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Not Your Father's Root Beer (5.9%) | Small Town Brewery

very good
559 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Small Town Brewery
Illinois, United States | website

Style: Herbed / Spiced Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Not Your Father’s Root Beer is a category-defining craft specialty ale brewed with unique spices. Brewer Tim Kovac’s creativity and painstaking commitment to flavor complexity results in an unmistakable offering that masterfully blends hints of sarsaparilla, wintergreen, anise, and vanilla. A smooth and balanced Ale, NYFRB has broad appeal – from discerning craft beer drinkers to non-beer drinkers.

Added by MasterSki on 10-29-2012

User Reviews
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Reviews: 559 | Ratings: 2,621
Photo of Lingenbrau
4.25/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Never judged a hard soda before. All I can say is this looks, smells, and tastes like a great root beer, but has a somewhat noticeable alcoholic quality to it. It is dangerous! Cheers!

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Photo of JustenR
5/5  rDev +31.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Considering this as a specialty beer instead of just beer;
The smell has the homemade root beer smell, the taste is unique to homemade root beer and not commercial taste. There is a small drive in that makes homemade root beer near me and NYFRB matches that taste. The look and feel of NYFRB is that of root beer, this is not a beer only type drink. If you love root beer and want a small punch to go with it, this is a very good choice.

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Photo of Beaver13
2.33/5  rDev -38.8%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle. Pours brown with a fizzy tan head that quickly disappears. Looks like pop.

The aroma is root beer and vanilla.

The flavor is sugary sweet root beer and vanilla. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a little prickly carbonation.

Overall, tastes like strong sweet root beer and vanilla. I don't get any alcohol. Too sweet for me with too much vanilla.

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Photo of kbrokhoff
4.09/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Guys, let's not complicate things here. This 'beer' was clearly brewed to be root beer with alcohol in it. That's it. In that they succeeded. The brew looks, smells, and tastes exactly like god damn root beer soda. There's a slight burn in the aftertaste that lets you know there is alcohol present. The head dissipates quickly, which sounds exactly like you just poured a root beer soda into a glass. Anyone drinking this 'beer' thinking that it's going to taste like anything other than root beer is disillusioned. The real question is, should this type of alcoholic beverage be called a beer? Beats me. It is delicious nonetheless.

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Photo of Sandalwood
3.68/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2016, pours a very brown to black color. There is a little off white head that dissipates quickly, no lacing, and quite a bit of carbonation. The odor for me is birch, licorice, anis, candy, sweet, wintergreen, woods, tart. The taste for me is root beer like, licorice, birch, wintergreen, candy, slightly metallic, sweet. No bitterness, metallic aftertaste.

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Photo of DesMoinesMike
2.63/5  rDev -31%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2

It sounds like a good idea but there's a sourness at the end that just did't feel right. I ended up dumping the last part after struggling through it. Not getting this one again.

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Photo of Kazahkstan
2.04/5  rDev -46.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

This review is not full because I didn't want to go out to buy a single bottle of this garbage to do a proper review:
This is one of the worst alcoholic drinks I've ever had- worse than Lime-a-ritas. It smells and looks like a glass of root beer, and even tastes like it for the first two sips. After that, the overpowering taste of spices assault your palate and nose, quickly followed by an acrid, offensive artificial sweetener taste, which remains for the rest of the drink.
This garbage costs $5 at the bar and I left 2/3rds of the glass for the bartender to dump out.
Offensively sweet, overspicing, chemical taste- I would not recommend this to anybody.

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Photo of microbrewlover
2.94/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This strange brew looks and smells just like, surprise, root beer; lots of fizz too.
Smell: root beer
Taste: Root beer with a bite. There is just a little alcohol lingering under the surface which leaks through. The finish is a little boozy, there is no carbonation at the end. Overall, pleasant to drink; worth a try.

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Photo of sgt_187em
3.98/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is the best hard root beer that I've tried to date. 2nd was Coney Island's and last was Bucsh's 'Best Damn Root Beer'. This one was less carbonated than I would have liked, no head formed, but it tasted most like root beer. Alcohol taste was noted but not overwhelming. Good stuff for what it is.

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Photo of asmodeus1971
1.68/5  rDev -55.9%
look: 2.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 1

First taste or two was fine. It tasted like root beer. Then the aftertaste took over and the sweetness just got more intense with each sip. I really wanted to love this but in the end I couldn't even finish the first bottle.

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Photo of beergoot
3.77/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dark, brownish body; initial thick head that very quickly disappears completely. Vanilla and sarsaparilla aroma; caramel and brown sugar sweetness. Heavy sweetness on the palate, mimicking much of what is present in the aroma; peppermint-like tones; some bitterness. Heavy body; prickly carbonation; very sweet finish.

Opening the bottle brings on a rush of classic root beer aroma and, putting your nose to the glass, gives you the spritzing carbonation also associated with a soda. In fact, one might be hard pressed to know about any alcohol presence here as it really does come across as a root beer. With that said, I see this being more of a gimmick than anything else. It's too heavy and too sweet for my tastes in a beer by lacking a solid malt-base presence, and if I want a root beer, well, I'd just buy a root beer and skip the bonus alcohol presence. Good for what it is. It doesn't seem to present itself other than an alcohol-infused, root beer-like flavored beverage. It seems to meet its apparent taste profile, so high marks for that, yet I doubt I'd go out of my way for a second bottle...

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Photo of scootny
4.72/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Hello BA brothers! Reality check.
This is a root beer brewed from beer ingredients. The can says " We like to think of it as a dark spiced ale with vanilla and honey notes. Best served chilled or poured in a glass over ice." If you don't like root beer or have an issue with a beer that is in that mold don't apply. I love root beer. Here is my application.

A dark bubbly beverage that looks like soda.

Nose has all the attributes of the target beverage and is a delight to the nose.

Taste is a dead ringer for root beer. Alcohol is hidden.

A soda like carbonation delightful and crisp.

A couple of these and I'm good. Except on a hot night then I can go for three or four. As a root beer brewed from real beer this is exceptional.

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Photo of dephtones
4.34/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm not an aficionado, I just like drinking different beer. I don't have a great palate or anything like that. I'm a normal beer drinker.

That being said this stuff is awesome. If you like root beer, pick this up. It tastes like a root beer that's a tad stale, but it still tastes great. It doesn't taste like alcohol at all. My brother told me about this. It's not available where I live but when I go out of state I always bring pack a couple of 6 packs. The only downside is it's a bit heavy. One or two of these make me feel full, but buzzed.

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Photo of gerite
4.4/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bought a six-pack of cans and poured into a growler for chilling.

This is more of a Root Beer with alcohol than a regular beer with root beer flavor. As a Root Beer it is great! As a beer it is rather sweet, watery and lacking in body.

Since I bought this as a Root Beer, I gave it a high rating it as a Root Beer.

This is a great beer for people who don't drink beer, but not for kids. It will sneak up on you.

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Photo of MojitoCheesecake
2.78/5  rDev -27%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Tastes like an A&W Root Beer Barrel candy. You know the ones that you would find in your grandmother's candy dish in the 1990s. This beer is a bit watery ,a bit medicinal, and a tad bit too sweet. I'm interested in trying the versions that have a higher ABVs as I've heard the issues that a lot of people have with this particular version are not present in the other versions.

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Photo of jettjon
3.99/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 12 oz. bottle, fridge temp into a tulip glass. Dark black color, no light penetrates. Lots of bubbles but no real head. Nose of root beer, sweet with vanilla and sarsaparilla notes. Taste is very root-beer like. In fact I think anyone would be hard pressed to tell that this is not indeed a regular non-alcoholic root beer, other than a slight alcohol burn at the very end. Not overly sweet to me, and I never drink sugared sodas because they taste too sweet. However it is pretty sweet, though not artificially so. Chugging several of these would be problematic in my mind. Mouth is bubbly, crisp, and distinctly root-beer-like.

Overall: A very good herbed/spiced beer in its own right, and an excellent “hard” root beer. I had previously tried “Best Damn Root beer” which was pretty awful. This one though is definitely worth trying.

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Photo of Parlika
1.96/5  rDev -48.6%
look: 1 | smell: 5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Am I the only person who reviewed this that isn't suffering from diabetes? One sip of this swill was like a mouthful of high fructose corn syrup mixed with powdered sugar and vanilla. Absolutely awful. If you think McDonald's is a gourmet meal, you've found the right drink. For those with a palate more refined than an 8-year-old, avoid at all costs.

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Photo of theamericanpsycho79
5/5  rDev +31.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On the spot review. I was curious about this one, I saw it lurking in my local Market District. Never had anything like this before. An alcoholic root beer? Why not. I figured this would either be really really good or really really bad. I feared it would taste like a gross taste of bitter beer and barely any root beer flavor. Here goes, folks....

Look: cracked her open and poured it into my Duvel goblet. The head is huge, it foamed over because I wasn't careful. Imagine pouring root beer into a glass filled with ice cream. That is what happened. What's it resemble? Root beer. It looks like some delicious dark A&W Root Beer but with a massive head that slowly goes away.

Smell: Root Beer! Pure delicious root beer. I don't smell much else, a tiny hint of alcohol and creaminess behind all the root beer smell. This smells remarkable.

Taste: The moment of truth. Boom. Better than I had expected. Served ice cold out of the fridge, and battling past the lingering head, I taste a delicious root beer with a minimal alcohol presence which has slight beer characteristics... and I do mean slight. This is one delicious root beer, but the alcohol content on it isn't enough to really stand out, probably would like it to be closer to 9% alcohol but really, it's smooth, it's tasty, it's well worth picking up.

Feel: Carbonated, and appropriately so. Nobody wants flat root beer. All the wonderful characteristics of a good root beer are here, with alcohol hiding behind the palette. It has a creamy presence to it as well, and thankfully the carbonation does not assault my tongue like some belgian ales I have tried. It's very nice.

Overall: Apart from maybe Virgil's Root Beer, this is one of the best root beers I have tasted. Now as far as beers go, not a strong alcohol presence, might need the entire 6 pack to really feel anything, but this is an outstanding dessert beer. I am not sure if I would try it on ice cream, but its great for dessert after a delicious meal or any occasion you may wanna sip a delicious root beer that has a little kick to it. A must have.

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Photo of hreb
3.93/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Delicious, spicy root beer, with hardly any alcohol flavor at all. This beer is just dangerously drinkable candy. Sweet, yes, but flavorful and worth trying more than once.

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Photo of yuenglingfan101
4.75/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A great beer. it doesnt taste like beer at all but the taste of root beer is really strong kinda like barqs root beer. this beer gets you messed up after about 2 but it is so addicting

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Photo of xboyjd
5/5  rDev +31.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

By far, the best beer I have ever had. I love it. I've tried several other hard root beers,, such as Best Damn Root Beer and Coney Island's Hard Root Beer, but this is by far the best one. It is nice and sweet.

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Photo of stlfatguy
4.16/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I picked it up thinking I was going to be disappointed with a beer that had some weak flavor additives, and maybe reminded me of root beer if I used my imagination. I was pleasantly surprised with the experience. This is definitely more "root beer with alcohol" than "beer with vanilla/spice flavoring", and that's how I chose to rate it. To that end, yes, I forgot I was drinking a beer. Taste was very sweet and syrupy. Felt more like a soda than any type of brewed beverage. People may disagree, but I think they're clearly going for the sweet, yummy, mixed-drink crowd, and with this one, I think its easy to forget you're drinking a beer. Actually, its pretty easy to forget there's any alcohol in here at all.

I'll admit that I've had better root beers. This one was a little too syrupy and not quite as smooth as your everyday A&W. But as far as beer that tries to remind you of the taste of a root beer, there was no question.

Now the negatives. I could only drink one. They hit the flavor, but maybe too good. It was just too sweet for a session. I had it from the bottle, so I'll have to update the "look" rating next time around. Also, I docked some points in the "overall" because I feel like the value needed to be taken into consideration somewhere. This is definitely an expensive beer, and this is only the 5.9% version. If you want a novelty beer, or something to have a little fun with, then this is it. (I've seen people pour it over vanilla ice cream and make what they claimed were very tasty 'adult root beer floats.') If something like that would seem horrifying to you, then this is one you should probably avoid.

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Photo of Lahoi
3.56/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This one is somewhat difficult to rate. I can't exactly compare it to anything else in the style. I guess all I can do is compare it to other root beers. In that regard, this is a good beer. It tastes like a good root beer, but with a little more kick. So subtle is the alcohol that it could be downright dangerous. My only knocks: it was too syrupy sweet; the head, or lack thereof, was disappointing.

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Photo of zeledonia
4.12/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is an incredible homage to root beer. If the bottle didn't tell me different, I'd think I was drinking actual root beer. The appearance, down to the soda-like fizz that crackles away, is spot on. The spices in the smell and taste are remarkable. While there are beers I like better, it's been a long time since I was this impressed by one. Unique and amazing.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.78/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 1.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

Rapidly diminishing head, pours root beer color (no surprise there). No head at all after a few seconds.

Aromas of vanilla, horehound, spice, sarsaparilla, and malts. Faint, slightly mechanical.

Flavor is delicious with a delightful burn, very sweet with vanilla and apple pie like flavors, a bit of spiced horehound and of course, root beer barrels. Not beer-like at all, I'm not sure how to take this...but it is delicious.

It is carbonated like pop, but I think that's the point. Lots of nice delicate burn on the palate, and no finish really.

Overall this is a relax, kick-up-your-feet, or even party beer. It tastes good and goes down easy, and is super surprising they were able to replicate root beer so well.

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Not Your Father's Root Beer (5.9%) from Small Town Brewery
86 out of 100 based on 559 ratings.