The Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi presents the

Great American Root Beer Showdown

Round Ten

On a fine spring Sunday, April 14, 2002, six researchers convened at the Root Beer Showdown Laboratory for Round Ten of testing.

The selected samples were chilling in the refrigerator as the thirsty taste-testers entered the room. The most notable selections of this round of testing were the first direct comparisons of Root 66 and Route 66 root beers. While we have sampled both in the past, due to various circumstances these brews had never faced off against each other in the same round of testing.

For the other brews, I had attempted to include several representatives of the various types of root beer: A cheap canned brand - Jolly Good; a major national brand - Mug; an organic brew - Mystic Seaport; and two specialty brands - Thomas Kemper and Virgil's, to round out the samples. One would think that a range of brands like this would recreate the wide spectrum of root beer flavors, yet our reviewers were about to discover otherwise.

The Root Beers Tasted:

  1. Jolly Good - (Sample B)
  2. Mug - (D)
  3. Mystic Seaport - (F)
  4. Root 66 Root Beer - (C)
  5. Route 66 Beer - (A)
  6. Thomas Kemper - (G)
  7. Virgil's - (E)

The Test

With such beautiful weather out-of-doors, the researchers began the test with spring-like enthusiasm. Sample after sample was brought forth from the test kitchen for them to review, yet each sample seemed to bring with more disappointment than the last. That enthusiasm was steadily decreasing. Was each of these flavors really worth testing? Why do the reviewers show up time and again to subject themselves to the rigors of the test process unless they might derive some enjoyment from the samples tested? Each new sample seemed to deflate the group's enthusiasm by degrees, until with relief the testing was finished.

Round Ten Results

Once the reviewers had completed their score sheets, and they were free to speak their minds about the flavors sampled, it became clear that none of these brands had been outstanding in thier minds. Though one brand might compare favorably to another in this test, none of the reviewers responded especially favorably to any of them. The testers had begun the test with such enthusiasm that they were dismayed to discover how poorly each flavor had fared.

Total Scores

Average scores across all categories:

  1. Thomas Kemper - 3.19
  2. Mug - 3.08
  3. Virgil's - 2.78
  4. Jolly Good - 2.64
  5. Mystic Seaport - 2.58
  6. Root 66 - 2.58
  7. Route 66 - 2.39

Overall Taste

Average scores in the category of "Overall Taste":

  1. Mug - 3.33
  2. Thomas Kemper - 2.83
  3. Root 66 - 2.67
  4. Virgil's - 2.67
  5. Jolly Good - 2.50
  6. Route 66 - 2.33
  7. Mystic Seaport - 2.17


Despite the attempt to include samples from the entire spectrum of root beer types, our judges did not take a shine to any of the samples in this round of testing. Though Mug took the lead in Overall Taste, its score is only slightly above average, with the others below to well-below average. Although this round did not produce the lowest scores of the Showdown, all of these brews would seem to be of a mediocre class. It remains to be seen if the researchers will want to suffer through another round of testing of flavors of this mediocrity. Hopefully, when it is time for the next round of testing they will have forgotten about this one.

Our Rigorous Taste Testing

Try your own Root Beer Showdown at Home!

Reviews of the Root Beers

Root Beer Resources on the Web

Return to Lobby
Copyright 2002 Matt Bergstrom. Text Copyright Matt Bergstrom