The hottest trend in beer isn’t really beer at all: it’s root beer. Well, hard root beer. The alcoholic spin on the ubiquitous soda is flying off shelves.
Small Town Brewery’s Not Your Father’s Root Beer, the most commonly found brand, totaled $7.2 million in sales from January to June, good enough to rank among the top 30 craft beer producers, according to Fortune.
If you’re looking for the fizzy drink anywhere in Westchester it’s likely you’ll come across two options: the aforementioned Not Your Father’s Root Beer and Coney Island Brewing Company’s Hard Root Beer. Let’s break down the two brands:
Not Your Father’s Root Beer
If you’ve had an A&W Root Beer, you should be able to imagine what the Not Your Father’s tastes like. They’ve nailed the taste that well. Rather than the sugary, high fructose corn syrup-laden slop this could have been, it tastes almost stunningly similar to a decent brand of the sassafras soda. The alcohol taste doesn’t really come in until the finish, where it is still faint. And at 5.9 percent ABV, that’s slightly alarming. These would be dangerous—if they weren’t carbonated to the point it should be impossible to stomach more than two in a sitting.
But this root beer is capital B beer, and has generally received praise from the craft beer crowd. The beer has a Beer Advocate rating of 87 out of 100 and 4.1 out of 5 on social beer app Untappd.
To go with love from the craft community, Not Your Father’s has big name backing. While Small Town Brewery is based in Wauconda, Ill, it is owned by Pabst Brewing.
Small Town Brewery isn’t just going to settle for one hit that plays off American nostalgia, either. Should you find yourself in a bar in the Chicago area, check out their latest beer: Not Your Mom’s Apple Pie.
Coney Island Brewing Company
Naturally, the success of Not Your Father’s was going to be enough for another brewery to bust out the sassafras and vanilla. The biggest name brewery to do so is Coney Island Brewing Company, which is run by Samuel Adams’ Boston Beer Company.
Not Your Father’s is hardly a creative name, but is at least a name. It’s hard to say as much for Coney Island’s plainly worded Hard Root Beer title. However, Coney Island wins the battle for packaging. The winding wooden roller coaster around the foamy mug is a great reference to Coney Island’s boardwalk. You can almost hear the clanks of a rising coaster as you sip it.
A six-pack of Coney Island’s take on the beer is usually placed on the same shelves at Not Your Father’s at grocery stores around Westchester. As far as taste, there’s no notable difference from Not Your Father’s. You get the hints of vanilla and licorice, with the same fizziness as the soda. Again, the alcohol is faint enough that you could forget this root beer actually has alcohol. Though at 5.8% ABV, Coney Island’s version is just slightly lighter.
It has a score of 82 out of 100 on Beer Advocate and a 3.8 out of 5 on Untappd.