Mike Rutter of Cariboo Root Beer holds up his flavoured products Saturday at the fourth annual Root Beer Festival at Douglas Park in Langley.
Francis Georgian / Postmedia News
Root beer aficionados got soggy for soda, lining up Saturday for samples of more than 50 different types of root beer from around the world.The Langley-based festival began four years ago with a single tent set up on a sidewalk, but quickly outgrew the space, said Sherri Martin, owner of Sticky’s Candy & Bakery.This year, with help from the City of Langley, the festival moved to the spacious Douglas Park, where more than a dozen tasting tents were set up, along with food trucks and live music.Despite the rain, visitors were expected to guzzle more than 400 cases of root beer throughout the day, with 50 different types to taste and 60 different types available for purchase.“I remember my grandma making me root beer when I was a little girl,” said Martin when asked why she thought the festival had become so popular. “People often have memories associated with root beer from when they were kids.”The candy store proprietress said the drink’s cachet is increasing as many craft breweries are beginning to sell sodas. Dozens of “craft” root beers were on offer at the festival, including one made by Prince George’s Cariboo Brewing.“We thought this would be a good way to promote some of our non-alcoholic drinks,” said Mike Rutter as he poured root beer at a stand tucked between a tent sampling A&W and another offering Fentimans Old English Root Beer.“I think people are looking for something that’s better quality than traditional pop,” said Kimberlie Phillips, a manager with Inform Brokerage, the company that sells Fentimans across North America. “It’s really a craft soda.”Langley residents Tyler and Kyra Rocha were embracing that idea, with plans to sample all 50 root beers on offer. With 18 down, their favourites so far were Capones Root Beer — described in the official tasting guide as a “creamy, full-body brew” with a spicy caramel flavour and good bite — and Reading Root Beer, which boasts a mild flavour. They were not sold on the licorice-flavoured root beer.“Every one is very, very unique. It’s easy to differentiate between them,” said Kyra.Jeneen Rankin-Bayer and her 10-year-old son Ryan finished their tasting early and headed to the sale tent to buy their favourites. They came away with Jimi Hendrix Root Beer, which has an anise flavour, and Ozark Butter Beer, which is described as a “fall festival in a bottle.”“We love root beer,” said Rankin-Bayer. “Tyler was really excited about this.”Demian and Charlotte Lord were leaving the bakery tent with a box filled with root beer-flavoured treats, including brownies, fudge and macarons.“We came for the brownies and then we saw the fudge,” said Demian.The couple said they love root beer — “it’s the only pop I drink,” said Charlotte.Several food trucks also joined in the celebration of all things root beer, including a hotdog truck serving onions caramelized in root beer. The Cannoli King was serving up cannoli filled with Sicilia root beer tiramisu.The owner of a caramel corn stand didn’t have a root beer flavour for sale, but wondered aloud if he should develop a new recipe.Related
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