Is hard root beer just a passing fad?
I’ve put this off as long as I can. Now, I’m to the point where I have to acknowledge the existence and growing popularity of hard root beer. There are more and more of them out there these days, so I can only assume that they are starting to catch on. It honestly makes me a little sad to think that they are lumped in with craft beer, when they don’t really qualify. But, hey! Maybe they do qualify and are bringing more people into the craft beer fold. That’s a good thing, right?
OK. First off, I’ll start by saying that I am not the biggest fan of root beer. I used to love it as a kid, but over time it lost its appeal. That said, I have been somewhat curious about hard root beer. Could it possibly taste like root beer? Could it be better than root beer? I needed to find out.
The one I spotted first was Not Your Father’s Root Beer (sorry, no picture), because it appeared EVERYWHERE seemingly overnight. The name got my attention, so I picked up a bottle. They are right in saying it is not my father’s, because dear old Dad would not drink this stuff. (Mainly because he doesn’t drink.) To me it seems way too sweet. It definitely has the flavor of root beer, but I just can’t get past all that sugar. The alcohol isn’t noticeable. Maybe the sweetness is too distracting.
Next, I came across Best Damn Root Beer. Another catchy name. I figured it probably was about the same, and I was right but with one exception. It was overly sweet in a diet drink, aspartame kind of way. It has that bite of the fake sweeteners in diet sodas and such. I’m not sure if that is how they sweeten it or not, but it sure tastes like it. I’ve never been a fan of diet drinks!
There is one I actually kind of like. Bayou Bootlegger from Abita Brewing. Abita has been brewing a non-alcoholic root beer for a long time, so it makes sense that they would delve into the world of hard root beer and probably do it well. And they do. Bayou Bootlegger smells like root beer, but there is the aroma of actual beer underneath. This seems to point to the fact that it is actually a beer that has had vanilla and other spices added to make it a root beer. This one is very sweet, too. It is the best hard root beer I’ve had so far. It’s not something I’d drink all the time, but I would recommend it for those who love root beer.
Is hard root beer just a passing fad? I don’t know. It remains to be seen. It’s not really my thing, but for those who like it I say, “Go for it!” To each his or her own!