Small Town Not Your Father’s Root Beer

Reviewed by on August 8, 2016 in Summer Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Small Town Brewery

  • Origin: Wauconda, IL, US

  • Rated On: August 8, 2016

  • Best Before: July 22, 2017

  • ABV: 4.5%

  • Ideal Temperature: cold to cool

  • Style: Hard Root Beer

  • Rating: GOOD !

The Review

Suburban Chicago’s Small Town Brewery have been making their hard root beer longer than most of the current trend’s bandwagoneers – about 4 years now!  It’s a little disappointing to just see ‘root beer flavour’ on the otherwise thorough list of ingredients on the label – maybe because this one is actually made at Pabst’s City Brewery in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

This 355ml bottle pours a clear, dark auburn brown colour, with two sturdy fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and ultimately just fizzy off-white head, which wisps away faster than any can of soda that I’ve had of late, leaving zilch in the way of lace in the vicinity of the glass.

It smells of earthy, kind of musty, and yet spicy root beer syrup, a bit of malty caramel, strong vanilla notes, and a twinge of metallic alcohol.  The taste is grainy caramel malt, awash in yer higher-end ‘craft’ root beer sodas of the world – i.e. better than Barq’s (but not by much), and not quite at Jones’ or Boylan’s level – a still notable vanillan sweetness, and some very weak weedy and lightly floral (hop?) bitters.  The carbonation is actually still rather present and accounted for, after that miserable opening gambit, the body a solid middleweight, yet buoyed by a strong sugary contingent, and with that creamy A&W goodness to match.  It finishes sweet, sure, but with enough earthy and spicy character to keep me from immediately scraping my tongue.

I gotta say, this ain’t half bad as a quaffable beverage, but then, I like root beer, so obviously I’m going to fall into said demographic.  As a proper beer, however, this falls short in allowing the guest ingredients to run roughshod over the base brew.  I suppose the only real danger here is in letting the kidlets get too close to Daddy’s strangely enticing glass of ‘root beer’, um, beer.

Brady White

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