300 Bottles of Root Beer on the Wall

Rollin H. Hotchkiss (BS ’76) likes his root beer spicy—with a kick. “Some rootbeers use licorice as a flavoring, and that gives it a strong taste,” says Hotchkiss, chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. “I don’t care for that as much. Others have a heavy caramel flavor.”

Having tasted some 300 varieties, he should know what makes a great root beer. Whenever Hotchkiss finds a new brand, he grabs two: one to sample its “flavor and color and fizz” and another to add to his growing collection of sealed cans and bottles.

Hotchkiss’s root beer collection began in the early 1980s with a hunt for his favorite—Hires. “It was the first root beer invented in the United States, in 1876,” he says. “My grandmother used to serve us Hires every Sunday night.” Today it’s hard to find, though “IBC is a worthy replacement.”

He finds new root beers while traveling, but many are gifts from people who know of his collection. He’s even added sassafras, ginger, and birch beers to his stockpile. But there’s one type he won’t collect: “I don’t bother with diet,” he says. “I don’t consider that root beer.”

— Sara D. Smith (BA ’10), BYU Magazine, Fall 2013

Full Name: 
Rollin H. Hotchkiss
Grad Year: 
BS 1976
College: 
Engineering and Technology
Major: 
Civil Engineering
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