Taste Test: Our Test Kitchen’s Best Root Beer Picks
What brand do you turn to for your float? Our team sampled 10 brands to find the best root beer.
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Who Makes the Best Root Beer?
Enjoy it ice cold, with ice cream or even in these recipes with root beer. However you take it, you certainly want the best root beer. That’s where our Test Kitchen comes in to help. They gathered up every bottle and can in the soda aisle and put them to the test.
How We Tested Root Beer Brands
Our team rounded up a whopping 10 brands of root beer for this taste test. We had all the big names you’d expect (think A&W and Mug) as well as smaller brands recommended by readers.
- Carbonation: While root beer isn’t the fizziest pop out there, our team still wanted to find a brand with satisfying carbonation.
- Flavor: Root beer has a pretty complex flavor. It’s a blend of molasses, vanilla, honey, sasparilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and more. Formulations can range from mellow to spicy. Our team sought out good options that didn’t have cloying sweetness or an artificial kick.
In the end, our team chose four brands as their favorites. Here’s a sneak peek—but be sure to read on for complete reviews.
Best Smooth Rooth Beer
For a creamy, smooth experience, our Test Kitchen says you can’t do better than Sprecher Root Beer.
This independent soda company (and brewery!) produces a sweet and creamy root beer formulated with vanilla and raw Wisconsin honey. The result is a mild and sweet drink that satisfies sip after sip—particularly children who may not like the bite of a more spice-forward soda.
Best Spicy Root Beer
If you’re craving a bit of a kick with your next mug of root beer, pick up a pack of Stewart’s Root Beer.
“This one has an old-timey flavor,” explains Maggie Knoebel in the Test Kitchen. “I’m getting notes of birch and sasparilla.”
Both are key ingredients in root beer, particularly more old-fashioned formulations. Birch has a bit of a spicy flavor that gives root beer a peppery kick. The sasparilla provides some of the underlying licorice and molasses tastes.
Combined, these flavors come together to create a slightly spicy and not-too-sweet sipper.
Best for Root Beer Floats
For many, the only way to enjoy root beer is in a root beer float. Once you grab the best vanilla ice cream from the freezer, our Test Kitchen recommends pouring Frostie Root Beer over the top to finish this soda fountain classic.
This root beer has a deep, dark color with bold flavor. Our team picked up notes of spicy anise, vanilla and molasses—all of which still come through when paired with a few scoops of rich ice cream.
IBC Root Beer
One of the pitfalls of root beer is that it can lack fizz. With IBC Root Beer, you don’t have to worry about a lack of carbonation. This root beer has plenty of bubbles in every sip.
In addition to the fizziness, IBC’s root beer isn’t overly sweet. You do get notes of honey and cinnamon, but overall it’s “light and drinkable,” according to Mark Neufang in the Test Kitchen.
Check Out More Test Kitchen-Preferred Products
Our Test Kitchen is constantly testing food, kitchen gadgets and cleaning gear looking for brands that deserve the right to be called Test Kitchen-Preferred.
If you want to fill your pantry and fridge with the best products, check out these tests:
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