Location: Glendale, WI
Purchased at: Spec’s
Container: 16 oz brown glass bottle
Sold in packs of: Four
Date Reviewed: February 15, 2015
Color: Dark brown
Sweetener: Glucose syrup and raw Wisconsin honey
Nose: Earthy – sort of like clay, with a hint of woodchips – and a little peppery, with a possible whiff of nutmeg
Fizz: Small bubbles
Flavor notes: Warm sugar; mild mint with a hint of vanilla
Commentary: Sprecher has small, fairly mild bubbles, so it pours with a relatively short head that initially appears solid but dissipates quickly. The nose and flavor seem to be completely at odds. The nose, strangely, smells almost like earth – clay soil, perhaps, and a bit like wood – with an undertone of black pepper and a slight suggestion of nutmeg. This earthiness may reflect the raw honey used in the soda’s production. Once sipped, however, any oddness vanishes. In fact, the flavor profile of the root beer itself lacks a good deal of character – I had some difficulty picking out many distinct flavors at all. The mint flavor is light and mild; there is a suggestion of vanilla but not much more. The predominant flavor, if there can be said to be one, is probably warm sugar. The pepper and nutmeg notes seemingly promised by the nose, which would have been welcome in a root beer whose flavor profile is otherwise pretty much just “sweet,” are nowhere to be found – nor, more surprisingly given the the prominent inclusion, is there any obvious taste of honey. In many ways this feels more like a “dark cream soda” than a true root beer. The mouthfeel is moderately creamy and the body decent, but this can’t cover the overall lack of flavor.
Summary: In many ways, Sprecher reminds me of Stewart’s, with its light mintiness and strong sugar profile. Sprecher, perhaps by dint of not being produced by a major corporation, is a bit fuller, with less of that watery taste. But when it comes to the actual flavor, Sprecher is all the more disappointing for what it promises, with a rather curious nose belying a completely undistinguished taste profile. The label also suggests that there will be “a host of aromatic botanicals,” but it wasn’t clear to me where any of those were, aside from the mint and the hint of pepper and nutmeg in the nose. The root beer goes down smoothly enough, but where is the complexity? For the product of a microbrewery, I was disappointed. Sprecher also makes a cola that apparently contains cinnamon – shuttling even just a bit of that over here might have gone a long way.