Big E and I go back a few years. The fact that it’s taken me this long to draft a review is more a product of my garage being flooded with soda than an apathy towards the product. Big E Ales is a microbrewery based out of south Lynnwood with about 20 years of brewing experience.
I have some theories about Big E. The most convincing is that the “E” stands for “ear” and that the owner has one very large ear. Probably the left one. Either that or it’s an abbreviation for a surname. Possibly Ellersick. We may never know the truth.
Like I said, I’m no stranger to Big E Ales. I’ve been buying growlers and small kegs of their root beer for many years. I’m not the only one. There are several restaurants in the greater Seattle area that carry it on tap (Tom Douglas restaurants, Red Onion Burger, etc.), or you can visit their pub to grab a glass with some food. They’ve earned a reputation for good reason. That reason is physical threats. Just kidding, it’s because it’s good stuff.
The root beer is a dark and thick brew. It has a bit of that black strap molasses look to it. I smell some sort of combination of wintergreen, licorice/anise, clove, and burnt sugar. These notes come out in the flavor as well. It’s an aggressively spiced root beer that won’t please everyone but it’s one of the best I’ve ever had with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The cream and vanilla mellow the bold licorice flavors creating a balanced treat.
I like it by itself as well, but I prefer it in a float. Most of the reason for that is the flavor change with the ice cream but it’s due in part to the carbonation. Over the dozens of times I’ve had their root beer the carbonation has been inconsistent. It’s almost always perfect in the rental kegs, but from the tap, and most recently from a can, it’s been a bit flat. That’s not a problem with ice cream, but it’s not ideal in a soda.
Don’t let that last paragraph dissuade you from trying this root beer. You want to throw an underage kegger? This is your place. You like a lot of licorice and spice in your brew? This is your place. You like dogs dressed as cats playing poker at midnight? This is not your place.
This root beer gets an 8 out of 10 from me on my rating scale. I really like it, but I won’t judge you for preferring something smoother. Well, I will judge you, but only behind your back.
Sampled in February of 2017, but have sampled off and on over the past 5 years.
If you’re interested in getting a keg of root beer, or a small keg of root beer, or a party pig of root beer (5 liter), or a growler of root beer, check out this link to see their “Beer To Go” menu.