This past summer has been marked with a craze over hard root beer, and I, fortunately or unfortunately, have fallen victim to the fad’s delicious beverage. I haven’t been able to figure out whether hard root beer is actually a malt beverage or just beer brewed with spices. Nonetheless, Dan and I have decided to review Not Your Father’s Root Beer, created by Small Town Brewery, and Hard Root Beer, created by Coney Island Brewery.
Upon pouring Not Your Father’s into a pint glass, I noticed its dark black color and carbonation that lasted for a minute. The Hard Root Beer was also opaque, but had a thicker consistency. Due to its slightly syrupy viscosity and darker color, the carbonation lasted longer and was more noticeable. However, both hard root beers looked like normal root beers. Each also smelled relatively the same, with elements of vanilla and sassafras. These spices are typical of regular root beer.
The Not Your Father’s beverage had a spiced character significantly influenced by vanilla, while maintaining a bitter aftertaste. The mouthfeel was clean and crisp; however, I didn’t like this in combination with the bitter flavor. The Hard Root Beer on the other hand, was as sweet as root beer is supposed to be and had that more carbonated, syrupy mouthfeel. It was not as bitter as Not Your Father’s and possessed a fuller taste.
Overall, I preferred the Hard Root Beer over Not Your Father’s. The fuller taste and sweeter flavor played to my palate. It’s a small thing, as they are both delicious root beers. However, I wouldn’t consider them to be actual beers or craft brews, like they are advertised. I think that they are just that: hard root beers, in a category of their own.
In a fun twist on our weekly beer review, Chris and I decided to review hard root beers. I had previously known of Small Town Brewery’s Not Your Father’s Root Beer, and I’d heard good things. A few weeks ago, however, Chris mentioned Coney Island Brewing Company’s Hard Root Beer. With my favorite soft drink’s adult cousin in mind, Chris and I came to the conclusion that we had to do a side-by-side comparison of the two.
Choosing the superior root beer was easy; when it came down to it, the Coney Island was an order of magnitude more satisfying. But I’m not letting you free from reading this review yet, so, read on.
First things first: popping the top. Both drinks smelled distinctly of my long-time favorite beverage. Pouring the drinks was my first glance into just how different hard root beers can be; even at this point in the review, Not Your Father’s fell flat relative to Coney Island. A regular pour into a glass proved boring for the Not Your Father’s, as it landed without foam or carbonation. In contrast, Coney Island provided a light, airy, and lingering foam that positioned itself on top of the root beer. Smell and look are but a small part of root beer. There’s much more to sassafras and sarsaparilla.
The taste. Oh yes, the taste. I tried Not Your Father’s first. The first impression was chemical-like. It was, to me, an alcoholic beverage trying to be a root beer. The root beer flavor was good, but overtones and aftertastes took over and ruined the experience. Not Your Father’s was ultimately a let-down; despite my high hopes, the drink just failed to deliver the fun of root beer without making it seem overly adult.
Coney Island, in contrast, was fantastic, ranking higher on my palate than many soft root beers. Coney was a true root beer that happened to have alcohol in it, compared to the opposite from Small Town; it was sweet and bubbly, with no unusual tastes or bitterness. A hard root beer, in my opinion, should be as much a soda as it is a drink you’d have at the bar. This drink managed to deliver that; it has the fun gimmick of tasting like root beer, but it’s just as easy to imagine relaxing with one after a day at school.
Hard root beers have been relatively popular lately. Not Your Father’s made an appearance at a few of my family’s gatherings, and I’ve seen friends drink it at various events. Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel that they’re missing out, because another, much better hard root beer is available.
As for ratings, I’d give Not Your Father’s Root Beer a 2.25/5. It was a drinkable beverage, but it doesn’t deserve to break the halfway mark. Coney Island Hard Root Beer scores a perfect 5. Like how last week’s Renssel-ale was my kind of beer, Coney Island is my kind of drink, and I fit the niche that it’s aimed at. It deserves the top rating.