The next day, I hopped on my red dyno-glide beach cruiser and pedaled back to the store to try some for myself.
Now for a taste. Ironically, cracking open an ice cold bottle, the first impression you get is that this is your father's root beer. The nose and initial taste is indistinguishable from the soft drinks your parents gave you as a chubby little twelve year old. If you didn't know what you were getting into, if you didn't see tiny "5.9% alcohol" on the bottle, you might think you were drinking Barq's Root Beer. There is absolutely no alcoholic aftertaste to this beer, although Small Town Brewery also makes a 10.7% ABV version I suspect would contain at least a hint of alcohol.
To understand the complex flavor profile of NYFRB, we need to look to other craft root beers, rather than traditional grain-based brews. Root beer comes from the roots or bark of Sassafras and, less commonly, Sarsaparilla trees. Native Americans have long used Sassafras drinks for medicinal purposes, but it was not until the 1850s that Sassafras syrup was combined with soda water to create the soft drink.
Craft root beer is on the rise today, and it seems to be riding the same wave that popularized craft beer. Recently, I was at a wedding that opted for artisan soft drinks instead of beer, and served both Virgil's and Boylan's root beer. Virgil's has hints of molasses and sweet sassafras on the nose, and carries anise and wintergreen in the taste. By comparison, Boylan's is more on the dry side, with a creamy nose. The taste has hints of vanilla, cinnamon, clove and anise, but the flavors are hard to discern.
Not Your Father's Root Beer:
Nose: Ginger, sassafras, vanilla, licorice, horehound, mint.
Taste: Horehound, molasses, sassafras, Werther's Original chocolate candy, slightly bitter finish.
Recommendation: The perfect refreshing drink for a hot summer day, or add some ice cream and have yourself an alcoholic root beer float!
Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer? What did you think? Leave a comment!