Last weekend I had a startling realization; that despite my love of root beer, there were many rooty flavors which had never touched my lips. And so it was that I set out to judge and taste the rainbow... of root beer.
I headed over to my local Jungle Jim's and grabbed what looked good. I had only two criteria for my future fizzies: be a root beer or sarsaparilla sweetened without corn syrup (for your reference, a sarsaparilla gets its flavor from its namesake, whereas root beer starts with sarsaparilla but can add other flavors). And here's what I found:
Sprecher Lo-Cal Root Beer
Thoughts: Lo-Cal? Hmm, I must not have been paying attention at the store. It tasted like a diet soda, and thus I felt I might not be giving this brand a fair shake. I'll look for the non-diet variety next time. But for now?.... DISQUALIFIED!
Buckin Root Beer
Thoughts: Buckin has a clean flavor to start off with, and a good vanilla aftertaste, with an ever-so slight medicine taste.
Gus Grown-up Soda Dry Root Beer
Thoughts: Gus, the grown-up soda, has the most subtle taste of all the sodas here. The taste is muted, mild, mildly sweet, and fizzy.
AJ Stephan's Sarsaparilla
Thoughts: The not-too-sweet soda, with a good root flavor. Ever so slight mediciney taste.
Dang! That's Good! Root Beer
Thoughts: An interesting root beer. It tastes delicious, but I'm not sure if it's actually a good root beer. The root flavor is muted to make way for the butterscotch flavor.
Berghoff Root Beer
Thoughts: A strong, rich root flavor. The best so far.
Manhattan Special Sarsaparilla
Thoughts: Mildly fizzy, very sweet, and a hint of a floral scent.
Boylan Root Beer
Thoughts: Sweet, with a hint of licorice. Mild root flavor.
Before the week was out I had to grocery shopping and sample a friend's suggestion, and a few more root beers found their way to my gaping maw:
Faygo Root Beer & Jones Root Beer
Thoughts: These were so forgettable I lumped them together. They weren't that rooty, but they were incredibly sweet.
Fent's Old-Fashioned Root Beer
Thoughts: A sweet soda with a nice caramel flavor, but not the most pronounced root flavor.
So what sugar-root brew most satisfied my gut worm??? In a way, they're all winners. But in another more meaningful way, Berghoff Root Beer is the winner.