After much tasting of root beer in the last weeks, the judges have come up with a preliminary winner. However, we have decided to do a side by side taste comparison of the top 3, maybe even the top 5 just cuz we like root beer.
All the root beers were officially judged in 3 categories: Sweetness, Carbonation, and Flavor. Other factors that were not judged, but found to be interesting were the method of sweetening (cane sugar vs. corn syrup), carbonating (water vs carbonated water), and odd ingredients (we recycled the bottles, so I'll have to get back to you on what exactly they were.) We found that we definitely preferred the corn syrup varieties to the cane sugar varieties, and that the cane sugar was always paired with the water while the corn syrup was paired with the carbonated water. One category not officially judged was color - this was because I didn't notice/think about significant color changes until 1/3 of the way through. If my aging memory serves me though, the better root beers were those that were a deep, dark brown as opposed to the ones that were more amber/yellow in color. The price of the root beers ranged from .06/oz to .14/oz though that didn't really seem to make a diffence in the results (ie: More expensive was not necessarily better).
Without further Ado, the results are:
Disqualified for not tasting like a root beer - Boylan (cane sugar, .11/oz)
12th - Dad's Root Beer because it was just plain awful, tasted like Dad had made it with his own two feet, literally. (cane sugar, .09/oz)
11th - Rat Bastard (the only one with caffeine) was an abomination of odd herbal ingredients that resembled root beer strained through a dirty sock. (corn syrup, .12/oz)
10th - Briars was a fairly flavorless cane sugar root beer, a little too sweet. (cane sugar, .07/oz)
9th - Sea Dog was fairly flavorless, flat, and too sweet. (cane sugar, .09/oz.)
8th - Dr. Brown's was definitely not on call. His prescription was a little too sweet, flat and had a moderate root beer flavor. (cane sugar, .09/oz.)
7th - Frostie was our middle of the pack selection. Again, it was a little too sweet, and one could almost say it had too much root beer flavor, enough so that it had a bit of a mediciney after taste (this must be why Germans don't like root beer.) (corn syrup, .08/oz.)
6th - Thomas Kemper came through with a strong root beer flavor however it had a little too much anise in it to rank any higher. (corn syrup, .09/oz)
5th - A&W. I'm so sorry Rich and Cathy, but it really didn't live up to it's tradition. It was slightly flat, and a little boring. I would have expected a much lower price point from the thinness of the taste. Instead it was our most expensive brand. (corn syrup, .14/oz)
4th - Weinhards. I was truly saddened by this as this was the root cause of this entire rumble. I had to concede and say that there was better out there. While it had a nice smooth root beer flavor, it did finish a little weak and had a bit of a cream soda after taste.
3rd - IBC shocked me. I had avoided it previously thinking it was a cheap beverage which equated to poorly done. I was pleasantly surprised that our least expensive brand finished in the top three. It had a robust root beer flavor, was well carbonated, and not too sweet. I could definitely drink more of this in the future. (corn syrup, .06/oz)
2nd - Jones Root Beer came out of no where and almost swept the number one position, but not quite. This root beer made you immediatly think of root beer floats with it's slight hint of vanilla, it was refreshing and different. Also a definite on my shopping list in the future. (corn syrup, .11/oz)
Ok, drumroll please...
#1 and unofficial winner of the Root Beer Rumble of 2006 is Stewart's. They had the best balance of sweetness, carbonation, and flavor. It was robust, but not overpowering and finished nicely. Also a fairly good bargain. (corn syrup, .07/oz.)
I found it interesting that the two least expensive root beers finished in the top three.
So, there you have it folks.