Brand: H-E-B Old Fashioned Root Beer
Location: San Antonio, TX
Purchased at: H-E-B
Container: 12 oz clear glass bottle
Sold in packs of: Six
Date Reviewed: August 17, 2015
Color: Dark brown
Nose: Wintergreen, with a hint of vanilla and maple notes
Fizz: Large bubbles
Flavor notes: Maple sugar, a general spiciness, licorice
Commentary: H-E-B Old Fashioned pours with a decent head that hangs out a little bit, a reflection of its large, prominent bubbles. The fizz is strong but not overly aggressive. The body is pretty full; there is little wateriness to the taste. The nose is of a standard profile, that of “wintergreen with some other hints,” but this does not really suggest how the flavor ends up profiling. In the nose, maple is present but mild. On the tongue, maple sugar is the single most prominent flavor. There is a general but undistinguished spiciness – it does a decent job of cutting the sweetness of the maple lead, but it was hard to figure out what tastes were doing the job. Almost a very mild peppery taste, perhaps. There was also a pretty good licorice taste, but it only showed up for me near the bottom of the glass, as if the liquid needed to warm a little before that taste could be evoked.
Summary: Considering it’s a grocery store brand, I think H-E-B Old Fashioned did very well, although obviously it’s the “prestige” grocery store brand rather than the generic stuff that shows up in a 2-liter plastic bottle. Even still, though, managing to generate a root beer that almost perfectly nails the fizz – making it prominent without making it harsh – and isn’t watery is fairly impressive. The flavor profile is a little less impressive, unfortunately – the biggest problem being that there is very little rootiness present at all. Instead, the profile starts with a mapley, maybe slightly burnt sweetness and then dumps generic spice on top in the hopes that the two will even out. Amazingly, this JUST about works – it’s a very drinkable soda on the whole – but a careful breakdown is difficult, which makes the whole thing seem a bit muddled. Still, I can’t say I disliked the experience. It’s an above-average root beer, if not by a lot.