- Always looking to innovate, the alcoholic beverages industry is contributing to a new trend among consumers: hard root beer, a boozier version of the classic sweet treat.
- One brand stands out for consumers, Not Your Father’s Root Beer from Small Town Brewery, which earned a high 94 out of 100 rating on Beer Advocate, an aggregator of beer reviews.
- Small Town made its first batch of Not Your Father's in 2013, and after surging in popularity, the brewery signed a distribution deal with Pabst Brewing earlier this year. A group of investors, including Pabst CEO Eugene Kashper, swooped in to buy the Not Your Father's brand outright a few months later.
"We really made this for ourselves and local consumers more than anything," Small Town founder Tim Kovac told Bloomberg via e-mail. "[I] had no idea it would take off this way. ... It really seems to hit on a sense of nostalgia for people."
In addition to a sense of nostalgia, hard root beer could be an opportunity for craft and other brewers to connect with consumers who don't normally drink traditional beer or the other seemingly outlandish beer flavors craft brewers have come out with over the past decade: oyster stout, pork, bacon and maple, and key lime pie, to name a few. Root beer is nostalgic, but it's also just familiar, so producing a flavor that is more recognizable to consumers could be a good first step to introducing them to a brewer's brands.
Hard root beer is catching on with other major brewers as well. Pabst and Kovac have two additional hard root beers in the works, coming in at 11% for Pabst and 20% alcohol for Kovac. Boston Beer, of Sam Adams fame, is also rumored to be crafting its own version.