I’m from Seattle, and I can count the number of times that I’ve visited the Eastlake neighborhood on one hand. Possibly on one finger. When I heard that there was a killer sandwich shop with a home-brewed root beer I made of point of visiting…eventually. You see, it was still kind of out of the way. Had I appreciated the full-extent of their beverage creating prowess I would have put my sorry butt in a car share much sooner. These guys are for real.
There is absolutely no question that Mammoth‘s focus is craft beer. They had an absurd amount of beers on tap, as well as others in bottles. The variety rotates, but the row of tap lines is jaw dropping. Their food gets a lot of attention as well, and rightfully so. I tried their Predator sandwich and now I’m a believer. It’s hard not to believe in a fried chicken leg, pork belly, swiss cheese, and caper aioli on a crusty roll.
Mammoth permanently carries their home brew root beer on tap. It’s a popular item, and it’s a recipe that they worked hard to hone. They tested a lot of different source ingredients but ultimately settled on a Mexican sarsaparilla, birch bark, other spices, and a supplement of “home-brew” root beer extract. There are purists that will poo-poo using an extract, but for an on-tap variety like this it’s one of the only ways to ensure consistency. Using raw barks and roots often leads to too weak of a brew, and this extract provides a bit more body and texture. I don’t hold it against them.
I enjoyed this root beer, but something that surprised me was how non-aggressive it was. A lot of local brews have a dominant flavor note such as wintergreen, licorice, or vanilla. Mammoth’s root beer was very much a “rooty” root beer, similar to the old style A&W restaurants. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve visited an A&W, but that’s my memory. My buddy had a small glass, no ice, and I was served a larger glass with ice. He thought his was a bit too concentrated, while I thought that mine was perfect. Ordinarily I’m an anti-ice guy, but I think it worked in this case…so long as you don’t let it sit for too long. It’s a kid-friendly root beer that goes down easy. I’ll give it a respectable 7 out of 10.
I also tried two seasonal (temporary) sodas that Mammoth had available. The first was their Lav-Coco Lemonade. This was a shoulder-season soda if I ever saw one. The lavender reminded me of some trips out to the San Juan Islands that I’ve taken with my family driving by the massive lavender farms. It’s a calming smell.
The coconut brought me back to a vacation on Maui last year with fresh coconut juice served on the side of the road. The two flavors played nicely off of each other with just a bit of carbonation in the bright and tart lemon beverage. It’s the kind of drink I’d sit down with to mentally check out for half an hour and stare at the waves. In the moment I was staring out a gloomy window at a rain-soaked Seattle October afternoon. Even so, I give it a 7.5 out of 10.
The second seasonal soda I sampled was their Spiced Ginger Beer. This was the other side of the shoulder than the Lav-Coco Lemonade. This beverage is a straight out of the pumpkin patch, sitting by a roaring pallet-fueled bonfire on a crisp autumn afternoon, bundled in fleece and enjoying every minute of it sort of drink.
The ginger beer is strong and warming, and the spices they chose are very similar to what you’d find in a chai tea. The spicing is strong and makes a statement. That statement is “come get me while I’m available because you don’t want to miss this”. Chai spices are my personal pumpkin spice. There are a lot of similarities between the two, but one hasn’t been abused yet by mass marketers. This drink will fire you up and make you long for a good book and a heated blanket. I’m going to go a step higher and award it an 8 out of 10.
Mammoth is worth going out of your way for. The food is awesome, the sodas were awesome, and if I drank I’d probably say that the beers were awesome. I’m looking forward to seeing what else these guys come up with in the future.
Visited on 10/26/2016. The beverages were complimentary for a professional like myself ;), the sandwich was not