Other Brews

Fentimans Curiosity Cola

coke2Curiosity may have killed the cat, but Curiosity Cola resurrected the cola!  And with that being said, this is absolutely more of a cola than a root beer, despite some good root beer ingredients such as ginger root and juniper.  I am admittedly not a cola expert, or really a fan for that matter, but I love the quality of the other Fentiman’s products so I decided to give this a try, and I really like it!  The quality is immediately apparent . . . above and beyond the colas found on the supermarket shelves across.  I don’t really know how to compare it, like I would a root beer, but I can tell that there is quality in this brew.

I really do like the yeasty undertones in this brew, similar to the Bundaberg Root Beer I  tasted not too long ago.  If I remember correctly, the yeast taste was stronger in the Bundaberg than it is in the Fentimans, but similar nonetheless.

The bottom-line is that anything that combines fermentation, botanical and herbal items gives a level of sophistication that isn’t found in a 99 cent bottle of cola.

The Professor’s Grade:  B +

Fentimans Dandelion & Burdock

Fentimans DandelionEver since seeing this stuff on a Galco’s Soda Shop Youtube video (http://youtu.be/gPbh6Ru7VVM),  I knew I had to get my hands on this.  And from time to time I do review brews other than root beer, but just for argument sake . . . I would say that this Dandelion and Burdock brew is actually a root beer.  Consider some of the ingredients . . .

  • Fermented ginger root, dandelion root, burdock root and aniseed flavor.

That’s a whole lot of “root” going on not to be considered a root beer.

The fermented and ethanol flavors provide a strong but subtle backdrop to each and every sip of this botanically brewed soda.  If you’re not sure what botanical brewing is, in the spring of 2015 I will be offering an in-depth look in my ”Brewing 101″ class.  In the mean-time please check out Fentiman’s own explanation . . . which I must say is a slight bit lacking. According to their web-site,

Botanical brewing is a simple process involving herbs and plant roots. Thomas Fentiman’s original recipe involved milling ginger roots before tumbling them into copper steam jacketed pans and leaving them to bubble and simmer releasing all their flavour. The finest herbs, natural flavourings, sugar, brewer’s yeast and fresh spring water were then added to the liquid which was transferred into wooden vats where it was left to ferment.

The ginger, dandelion, burdock, pear juice and aniseed combine to make a really delicious mix, although I don’t find that each flavor is distinguishable on it’s own.  The overall brew (including the flavor) is very light, and the carbonation is very light.  The flavor is not all that different from a root beer and yet at the same time is unlike any other root beer I’ve tasted . . . does that even make sense??  Well, it makes sense to the professor, and that’s all that matters!

The Professor’s Grade:  A -

Dublin Dr. Pepper vs. Regular Dr. Pepper

drpepperLet’s get this out of the way . . . Dr. Pepper is a root beer, albeit an inferior brand (as is Moxie, but we’ll get to that in another review).  So, I’m going to classify this as an “other”, but it’s a root beer knock-off . . . plain and simple.  Dublin Dr.Pepper is no longer made, and because of that simple fact I recently bought two cases of this dying soda.  I wanted to own a little piece of history, and maybe pass along some of my good luck to people desparate to have the last of this special bottle.

Let’s get to the review – I didn’t want to simply sip the Dublin out of the bottle and get all caught up in the hype and nostalgia (as my 10 year old son did).  I wanted to be fair and square and drink the modern version and the Dublin side by side out of plastic cups.

My co-professor and I both did this, and to be completely frank, the taste was very similar.  I’d be equally happy drinking an occassional Dr. Pepper whether it be of the Dublin or the Snapple variety.  But although they were similar, there was a difference.  The Dublin was smoother, creamier and had much less of a bite.  I actually felt like the Snapple version had a bit more “in your face” Dr. Pepper flavor.  The modern version kind of out “Dr. Peppered” the original.

But to be honest, my co-professor and I got uttlerly confused during our blind taste test.  She ultimately guessed wrong, and then based on her wrong conclusion, my conclusion went even futher down the toilet hole.  Sort of like what happened to Adam and Eve in the garden.  All the women’s fault . . . of course.  But the truth be told, we couldn’t really determine which was the Dublin.

If I wasn’t tasting this blind, I would undoubtedly choose the Dublin – pure cane sugar always beats out high fructose corn syrup.  And it’s just cool to drink out of an 8oz. glass bottle from Dublin, Texas.  But honestly as far as taste goes, I don’t think the Dublin blows the regular out of the water.  Both were pretty good.

The Professor’s Decision:  A Draw