The holiday season is traditionally a time for gatherings with family and friends, this year was no exception in my home, (MB). My brother and sister-in-law provided our Thanksgiving meal at their home leaving me free to do something new on the Friday after.
Root Beer has always been a family favorite, to the point where some family members feel they can name the root beer brand with just a taste. In addition, we had a week-end guest who loved root beer.
The perfect combination to put together a root beer tasting party!
My criteria for root beer to make the cut was simple. It had to be in a glass bottle. While some would be old favorites, A&W, Dad’s, IBC; the rest would be unknown to me. I couldn’t be sure what my connoisseur had tried, so I simply picked up every brand I found.
A couple of the root beers came from the traditional grocery stores, in addition, I stopped in at our local ice cream and sweets shop for lesser know brands, Scrumptious, (if you ever have a chance to try their home-made ice cream, DO!), I explained what I was doing so along with the brands they had in the cooler, they found a new arrival in back. He also had 2 different types of root beer candy for my centerpiece. Thank you for your efforts on our behalf! World Market had a good selection of lesser known brands too.
I was unable to find A&W in glass bottles but it wouldn’t be a true root beer tasting without that fan favorite, so I settled for the plastic bottle. Barq’s was the only root beer that I could not find anywhere. In total, I ended up with 12 different brands of root beer.
I then began searching for small root beer mugs, something in the shot glass range. I found them at Party City. These I put in the freezer, root beer must be served in a frosted mug, right?
The actual tasting would be done in 3 flights of 4 each. I covered the labels, this would be a blind taste test.
Next, I put together a score sheet, covering 4 aspects, Effervescence, Sweetness, Zest, & Bouquet, along with their overall score for each one.
We did a 4th flight with the favorites from the previous flights to determine our winner.
I started the party with 2 songs about Root Beer to set the mood.
George Jones – Root Beer video by hankgwe
Who knew the Beach Boys sang about root beer? video by fatgator46
I made a point of opening the bottles out of sight of my testers. The A&W plastic bottle would be a dead give-away along with the possibility they might see and recognize a bottle cap.
Tasters were allowed to take as much time as they needed with each root beer. Some made their decisions quickly, others were very deliberate.
Comments from the tasters varied on every one.
“Strong Maple flavor”
“This one tastes like black licorice.”
“This one is so bland, now that I’ve tasted the others.”
The five root beers chosen for the final flight based on tester scores; although unknown to the tasters at the time; were: A&W, Dad’s, Dang!, IBC & Bulldog. One taster preferred Virgil’s over the rest but the others felt its anise flavoring was too strong, so Virgil’s did not make the cut.
Who’s #1 on our list? A&W was the hands down winner.
The Root Beers we tasted in addition to the above, were:
ZuberFizz, Sky Valley, Boylan, Olde Brooklyn, Rocky Mountain, Abita,
We had so much fun with this, we may try a cream soda taste test next!
What’s your favorite root beer? and why?
Here’s to a sweet life!
MaryBeth & Sherry