The Hard Root Beer Trend: Not Your Father’s Root Beer vs. Coney Island Hard Root Beer

Among the beer trends we’ve seen blow up in 2015 is the emergence of so-called hard root beers. It began with Not Your Father’s Root Beer (which should also be labeled “Not Your Kid’s Root Beer”) from Pabst/Phusion, I mean Small Town Brewery. Recently Sam Adams, I mean Coney Island Brewing (which is owned by Sam Adams parent company) released their own Hard Root Beer. And not to be outdone, Anheuser-Busch will soon be releasing their own version, Best Damn Root Beer.

There’s plenty to be wary about with all of these beers. The story of Small Town Brewery is rather fishy to me, and you can read more about it here. Pardon me if I’m a little skeptical that the same company that produces Four Loko, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice is also “brewing” Not Your Father’s Root Beer. And when cases upon cases are stacked on the floor of nearly every grocery store in town, it’s hard to buy their “small town” shtick.

I recently tried Not Your Father’s Root Beer (5.9% ABV) side by side with Coney Island’s Hard Root Beer (5.8% ABV). And, BS stories aside, here are my thoughts.

Not Your Father's Root Beer vs. Coney Island Hard Root Beer
Not Your Father’s Root Beer vs. Coney Island Hard Root Beer

Both look like root beer when poured. The carbonation isn’t quite what you’d see out of a soda fountain root beer, but then again, it isn’t really supposed to be quite that carbonated. Both smell of vanilla. Lots of vanilla, with some licorice to boot. The NYFRB tastes like root beer at first. Very sweet root beer, but still, you could certainly mistake it for Barq’s or Dad’s or A&W. The finish is a little off, and that’s where the alcohol burn comes through. But the main thing I find is just how sweet this is. After a few sips, the sweetness actually begins to get a little off putting. Or a lot off putting by the end of the 12 ounce glass.

The Coney Island version wasn’t quite as sweet as the NYFRB. It was more like a beer with vanilla and root beer flavors, but there was something that was still a little off to me. It took me a while, but then it hit me about halfway through the glass. It had a distinct toothpaste flavor, specifically Pepsodent. You know, this stuff:


It was immediately ruined for me. Done.

But hey, maybe you’ll like it.

For me, I can enjoy the Not Your Father’s Root Beer in very small doses. My wife tends to enjoy it, so I’ll take a few sips of hers, which ends of being plenty for me. I can’t really say I’ll drink either of these very often.

What are your thoughts on these? Let me know in the comments below.


7 thoughts on “The Hard Root Beer Trend: Not Your Father’s Root Beer vs. Coney Island Hard Root Beer

  1. As I have just come to try both of these brands. I’m not a beer drinker as it’s too bitter. The NYFRB is a sweeter taste which can be a lil off after a bit. The Coney Island tasted like diet RootBeer to me which kinda turned me to it. So out of the 2, I’d lean more towards the NYFRB.

  2. Apparently you don’t attempt to do any research on the breweries that you write product reviews of. If I were Small Town I’d be a little offended by the “schtick” comment. Just because a small brewery has success does not mean they’re trying to pull one over on you. Wauconda, Il is not exactly a booming city and the brewery only makes their root beers and a couple other brews…completely not affiliated with any of the beverages you named. Hard to take your reviews or website seriously with such nonsense and unprofessional ways. Curious as to how you came up with the specific brands you suggest Small Town being linked to, just the first that came to mind?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s