Makers of “hard” root beer clash with craft beer enthusiasts
When is beer not beer? That is the question we’re exploring. A few years ago, a Wauconda-based company started making an alcoholic version of root beer. It was so successful that executives from Pabst bought a chunk of the business. Sales continue to explode as they’ve taken the product national. But there’s a lot of controversy around the marketing. They claim it’s beer…but many craft beer enthusiasts think it’s not beer. They say the company has jumped on the craft brew bandwagon to sell what amounts to a flavored malt beverage (think Smirnoff Ice or Zima). Andrew Gill, one of the hosts of WBEZ’s Strange Brews podcast, and Christopher Quinn, owner of The Beer Temple, a beer store in Irving Park weigh in on the debate.