Here we go! I love root beer. Even as an adult, I can’t enough of the stuff. But I’ve since graduated from the HFCS A&Ws, Barqs, Mugs, and onto the finer Virgil’s, Boylans, and various Orca beverages. Heck I even brewed a few bottles of my own (without much success due to not having sassafras). Anyhow I’m excited to get started as this head-to-head contains two things I love dearly – ROOT BEER + ALCOHOL!
1) Root Beer Schnapps – Phillips Distilling Co.,15% ABV – 750ml, (Princeton, MN, USA), $21.50 CAD @ BCLiquor Stores
- Ingredients: water, sugar, alcohol, natural flavour, citric acid, glycerin, colour
- technically a “liqueur” since it has sugar added
- cheap bottle, plastic cap, gaudy sticker label
- the recipe on the back says it all:
2) Root Beer Liqueur – Blackmaker Brand – White Rock Distilleries, 35% ABV – 750ml, (Lewiston, MN, USA), $29 (w/ 10% off) CAD @ Sherbrooke (EDM)
- HEAVY duty bottle, coat of arms on the back, classy artistic label
- ingredients include: ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and sweet birch (via BevMo)
Nose: Phillips has sarsaparilla/caramel that you typically find in sodas; alcohol detection surfaces in the mid to finish. Light-medium pungency, clean, not offensive. Blackmaker (BM), wow huge burnt caramel/toffee, cinnamon, clove, almost nutty, with birch poking through in the finish. Med-high tingly alcohol nasal burn, bearable. Phillips = stereotypical root beer soda, BM = naturally spiced caramel. Phillips is much more approachable, BM is way more complex.
Taste & Texture: 1st sip of Phillips, big sugar rush… Lighter viscosity, compounding sugars each subsequent sip. Tastes pretty much as it smells, but cut abruptly by the cloying sweetness and alcoholic warmth. Definitely not a sipper. BM is in an entirely different class. Thicker but not syrupy, the flavours come in alternating waves of spices and alcoholic warmth. Lots of spices here including cinnamon, clove, birch, ginger, licorice/anise, caramel, fading out with lots of alcoholic throat warmth. The sweetness is well masked by the torrent of spices and high ABV but you can feel the sugars tingling on your teeth. Not good if you’re prone to cavities. Still, perceived sweetness is much, much lower than Phillips. Phillips = light root beer+SUGAR, BM = spices+alcohol HEAT
- Blackmaker for sophisticated, flavourful cocktails
- Phillips for “Root Beer Barreling” (shot dropped into beer, chug), batch cocktails
WINNER = Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur