Demand for Hard Root Beer Soars

"Hard root beer‰ÛÒthink A&W with alcohol‰ÛÒis coming to a head this summer, as craft breweries look for a competitive edge and drinkers develop a taste for sweeter swill," according to "Boozy Root Beer Is About to Be Huge." "One brand, in particular, is coveted: Not Your Father‰Ûªs Root Beer, from Small Town Brewery in Wauconda, Ill.åÊThe brew earned a rating of 94 out of 100 on Beer Advocate, an online review aggregator. In comparison, New Belgium‰Ûªs Fat Tire, a darling of craft drinkers, scores 84."

"I would venture to say everyone I know who drinks alcohol has had [hard root beer]åÊby this point," says Matt Simpson, an Atlanta-​based consultant who does business as the Beer Sommelier. "As far as the popularity goes, it‰Ûªs pretty simple: It tastes pretty good. It tastes like root beer, only with alcohol that you can‰Ûªt really taste anyway."

"What's more," Kyle Stock wrote for Bloomberg​.com, "root beer‰Ûªs sweeter profile appeals to people who aren‰Ûªt keen on beer that tastes like, well, beer."

"Small Town brewed its first batch of root beer in 2013, sprinkling a vat with sassafras bark, vanilla, anise, wintergreen, and handfuls of additionalåÊspices. As popularity grew, it worked out a distribution agreement with Pabst Brewing earlier this year. Despite the flood of resources and a nationwide push, online message boardsare filling up with reports of long lines and tips on where to track down Not Your Father's."

"Indeed, root beer is hitting taps at an auspicious time, as cocktails trend sweeter," Stock wrote. "If Don Draper‰Ûªs Old Fashioned was the toast of 2010, today‰Ûªs trendy tipple is the rock and rye ‰ÛÒ a 19thåÊcentury concoction mixing rye whiskey with citrus, rock candy, or honey. It‰Ûªs sweet, herby, and strong, with an old timey flavor not far from that of root beer."

Simpson, the Beer Sommelier, says a lot of his friends are mixing bourbon with the new hard root beer. "The flavor profiles are very complementary," he says. "It's almost like an alco-pop."

And other brewers are catching on: Chicago's Berghoff Brewery announced a new brew called Rowdy Root Beer in June. Meanwhile, Boston Beer, the maker of Sam Adams, is reportedly working on its own version, according to the Bloomberg article.

You can bet that party-​goers will be lugging hard root beer along with them to share, and to give as host gifts. You can also bet that party hosts everywhere will be hunting the sweet stuff down to offer their guests a trendy beer alternative. So AudienceSCAN has the scoop on how to target Party Hosts/​Attendees best. 17% of Americans plan to host parties or attend them in the next 12 months. They are 25% more likely than average to be ages 25–34. 45% live in the suburbs. Not only do they like to party at home, but they work the festival circuits too. 37.5% will go to beer/​wine fests this year; 34% will attend music fests; and 33% plan on going to local community festivals. Marketing to them via daily deals could prove beneficial: 59% took action after seeing one in the past year.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.