In Sweden, we've got a tradition of drinking something called Julmust in Christmas times.. As in.. December..
They try to sell it during other times of the year, but.. the fact is, 97% of all "Must" we drink in December...
In fact, we drink such a lot of Julmust that, in December it accounts for 50% of all "Soda" sold, with some strange effects.. The Coca-Cola Company sells only a fraction of what they sell other months, in December, and the last 2 years, has tried their darn hardest in making us change our tradition. Spending like 25% of their advertising budget in December alone, with their Christmas Commercials in Cinemas, and on TV in about every single commercial break there is, as well as practically give away Coca-Cola. Usually, we pay about 15 SEK ($1.50) for 1.5 L bottles of Coca-Cola. Last year, before I switched to Julmust (LOL) I bought boxes with 4 x 2 L bottles for about 39 SEK ($4), or something like that. Pepsi is, sort of following in the footsteps of Coca-Cola, even if they haven't really tried to force their soda down our throats in the same way as Coca-Cola has done (Coca-Cola is really aggressive, while Pepsi is manufactured and sold in Sweden by a company that also sells Julmust, so they'll still get the profit they're "used to", while Coca-Cola doesn't have a back-up, and the cut in sales really is a cut in profits. Now, since Coca-Cola the past years really has started to experiment with their recepies etc, doesn't try to sell a Christmas version of Coca-Cola, I don't know).
So.. what's Julmust? Hmm.. that's hard to describe really.. "spiced motor oil" according to gale_storm :)
Actually, being a Viking, she should kinda appreciate Julmust a lot more, since it has, in some sense, "Viking" roots.. In a sense being done in a similar way as "Mead", or beer or cider. You might call it a fruity version of beer, and, in a sense should be compared more with beer than sodas, except that it's sweet and carbonated and not alcoholic.
I guess that, if you did Coca-Cola in the same way as you do Root Beer (without the "minty" taste), you'd get closer to what it is..
But.. Coca-Cola really is the closest comparison, since they're both "Food drinks", that works well with food, and compliments food. Especially the food you'll find at the Swedish Christmas Table. But it does have a "thicker" taste than Coca-Cola (due to the Hops extract and malt, and not as much citric acid as in Coca-Cola).
But, due to it's nature of beeing a "cider" in it's origin, you really have (as is the case with Root Beer) a lot of different flavors, having a different character to it, depending on storage etc. Yes, it does age, in the same sense as wine and beer etc. But, you might have "light" and "dark" Julmust, and different levels of sweet.
But.. is it a huge favorite of mine? Nope.. not really.. But, it's ok, and I don't have any problem of drinking it, and do think it's nice with food, and obviously.. a Christmas wouldn't be as much Christmas without Julmust. It sure would be one of the things I'd really miss, if I moved to some other country. Well... I do think it's avaible at the IKEA's around the world, at least, so.. :)
oh.. and I found a link to some facts about it, HERE!
(Hmm.. and I still prefer Root Beer, Dr. Pepper and Pepsi, when I'm not drinking Tea)