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Root beer is a classic American drink. And, so is alcohol. The two have collided and many are asking what took so long. The recent trend of adult root beer took off a few years ago and shows no sign of slowing down.
This concoction has gone from a few garage experiments to a full-on trend that can be found in every state. Summer 2015 saw several companies jump on the band-wagon and successfully expand the market of adult root beer. If last summer’s success is any indication, there is sure to be an even greater spike in sales this summer as more brands hit the shelves.
What Does it Taste Like?
Although there are several brands on the market and more in development, they all have one thing in common—they taste exactly like old-fashioned root beer. If you’re someone who can tell the difference between A&W and Barqs, you might notice subtle differences. But overall, they have no alcohol aftertaste and no real difference in basic flavor. Somehow, that makes all of them special, yet boring, at the same time.
Popular Brands Hitting the Store Shelves
Not Your Father’s Root Beer: Made by Small Town Brewery’s has 75% of the adult root beer market. Pabst now distributes this brand all over the country. With an alcohol content of 5.9%, it has the strong vanilla taste. There will soon be limited edition versions with alcohol content levels of 10.9% to 19.5%.
Coney Island Root Beer: This brand has the regular root beer taste and an alcohol content of 5.8%. It has the sassafras flavor and is made with pure cane sugar, rather than corn syrup. This appeals to those who want to feel somewhat like they are making a healthy choice.
Best Damn Root Beer: Newer kid on the block and owned by Anheuser-Busch. It has an alcohol content of 5.5%.
Others on the shelves you might notice lately include: Hard Root Beer, Rowdy Root Beer, and Forbidden Root.
To Imbibe or Not to Imbibe
Just as with any new alcoholic beverage, some will love it and some will hate it. There are pros and cons to the adult root beer trend to consider before trying it yourself.
Root beer lovers will love the familiar taste
It appeals to the sweet tooth
It can be used to make floats just as regular root beer
The vintage-looking bottles are fun
Something new for those bored with the same old beer and wine choices
Sweetness factor may be too much for some. Who wants instant diabetes in a bottle?
No hint of alcohol while drinking it despite an alcohol percentage similar to most popular beers (between 5% and 5.9%). For some this may not satisfy that “I really want a drink” feeling
Despite new brands taking shape, still limited selection or variety
Most don’t have same frothiness or thickness of a regular root beer
The contradiction of an alcoholic drink tasting exactly like a non-alcoholic drink may make adult root beer a topic of debate at your summer bbq. Does it matter that it taste exactly like regular root beer? Will this perceived lack of ‘kick’ make it the Zima of 2016? Or, is the retro taste of root beer what the hipster movement will propel into the mainstream next?
For Love of All That is Rare and New
Anyone who loves craft beers may want to give adult root beer a try themselves. It obviously appeals to those who love something new and different. There are several beer clubs that offer a great variety of drinks to help the daring expand their horizons even more when it comes to alcohol.
The Craft Beer Club for $39 a shipment offers home delivery of hard-to-find beers. It takes unheard of beers from a variety of different breweries.
The Bruery-Preservation Society Club is exclusive and will appeal to those who are willing to pay for that exclusivity. It offers extremely rare beers and the club starts at a cost of $58.50 a month. The society has three tiers of membership with the upper two only accessible by invite.
When it comes to adult root beer and the rare craft beer trend in general, new and different is good. However, the jury is still out as to whether or not adult root beer, or rare craft beers, will fizzle out eventually or continually evolve and find a way to be the next big thing for years to come.