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Small Town Brewery
Small Town Brewery was founded by John Dopak and Tim Kovac in Wauconda in 2010. Kovac first started homebrewing in 1988. After three years of development, Not Your Father's Root Beer was released in Illinois in 2012. It was initially sold in its 19.5% abv incarnation in kegs at local bars and liquor stores. The brewery then did two small bottling runs of a 10.7% abv root beer in 22-ounce bottles, and in November 2014, they released 12-ounce bottles of a 5.9% abv version.
In March 2015, Small Town partnered with Pabst Brewing Company to distribute the Not Your Father's brand nationally. Shortly thereafter, Pabst owners, including Pabst CEO Eugene Kashper, acquired a stake in the brand and the company. A new category in the alcoholic beverage industry was created due to the success of Not Your Father's Root Beer, referred to as "hard soda" or "flavored beer."
The Small Town Brewery tap room in Wauconda was opened to the public on October 15, 2015. It serves a rotating cycle of 16 Small Town beers, with beer flavors including French Toast, Bourbon Pecan and Strawberry Rhubarb.
Not Your Father's Root Beer is a traditionally-made beer brewed with botanicals, spices, and herbs such as wintergreen, sarsaparilla bark, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla bean and honey, to give it the taste of an old-fashioned root beer. It is currently available nationally in two abv levels: 5.9% and 10.7%. Not Your Father's Root Beer 5.9% abv 6-pack bottles was the best-selling craft beer in the United States in 2015.
Honors and awards
- BeerHoptacular Beer of the Year, Second Place, 2013
- 94 out of 100 rating by Beer Advocate for Not Your Father's Root Beer (10.7% abv), 2014
Michael Agnew, owner of A Perfect Pint, after visiting the brewery, argued that the equipment he saw could not produce such a high alcohol content using grain, and that therefore perhaps the root beer was spiked with neutral grain spirit, as opposed to fermented like other beer. Strange Brews host Andrew Gill speculated that perhaps it was not even beer but rather a flavored malt beverage. Kovac's claims that no sugar is added to the beverage, but that its sweetness comes solely from grains and spices, have also been questioned.
- Tripp Mickle, "Not So Soft Drink: Brewers Add Booze to Root Beer," Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2015.
- Jacky Runice, "Big tastes are coming from small-town breweries," Daily Herald, September 27, 2015.
- Mary Ellen Shoup, "Not Your Father's Root Beer appeals to 'whole new market', founder says," Beverage Daily, April 12, 2016.
- Josh Noel, "Higher alcohol Not Your Father's Root Beer to go national," Chicago Tribune, April 19, 2016.
- John Kell, "Root beer is the next big thing in craft beer," Fortune, July 21, 2015.
- Stephanie Strom, "Pabst Raids Dad's Beer Fridge as It Looks to the Future," New York Times, April 1, 2016.
- Wesley Case, "Led by boozy root beer, 'hard soda' trend now in full swing," Baltimore Sun, February 10, 2016.
- Kyle Stock, "Boozy Root Beer Is About to Be Huge," Bloomberg Businessweek, July 21, 2015.
- Melissa Locker, "This Alcoholic Root Beer Might Be Your New Favorite Summer Drink," Time, July 22, 2015.
- Russell Lissau, "Popular Wauconda brwery opens taproom," Daily Herald, October 16, 2015.
- Suzanne Brazil, "Wauconda's Small Town Brewery not your father's taproom," Daily Herald, December 8, 2015.
- Gary Dzen, "A mysterious Midwestern brewer toys with dessert," Boston Globe, June 27, 2015.
- Florence Fabricant, "Batches of Root Beer Generate a Noticeable Buzz," New York Times, August 17, 2015.
- Geoff Williams, "Root Beer Flavored Beer Is Now A Thing And Only the Beginning Of What's Coming," Forbes, December 30, 2015.
- Chris Furnari, "IRI: Craft Sales Up 18 Percent in 2015," Brewbound, January 7, 2016.
- Greg Trotter, "Hard soda pops while soft drinks fizzle," Chicago Tribune, December 18, 2015.
- Sean Fahmy, "'Not Your Father's' Unveils Newest Hard Soda, Vanilla Cream Ale," Foodbeast, May 25, 2016.
- Mike Tighe, "Not Your Father's Root Beer keeps La Crosse brewery hoppin'," Washington Times, August 31, 2015.
- Noel, Josh (October 10, 2015). "Not Your Father's Root Beer and Its Curious Rise to National Sensation". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
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