The name of this root beer is initially pretty awesome, but further investigation shows that it's more based on geography that being hardcore. Anyway, Death Valley Root Beer is brewed by Indian Wells Brewing Co., which is primarily focused on brewing beers. There are however 4 flavors of soda under the Death Valley brand, root beer being one of them. Death Valley is of course part of the high desert of California near the Nevada border. The brewery however is not located in the township of Death Valley, but closer to the Bakersfield area in Inyokern, CA. Not sure how much of a draw the Death Valley region of California is, but for a name like that i expect the roads to be lined with skulls. Otherwise, you're just wasting my time.
It's clear from the label that they are going for the old west theme. I assume the old west era is intrinsically tied to Death Valley, seeing as if someone were to name that part of California these days, it would be something like Make Sure You're Hydrated Valley, which is kind of disappointing. I mean, i don't want to die if i were to go to Death Valley, but i at least want to be in danger of dying. Anyway, back to the root beer. It comes in a clear 12 oz. glass bottle and the label is made to look like a wanted sign from the old west, like this root beer is an outlaw and you're just the vigilante to track it down, rip it's top off, and drink it's insides (a traditional old western execution, i assure you). There is a picture of a stage coach being pulled by horses, not unlike the Wells Fargo logo. The rest of the label is just filled with the typical information root beers list on their labels, including a notice that there is a cash refund in California for recycling the bottle (for you thrifty hippies out there).
But getting down to brass tacks, it's really just a kinda regular old root beer. It has a fairly prominent black licorice flavor, very little carbonation (boo), and it's made with cane sugar. Other than that, it's kind of a regular old run of the mill root beer. Tastes like root beer extract with a little extra on the anise. It's by no means terrible, but has a long way to go if it wants to compete in the big leagues.
My official review is that Death Valley gets 4 (four) IBCs. I was turned off by the black licorice flavor and lack of carbonation. Otherwise i might have given it a 5. Again, if black licorice is your thing, then i say go for it. It's not overpowering or anything, but it's enough to notice and that's what counts. And for those of you who listen to my every word and whim, don't bother with this stuff. It's faily expensive to boot at about $5 for a four-pack, and you're just going to be disappointed.