Brand: Boots Sarsaparilla Root Beer
Location: Bellville, TX
Purchased at: Spec’s
Container: 12 oz brown glass bottle
Sold in packs of: Four
Date Reviewed: March 2, 2015
Color: Medium brown
Nose: Sarsaparilla, molasses, some fruitiness, burnt sugar
Fizz: Medium bubbles
Flavor notes: Sarsaparilla, mild cinnamon, hints of vanilla and anise, suggestion of cherry
Commentary: Boots pours with a light head – it’s practically blonde – but one that is barely even present. Nose is very different from most root beers, smelling heavily of sarsaparilla with molasses and burnt sugar components, and a mild fruitiness that put me somewhat in mind of a Dr. Pepper. This is largely echoed in the flavor, although there are some smaller notes of flavors that I would expect to find in root beer – vanilla, anise, and cinnamon. Wintergreen is nonexistent. There is a slight suggestion of cherry or a similar fruit flavor. Taste of sugar is also present. The bubbles are medium-sized but not prominent, giving the soda a fairly thin mouthfeel.
Summary: Boots lists the soda as “sarsaparilla root beer” right on the label, so I can’t be surprised that it reminds me so much of sarsaparilla. But it reminds me so little of root beer – aside from the color and some of the more minor flavor notes – that I’m not sure why they bothered using the whole name at all. What was supposed to echo root beer here? Even the color of the head has a vaguely ersatz quality – the fact that it was so light compared to the soda itself made me think of a bleached blonde whose dark roots start showing, as if this were really a sarsaparilla or cream soda trying to “pass” as root beer. In some ways, this makes Boots a very tough root beer to grade. It certainly doesn’t taste terrible. But is this even root beer? I almost feel like I was tricked into reviewing it. The question then becomes what grade I would feel comfortable giving it. Does it rank with the worst of the adequate root beers or with the best of the inadequate root beers? Well, throw in the fact that it was relatively flat and had a watery mouthfeel and I think we have an answer. It’s one thing not to taste like root beer, but you’d better at least give me something else to recommend.