Try a delicious Tommyknocker Root Beer
Last weekend, I created a new tab for root beer here on the ol’ blog. Figured I might as well make use of it, huh? Anyway, turns out there are quite a few “gourmet” root beers out there, all made with real cane sugar which, as far as I’m concerned, is a must in any soda. After discovering and reviewing Jones Root Beer, I was eager to try more. My local market carries quite a few, so I picked up one called Tommyknocker. Tommyknocker also makes a few tasty beers, and they use all natural, organic ingredients, including Tahitian Vanilla Extract and pure Maple Syrup. I have no idea what Tahitian Vanilla is, but real vanilla is one of the world’s truly great under-appreciated flavors. And how can you go wrong with real maple? Besides, it’s named after a creature from Celtic myth, which is certainly a way to my heart.
The Tommyknocker did not disappoint. Like a good ale, the pleasure comes in waves, beginning with the nose, proceeding through waves of flavor, and ending with a bit of an aftertaste. I drank it from the bottle, so I’ll have to skip the usual description of the pouring experience. The maple scent is pleasantly present as soon as the bottle is opened, and the taste is the most evident in the waves of flavor that follow when sipped. The vanilla is more subtle, but it balances the other flavors beautifully. Seriously, the real vanilla and natural maple combine to create a truly pleasant experience. More, with the real cane sugar, it’s not as sticky or overly sweet as corn-sweetened sodas can be. As a matter of fact, I’d go so far as to call Tommyknocker Root Beer one of the very best sodas I’ve ever tried. It is not, however, a good root beer.
I’m not sure I can describe what root beer tastes like. You either know it, or you don’t. There’s the liquorice/sassafras twang made delicious with the vanilla finish. From A&W to IBC to Braq’s to Jones, there’s a continuum of flavor — an almost indefinable essence of root beerness — that they all share in common, even while each stakes out a spot of individual distinction. Tommyknocker doesn’t seem to fit in that spectrum. It’s a neighbor, sure, but one that lives a few blocks away. With Tommyknocker, the root beer flavor seems almost like an afterthought, something added to balance the maple and vanilla. It might almost be closer to a cream soda, although it’s still a block or two from that street, too.
That’s not necessarily a complaint, mind. Tommyknocker is delicious and refreshing, and the quality of its ingredients are very apparent in the well crafted recipe. I guess Tommyknocker Maple Vanilla soda would have been too hard a sell? Tommyknocker may not be root beer, exactly, but it is mighty tasty and well worth a try. Whatever the heck it is.
On a related note, I found a variety of A&W made with the real cane sugar at Kitsch’n 155, which also happens to serve one of the very best burgers I’ve ever tried — made with high quality, local organic ingredients, and at fast food prices. It’s a new favorite. But I digress. The difference between the cane sugar A&W and the regular stuff you get at a gas station or grocery store is night and day. I’m telling you, there is something to this real sugar soda stuff. If you can find it, give it a try. It really does make a difference.