Last year, Not Your Father’s Root Beer made a splash with beer lovers and drinkers in general with its hard root beer. While they were far from the first company to make an alcoholic root beer, their version managed to develop a pretty hard-core following fairly quickly. So quickly in fact that it caught the attention of Anheuser-Busch, which released its own version, called “Best Damn Root Beer,” in mid-December.
I recently went on a multi-state road trip with a friend of mine, where we happened upon a six-pack of the beer (soda?) at one of our gas station pit stops in South Carolina. It’s marketed as a “craft beer” outside of the Anheuser-Busch label, so if you didn’t know that you were drinking big beer, you’d be forgiven for thinking Best Damn was just another small craft brewery trying to make it by latching on to the newest hard soda trend. AB purchased Best Damn, which also makes a hard Apple Ale, in July.
My friend didn’t know, and bought a six-pack to give it a try. And so, I gave it a try as well, in the name of… science, or something. Here’s what I found:
Pouring it out of the bottle, you get exactly what you might expect from your average root beer. The bottle is carbonated, but not so much so that a fast pour is going to overflow your glass (something I’ll occasionally do with a bottle of soda). There’s no head on it like you would get from a beer, it’s by in large very soda-like. The caramel color and carbonation mimic what you might find from someone like A&W or Barq’s. We’re off to a good start.
From the moment it exits the bottle you’re going to smell root beer and vanilla. So much so, that I was convinced it was going to be pretty tasty based on smell alone. It smells really good, and is strong enough you’re going to catch a whiff from a few feet away. Unfortunately, the good things stop at the smell.
Imagine if you took seltzer water, and dissolved a root beer candy in it. Drinking it, you’d still have the sense you were drinking a glass of water, but there would also be that tiny root beer kick on the end. That’s Best Damn Root Beer. Given the strong (delicious) smell, you’d think it would have a strong flavor, but it just doesn’t. There’s also a weird, sour aftertaste that comes after each sip. Possibly from the alcohol added into the mix, it makes what was already a bad thing even worse.
I’m a huge root beer fan, hard root beer enthusiast, and I could only make it through half a glass of this one before I had to pour it out.
If you have a hankering for an alcoholic root beer and don’t live somewhere you can easily score a six-pack of Not Your Father’s Root Beer (or Coney Island’s offering which is also pretty tasty), I highly recommend making your own. A personal fave of mine: mixing together some vanilla vodka (or rum if you like things sweet) and some IBC is always a sure-fire success. Even better, throw in a scoop of vanilla ice cream and make yourself an alcoholic root beer float. You can thank me later.
Brewery: Best Damn Brewing / Anheuser-Busch
City: St. Louis, Missouri
Style: Herbed/Spiced Beer