First Draught — Alcoholic root beer not for soda fans

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Brandon restaurant Prairie Firehouse has teamed up with Ontario organic brewery Beau’s All Natural for a six-course beer and food pairing on Feb. 22. The dinner will be featuring special organic beers by Beau’s paired up with dishes specially crafted by Prairie Firehouse that match up perfectly with each beer. Proceeds from the event go to Brandon’s Food for Thought Program. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased at Prairie Firehouse.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/02/2018 (1660 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Brandon restaurant Prairie Firehouse has teamed up with Ontario organic brewery Beau’s All Natural for a six-course beer and food pairing on Feb. 22. The dinner will be featuring special organic beers by Beau’s paired up with dishes specially crafted by Prairie Firehouse that match up perfectly with each beer. Proceeds from the event go to Brandon’s Food for Thought Program. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased at Prairie Firehouse.

Speaking of Beau’s All Natural Brewing, Beau’s own Halcyon Barrel House was rated as the fourth best new brewery in the world, according to the folks over at RateBeer.com. If a small-town rural Ontario barrel-aged brewery can make it onto RateBeer.com’s best new brewery list — it’s possible to see a Prairie brewery on that same list in a few years from now! Halcyon’s Infinity Mirror Brett IPA is now available in Manitoba, but only at the Quality Inn beer store in Winnipeg. I’m hoping to see a beer vendor here in Brandon bring this non-MLCC release beer to beer geeks here in Brandon, but I’m doubtful … so ask your favourite beer vendor to bring their beer in!

This week, I’m feeling that I might as well go for a soda. There’s an increasing variety of root beer-based beverages popping up in the Manitoba beverage scene, but unfortunately the one I was wanting to review for weeks — Not Your Father’s Root Beer — seems to be on hiatus here, but seeing that the stuff we got in Manitoba was a 4.5 per cent variety compared to 5.7 per cent that was common down in places like Minot, ND.

Hooper’s Alcoholic British Root Beer

I’ve tried just about every other alcoholic root beer product out there, but then one stood out that I’ve never tried before — Hooper’s Alcoholic British Root Beer. I’ve heard in the past that the U.K. doesn’t really ever get as much of a root beer culture as we do here in North America, so it should be interesting to try something trying to replicate an American tradition, with a U.K. vibe to it.

It appears that Hooper’s Alcoholic British Root Beer is only available in a few places in the world, and Manitoba is one of them. The root beer tops out at 4.0 per cent ABV and is brewed with a vague list of ingredients including sparkling water, “alcohol,” sugar and natural flavours. I’m not too excited to try this not knowing if this will be a malt based beverage or a vodka/rum based beverage.

Hooper’s Root Beer pours like a typical root beer. I should’ve put my mug in the freezer to give it that frothy A&W vibe to it, but I wasn’t thinking about it when I chose this for my review. It pours a hefty dark brown with a bit of a cherry red hue to it, a mild amount of carbonation, and a light amount of yellowish beige head on top.

The aroma reminds me of one of my least favourite sweets in the world — black licorice. It’s quite a sweet beverage of unknown ingredients but the initial notes of licorice is never a good sign for me. As I get past the licorice, I notice notes of cane sugar, giving it a bit of caramel, a hint of vanilla and a hint of black cherry.

The taste gives off an overly sweet and syrupy flavour that tastes like liquor licorice. There’s notes of cherry, a hefty dosage of cane sugar, a hint of some sort of herbal presence that I just can’t put my finger on. There’s a bit of a cough syrup vibe here, but it’s not as bitter as I expected from the black licorice notes I was getting before this, which is good … but what is this root beer supposed to be?

Well, to me, this reminds me of the flavour of cherry ICEEs that you get down in the States, but in syrup form. I didn’t know what sort of “alcohol” was used for this beverage before I reviewed it, and I have less of an idea now. Maybe it’s vodka? Maybe it’s a malt beverage? Maybe it’s whatever’s in the syrup?

This is overly sweet and I feel like that this is the syrup that comes in bags before being diluted at restaurants to give it the proper syrup to carbonated water ratio. The only root beer I’ve ever had in my entire life that this tastes like was a craft sugar-free root beer I had in Vermont two years ago. Aside from that, this is not a good root beer even if it was alcohol-free, this reminds me more of Dr Pepper before carbonated water is ever added.

I took my time to see if other people have reviewed this root beer before, but apparently it only seems to have a presence on the beer rated app Untappd, so I guess we may be taste testers for this product. If you like root beer, don’t buy this. If you still want to try this just to prove me wrong, you can find this at the 10th and Victoria and Corral Centre Liquor Marts for $5.26 per 500 ml bottle.

Pick up some Coney Island Root Beer instead, it’s only $2.96 per 355 ml bottle, and tastes great!

Pint rating: 1/5

» Cody Lobreau is a Canadian beer blogger who reviews every beer he can get his hands on as he believes that he should try every beer twice to get an understanding if it’s truly good or bad.

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