If you’ve ever sat in a deli, especially in Michigan, you should be well acquainted with Dr. Brown’s; especially their black cherry pop. It’s absolutely fantastic, and one of the best pairings to a deli sandwich that I’ve ever come across. But, I haven’t really seen a root beer variant, so when I saw a can of Dr. Brown’s root beer sitting on the shelf, I bought it. I’ve never seen Dr. Brown’s bottled before, so the can will have to do. I will not be having a lovely deli sandwich while I review this root beer, but I will be interested to see how Dr. Brown’s compares to other root beers.
Since 1869 and Blended for Full-Bodied Flavor
Like every Dr. Brown’s can, the center portrays a greyscale drawing. This vignette is described as a New York ice cream parlor. The Dr. Brown’s brand also portrays each flavor as a particular color, like black cherry being a dark maroon. The root beer variant here is dark brown with orange text, which perfectly evokes that traditional root beer feeling that you would typically find with a dark brown bottle.
According to the ‘Net, Dr. Brown’s is made by J & R Bottling. They’ve had a long history of representing pop in Jewish delicatessens, popular in Michigan, New York, and Florida. Today Dr. Brown’s is owned by the Honickman Beverage Group, and bottled by PepsiCo. They’re one of the only independent companies bottled by PepsiCo.
- Carbonated Water
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Caramel Color
- Natural and Artificial Flavors
- Sodium Benzoate (Preservative)
- Gum Acacia
- Citric Acid
This is like a perfect storm of everything that I hate. Great. It’s also partially produced with genetic engineering, but that doesn’t really bother me. I’m suddenly not looking forward to this.
Opening Dr. Brown’s root beer resulted in a flourish of spray. You would think that the carbonation would be extreme given that, and you would be right. That being said, the bubbles themselves are very small.
I took a whiff as soon as the smoke cleared, and there’s something here that I can’t pinpoint. It’s not unpleasant, and in fact, it smells very traditional.
On first taste, the flavor seems weak, but it’s actually just different. There’s a balanced, yet strong mint-like flavor here. It’s not as traditional as I thought it would be, but it’s a very interesting take on that root beer essence. It’s pretty tasty, but it is different. I can’t describe this root beer as smooth or creamy, but it’s certainly drinkable (at least as much as the carbonation allows.) That same unknown smell that I mentioned earlier is also present as a flavor, but it’s much harder to detect during tasting. Maybe it’s a result of the mint flavor. I can’t be sure.
The high fructose corn syrup definitely shows after drinking Dr. Brown’s over time. It sticks and it stays, but the aftertaste doesn’t. I find myself trying to dissipate the syrupiness with my tongue, but I’m not actively looking for water like I have with other HFCS root beers. The carbonation, as expected, is prevalent. It really is uncomfortable to drink continuously, so this is definitely something that needs to be consumed over time. On that note, allowing this root beer to breathe helps develop the flavor. It’s distinctly root beer like, with a strong mint flavor. I finally have a way to describe this root beer: it’s dense both in its flavor and its texture (which I attribute to the HFCS.)
Why is it that I enjoy this brew, despite the ingredients being absolutely terrible? Can you imagine what it would be like if it were made with more wholesome stuff? It’s a bit of a concern for me personally, because I don’t want to recommend something that isn’t representing the best version of itself. But, I think I don’t have a choice. Dr. Brown’s tastes good and is drinkable despite the weird take on a traditional root beer flavor.
It would be very interesting if Dr. Brown’s flavors were created with deli in mind. Especially if these drinks were designed to work with the saltiness found in those types of foods. I don’t have any evidence for that notion, but that could explain the unique flavor.
Rating: ♛♛♛♕♕ – 3/5