It's summer time, and that means it's time for summer foods. It is time for pots of green beans, fresh tomatoes, strawberry shortcake, corn on the cob, and on and on. Summertime truly features the best of seasonal foods.
But there are also summer drinks. Lemonade is, of course, one of the most popular. Mexican beers also seem to taste particularly good in the summer. The New York Times has a taste test up of another of my favorite summer drinks - root beer. A jug of cold root beer at the fair was a summer highlight my entire childhood (even if it warmed up and lost all appeal halfway through). The times rates 25 root beers and an old favorite, IBC, comes in at #2. I've never tried the #1, Sprecher, but I would like to.
The article itself mentions that many people love root beer, but many also loathe it. Perhaps it is the list of ingredients that produce such strong reactions:
Originally, root beers were more like herbal teas, bitter infusions of roots, vines, herbs and spices, including sarsaparilla, sassafras and licorice. Nowadays, the basic components include anise, wintergreen and vanilla, with the addition, perhaps, of flavors like ginger, cloves and mint. At times, the tasting felt almost like analyzing a medicine cabinet, and indeed, one of the components of the IBC aroma was described by a taster as liniment, no doubt from wintergreen.Well, count me as a root beer lover. I'm going out for lunch, and a frosty mug sounds pretty tasty right now.