Today we talk with David Slone, Sales Manager and Used Car Manager of Weld County Garage. David Slone has a rather interesting hobby: collecting root beer.
Q: David, when did your fascination with root beer begin?
David Slone: Well, I guess it was about twelve years back when I got a package from one of my vendors. Inside were samples of Henry Weinhard’s® Root Beer.
Q: What made Weinhard’s® so special for you?
David Slone: It was such a great combination of yeast, sassafras, vanilla, licorice, black cherry and other flavors, all together.
Q: A complex combination.
David Slone: Yes, very much so, but they all work together on the tongue.
Q: I guess you could say that you were hooked?
David Slone: (laughs) Yeah, I was hooked. I had to start trying to find as many root beers as I could!
Q: Tell us more about the history of root beer.
David Slone: Sure, I’d be happy to. Root beer really goes back to Colonial times, when they referred to it as “small beer.”
Q: Was small beer alcoholic?
David Slone: Sometimes, yes, sometimes, no. It would include whatever ingredients they could find, really.
Q: I had no idea it went back so far.
David Slone: Well, you have to figure beer goes back about as far as cultivated grain does, and small beer would follow.
Q: Ingredients like what?
David Slone: Early recipes might include sarsaparilla, juniper, dandelion root, burdock, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, molasses and more.
Q: Fascinating! Who had the first commercially-available root beer, though?
David Slone: Commercially-bottled root beer started in the 1870s with Charles Hires. Hires was a Philadelphia pharmacist who fell in love with a herbal tea recipe.
Q: What did Charles Hires do then?
David Slone: He started putting ingredients together to develop a beverage derived from the tea. His drink used over 25 herbs, berries and roots, and made its debut at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial.
Q: Hires’ Root Beer has been around as long as I can remember. What other brands date back for years?
David Slone: Well, I found out that A&W® Root Beer had its debut back in 1919. A&W® was a partnership of Roy Allen and Frank Wright. Today, the brand is part of the Dr Pepper Snapple® group.
Q: Well, let’s get a little closer to what it is that makes root beer so appealing for you and others.
David Slone: No question, it’s the combinations of ingredients. There are so many recipes and varieties out there.
Q: What’s your current favorite?
David Slone: It’s hard to pick out a favorite root beer, there are so many good ones, but recently I got a case of Goose Island® delivered to my place of business.
Q: What was that like?
David Slone: Oh, I loved it! Had a nice spearmint sort of aftertaste.
Q: Isn’t there a Root-Beer-of-the-Month Club?
David Slone: Yes! It’s for real aficionados!
Q: What does membership in the club get you?
David Slone: You can find out more about root beer lore, regional root beers from around the country.
Q: Wow, what else?
David Slone: Well, you can even have sampler packs or sixes of the Root Beer of the Month delivered to your house.
Q: Thanks so much for taking some time with us today.
David Slone: Sure, and I hope you know a little more about root beer now!
David Slone is Sales Manager and Used Car Manager at Weld County Garage.