Today we’re delving into the world of canned root beer. Starting with Hansen’s. Generally speaking, I prefer root beer in a bottle. I think my aversion has something to do with how canned root beer is presented and sold. Canned drinks are generally sold together with soda pop, which means root beer is represented as nothing more than another flavor, next to cola or lemon lime. But root beer is its own genre of drink. It has a depth of history, and it’s (hopefully) brewed as a compilation of flavors, spices, and herbs, rather than chemically derives flavors.
Plus, canned root beer, in the United States, is overwhelmingly packed with high fructose corn syrup, and in my opinion, unnecessary compounds. Nevertheless, if I can find the best root beer for me, I’m willing to try canned too.
Cane Soda Since 1935
Hansen’s natural root beer is presented with plenty of color that is evocative of a foamy, creamy experience. The can promotes all of the traditional information that typically bottled drinks provide. The extra real estate offered by the can, however, provides more information about what this root beer is all about:
At Hansen’s we’re all about crafting remarkable flavors from simple ingredients using real cane sugar (of course.) Hey… we began in California so for us nothing is too bold or unconventional.
Based on the quotation provided above, Hansen’s appears to be separating itself from the pack as a type of craft root beer. They’re definitely not independent though. Hansen Beverage is a business of neXstep Beverages, LLC. This company, in turn, appears to be owned by Coca-Cola. Based on my understanding and an article written by Jay Moye of Coca-Cola, to continue the partnership between Coca-Cola and Monster Energy, also owned by Hansen Beverage, they agreed to purchase the entire brand of drinks.
- Carbonated Water
- Cane Sugar
- Caramel Color
- Natural Flavor with Spices of
- Tahitian Vanilla Extract
- Citric Acid
Foot meets mouth. I realize that there’s the generic natural flavor here, but a collection of spices are also included which I have to give due credit for. This is actually really impressive, especially for a brand owned by a monolith of a corporation. I will say, I’m not sure why Tahitian vanilla is better than anyone else’s extract.
After popping the top of this inaugural can review, the first whiff I get is very mild. The first taste is ripe with wintergreen; it’s almost overwhelming. The texture of this root beer is airy and thin. Don’t get me wrong, the flavor is definitely there. It’s like a modern twist on a traditional root beer flavor, backed by a significant amount of carbonation. I imagine the vanilla has to do a lot with how airy it is. I will note that it’s not a very sweet brew.
Let me reiterate that again though, the carbonation is very strong. Tiny bubbles stick to every surface of my mouth, even as I take the smallest of sips. I could do with less wintergreen and carbonation.
As I continue drinking Hansen’s over time, it becomes very apparent just how drinkable this brew is despite the lack of sweetness. Unfortunately, it’s also apparent just how strong the wintergreen flavor is, and just how strong the carbonation is. That’s right; the carbonation is still very strong.
Small sips tend to be best over time, given the above issues. Plus, the mint flavor and bitterness comes with a strong tang, and I am not a fan of that. It’s a catch-22. It’s much better as fresh as possible, but it’s hard to drink because of the extreme carbonation.
The only lasting aftertaste that this brew has to offer is the mint, and there’s absolutely no stickiness despite how much sugar is packed in the can. It’s not syrupy in the least, and the texture remains airy.
Hansen’s is a no-nonsense modern root beer that offers a very strong wintergreen flavor, backed by a smooth and airy root beer essence. If you’re a fan of carbonation and mint, and you don’t like things too sweet, this is the brew for you. The bitterness isn’t overwhelming, and it’s actually balanced well. The wintergreen tang and carbonation makes this on the lower end of its rating despite the marks I’m giving it.
Rating: ♛♛♛♕♕ – 3/5