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A&W Sarsaparilla

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.