With all these craft breweries, is anyone making root beer?
Answer Man is always up for a tasty and thirst-quenching quest.
Dear Minister of Minutiae: As one who enjoys the bubbly. I knew you'd be the one to ask. Do any of the Rochester breweries have canned or sealed bottles of root beer? I thank you oh Great One. J.D.M.
Sir or Madam … since you weren’t clear,
I’m assuming “J.D.M.” stands for “Justice for Delicious Mocktails” since you are looking for a non-alcoholic option from a business — or businesses — starting to create “adult beverages.” Of course, if I was starting a non-alcoholic activist group, I’d call it “Sober Heads Prevail,” which would also be a great name for a cover band of old guys playing classic rock hits.
But I digress.
Your question brought forth a thirst for knowledge and sent me on a quest for answers along an oft-dry trail (of phone calls). Alas, my thirst slaked, I've whetted my mind and wetted my gullet with knowledge and drink, respectively.
Here is what I discovered.
Just about every brewery in (and a few outside of) Rochester sell some soft drinks on the premises. Also, you're likely to find a good root beer among the carbonated beverages that can be enjoyed by young and old alike at each of these establishments.
For example, Thesis Beer Project sells cans of 1919 Root Beer, a beverage brewed in Minnesota. Forager follows a similar plan, selling several varieties of Sprecher sodas, root beer among them. And while Forager does make some non-alcoholic beers, that wasn't really your question.
Little Thistle Brewing also outsources its sodas, selling sodas — again, root beer included — from the Spring Grove Soda Pop, Inc., right here in Southeast Minnesota.
If you head just outside Rochester, both South x Southeast Brewing Co. in Pine Island — sells sodas from Northern Soda Company, Arden Hills, Minnesota — and Chaotic Good Brewing Co. in Kasson — can't go wrong with an A&W — sell root beer in their establishments.
But, while you didn't say it in your question "J.D.M.," I'm assuming what you really want to know is if anyone makes their own root beer here in town and sells it at their brewery. Well, the answer is yes.
First, Donovan Seitz, owner at Kinney Creek Brewery, said good old root beer is made on site. In fact, Kinney Creek makes non-alcoholic root beer and, if you like an adult version, there's also root beer, cherry cola and grape soda made that all contain 5% alcohol by volume.
As for the kid-friendly version of the root beer, Seitz said, "It’s absolutely, fantastically delicious. It's got vanilla and sarsaparilla. It's an old-style root beer."
Not to leave you with just one option, LTS Brewing also makes its own sodas, root beer being chief among them.
Co-owner and founder Brandon Schulz said, in fact, root beer and butter beer (think butterscotch) are always available. Other flavors include such classics as sarsaparilla; fun options like pineapple upside-down cake and habanero lime; and sweet treats such as honey lemonade or strawberry kiwi.
"We always normally have root beer and butter beer, and the other ones kind of rotate," Schulz said.
So, why so many sodas in a place designed for brewing beers that come root-free?
"That is always something I wanted to do when we founded the place. I always wanted to create small batch craft sodas," Schulz said. "I learned how to do it because I started doing it at home. I developed recipes for the first five or six over five years, so I was ready when we opened here."
Schulz said he brews different sodas depending on the time of year. For example, lemonades tend to do better in the summer.
And, "J.D.M.," sodas sell well among both those under 21 and those who can legally purchase an adult beverage.
"Even before having non-alcoholic options was a thing, we’ve had customers across the board; people who didn’t want another beer or came in just for the sodas," Schulz said.
So, soda lover, whether you want to try simply something Minnesota-made (technically, Sprecher is from Milwaukee) or would like to try a local brew, there are options to enjoy that great root beer taste.
Now, if you could just get them to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Always quenching your thirst for knowledge. Send questions to Answer Man at email@example.com .