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Idaho's Food Scene

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BuckSnort is Bellevue’s native root beer

What is root beer anyway?

Kainoa Lopez and Sarah Kolash, brewers of BuckSnort Root Beer, believe people too often think small when it comes to soda, and they intend to make theirs a regional specialty. BuckSnort, brewed in Bellevue, Idaho, blends molasses, cane juice, wintergreen and natural roots like licorice and a sassafras extract.

“People are so excited to see our display of ingredients,” which the couple presents in glass jars at the Ketchum Farmers Market. While they don’t dig up the bark and root fragments themselves, the verifiable plant material highlights root beer’s natural origins. “So many people have forgotten that this drink is a tea,” Kolash said, and more than a few customers have lingered in her enlightening presence, reminiscing about grandparents’ garage concoctions. And some will be relieved to see nary a drop of corn syrup.

Root beer is a fully American drink, and its history is intertwined with beer’s development in the New World. When barley and hops were not readily available, the search was on for other sweet and bitter tastes. Molasses and cane sugar came into the picture, as did New World plants, like the sarsaparilla and sassafras roots. Yeast was used to carbonate the drink, as was bubbly spring water.

“So many people have forgotten that this drink is a tea.”
-Sarah Kolash

In modern day Bellevue, BuckSnort’s flavor profile is still evolving, but they plan to steer clear of more mainstream vanilla-centric root beer flavors. The name, meanwhile, conjures images of central Idaho’s invigorating mountain culture, or the rip-snorting strength and beauty of a wild buck.

BuckSnort is force-carbonated in kegs and available on tap only (soda fountains use a concoction of syrup and water). This summer, Lopez and Kolash will be on the road, bringing their brew to festivals across southern Idaho. You can find BuckSnort at the Capital City Public Market on Boise’s Eight Street every Saturday, on tap at McClain’s Pizzeria and the Wicked Spud in Hailey, and at the Ketchum Farmers Market every Tuesday. A future in bottles remains unknown.

-Lynea Newcomer
Photograph Five B Studios




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