Root beer conjures up images of the old A&W stand with the drive-up ordering kiosks and the waitress bringing your food to your car. Root beer was always a favorite in the house! But we always had real root beer.
Adult root beers have taken the world by storm in the last few months. There are four new 5.9 percent ABV root beers that are outstanding. These root beer-flavored malt beverages are made similar to other “malternatives,” but with real flavors of classic root beer.
Not Your Father’s Root Beer has been the 800-pound gorilla in the industry, and the most popular hard root beer in the world. Originated in Chicago by Smalltown Brewery, it is now also brewed in La Crosse, Wis., because the original brewery couldn’t keep up with demand. It comes in six-packs of bottles and cans. Not Your Father’s Root Beer is a bold smooth and spicy beverage, and is definitely the sweetest of the hard root beers.
A new entry is the Coney Island Hard Root Beer. Owned and Developed by Sam Adams, it is a different flavor profile than any other. It uses Madagascar vanilla and other unique spices in its blend. Madagascar is the leading producer of vanilla in the world. The tropical climates and unique terrain of the remote island is perfect to make the best vanilla.
Sprecher Brewing in Milwaukee has been making non-alcoholic root beer and other sodas since 1985. Their NA root beer is famous for the use of real Wisconsin honey direct from the combs, and of course other secret botanicals, including vanilla. It has the flavor of root beer that has been aged in oak bourbon barrel.
Sprecher has used their vast experience and great techniques to develop a line of new adult soft drinks. Sprecher has hard root beer, hard ginger beer and hard apple pie. The ginger is an awesome taste experience that is totally unique. Try it straight or use it in your Moscow mules (vodka and lime) for an extra kick. The Hard Apple Pie is brand new and gives you the flavor that reminds you of grandma’s old-fashioned pie — sweet and just a little tart.
RootStock Root Beer is out of Columbia, Mo. Just released this week in Minnesota, it is a collaboration of two friends who wanted to make a cool drink. It is comes in cans and is the perfect thirst-quencher. It uses pure cane sugar and molasses in the blend, is brewed without grain and is totally gluten free.
These hard root beers follow in the footsteps of other flavored malt beverages, such as Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice, and Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers. The category is constantly evolving with new flavors and ideas. It is a great way for brewers and customers to keep trying new and unique flavors to find new refreshing ways to enjoy adult beverages.
Hard root beer is the latest and greatest for a good reason. It is sweet but still savory. It hearkens us back to a simpler time. Try it with ice cream for a real adult root beer float! You will be amazed how the flavors translate so well. (Just keep the kids away.)
Another cool mixer with hard root beer is Jagermeister. The famous shooter from Germany is synonymous with good times and its fierce unique flavor. But when the herbal spices and deep alcohol of Jagermeister blend with the sweet herbs of the root beer, you get a killer drink that will liven up any party.
Flavored malts will always be around and it will be fun to see what is the next flavor trend. Keep experimenting and always enjoy in moderation. Cheers!