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

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Not Your Father's Root Beer (5.9%)Not Your Father's Root Beer (5.9%)

Brewed by:
Small Town Brewery
Illinois, United States

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

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Reviews: 575 | Ratings: 2,702
Photo of macrosmatic
3.87/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Reviewed from notes. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Cycle Brewing pint glass.

A: Dark brown and nearly opaque. Minimal visible carbonation, and a thin tan head fades almost instantly (not very root beer-like).

S: On the other hand, this does smell like root beer – almost exactly. There’s maybe a touch of bourbon and oaky vanilla? But mostly root beer.

T: More root beer here. Sticky sweet caramelly, oaky, and vanilla, all over root beer candy. There’s a touch of alcohol heat at the very end, but it's minimal. Root beer sweetness in the hang.

M: Small bubble carbonation makes it crackle on the tongue. Amazingly low alcohol presence. A sticky mouthfeel and a body about on par with an average porter maybe.

O: It is what it claimed to be, and it's a good bit better than the Sprecher version I think. I don't know when I'll drink this though…those times I want to get drunk but really craving a soda?? Regardless, it was certainly interesting.

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Photo of MichaelProcton
3.51/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Very dark (but not quite opaque) cola brown. Very minimal visible carbonation, and no head cap ever materializes. Vanilla sweetness on the nose. This tastes quite decent to be a root beer, with only a slight touch of something off underneath (particularly on the back end); definitely nothing like an actual beer, though. Mouthfeel is, again, fine for a soda, but none of that beer-y fullness. There's a bit of a lingering, cloying aftertaste that stays around too long, too. This is something I don't mind drinking as a 5.9% ABV, but I'm not sure what it is or wants to be.

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Photo of Pantalones
3.1/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Found a bottle of this selling individual at Kroger. Can't find a best-by date but I do notice "2376LT" which may be a Julian bottling date -- so probably August of 2016? Ehh, it's not an IPA so it should still be fine.

Looks like... well, root beer. There is a more "beer-like" element to it -- when the foam fizzed up it looked like a sort of hybrid between beer foam and soda foam (thick layer of tan foam, forming those "rocky" patterns, but with huge bubbles popping in and fizzing away rapidly like a soda), and although the initial "head" faded away in seconds a few wisps and a ring around the inside of the glass returned afterward. It's very dark, actually darker than most root beers I've had, my flashlight can barely penetrate it and even then it just looks like red dots on the other side.

As expected, it also smells like root beer -- this time with no "beer-beer" present. Heavy on the spices and lighter on the vanilla, but still pretty nice. As it sits in the glass a while longer and more of the beer is drank, the smell unfortunately takes a turn toward metallic... but initially it was very nice.

The taste is, unfortunately, not as good as the smell. It's very sweet right away, but the big spices present in the smell are much weaker in the flavor and the lighter vanilla in the background only shows up as an aftertaste. It honestly reminds me more of a lightly "root-beer-spiced" flat Dr. Pepper than it does of root beer. A little bit of a darkish toasty-sweet malt flavor pops in every now and then to remind you that this is indeed a beer. Something almost reminding me of chewing gum in there, too, oddly enough. There's also a funky almost veggie-ish presence in there, I'm not really sure where that could be coming from. Pretty disappointing flavor overall, especially after how nicely root-beer-ish the smell was.

Mouthfeel... maybe I just waited too long between pouring and drinking, but it definitely does not have the degree of fizziness that I'd expect from root beer. It's not awful, but it really does come across too much like a slightly flat soda just like in the taste. It's pretty drinkable at least, and has a bit of a sugary stickiness to it like actual soda, just without the high fizziness that actual soda has (even after sitting open for a few minutes, a soda is much fizzier than this.) To its credit, there's no noticeable alcohol presence at all despite the flavors falling pretty flat in comparison to a lot of 6%ish ABV beers; if not for a slight warming in my belly starting to be noticeable toward the end of the glass I would've figured this was just a mediocre brand of regular ol' G-rated root beer.

Overall, an interesting oddity to try, and definitely pulled off the smell of root beer if nothing else. I don't regret buying a single bottle, but it's not something I would ever want a six-pack of. Next time I'm in the mood for root beer I'll go for the non-alcoholic variety, much cheaper (and tastier) that way.

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Photo of KingSlayer
3.04/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Look: very thin liquid similar to water. dark mahogany/chestnut color. translucent liquid with ruby highlights when exposed to direct light. foam head with no retention subsides in 1 second, no belgian lacing. coarse and unorganized bubbles.
Smell: strong vanilla, spearmint, star anise, sarsaparilla odor. sugary soda-like smell. in deep inspiration residual bitterness is perceived at posterior taste buds and oropharynx.
Taste: again strong vainilla, star anise and sarsaparilla flavor, spearmint backtaste. bitterness clings to mid tongue and superior palate. alcohol bitterness also present. very sugary.
Feel: sticky sweetness, not much of a fizz, awkward mid and backtaste bitterness. alcohol not mixing well. tastes like bitter regular supermarket root beer plus a big shot of Bacardi. The velvety creamy texture of other non alcoholic root beers on the market isn't present here, this is thin and watery very soda-like.
Overall: Not that horrible but I sincerely expected something else. Alcohol doesn't mix well in this brew. Tastes like cheap Bacardi. I wouldn't call it a beer/ale its more of a soda with a shot of cheap alcohol.
Edit: after 2 bottles of this i got nausea.

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Photo of Benjolovesbeer
2.08/5  rDev -45%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

This root beer is nothing special, total rip off. You can get a much better tasting drink at a cheaper price by mixing Barq root beer and light Bacardi. I suggest having that over this nonsense of a root beer.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.6/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

My wife made me buy this, a whole six-pack, and it's not cheap. We split one and the other 5 are still sitting by the steps to the basement waiting for a party to happen so that I can dump it on someone else. It's sweet and sugary, syrupy I guess, at least in the mouthfeel; and alcoholic, and like rootbeer-extract. I don't even consider it beer in all honesty, it's more of a malternative, not that I'm opposed to malternatives, or anything like that, because there are some that I like - but it just seemed so sloppy out of balance that I couldn't enjoy it. I even tried putting it over ice to help thin it and balance it out but that really made it worse. If you're someone that likes beer I'd probably avoid it, but someone who prefers sweet mixed drinks and the such would probably find it interesting.

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Photo of mcpat1993
5/5  rDev +32.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Hardly even beer, but I love it. Root beer is my favorite type of pop so this is just a blessing since I don't allow myself to drink regular pop. I just group this beverage under beer and give myself a pass. Tastes exactly like, if not better, than root beer. Love it.

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Photo of BeerStud187
2.24/5  rDev -40.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Looks fine. Smells like root beer. Tastes like ass. Ok, more,succient, it tastes lie terrible malt liquor mixed with bad root beer. Look, I love root beer and I love alcohol, but this is neither. This is rubbing alcohol mixed with the worst POS root beer you've ever heard of. Skip this and just pour a shot into real rootbeer and skip this s---- f you want alcoholic root beer. This is awful and i hope their entire organization burns to the ground. F--- them. I've heard good things about their heavier sh-t, but I'm skeptical. This is bad.

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Photo of teromous
2.31/5  rDev -38.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

On the neck: "1366LT 1142FL"

Appearance: Black body that is almost completely opaque save for a bit of very dark red that shows through in the light. The head forms low and fades quickly like a soda. It is white with hints of light tan. No big billowy foamy rootbeer heads from the Peanuts cartoon here.

Aroma: It smells just like rootbeer soda. It is not a strong aroma but more of a soft and subtle aroma.

Taste: It has an odd taste. There is a lot of residual sweetness to the beer and it has a flavor similar to rubbing alcohol. It does taste like rootbeer but more like rootbeer mixed with some rubbing alcohol and a spoon full of sugar. It has a wintergreen bubblegum aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: It has a soft mouthfeel which is contradictory to some of the rootbeers with more bite. It has a syrupy finish and a sickly sweet aftertaste. There is an odd bitterness at the end that just doesn't fit with the beer or compete with the sweetness.

Overall: As both beer lover and rootbeer lover I thought I might enjoy this but I was sadly disappointed. I really wouldn't recommend it and I wouldn't buy it again. As far as alcoholic rootbeer goes it looks like the search is still on for a properly brewed beverage. I suppose I will be sticking to mixed drinks in the future when I want alcoholic rootbeer. My recommendation is to stick with mixed drinks that are made with a better crafted rootbeer and a better crafted alcohol.

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Photo of kevINSIGHT
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Everything these folks make is an amazing reproduction of the soda equivalent. Great root beer flavor though not the head. A little after-burn on the flavors, but enjoyable. They are a great novelty but a bit pricey. I love that they are not malt and flavoring like other fake drinks but actually brewed. Well done!

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Photo of rawkin91
5/5  rDev +32.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I would give this a 10 if I could, I'm not big in beer , so whenjoy I say Not your father's root beer does more than hit the spot, it's a truly amazing statement. This is the best I have ever tasted.

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Photo of Mantooth
3/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

So, this actually is a beer eh? Could've fooled me. Pours like a flat cola and smells and tastes like root beer. There's some vanilla in there too, certainly and not a hint of alcohol in the nose or taste. It tastes like a root beer, but without any kick. It's crazy sweet too. Odd offering, but I got mine for $1 at my local pub.

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Photo of sokol_1993
3.17/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Too damn sweet, felt like a ton of artificial sugar has been put in there. The overpowering sweetness hid any nuances or herbal taste that a root beer's supposed to have.

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Photo of Strangelove_PhD
1.64/5  rDev -56.6%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

The label says "beer flavored with spices", when it should read "root beer with malt liquor". This is no way resembles a beer, and it is excessively sweet. From the aroma I was hoping for a richly spiced beer reminiscent of root beer, with a subtle hint of sweetness. However, it tastes nearly as sweet as soda, and there is no practically no bite or alcohol taste. Frankly, I think this kind of "beer" is marketed towards younger drinkers that do not like the bitterness or flavors of real beer. And unfortunately for me, I am stuck with 5 other cans from the pack...

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Photo of JohnDee
1.62/5  rDev -57.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Brownish black, like a cola. No head to speak of but well carbonated. Smells like root beer at first, but then it smells like disinfectant instead. The taste, sadly, follows the nose. It suggests root beer, but only for an instant at the beginning of the sip; that impression is almost immediately displaced by an overwhelmingly unpleasant medicinal or phenolic flavor reminiscent of Band-Aids or Lysol. I can only assume the spices are to blame since Coney Island Hard Root Beer has a similar flaw. The medicinal character is so strong there's almost no point in mentioning that it's also too sweet. Honestly, this tastes awful.

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Photo of SaltofOH
3.76/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No visible date on the bottle. Drank from an old fashioned glass, with ice.

A: pours a dark brown with some ruby highlights visible when held up to the light. No head. No lacing or retention. I have had actual root beer that had more head than this.

S: smells like root beer. What else can I say? Sugary, vanilla, cinnamon, sarsaparilla, cream soda like.

T: tastes like root beer. Sugary sweet arrival and mid palate. Mid palate full of root beer flavor. Trails off to a lingering vanilla. Alcohol? What alcohol?

M: there were chunks of something in it, maybe the secret spice blend? Definitely not yeast. Slightly fizzy, well carbonated, but no carbonic bite.

O: entirely too sweet for me. I don't drink soft drinks (because of the empty calories, but I drink beer; that irony is not lost on me). But as a kid, I always had a soft spot for root beer, and this is good root beer. Not knowing how to rate this, I rated it to how closely it approximates my ideal form of a root beer. By that measure, it is good. But if I had never drank this, and if never drink it again, I will have lost nothing. At a certain level I'd rather buy Jones Soda and drop a shot of vodka in it; at least then I know I'm drinking.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

My neighbor keeps these in his fridge and he invited me over for one. I obliged because I was interested in seeing how this tastes. Surprisingly, it's pretty damn good. I can't remember the last time I actually had root beer soda, but this is a very good copy cat of what I remember. It is crisp and clean with just enough alcohol bite. This would be something that could get away from you if you pound them too fast: they are very good. I was surprised by how tasty this is and may keep some for the pool or mowing the grass.

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Photo of Lingenbrau
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
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 +32.3%
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 -38.4%
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 +8.2%
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 -2.6%
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 -30.4%
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%
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 -22.2%
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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Not Your Father's Root Beer (5.9%) from Small Town Brewery
3.78 out of 5 based on 2,702 ratings.
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