New Sodas Reviewed – A&W Root Beer Float, Fentiman’s Curiousity Cola

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to try out a few new sodas, one domestic and one imported. Both are complex flavors, but vastly different in taste. First up is the A&W Float one of a new product line from Dr. Pepper with the help of Sunkist and A&W, a company best known for their Root Beer. The A&W Float aims to be a root beer float in a bottle. It promises to deliver all the creamy flavor of root beer and vanilla ice cream. I’ll admit I like a good root beer float, I’ve had more then a few floats in my day. So I was definitely qualified to see how this compares to a true root beer float. When I opened the bottle, the “float” smelled great. I mean it smelled like a root beer float. So I was optimistic. My first sip was surprising. It was much sweeter then I’d expected. With the overpowering sweetness it was really tough to dissect the flavor in my mind. It tasted kind of like a float… but it was off. The texture was off, the ice cream flavoring was too artificial, and oddly enough the taste was too consistant all the way through. When you drink a float you don’t expect to get a marriage of ice cream and root beer with every sip. Floats are uneven by nature, sometimes you get a pocket of root beer, sometimes a mix of ice cream and soda, and sometime you get a plug of half melted ice cream up the straw. After a few more sips I had to dump this soda down the sink. It was too much, too artificial and just way too sweet for me. I really have trouble recommending this soda, the taste and sweetness kept compounding itself and became awful in my mouth with every sip. It wasn’t a good experience and disappointingly it wasn’t anything like having a root beer float in a bottle. That is just an impossible goal to achieve. 1 out of 5 bottles. When a soda becomes undrinkable that doesn’t help it out for ratings.

Next on my list was Fentimans Curiousity Cola, I’m not sure how long it has been for sale but it is referred to as the newest of the flavors from this company based in Northumberland, UK. Unlike the major beverage companies here in the USA, Fentimans prides itself on what it calls a botanical brewing process that brings soft drinks back to their roots. It was refreshing to look at the ingredients on the cola bottle and not see any odd chemicals or mention of corn syrup. This Curiousity Cola includes Catuaba & Guarana extracts that are believed to provide invigorating properties. Including these ingredients to the drink bring the cola back to its origins as a drink made by apothecaries and pharmacists. The first taste of this cola was eye opening, it was instantly identifiable as a cola. But the complexity of the flavor was so enjoyable, you aren’t knocked over with the syrupy sweetness so you could really enjoy and savor the “cola” flavor. I’m sad that this is an import which makes the price of a bottle over twice what I pay for a domestic soda. There was no unfavorable after taste and a really a refreshing soft drink. Makes curious how this will taste mixed in drinks or marinades that I use cola in. 4 out of 5 bottles. Natural ingredients make for a pleasant and complex cola taste. A major bummer that this is an import which makes it tough on the budget.

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4 thoughts on “New Sodas Reviewed – A&W Root Beer Float, Fentiman’s Curiousity Cola

  1. Where did you pick up Fentimans Curiousity Cola? Sounds very interesting…

    BTW, one of guilty pleasures here in SoCal is picking up at Costco the Mexican bottled Coca-Cola. Made with real sugar, not corn syrup. Amazing difference in flavor. Plus they come on glass bottles.

  2. The Curiousity Cola has lived up to its name, it obviously has folks curious. I picked up a bottle of their cola and a bottle of Fentimans Ginger Beer at Rodman’s Gourmet Market in Rockville. I’m sure other Rodman’s in the DC area carry it. It was sold individually in the refrigerated section towards the front of the store.

    I like the sounds of Mexican Coca-Cola, I’m going to have try a bottle of that when we’re out there. For getting the Curiousity Cola on the West Coast I’m not sure. Fentimans website offers up a page of distributers worldwide and has a specific e-mail address for US inquiries:

    It’s definitely different from Coke, Pepsi or the others out there. It really tastes like an old cola recipe brought thru time to the present.

  3. I found Fentimans at Cost Plus World Market at a couple locations in the East Bay SF area near my home. They have stores around the country, I believe. I’ve tried all of their varieties carried there – Ginger Beer, Mandarin and Seville Orange Jigger, Victorian Lemonade and Curiosity Cola. They were all so complex and tasty that I did some snooping around the Internet and found another variety, Dandelion & Burdock at Rainbow Foods in San Francisco. That’s my favorite, thus far, though I’m partial to the nice balance of ginger heat and perfect sweetness in the Ginger Beer. Saw one review on the Shandy, but haven’t been able to find it locally yet. I understand that the British Fentimans is going to be making a push to build their business in North America and is working to bring the price down on the product, though I found the $1.99 price/bottle at World Market not unreasonable for a product brewed with herbs, ginger and other goodies over 7 days, according to their website, vs. mixed with syrup, filled and bottled in a matter of hours, if not minutes. Fentimans certainly reminded me of childhood experiences drinking sodas in a small soda fountain in Red Bluff, CA. It takes me back.

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