Friday, August 17, 2012

Zevia Ginger Root Beer: Brew for the Dinosaurs

When I was a child my grandmother would drag me to these natural food conventions about every six months. I was not a big fan of the natural food as much as I was a fan of my grandmother. I figured gagging down bland whole grain baked goods was well worth spending an entire weekend with my Gram. I had all but forgotten the many things I passively learned back in those days when one of those memories were sparked by this can of Zevia brew. The primary sweetener in Zevia is Stevia and they claim it is a botanical sweetener which has been used for hundreds of years. I can at least vouch for the last 20 years. Stevia was presented at one of those conventions when I was a kid. The reason why I remember it so well is because it was being "marketed" as a facial cleanser but the presenter explained that the FDA refused to approve it for human consumption so this was the only way they could sell it.... I wasn't convinced! However, as usual my Gram found a way to get me to try this "facial cleanser" by using it to sweeten some herbal tea. I was surprised that it actually tasted good, very unique, not at all like cane sugar, but sweet and good.
I was very pleased to see that after all these years Stevia had finally gained acceptance and was now being used in many ways, including sweetening root beer. I am not certain if Zevia was the first to use it but it is certainly not the only brand of Stevia sweetened brew. I held very high expectations that this natural botanically sweetened root beer would take me back to that herbal tea that Gram insisted I try..... instead it took me back to the days of the dinosaurs.....
To begin with this brew just starts out weird.... It's not "root beer" it's "ginger" root beer.... Not sure why they call it that because the Stevia is far too strong to taste much else. If there is some ginger in there it wasn't worth mentioning. But then it displays all sorts of strange things on the can... Like a green leaf which I assume is a Stevia leaf but it just as well could be an acacia leaf.... or any other leaf... but in bold letters it says "All Natural Soda" and in 3 other places it also mentions "natural"..... How natural can you get....in this case they may have went Caveman Natural!!!
Back in the days of the caveman we were happy with what we got.... If we found berries we ate them... If we caught some fish we ate them.... If we killed a dinosaur we at it.... Life was what we now call "hand to mouth"... At some point we began to expect a little more.... Flavor became something that we perfected...... We identified the very best ways to prepare our food... and we even began to brew root beer (thank you Charles Hires). But had the cavemen (and cavewomen) brewed root beer they would have had to use whatever they had readily available. Spring water...... Herbs, spices, etc... When it came to the sweetener they would have also had to rely on what they had.... Stevia may have fit the bill. But here we are... Thousands of years later..... Why digress?
Stevia carries a very distinct flavor that is about as far from root beer as Ohio is from the ocean..... I ask again why digress? Cane sugar is our friend especially when it comes to root beer..... even HFCS is our friend..... Stevia should be left as an herbal tea sweetener..... or maybe even a facial cleanser...... Zevia is probably a good root beer before they add the Stevia... but after the Stevia it morphs into a bitter sweet earthy sensation which although captivates you like a car crash on the side of the road it ultimately leaves you wishing you had not looked to begin with; especially when those images haunt you at night.
This brew is better left to the cavemen,cavewomen, and the dinosaurs.... I rate it a 1.5 Frosty Mugs simply because of the nice memories it sparked about my Gram and those natural food conventions.
-Adam

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