Location: Abita Springs, LA
Purchased at: Whole Foods
Container: 12 oz brown glass bottle
Sold in packs of: Six
Date Reviewed: March 6, 2015
Color: Dark brown
Sweetener: Cane sugar
Nose: Anise, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, some wintergreen
Fizz: Small bubbles
Flavor notes: Wintergreen, vanilla, hints of anise and clove, slightly bitter back end
Commentary: Abita pours with a decent head, though it never gets very high. This is initially held up by the body, which delivers a creamy mouthfeel to start, though it fades towards the bottom of the glass. The nose is robust, with not a lot of wintergreen but instead a variety of distinct spices coming through – anise, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. However, this is not entirely borne out in the actual taste of the soda. As noted, it starts off creamy, with some vanilla and a moderate but not overwhelming wintergreen flavor, as well as decent suggestions of anise and clove. Curiously, this blunted as the tasting progressed. By the bottom of the glass, the soda seemed to load sour and finish bitter, without many distinct flavor notes to appreciate (in addition to becoming more watery).
Summary: Abita passes the sip test with flying colors. After my first couple of sips I thought it could push into the A range, although there was a slight sour flavor that was holding me back. Unfortunately, it struggles on the bottle test overall, as the sour flavor seems to become increasingly prominent as consumption of the root beer progresses. The body seemed full for a few sips and then thinned out. If the flavor had stayed a bit more consistent, this could have been a high-B root beer, but by the bottom of the glass I was not particularly enjoying myself. Perhaps the impact of the sugar wears off too quickly – or is too aggressive, overloading the ability to taste sweetness and leaving the sour and bitter parts of the palate to show too strongly over the bottom half of the bottle. Whatever the reason, it’s a flaw. It’s certainly possible for a root beer to taste good all the way down. Abita, sadly, can’t seem to manage it.