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Chowning’s Tavern

I found Chowning’s Tavern at a local craft candy and pop store and safely acquired it, and a few other brews that I’ll be reviewing next. It’s a very interesting looking root beer, and I’m excited to try something new.

Experience Colonial Williamsburg

As I mentioned, the label on this bottle is really interesting. It definitely captures the colonial tavern artistic style, and it almost looks medicinal with its off-white background, light brown, and green coloring. By the way, it’s not a twist top.


Chowning’s Tavern® Root Beer evolved from a colonial beer made by boiling the roots of sassafras, dandelion, or licorice to extract their pungent flavors. The brew of 200 years ago was then sweetened and fermented in wooden casks.

Chowning’s Tavern is brewed and bottled by the Old Dominion Brewing Co. Finding information about them is a little difficult. According to this source, there is an Old Dominion Brewing Co., but their website has changed and I’m not sure they actually made this brew. Instead, if you research Chowning’s Tavern, you get sent to the museum of Colonial Williamsburg, where they sell the brew as an exclusive (then how did I get it?)


  • Carbonated Water
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Root Beer Extract #214
  • Root Beer Extract #79-400
  • Citric Acid
  • Sodium Benzoate—a preservative
  • Yucca
  • Vanilla

Okay. I really appreciate that they’re willing to say they’re using extracts. They’re even willing to say the specific kinds. Not only that, but we know there’s honey, yucca, and vanilla as well. I can already tell you I’m both ecstatic and surprised and ready to try this brew out. There’s probably no way, even with this information, anyone could reasonably recreate the recipe perfectly, and they know that. Kudos to them. Yeah!


There was a great hiss when I popped the top off. That’s something that’s a little bit more difficult to appreciate when you have to twist the top in your hands. Upon smelling Chowning’s Tavern, I’m immediately hit with that traditional root beer smell. It smells a little tart, but otherwise I think it’s quite normal and pleasant.

On first taste, it’s clear that there’s quite a bit of carbonation, but the carbonation it does have is relatively fine and isn’t overpowering. It’s not terribly sweet, and for the amount of sugar (42g) I would expect it to be much sweeter. Nevertheless, there’s very little bitterness and I’m digging that. The tartness that I smelled is present, but it isn’t overpowering. I could definitely drink this down pretty quickly if I wasn’t paying attention.

After a while, the carbonation doesn’t let up but the flavors mellow a bit. It’s better ice cold. It’s becoming a bit easier to taste the tartness, so I think this root beer is best enjoyed early. There’s very little aftertaste, and the aftertaste that I am experiencing is basically just traditional root beer flavor. I’ve noticed that I can definitely taste the honey, but I can’t really detect the yucca or vanilla. That’s okay though, the flavors I am detecting are all fairly enjoyable.


I like this root beer. It’s a traditional root beer, but it’s one step above the run-of-the-mill root beers I’ve had before. I can see myself picking Chowning’s Tavern out when I want something slightly different than traditional. It’s definitely tart. I would appreciate it being a bit sweeter, but it’s just different. It kind of reminds me of a sour cherry pie, honestly. I really appreciate their willingness to be frank with the ingredients. The design is thematic. While Chowning’s Tavern is not “great” it’s definitely better than “good.” Overall I’m surprised and impressed. Give it a try!

Rating: ♛♛♛♛♕ – 4/5

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