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Unread 2015-07-02, 11:05 AM   #1
JDLM
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Default The story behind Not Your Father’s Root Beer







SOMETHING smells about Not Your Father’s Root Beer, and I’m not talking about the heavy dose of vanilla extract that flavors the suddenly popular brew.
Described as “ale with the taste of spices,” it tastes exactly like soda and contains 5.9 percent alcohol. Two other versions sold in large bottles contain 10.7 percent and an astonishing 19.5 percent alcohol.
The brew has social media and beer aficionado websites buzzing with excitement and high ratings, and buyers in Pennsylvania have been scooping up $50 cases since they arrived earlier this year. Its manufacturer went from an unknown startup to national distribution in under five years, with one sales survey calling it the fastest-selling new craft-beer product of 2015.
What is this stuff, and who’s behind its incredible success?

Tim Kovac, founder and brewmaster of Small Town Brewery, in tiny Wauconda, Ill. (population 13,823), where Not Your Fathers Root Beer was born, says he’s astonished at his success.
“It has been very much an amazing ride,” Kovac told me. “Going from a few dozen Chicago bars to one of the most sought-after beers in America – it’s a phenomenal beer, it really it is.”
At first, Small Town Brewery sounds like the prototypical independent craft brewery with a quaint back story: The owner is a graphic artist who stumbles upon his best-selling recipe during a carefree day of stovetop home-brewing with his son. It takes him two years to perfect it, finally producing an authentic, old-fashioned hard root beer.
One day, he serves it to a woman and watches a tear roll down her cheek as she declares, “You just brought back memories of me being a little girl.”
There are other gems, including the discovery of a 17th-century “leather-bound scroll” filled with brewing recipes from a seafaring ancestor who, legend has it, won a brewery in a card game.
Kovac shared the homespun tale with me last week during a phone call arranged and monitored by his public-relations agency, Sard Verbinnen & Co., a high-priced New York City firm known mainly for representing Wall Street scoundrels, including the Madoff family and Lehman Brothers’ Dick Fuld.
When I asked for details on how the root beer is brewed, the PR rep interrupted and said, “Parts of the recipe are proprietary.”
Kovac said it’s “brewed and fermented just like any other beer.”
Perhaps, but this is what else we know:
The brewhouse at Small Town Brewery, tucked into a small industrial center that also houses a body-jewelry outlet and a smoke shop, is capable of making fewer than 15 kegs a day.
That’s the equivalent of about 2,500 bottles – or would be if the brewery owned any bottling equipment.
Most of the root beer is brewed and packaged 238 miles away, at the former G. Heileman Brewing plant now owned by City Brewing in La Crosse, Wis.
Kovac said that City Brewing uses his original recipe.
The La Crosse plant, however, is known primarily for the production of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice and other so-called malternatives.
These drinks, which are not generally regarded as real beer, are fermented from grains and sugar, then stripped down to their essential taste-free alcohol and reflavored artificially.
It’s a fairly advanced technique, one that no small, largely inexperienced craft brewer would likely tackle on his own.
Kovac and the names of two other area men are listed on Small Town’s state liquor license. Nonetheless, there is ample evidence that the brewery is either controlled by or in a partnership with a much larger company called Phusion Projects LLC.
For example:
Why the subterfuge?
Possibly because Phusion is responsible for the most notorious alcoholic beverage to hit the shelves in the past decade: Four Loko.
Made with caffeine and marketed as an alcoholic “energy beer,” Four Loko was linked to dozens of hospitalizations and at least one death from excessive consumption before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration forced it off shelves in 2010.
The drink has since returned but without added caffeine.
Phusion did not reply to a request for comment about its relationship, and Small Town declined to answer further questions about its ownership.
However, a source familiar with the companies told me that the brand (but not the brewery) was recently acquired by Eugene Kashper, the new CEO and chairman of Pabst Brewing.
Pabst will distribute the root beer in all 50 states
Meanwhile, Small Town Brewery is developing other brands, including Not Your Father’s Ginger Beer and a barrel-aged root beer with 24 percent alcohol.
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Unread 2015-07-02, 11:07 AM   #2
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It's so fucking goooooood.
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Unread 2015-07-02, 11:07 AM   #3
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That's what I've been hearing, I need to track some down (I have had root sellers) I need to go talk to the liquor store off midland by my house again
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Unread 2015-07-02, 11:08 AM   #4
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much better than row hard IMO.
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Unread 2015-07-02, 11:11 AM   #5
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much better than row hard IMO.
This
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Unread 2015-07-02, 11:54 AM   #6
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That's what I have read and heard, I may go look around before I head to the lake
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Unread 2015-07-02, 11:56 AM   #7
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That's what I have read and heard, I may go look around before I head to the lake
Stick to the Kansas side in your search young padawan
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Unread 2015-07-02, 12:46 PM   #8
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I have Gomers, Rimann, and a couple others around. I pass a lot more heading to the lake as well
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Unread 2015-07-02, 12:48 PM   #9
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I just called Gomers and they said they have it in stock. Off I go!
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Unread 2015-07-02, 12:53 PM   #10
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Found it 1st stop
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Unread 2015-07-02, 12:54 PM   #11
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I'm going to hit Tipsy's on the way home.
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Unread 2015-07-02, 12:56 PM   #12
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Which gomer?
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Unread 2015-07-02, 01:06 PM   #13
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Ks. Brown bag also has it.
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Unread 2015-07-02, 01:25 PM   #14
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yesh.

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Unread 2015-07-02, 02:01 PM   #15
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Tipsys has a fuck ton

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Unread 2015-07-02, 02:53 PM   #16
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I'm not a big beer drinker. Is this just a heavy stout?
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Unread 2015-07-02, 02:56 PM   #17
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I'm not a big beer drinker. Is this just a heavy stout?
No, it's root beer with a wisp of alcohol flavor, at best. Otherwise very similar to lost trail, IMO.
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Unread 2015-07-02, 02:58 PM   #18
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It's awesome... $10/6-pack out here in the desert.

Would've never guessed it shared ownership with Four Loko, weird.
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Unread 2015-07-03, 08:33 AM   #19
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That stuff is killer. If someone just handed you a glass you wouldn't know it had alcohol. I'd like to try the 10% version.
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Unread 2015-07-03, 11:41 AM   #20
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That stuff is killer. If someone just handed you a glass you wouldn't know it had alcohol. I'd like to try the 10% version.
There's a 10% version? Mother of God, how do I get that?
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Unread 2015-07-03, 12:17 PM   #21
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Its a limited release seasonal apparently

http://smalltownbrewery.com/our-beers/limited-10-7-m/
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Unread 2015-07-03, 05:42 PM   #22
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Its a limited release seasonal apparently

http://smalltownbrewery.com/our-beers/limited-10-7-m/
Fuck yo 10.7% version. They have a 19.5% version too in bombers.
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Unread 2015-07-16, 10:20 PM   #23
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FYI Tried to find some last week here in MO and it is not avail. here yet. Will have to hit some ks side stores. Other than lukas in martin city, any other stores close to 142nd and stateline that may have this?
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Unread 2015-07-17, 08:17 PM   #24
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Picked some up at cork and barrel in Lawrence while working out there this week. It is good but I don't think I could drink it all night. With that said anyone seen or tried the higher ABV ones yet? I have asked a few places and all have said they have heard of them but not seen them yet
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Unread 2015-07-18, 09:18 AM   #25
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Yeah i can only drink one in a sitting. Very good but pretty sweet.

The higher ABV versions haven't come to this area yet.
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