Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Friday, December 2, 2016

2016 Gameday 'Beer'-o-the-week - Pac-12 Championship Edition

Each week throughout the football season I'm going to suggest a good 'beer' for the ubiquitous pre-game tailgate. Let's be honest, with tailgates it's not always top quality that you're looking for. To steal a phrase from the heinous 'beer' terrorists at Budweiser, you want "drinkability." (or what a real 'beer' connoisseur calls "a session 'beer'") So, be warned, these may not be "the best" 'beers' around. But, in the words of Dave Chappelle as Samuel L. Jackson "IT'LL GET YOU DRUNK!"

OK, so I wasn't expecting to have to do one of these this late in the season, and have nothing prepared.  Short on time, and without a summer's worth of notes to supply me with last-minute ideas, I'm diving into the beer fridge for whatever I can find. Uh, let me see... *rummages* Ah ha!  It's... oh for crying out loud... Which one of my roommates left this in here?  *sigh* It's Not Your Father's Root Beer, and it's this week's gameday 'beer' of the week.

If you look at the label, NYFRB will tell you that it comes from tiny Wauconda, IL, a northwest exurb of Chicago.  Certainly, if you were to travel to Wauconda, there is a brewery there, called Small Town Brewery, that would happily sell you the stuff.  What you find in the well-labeled bottles on the shelves of your local booze palace, however, did not come from Wauconda, and definitely not from the tiny brewery located there.  Nope, what you're drinking was made by Pabst, the giant conglomerate most famous for the hipster brew of choice: PBR.  They partnered with Small Town shortly before you started seeing their hard root beer show up on shelves, which explains some things.

That's not to say there's not a craft element to the story, however.  Small Town was started by a single guy, Tim Kovac, after haphazard forays into the world of homebrewing in the late '80s.  The twist from craft to corporate machine is familiar and tired, as ubiquitous to the modern brewing world as beards and kitschy hop varietals.  I can't really blame the guy for taking the money, or wanting to see his product go national without the pain of having to build an empire himself. At this point, it is what it is.

Anyways, the Root Beer, which is brewed, but still not quite 'real beer,' carries with it a unique taste. Obviously, the flavor notes skew towards the well-known parameters of root beer, but it's more than just a can of Barq's.  Heavy with vanilla up front, it's very sweet, spicy, and root-y, with an alcoholic kick on the back end.  For what it is, it's kind of interesting, and people who don't like 'normal' beer sure seem to like it (it was one of the best selling beers in the country in '15).  For me, though, it's not a beer, just a beer alternative.

You can find it almost everywhere now, either in 5.9% or 10.7% ABV versions.  It's also got sister brews, like Not Your Father's Ginger Beer, floating around.  If you don't mind something sweet, either are probably worth a try, if just for the fun of it.  Don't know if I'll be going back, though.

Happy Friday!  Go Buffs, beat Washington!

No comments: