Below is a link to an interesting article by Charlie Papazian explaining how homebrewers and craft brewers in America have altered classic beer styles, and in many cases, invented their own. I would agree with most of the article except I think Papazian fails to mention that most of the Americanization involves making beers with higher original gravities leading to higher alcohol content than the beers Americans were originally trying to mimic.
Probably about seven years ago or so, my cousin Josh and I went on a tour at the Sprecher Brewery because I was writing a story for the Milwaukee Alcoholmanac…and because we both really like beer. At the end of the tour, Josh asked the tour guide if they ever thought about making a fermented version of their world famous Root Beer. He didn’t answer the question. What he did do was go down to the basement soon returning with a keg of something labeled XX.
Sure enough, Sprecher had been experimenting with the fermented root beer for some time and would occasionally have it on tap in their tasting room. We were impressed by the brew and it went to the back of my mind until Josh posted this link on Facebook today:
Sure enough, after all these years they have finally decided to package and market what they are calling Hard Root Beer, but what to me will always be the basement secret known as the XX. The Baraboo News Republic article quotes Sprecher president Jeff Hamilton as saying “We are being very cautious to make sure that there is a distinction between our regular root beer and this rather adult version,” he said. “We’ve made sure the bottle looks completely different than our root beer bottle. It’s a different size, and the labels look different.”
I am not normally a fan of sweet malt beverages–girly drinks if you will–but I really remember this one being good and I will certainly be reviewing it for Brewsconsin as soon as it becomes available here in Madison, WI. Thanks to Sprecher for always making good beer and for being the first brewery I remember touring as a kid. Apparently my Cub Scout Leader didn’t realize Sprecher made regular beer in addition to their famous root beer and took about six of us seven-year-olds to tour the brewery back in 1990. To this day, it is the only brewery I have toured in both its past and present locations.