What is the best root beer?

Posted in Reviewson Sep 9, 2010

I recently performed a taste test of various root beers to determine which is the best. I searched Fort Collins for every plastic bottled, non-caffeinated, non-diet root beer. I found 8 different root beers fitting this description, and I invited 10 people over to rate each root beer.

Each root beer was rated between one and five, with five meaning “excellent.” The results (showing the average scores) are:

  1. A&W – 4.0
  2. Big K (Kroger) – 3.7
  3. Refreshe (Safeway) – 3.5
  4. Mug – 3.4
  5. Walmart – 3.1
  6. Shasta – 2.8
  7. Vess (found at K-mart) – 2.5
  8. Dad’s – 1.3

The scores for A&W were all pretty positive, so if you were looking to bring a well excepted root beer to a party, you would find little complaining about A&W.  Walmart’s root beer had very mixed reviews, with some people hating it and others loving it.  It would make a good cheap alternative if you find that you are in the group of people who like it.  Kroger’s Big K root beer  had similar results to A&W, but with just a few people thinking it was less than average.

Our tasting of Dad’s root beer was very negative.  Not one person liked it, and most cared not to finish their sample.  It had a very bad aftertaste.  We conclude that they are either using a very unique and old recipe for old fashion root beer, or that we got a couple of bad bottles.

A quick word on our experiment setup:  We chilled all the root beers on the same shelf in the refrigerator.  About 10 minutes before guests arrived, we started pouring 2-3 oz samples into small disposable plastic cups.  Each set of samples was labeled with a letter A-H.  Each guest was given a score sheet to allow them to rate each root beer on a scale from 1-5.


Bruce Christensen

September 9th, 2010 at 10:15 am

No standard deviation or distribution histograms?


September 9th, 2010 at 11:47 am


September 9th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

when we did this we ended up with a preference for Shasta. I think the A&W was up there somewhere but as I recall (it’s been a few years) we tended to prefer a less sweet soda. So part of it will depend on the general preference for the group. It makes for an awesome party, that’s for sure!
Once upon a time we did chocolate taste tests also. Requires plenty of milk, but for a high class, small group it’s another good party.


September 9th, 2010 at 9:29 pm

A stop at A&W in Provo for a frosty mug of root beer was how Richard and I ended many of our dates. Or he’d call up, “I’ve got 11 cents in my pocket. Want to go get a root beer?” Fun memories. Maybe for our 40th anniversary we should go get a frosty mug of A&W root beer.

Rich Scott

September 9th, 2010 at 10:40 pm



September 16th, 2010 at 12:54 am

We did get some A&W root beer for our 40th. Only we upgraded to a root beer float.


June 14th, 2014 at 11:55 pm

I’m a snob for Root Beer, but I actually prefer the taste of Big K over most others. Yes it is sweet, but not lacking flavor or effervescence. Having one now 🙂

peter butzer

August 31st, 2015 at 3:36 pm

I’ve preferred root beer over any other soda since i could drink soda.
Big K is truly my favorite!

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