The Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi presents the

Great American Root Beer Showdown

Myers Avenue Red

Recently I received an e-mail letter from Mike Lynn, the creator of Myers Avenue Red Root Beer:


In our original review I'd called the Myers Avenue Red story "preposterous." (Mostly due to the illogical location of Cripple Creek Brewing Company, about as far from mountains as you can get, in flat suburban Warrenville, Illinois.)

Maybe I was a bit too cynical. There are quite a few root beer brands out there trying to grasp at some kind of historicist Americana theme for the sake of advertising. But I liked Mike's letter about his great-uncle Frank. His tall tales come from that same cloudy vernacular past that obscures the origins of root beer itself. Who invented root beer? Was it Charles Hires? Was it a nameless colonial New England farmer? Or some equally anonymous pharmacist in the late 1800s? Can something as general and wide-ranging as root beer be invented by one person? Or like any great invention, were there numerous inquisitive people, attuned to the spirit of their time, each contributing some part of the idea, testing and refining toward some particular goal. Until somehow the flavor we know as root beer was fully formed and born into the beverage world. And somehow we all now know the flavor of this Platonic root beer as if it had been with us from the beginning of the world.

Well, I don't know if I'm persuaded by Mike's story about Frank inventing the Black Cow, but he does sound like an interesting larger-than-life character. There's plenty of room in the halls of legends of root beer for a few more tall tales. Who else has a story to tell?

Here's a scan of the story on the side of the 6-pack box of Myers Avenue Red. Read the tale and judge its merits for yourself!

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Copyright 2001 Matt Bergstrom. Text Copyright Matt Bergstrom