A Beer-y Good Story: Root Beer?

Written by Ken Carman

Beer-y   I was in Beaver River, one of three, mostly very small, homes we own, visiting Donna Brown, fellow Beaver River-ite and semi-faithful attendee to my annual Beaver River Beer Tasting. We were waiting on visitors to our town from Twitchell Lake to reach us via the long trail between Stillwater and Twitchell. I used to live on Twitchell.
 Before they arrived Donna said, “Have you tried, ‘NOT Your Father’s Root Beer?”
 I admitted I never had, and had wanted to. It’s the latest craze in the northeast and elsewhere: an alcoholic root beer. I was sitting there with a cup of coffee with one spoon of sugar in it: Donna had no artificial sweetners and I didn’t know that.
 Let me tell you first about the quaff.
 I was impressed. Absolutely: classic root beer taste. Well, “classic” as in after the original root used to make the first versions of root beer was banned. I remember my father, a food technologist at the time, telling me that that root was banned because, long before tobacco, it had proved to be very carcinogenic.
 There was an under current of alcohol that I’m guessing most quaffers would miss, and just about the right amount of sugar in it for a classic root beer. Of course, being sugar sensitive, I hadn’t had a “classic,” regular, and soda for many years. But I figured, only half a bottle, my numbers have been good for many months, what’s the harm?
 How wrong I was.
 Mid tasting I felt like I was in elevator swooping up to the 50th floor. Flush, almost as if I was about to pass out. Even Donna asked me, before I said anything, “Are you OK?”
 Needless to say I didn’t finish it.
 Now to the warning: if you too have sugar issues, even if you’re on medication, don’t drink this, or take one sip at best. Your medication isn’t some bloody shield that will keep you safe no matter what. And remember: diabetes, or hypoglycemia, doth not get better with age. Your control gets more sensitive, more erratic.
 I’m glad I tried but not so glad at the same time. I do beer competitions on a regular basis, beer club meetings and at least one tasting where I provide samples and beer education. None of that does that to me, because even though such is a no, no, the carbs and sugars in the brews I love are complex and harder to access than just straight cane sugar, even corn sugar.  The body has to work harder to access those sugars. Plus, if I remember right, alcohol, temporarily, can actually drop glucose levels. Later on it can make it worse, combined with the carbs and available sugars you have consumed.
 But combined with the sugar bomb known as Not Your Father’s? Not so much.
 So I highly recommend, unless you have sugar issues. If you do, you’re better off letting your palate find safer quaffs.

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A Beer-y Good Story is a column by Ken Carman: BJCP judge, author of several columns an beer and Inspection, on social, political and religious issues first published in 1972. A Beer-y Good Story goes where beer reviews don’t: history and perception of a brand being reviewed, as well as personal anecdotes.
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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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