I like museums. I'm a recovering Archaeologist, having done my degree in that subject but moved away from this into areas that actually enable me to afford food. On a recent summer trip to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (or as all the cool kids call it BMAG) I dragged my other half into the cafe with the promise of tea and a taste of their legendary carrot cake. The options for drinks were quite varied, but I fancied a Fentimans and I decided to try one of the flavours that I hadn't been brave enough to try before. Out of Ginger Beer and Dandelion & Burdock I chose the latter.
I'm not sure on the history of this particular taste combination - in fact I wasn't that sure what a burdock is. Wiki tells me that it's a kind of thistle, which in hindsight may have pushed me towards the ginger beer. Dandelions are also a plant that is considered a weed by most people, so I was curious to find out exactly why us mad English people decided to drink this. Turns out (wiki again) that the drink is made from the roots of the plant, and when fermented is naturally fizzy - which would have been quite exciting in the late 13th Century when it was said to have been first drunk.
Taste wise the biggest shock is that it's really similar to Dr. Pepper. It's a lot less sweet, but I think that may be the difference between Fentimans and Coca Cola as their respective flagship colas are different in sweetness too. After the initial shock that it actually does taste like plants it's pretty drinkable. There is a certain medicinal quality to the flavour and I don't think that this is as widely appealing as most of the other flavours. As the taste is quite strong it’s not really one to drink with a hot meal but as part of a packed lunch or a picnic hamper I think it would go quite well.
After lunch we left the cafe and wondered off to explore more of the BMAG which currently houses most of the Saxon Gold exhibit, a Steve McCurry photo exhibition and lots of other exciting things like Pre-Raphelite paintings. Worth popping in just for the cafe anyway (free entry) if you happen to fancy a break from the chaos of Birmingham city centre and the temptations of the Cyber-Candy store, but be warned you probably will end up having a quick look round.