The Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi presents the

Great American Root Beer Showdown

Round Thirteen

For the thirteenth round of testing, the lucky researchers assembled at the laboratory early on Sunday afternoon, September 15, 2002.

We are almost finished testing the many flavors from the old popsoda crate (hopefully the long months in the root beer cabinet haven't spoiled their flavors). Anticipating a large turnout for this round of testing, I figured it would be a good time to include the three largest bottles of root beer we have in the test. Both Briar's and Frostop come in one liter bottles, and Hansen's Signature comes a larger than usual 14 oz. bottle. Learning from not fully chilled sample of Round Twelve, I made sure to place these large bottles in the refrigerator an entire night beforehand so that they would all be of equal temperature.

Once seven of the taste-testers arrived, it became clear that three other researchers who had been invited would not be able to participate, so we had a lot of root beer to finish off and started the test.

The Root Beers Tasted:

  1. Briar's - (Sample B)
  2. Bundaberg - (D)
  3. Cool Mountain - (C)
  4. Frostop - (A)
  5. Hank's - (E)
  6. Hansen's Signature Sarsaparilla - (G)
  7. Levi's - (F)

The Test

The anticipation and eagerness of the researchers at the beginning of the test was soon replaced by disappointment with many of the samples. While all were careful not to reveal their score sheets to the other taste testers, it became obvious from the lines of unfinished sample cups on the table that some brands were not going to do well in this round of testing.

Round Thirteen Results

Although the researchers were careful not to reveal their scores to one another during the test, it became obvious that many of them were not too pleased with many of the flavors tested in this round. Giggles and murmurs of discontent passed around the room, and many of the testers refused to finish their sample cups.

Total Scores

Average scores across all categories:

  1. Frostop - 3.61
  2. Hank's - 3.44
  3. Cool Mountain - 2.44
  4. Hansen's Signature Sarsaparilla - 2.04
  5. Levi's - 1.81
  6. Briar's - 1.43
  7. Bundaberg - 1.21

Overall Taste

Average scores in the category of "Overall Taste":

  1. Frostop - 4.00
  2. Hank's - 3.64
  3. Cool Mountain - 2.36
  4. Hansen's Signature Sarsaparilla - 1.93
  5. Levi's - 1.71
  6. Briar's - 1.14
  7. Bundaberg - 1.14


Round Thirteen resulted in some of the lowest scores of the entire experiment for Levi's, Briar's and Bundaberg. Briar's score will be averaged with its previous standing in Round Eleven, so its ranking will only take half as much of a tumble, but it is a serious setback for this brand. Once again, our judges showed their preference for stronger flavors which these two could not provide.

A second chance for Frostop under better conditions allowed it to come out far ahead of the competition, as its complex, well-balanced flavor was well-liked. However, its lower scores in Round Twelve will hold back its overall standing. Due to "unfair" disadvantages in that last round, perhaps this overall score is inaccurate, but with so many other new flavors to try, we may not get around to testing this brand again. We must conclude that all brands which score above 3.5 in the overall rankings are definitely great flavors. The ranking differences between these brands are not terribly signficant. They're all "winners".

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Copyright 2002 Matt Bergstrom. Text Copyright Matt Bergstrom