Forget double IPAs, stouts, porters, pumpkin ales and hundreds of other craft-beer varieties. Right now, the hottest-selling craft-beer six-pack is... a root beer! "Not Your Father's Root Beer" brings together many a kid's favorite soft-drink flavor--root beer--with an adult kick--6% alcohol, half again as much as a light beer. As for a fast start, the new ale's short-term share is already a third the size of all of Sam Adams, according to Beer Marketers Insights.
Even more interesting, how will the craft community respond?
So far, Not Your Father's Root Beer has drawn little commentary from the craft-beer world, at least if our Twitter feed is any sign. It's almost as though these beer geeks are refusing to take a root beer seriously. Or they figure it's a passing fad... much the way BigBeer felt about craft beers back when. If that's the case, they might want to reconsider.
Bitter. Hoppy. Heavy. Thick. Complex. Isn't it possible that one important weakness of many craft beers--their less-than-pleasant taste (and after-taste) experience--opened up an opportunity? In particular, the darker, heavier craft beers often overwhelm the senses. While craft-beer cognoscenti may wistfully savor over-the-top flavor notes, many ordinary folks can barely stomach one serving. But what if you could pour a dark beer in your glass telling everyone you're something of a beer connoisseur, but have it deliver a more pleasant taste?
Could this root beery concoction be the first really tasty and drinkable "dark craft beer?"
Watch for BigCraft--Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada--to react first. (Edit: Indeed, as was pointed out by Twitter friend "@L_Staff," Sam Adams already has, sort of. They're selling Coney Island brand root beer via their shadowy Alchemy & Science subsidiary.) Neither can afford to miss a root-beer growth spurt. Sam Adams once famously ran an ad (now scrubbed from the internet) proclaiming they'd never brew a light beer. Saying "never" is a mistake they're unlikely to repeat.
In a business with way too many offerings already, something tells us, craft brewers may soon be adding even more.