by Robert Bell
One Sunday a few months ago, I was at Diamond Bear Brewery, which is one of the few (legit) places in Central Arkansas where you can get a sixer of suds on the Lord's Day. The bartender asked if I'd ever tried their Big Rock Root Beer. I hadn't, so he offered me a cup on the house. It was frosty cold and delicious, not too sweet and with hints of herbal goodness.
I told myself, "Now I gotta remember this stuff next time I get a root beer craving." Well today I got a powerful one, the wicked intense kind you can feel twitching in your neuroreceptors — aka, your mind's taste buds. So I hopped on over to Diamond Bear to extinguish it.
Being of a generous and beneficent nature, I decided to bring some back to the office to share with my colleagues. You can get a growler for $15. That includes a $5 deposit on the jug. Now, ten bones for a half-gallon ain't exactly cheap, but Diamond Bear's brew is certainly a step up from your A&W or Dad's or Barq's or your store brand root beer.
Reactions around the office varied. Most people thought it was really good. One critic found it to be not quite spicy enough. Another thought it needed more sassafras. I could stand for a bit more spice, maybe star anise or fennel, but I like how it's not overpoweringly sweet and doesn't linger on the palate after you're finished. It'd be great for a root beer float. I found that, while cold is usually the enemy of flavor, in this instance, a couple of ice cubes actually livened up the taste a bit.
Overall, I thought Diamond Bear's root beer was, while not quite as good as the celebrated (and also pricey) Virgil's, nonetheless very enjoyable. Diamond Bear's storefront is open Friday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.