Good Beer and Minty Fresh Breath

Jim Lundstrom

Whenever I’m in Ashland I make it a point to stop at the South Shore Brewery. I’m a longtime fan of their Nut Brown Ale and Rhodes Scholar Stout.

To my surprise, I reached deep into the fridge and pulled out a bomber of South Shore’s Bourbon Barrel Coffee Mint Stout that I had completely forgotten about.

The mint part of the equation scared me a bit because as far as I can recall, I’ve never had a good beer with mint. But it must have piqued my interest at some point otherwise it wouldn’t be sitting in the fridge.

Hhhhm. Interesting things going on with this beer. It has an extremely soft mouthfeel, and tastes of dark chocolate, café ua lait and all the earthy, slightly astringent flavors associated with a bourbon-soaked oak barrel – all of them condensed into a subtle representations of their former bold, dark selves. The peppermint I feel more than taste, in an odd prickly palate rush that runs front to with each sip. Yes, it’s definitely more of a presence than a flavor. My mouth feels minty fresh and my lips are tingling.

I like this stout.

Couldn’t resist the bold display of Best Damn Root Beer. I figured it had to be a boast because I’ve already had the best damn hard root beer, the unfortunately named Not Your Father’s Root Beer from Small Town Brewery of Wauconda, Ill.
I can say with certainty that it is a boast.

While the label shows a foaming barrel of Best Damn Root Beer, mine was flatter than Superior. I got a strange barnyard whiff from it. And its taste falls short of the rich flavors I expect from a root beer. If anything, it tastes more like a diet root beer, which is oxymoronic, and which makes sense because I suspect this is an Anheuser-Busch product. The label doesn’t tell you, nor does the website. But the Best Damn team appears to be based in St. Louis, Mo., home of A-B.
Always be suspicious when a “craft” beverage label tells you “Made you look” when you are perusing the small print in vain for a place of origin for the product. Another sign that it might not be from a craft brewer – below-market pricing. This Best Damn Root Beer was selling for several dollars less than the aforementioned NYFRB.

Nope, they just don’t have the flavors right to call this the Best Damn Root Beer. It’s drinkable, but my vote for best damn hard root beer remains with NYFRB.