Where In Town: Smucker Farms of Lancaster County, 2118 14th St. NW
Yeast of Eden: I know what you’re thinking: Root beer? Has the beer columnist suddenly joined a temperance union? Well, all brews are treated equally in this space and, frankly, the poor, ultra-sweet virgin variety is long overdue for a defense. The stuff has paid its dues: a target of Prohibition even though it wasn’t like all the other beers, a soda fountain dandy stomped by Coke and Pepsi, a childhood friend cast aside like a worn-out teddy bear. Why the lack of respect? One answer: The Industrial Revolution stole its soul, the yeast. Root beer, like traditional Belgian beers, used to be naturally fermented within the bottle. Yeast eats sugar, yeast exhales carbon dioxide, CO2 stays dissolved as fizz. Now, thankfully for fans of sassafras (or its artificial equivalent), there’s a living, breathing root beer in the District once more.
Amish Mash: Leave it to the Amish to bring back the real deal: Like almost everything at Eric Smucker’s new specialty foods store, Olde Heritage is imported from Lancaster County, Pa. “It’s my Amish uncle’s niece who makes it,” he says. “They typically only sell from their roadside stand.” With its mellow wintergreen sweetness, this syrupy drink is far less carbonated and, dare I say, less spicy than A&W or Barq’s. Want more bubbles? Put the bottle in the sun for several hours so the yeast cells can do their thing.