that cowboys ask for in the old Westerns would have tasted like? Don't ask me, I just work here. But it's a warming, weird beer that hits the medicinal spot on a frozen afternoon, when its drinker really needs a shot in the arm so he can make it down to the pub in about an hour.

Now if someone could write me a prescription for some more medicinal beer that would be great.

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