Monday, May 22, 2006

Natural Does Not Mean Good

After decades of direct experience with that axiom I must say that it holds true. Some things labeled "natural" are quite good, while many others using that label are not tasty at all. This is the case with Natural Brew Hand Crafted Root Beer. It falls into my "not good" category. The label states that it is a "complex flavor of sweet birch, licorice root, sarsaparilla, cinnamon, clove, anise and wintergreen." Complexity does not necessarily make for a tasty beverage and in this case it certainly held true for me. The taste which we normally identify as Root Beer, specifically "Draft" Root Beer, which Natural Brew claims to be is almost totally lacking here. The flavours of sarsaparilla, licorice and the other ingredients combine to make a taste which is not pleasant, in my opinion.

The brewers of Natural brew make a note to tell the consumer that they add pure vanilla to their product...unfortunately that vanilla, like any Root Beer flavour it may have possessed is lost amidst the jumble of the other mismatched flavours in the Brew. While I am certain that this drink has many fans out there, otherwise they would not continue to make it, I am never going to be one of those folks. Sorry.

One the props side, tho Natural Brew does have a nice head, decent mouthfeel and nice carbonation. The cloying quality of the aftertaste tends to put me off, as well. Since this brew comes from the Smucker Company I can feel comfortable in saying that this is more mass produced swill. And not very good swill at that. It's a bad use of ingredients.

Sparkling Filtered Water
Evaporated Cane Juice
Natural Flavors
Caramel Color
Vanilla Extract
Phosphoric Acid
Licorice Root and Sarsaparilla Root Extracts

Carbonation: Fine with a bit of a bite
Mouth Feel: A bit of creaminess
Root Beer Flavour: Not even remotely. What small hint of Draft Root Beer Flavour that exists is covered up the hodgepodge of flavours from the other ingredients. Too much sarsaparilla, as well.
Aroma: It smells like it tastes. There's no easily identifiable Root Beer scent here.
Head: Natural Brew has a nice head. That's a mark in the plus column.
Aftertaste: A cloying sweetness that just lasts for entirely too long a period.
Overall: Unpleasant to my taste buds and not something I plan on revisiting any time soon. This is not a good Root Beer.

Natural Brew gets a 2/10 an F

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Anonymous said...

What a stupid hick! You must LOVE Franzia and Boone's Hill! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

You probably think Country Crock Margarine tastes better than butter, too!

I bet you hate to drink water, right? Mountain Dew is your favorite drink.
You LOVE country music!


Michael said...

Wow. Such an intellect. You folks need to stop swimming in the shallow end of the gene pool.
FYI, to. I prefer butter and never use margarine. I do keep Smart Balance spread on hand due the health benefits. I don't drink alcohol, altho I do "taste" beers upon occasion. For cooking I prefer Merlot and Pinot Grigio and will admit to a fondness for the taste of Lambruscos.
I don't particularly care for water. It's nice to bathe in but that's about it. When I do drink water it is invariably Trinity, which we use for tea and coffee. It's the best bottled water on the market, bar none.
As for Mt Dew...not so much. If you had bothered to read here, or over at the Soda Pop Blog you'd see where my preferences lay.
And, as for country...I do enjoy it. But I am just as likely to be listening Bach, Brahms, WASP, Steve Earle, Avril Lavine or an entore iPods worth of music. I like music and refuse to draw arbitrary lines based upon narrow mindedness and juvenile taste.
If you'd care to post with a real name, next time someone might take you seriously...altho, I doubt it's likely.

rootbeer man said...

wow! i really like this brew.
in fact one of the best i have had.

RD said...

Ah America! Everyone's entitled to one's own opinion and can voice it! Yours I'm sure is in the minority. I happen to love this stuff! And as evidenced by it's shortage in stores, a lot of people agree with me! What do you have against Smuckers? The truth is in tasting it for yourself.

Michael said...

Everything that gets reviewed gets tasted, some more than once. This brew doesn't hold a candle to most of what's out there on the market.

Jen said...

Yeah I just had the same brand of creme soda thinking it would be good because it was in the natural foods section and I love trying different brands of creme soda. However, it is one of my least favorites. At least it was almost $2 off on sale.

Anonymous said...

Wow! This is the best Rootbeer I've had that one can buy at a grocery store. In fact this one's better than quite a few I've tried at Breweries. I can't take corn syrup and I don't like syrup in my rootbeer period. Most Rootbeers out there contain syrup and that is bad if you like real brew. I'll have to say I strongly disagree with the negative rating on this

Organic kittens are tasty! said...

Posted: December 19th, 2007

It tastes bad because your taste buds are totally fried from the junk you've grown up on. Your body has adapted to high-fructose corn syrup, cheap fillers, and tons of chemical additives! Yeah, a cheap chemically altered sweetner! Yum! Bleh!

For true root beer taste this brand is one of the best. Next might be Virgil's natural brew.. and then Santa Cruz's organic root beer.

Once you get off the chemical tastes and cleanse your senses you'll soon be able to taste the difference between good root beer and bad. And "real" root beer versus cheap mass marketed crap. It's not a matter of taste so much as it is a sense or realism and being true. Big corporate marketing has done a good job of making people think they know what's good for them!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

No, the reviewer is dead on. I just tried this brand and it is awful. Tastes nothing like rootbeer, and no I don't mean the mass produced high fructose corn syrup brand tastes (ala A&W, Hires, Barqs (not even root beer) or mug). This just tastes horrible. I agree that Virgil's is very still has that slight licorice taste, but still tastes mainly like how root beer should, Bulldog and Henry Winehards are also excellent (organic sugar cane). Whoever "Organic Kittens are tasty" is, is a moron however, "a sense oF realism" I think is what you meant to write, and even that doesn't make any sense. Like something has a notion of being true? "Hmm, certainly looks and smells true...but IS it?" Prick.
Yes, sugar syrup is bad for you, but just because NATURAL BREW cane juice doesn't stop this from tasting like watery molasses. It doesn't taste like root beer. Primarily missing is SASSAFRAS!! You know, the plant from which the root of "root beer" is derived?? Sarsaparilla is not the same thing at all. Natural Brew is nasty.

Anonymous said...

I was searching google for the benefits of sarsaparilla when I found this site. Most sodas destroy your teeth because they are acidic and I heard sarsaparilla was less harsh on your tooth enamel. Other than that I have to defend A & W. A&W used to have a chain of drive-ins that sold draft root beer that was sooooooooooo good and this is the best root beer I have ever tasted in my life. Most of the drive ins have closed down. Kind of sad.

Vincent said...

There are many small companies that have a parent company and the parent company does not always have anything to do with the production of the small company product. This is one of the best root beers available along with Virgil's, Boylan's and Sprecher. And, again, you don't know how to taste. When you taste wine do you say it has a good wine-sort-of-taste?

Anonymous said...

I really don't mind this root beer at all. I like that fact that it doesn't have a whole bunch of un-named flavors added to it. It's quite smooth and was what I was hoping for when I got it. Virgil's is also good. But If anyone wants to try the best stuff. 1919 Root beer from Schell's Brewery in New Ulm, MN is the best I have found. They are still family owned, and produce in small batches. Originally made during the prohibition it still is the best. They don't bottle it, it has to be draft. They serve it in most bars in New Ulm and locally around that area. Best there is, tops!

Anonymous said...

Now, seriously, why does everyone hate this brand so much? I, myself, consider this the VERY BEST brand of Root Beer. I consider it to be absolutely perfect. If you like stuff like "Mug" over this, then that's your problem. :-S

Anonymous said...

Ok I just drank my third one of these...Not because I like it but because I paid FAR too much for it and I hate wasting money. It doesn't taste like rootbeer and it reminds me of rotten fermented scottish ale. Yes I taste various things but I'm not sure what. At least the other mass produced chemical compounds called rootbeer taste MUCH better then this. I'm now drinking a Point Root Beer to kill the taste. I may need a vodka chaser. Seriously don't drink this stuff because you've gone organic..just find a different natural type. This stuff sux. You've been fore warned!

Anonymous said...

I just tried this stuff. I dont know if I got a bad bottle but it had no head at all. Very thin. It didnt taste horrible but it didnt taste like root beer either. Try a Hansen's Natural. Complex but not overwhelming, tastes like root beer! Call me a purist.

Xavier Ninnis said...

I agree, approximately, halfway with the reviewer here. The ingredients are all there, but in proportions that are wildly "out of whack"; too much cinnamon, wintergreen (there should be no detectable taste of either, with the exception of a broad hint of wintergreen in a birch beer) and, by far, too much clove.
What I want to read is this reviewer's impression after he tries a bottle of Bundaberg's sarsaparilla (NOT their so-so root beer). So much as a peep out of him about "too much licorice" or "flavors that don't belong", and I'll know to never again take his opinion seriously.

mixtape said...

Have to agree with rootbeer man, Natural Brew is one of my all time favorites. Bums me out that you had such a bad experience with it.

dustintellier said...

Best rootbeer ever.

Baba Roots said...

Natural Brew is the best brew I have ever had. To all the root beer purists out there who say that you shouldn't be able to taste things like clove and wintergreen, I say pooey!

Root beer is about natural essences coming together into a soda. There is no one "roots beer taste" that any brew should live up to.

I'm sorry but a cold Natty Brew is just a treat. I drink them everyday and can still appreciate the complexities in every sip. I DOES taste like root beer but the finish is so long and full of excitement that I guess it throws people off.

My second fav has got to be Virgils. They happen to sell both at a Chevron gas station near my house. The natural brew was all gone within a month of its debut on shelves. No matter what people say, NBDRB is an up and coming soda that is sure to be around for a long time.

Ps, I love me some F'ing root beer.

Anonymous said...

Its very good.. i think your palate is off.

Anonymous said...

But what you fail to notice are the subtle hints of wintergreen, and the robust vanilla taste. The problem that you have with this rootbeer is that you can't detect your good ol' rootbeer flavor, the "blanket" of which you must always go back to. Ever thought there might be more to the taste than just some rootbeer flavoring? Seriously. This is one of the best brews I've had, and I don't see why a root beer expert such as yourself can't detect the sophistication in the flavor.

Anonymous said...

Oh man!!!! I bought this thinking it might be good. But it tastes like carbonated cough syrup!!!!! its Horrible!!!!

Anonymous said...

Way high in the rockies. We think its great. Always willing to try different root brews. Had a really good one the other day in Lyons,Co. Little ice cream soda fountain place. Owner makes it himself. We really liked it. I think if a brew is made with out corn squeezins thats good, if made with real natural ingredients even better. Try beet sweetend rootbeer, very different. Amish rootbeer is really good. God bless AMERICA!