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

So I had a little backyard cocktail hour over Labor Day weekend to do a head to head comparison of the two biggest (at least in Northern Virginia) hard root beers. First of all, I love root beer, so this was almost a no brainer. I’ve also tried making root beer before, so I had an idea of how it works. I needed to see what this hard root beer thing is all about. Mind you, root beer is (or can be) made similarly to beer, e.g., you add sugar, root beer extract and yeast to some water and let it sit for a while. The yeast in that case is mostly just to produce carbonation. In contrast, most commercial root beers you find in a store today are just a root beer flavored syrup and carbonated water. Nevertheless, the old school way to do it is to use yeast. I had not previously attempted to get the yeast to produce alcohol. It’s all about the type of yeast you use. Still, I figured since yeast eats sugar, if you aimed to make an actual beer, it would not be sweet because the yeast would have consumed the sugar to make the alcohol. Anyway, both of these root beers taste like soda, albeit a little flatter than soda. Nevertheless, they are just as sweet. The ones I tried both had an ABV of about 5-5.9%, but the Small Town Brewery (who makes Not Your Father’s Root Beer) also makes a 10.7% and a 19% ABV version. I think those may only be available in Illinois. On to the comparison. They both pour a dark brown, almost black color with a very thin white head that dissipates quickly. The aroma of both is of root beer, no familiar beer aromas like hops or malt are present. In terms of taste, I would say Not Your Father’s Root Beer tastes more like a familiar root beer to me. The flavor is sarsaparilla, vanilla, maybe molasses and the body is a little syrupy. The Coney Island root beer added licorice, which gives the beer a slightly spicier flavor. I would say for those who don’t like licorice, it doesn’t taste a lot like licorice, it just adds some spiciness to the other flavors of sarsaparilla, vanilla and molasses. I preferred Not Your Father’s Root Beer a little more, but these are both very good beers and they are both very good root beers. I don’t know if I would have more than one at a time because it’s pretty sweet like root beer and while I may have been able to put away some soda as a kid, I can’t do it now. Still, I really liked both of these beers a lot. I would certainly recommend it for someone who doesn’t like beer as a good introduction. However, even for beer aficionados, these are both great beers, but in sort of a category of their own. I would say they go perfectly with burgers, pizza or hot dogs and are great on a hot Summer day. I give both five out of five proper pints.

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