We’d been wanting to try root beer. D was convinced it tasted like ginger beer, while I’d not tried it before and was sure they were different drinks. We’d spotted a large bottle of a Root Beer by A&W in an independent supermarket in Lawson but were reluctant to buy so much of something we’d never tried. Later, we’re excited to spot a can of A&W Sarsaparilla. It’s not the root beer but we’re sure of our love for sarsparilla.
The beverage is well carbonated and a translucent medium brown colour, departing from the usual brown-black colour of sarsaparilla, with a sweet cane sugar and wintergreen nose. Consumed ice-cold, the aromatic flavour of wintergreen with hints of vanilla dominates the flavour of the beverage from the first sip to the last, before receding in the finish to leave a sweet cane sugar — not quite caramel — aftertaste. The vanilla notes give the drink a smooth mouthfeel akin to a cream soda, while the generous effervescence mellows the sweetness and enhances the minty quality of the wintergreen. There are no hints of liquorice.
To be candid, the wintergreen is strong enough that the overall flavour of the beverage tastes like the smell of some antiseptics, like Listerine mouthwash, and deep heating liniment, like Voltaren. It makes sense as many of these products contain counterirritant chemical compounds such as wintergreen oil, so my subconscious does not allow me to like it because it sets off alarm bells as being something that should not be for consumption.
But remember root beer? It seems A&W relabels its root beer as sarsaparilla for export (so that Halal-conscious customers do not need to be concerned about its alcohol content). The prominence of the wintergreen has me convinced, but I’m not a fan if this beverage is representative of the flavour of root beer.
This can of A&W Sarsaparilla contained 330ml. It was bottled in Malaysia and purchased in Sydney, Australia in 2017.