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Not Your Father’s Root Beer is a hard-to-find phenomenon

Fans of Not Your Father’s Root Beer will be thrilled to know that several other producers will soon begin adding alcoholic root beer and other hard soft drinks to their beverage lineups, including Flying Bison owner Matt Brewing Co. and Miller.

Not Your Father’s Root Beer has been notoriously hard to find in local stores since it rolled out in Western New York in June, and it shows no signs of slowing.

“I’ve been as surprised as anyone else in the industry. It seems to have come out of nowhere,” said Neil Kavanaugh, president of Consumers Beverages. “And I don’t think it’s a fad. The momentum actually seems to be building.”

Producers small and large have noticed the buzz around Not Your Father’s success and have decided to get in on the action.

“I think other brewers are seeing the demand and recognizing that the supply, although it will catch up with root beer, there are opportunities with other flavors,” Kavanaugh said. “It’s gaining momentum with nonbeer drinkers.”

Utica-based Matt Brewing Co., which owns Flying Bison Brewing Co. in Buffalo, will release Jed’s Hard Soda made with Saranac craft soft drinks by Halloween. Varieties will include Jed’s Hard Root Beer, Jed’s Hard Black Cherry and Jed’s Hard Orange Cream. Each has 5.9 percent alcohol by volume.

In January, MillerCoors will launch a line of hard drinks through SABMiller’s Blitz-Weinhard Brewing Co. called Henry’s Hard Soda. So far, it has unveiled hard ginger ale and hard orange soda flavors, each with an alcohol by volume content of 4.2 percent.

Last month, August sales results from Nielson showed Not Your Father’s Root Beer was the top-selling item in the craft beer category locally, outselling all other traditional craft beers in the Buffalo-Rochester market. It also landed in the No. 8 spot overall of all varieties of beer sold locally.

Not Your Father’s Root Beer didn’t just beat every other craft beer in the Top 10, it nearly doubled the sales of the next beer on the list. A total of $157,198 Not Your Father’s Root Beer six-packs sold for the month, beating out Sam Adams Seasonal 12-packs, which placed second with $82,620 in sales; and Sam Adams Assorted 12-packs, which placed third and sold $43,698.

The root beer’s success likely helped Coney Island Hard Root Beer secure fourth place, with $58,528. Many local merchants pushed Coney Island, which rolled out about a month after Not Your Father’s, on customers looking for the often sold-out Not Your Father’s brand.

The other top sellers on the craft beer list were Blue Moon Belgian White Ale six-pack bottles, with sales of $58,050; Sam Adams Seasonal six-pack bottles, with $52,985; Southern Tier assorted 12-pack bottles with $51,061; Leinenkugel’s Seasonal Shandy 12-pack bottles, with $48,236; and Founders All Day Session IPA 15-pack cans, with $45,692.

In the overall beer category, Bud Light 30-pack cans had the highest sales at $349,922; followed by Labatt Blue Light Pilsner 30-pack cans at $293,453; Coors Light 30-pack cans at $243,453; Busch 30-pack cans at $202,306; Labatt Blue Pilsner 30-pack cans at $182,862; Budweiser 30-pack cans at $161,608; Corona Extra 12-pack bottles at $157,493; Not Your Father’s Root Beer six-pack bottles at $157,198; Busch Light 30-pack cans, $154,862; and Labatt Blue Light Pilsener 18-pack cans, $146,953.

Not Your Father’s Root Beer, which is contract-brewed by Pabst, is now being distributed in cans as well as bottles, and supply is beginning to catch up with demand.

The root beer craft beer is fermented from grains and sugar, stripped of its flavor to bare alcohol, then artificially reflavored to taste like root beer with notes of sarsaparilla, vanilla extract, birch bark, anise, oak, winter green, ginger, licorice, honey, citrus and mint. It has 5.9 percent alcohol by volume.