The Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi presents the

Great American Root Beer Showdown

Round Seventeen

The errant sample package of Bulldog Root Beer arrived on Monday morning the day after Round Sixteen. So we gathered another panel of researchers to try it out on Sunday afternoon, February 9, 2003. Only five taste testers hadn't had their fill of root beer from the previous week, but these veteran researchers were thirsty and excited to get to work.

At this point we are again running low on new brands in the Root Beer Cabinet. The shelves are crowded with birch beer and cream soda for future spin-off experiments, but terribly low on root beer. The newest arrivals for this test were: Rat Bastard, ordered from Beverages & More, X Root Beer Riot, brought back by a friend from Seattle, and a can of generic Tubz, which I chanced upon the day before the test.

The Root Beers Tasted:

  1. Bulldog Root Beer - (Sample B)
  2. Ed McCaffrey's Creamy Root Beer - (A)
  3. Rat Bastard Root Beer - (E)
  4. Tubz Root Beer - (C)
  5. X Root Beer Riot - (D)

The Test

With a such a small group, we thought it best to limit the test to five flavors. For entertainment while waiting to begin, we turned on the TV to an obscure community channel broadcasting surreal Korean kids shows. With the sound turned down, the puppets and dancing children cavorted across the screen as we pondered the sugary root beers dancing across our tongues. It was an entertaining and upbeat taste test.

Total Scores

Average scores across all categories:

  1. Ed McCaffrey - 3.75
  2. Tubz - 3.02
  3. Bulldog - 2.77
  4. Rat Bastard - 2.63
  5. X Root Beer Riot - 2.13

Overall Taste

Average scores in the category of "Overall Taste":

  1. Ed McCaffrey - 3.90
  2. Tubz - 3.30
  3. Bulldog - 2.80
  4. Rat Bastard - 2.50
  5. X Root Beer Riot - 1.80


Strangely enough, the two canned root beers scored highest in this small test. Ed McCaffrey pleased all with its sweet and clean taste. Bulldog's score seems to be affected mostly by its strong initial taste of honey, which some of the reviewers took to be molasses or some other strong sweetener. With such small samples to judge, that bitter or sour first taste, which may fade away when drinking the entire bottle, becomes the sole representative of the root beer.

Rat Bastard and X Root Beer Riot seem to have staked out the same marketing niche, both are caffeinated and use unusual performance-enhancing ingredients, so it was fortunate to compare them in the same test. Our reviewers found each to be less exciting taste-wise than the advertising promised, particularly the XTZ drink, with its dire warnings about avoiding the drink if pregnant or breast-feeding. Perhaps its a homeopathic root beer, with the dangerous ingredients merely imparting their "vibrations" into the brew instead of their flavors.

Our Rigorous Taste Testing

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Copyright 2002 Matt Bergstrom. Text Copyright Matt Bergstrom