There is a new competitor around amongst the craft brewery crowd and it’s called hard root beer. Described as root beer with alcohol, this simple yet tasty brew is gaining popularity amongst microbreweries looking to gain a competitive edge in the market.
Small Town Brewery is one of the leaders in this new flavor of beer with their Not Your Father’s Root Beer. On Beer Advocate, an online beer review site, the brew earned a rating of 94 out of 100. This is a sizeable rating as other, more popular brands, such as New Belgium’s Fat Tire, have ratings in the mid 80’s.
According to Matt Simpson, a consultant who works with the Beer Sommelier, “I would venture to say everyone I know who drinks alcohol has had [hard root beer] by this point”. Simpson explains that the popularity of the brew is due to its unique flavor. He describes it as root beer, but with subtle tastes of alcohol.
Since the first batch was created in 2013, Not Your Father’s Root Beer has since been purchased directly by a few investors including Eugene Kashper, Pabst Chief Executive Officer. This purchase came after a distribution agreement was made with Pabst Brewing earlier in the year.
It seems finding a bottle of this brew is still hard to come by, despite the nationwide push and load of resources. Tim Kovac, Small Town founder said in an email, ““We really made this for ourselves and local consumers more than anything…[I] had no idea it would take off this way”.
As cocktails are becoming sweeter, this root beer being set up for success as it reaches taps. The flavor of the brew is described as strong, herby and sweet, with an old timey flavor similar to root beer. Many users are choosing to mix bourbon with the new hard root beer as the flavors seem to compliment one another.
As the craft brewery market is being flooded with new flavors and styles, this new hard root beer provides a brew that gives beer enthusiasts a familiar taste. Unlike other brews, such as oyster stout and onion, Not Your Father’s have nothing to prove in terms of flavor, it is already familiar. This puts them in a strategic position in such a competitive market.
Hoping to improve upon their success, Pabst and Kovac have been working on two more root beers, which are 11 and 20 percent alcohol. Don’t let the scarcity of Not Your Father’s scare you, as it seems other breweries are catching onto the trend and producing their own hard-root beers.