When the first shipment of Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale arrived in the shop, brows furrowed slightly at the sight of it. A hard ginger ale. Given that ginger beer comes in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties, and that this same company had already produced a hard root beer that had drinkers all over the nation scrambling for a total of 20 incessant minutes trying to get their hands on as much of the stuff as they could, we might say that this is just matters coming full circle.
From the mouth of my co-worker Ian, the questions were crassly asked, “So did he (the brewer) find another ancient scroll somewhere? Did he find this one in like…a hovercraft or something?” This harkening unto the myth surrounding the Not Your Father’s Root Beer, in which the brewmaster claims to have found the recipe in an old scroll, discovered in a steamer trunk while sorting out his father’s or grandfather’s belongings. The legitimacy of this story aside, the root beer, while tasty in its own rights, was not purely a creature of grassroots enthusiasm.
Upon launching their root beer, Small Town Brewery, the maker of the Not Your Father’s lines partnered with Phusion Projects. If that name doesn’t sound too familiar to you, the name of one of their biggest previous clients, Four Loko, likely will. So together with an odd story about the creations origins in place and a massive marketing campaign the underway, Not Your Father’s Root Beer became something of a staple amongst novelty drinkers and a substantial headache for the bartenders and beer sellers who were unable to keep themselves stocked with it.
So then, what about this ginger ale? Well to begin with it pours and looks much like any ordinary ginger ale you might encounter. Upon a smell however, the hints of the 5.9% abv mix and mingle with the crisper scent of the drink, causing it to smell more like a heavier ginger beer than ordinary ginger ale. This however is where the defiance against styling mostly stops, as upon a sip, though ever so slightly weightier than its soda counterpart, the brew tastes more or less just like a Schweppes or Canada Dry.
Upon successive sips, I have now started to notice that the combination of pre-gob smell and follow up taste, which is slightly more gingery than most commercial brand ginger ales, does actually nudge the overall impression more over towards the soda version of a ginger beer. This being said though, few if any notes of alcohol or burn come through either in the beginning or the finish, leaving one more or less satisfied with their hard soda pop.
Drinking this and considering the demonstrated public enthusiasm for hard sodas, I am forced to ponder how long it will be until hard mimicries of things such as Sprite, Mountain Dew and Pepsi roll out and whether the often stupefied reactions to casual drinkers upon finding them will be sustained when the novelty becomes the norm. However at the moment and for what its worth, this hard ginger ale is drinkable and not altogether unpleasant. While not something I’d urge you to rush out and procure, it is also not something I’d altogether advise against. So to Small Town Brewing, to their marketing gurus, to whatever wayward man-o-war may have transported whatever the next big hard soda recipe is and of course, to you, I say as always…
Nicholas Goroff is an actor, writer and craft beer reviewer at EveryJoe.com. Certified as a Cicerone beer server, he is working towards obtaining certification as a beer judge while employed at Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett, NH. When not reviewing beer, wine and spirits, he is typically writing political essays, screenplays and short fiction. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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