Root Beer World - root beer history, brands, recipes, news

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Root Beer vs. Sarsaparilla
 
 
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kguske
Site Admin
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Joined: Jun 27, 2003
Posts: 327
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL

PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2003 7:16 am    Post subject: Re: Root Beer vs. Sarsaparilla Reply with quote

From the Questions page (check it out - it has cool pictures, too):

Since sarsaparilla (botanical Aralia nudicaulis, Spanish sarza - bramble or shrub, parilla - vine, also called Smilax), also called sassparilla (sassafras & sarsaparilla) and sas'parilla, is almost always flavored primarily with sassafras, and the additional spice of sarsaparilla (and very few people can taste any difference between sarsaparilla and root beer made by the same company), Root Beer World considers sarsaparilla to be root beer. For a different view, see Sarsaparilla vs. Root Beer.
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Bottoms up!
Kevin Guske

“So here’s a tribute toast with root beer in hand to you and the many mugs of suds along your happy trails.” --Charles Wysocki, artist and root beer fan, 1928-2002
  
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parsa
Home Brew Guru


Joined: Dec 15, 2003
Posts: 50
Location: Escondido, CA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 4:40 am    Post subject: Re: Root Beer vs. Sarsaparilla Reply with quote

The commercial sarsaparillas may be just like commercial root beer, but the real stuff is not.

True sarsaparillas are Smilax species ("greenbriars") and grow all over the world. Not all Smilax species are called Sarsaparilla however. Mexican sarsaparillas were brought to America at an early date. It was thus more commonly brewed as a soft drink in the West where sassafras is not found. These were most likely Smilax medica and Smilax aristolochiaefolia.
http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/plant_profile.cgi?symbol=SMILA2

The Aralia species are more appropriately called Spikenard. Spikenard has been used in many root beers as it is native to the United States. We have one variety here in California called California Spikenard (Aralia californica).
http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/plant_profile.cgi?symbol=ARALI

Another "sarsaparilla" is Indian Sarsaparilla, Hemidesmus indica. This is often sold in bags at home brew suppliers.

Real sarsaparilla is more acrid than sassafras. The smell is not "root beery" like the obvious smell of sassafras. Sarsaparilla is good, but usually not good enough in taste and odor to stand on its own. It is best mixed with sassafras. Sarsaparilla and spikenard have similar tonic properties.

Some sarsaparilla history and chemistry:
Part 1: http://listweb.bilkent.edu.tr/napronet/02/0291.html
Part 2: http://listweb.bilkent.edu.tr/napronet/02/0293.html
Part 3: http://listweb.bilkent.edu.tr/napronet/02/0294.html
Part 4: http://listweb.bilkent.edu.tr/napronet/02/0296.html
Part 5: http://listweb.bilkent.edu.tr/napronet/02/0297.html

Parsa
  
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kguske
Site Admin
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Joined: Jun 27, 2003
Posts: 327
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL

PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Parsa,

Thank you for the well-informed addition to the root beer vs. sarsaparilla debate! Your contribution is one of the main reasons I started the forums - so other, more knowledgeable people could share their knowledge with visitors to the site.

Thanks again!
_________________
Bottoms up!
Kevin Guske

“So here’s a tribute toast with root beer in hand to you and the many mugs of suds along your happy trails.” --Charles Wysocki, artist and root beer fan, 1928-2002
  
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