The Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi presents the

Great American Root Beer Showdown

Round Eight

The major development and impetus of Round Eight was that the looming Root Beer Flavor Horizon mentioned in the writeup of Round Seven, that point at which all easily acquired root beer brands in the Chicago area will have been tested, was pushed back far into the future. As a Christmas gift from my brother and sister I received a 24-bottle crate of root beer from This crate contains a wide variety of root beer brands from all over the country, some of which we've tested already, but many that I've never even heard of before. What a treasure trove! Do not worry, dear readers, the testing will continue, as we now have 20-odd completely new flavors in the cabinet ready for sampling. Let the experiment continue!

In addition, revisiting several grocery stores in Minneapolis turned up two new canned health-food brands of root beer, as well as the previously absent Sioux City Root Beer. However, attempts to track down a few bottles of Killebrew Root Beer, named after the famous Minnesota Twins ballplayer, were as yet unsucessful. Perhaps this brand isn't made anymore? Does anyone reading this know?

So, with several random bottles chosen from the crate, plus the other new discoveries ready and disguised in the fridge, seven taste testers assembled for Round Eight on the afternoon of January 6. 2002.

The Root Beers Tasted:

  1. Abita - (Sample D)
  2. Blue Sky Soda - (E)
  3. Blumer's - (B)
  4. Hires - (A)
  5. Hosmer Mountain - (F)
  6. Santa Cruz Organic Root Beer - (C)
  7. Sioux City Root Beer - (G)

The Test

Seeing that Elvis's birthday was in just two days, the sound engineer selected a range of rooty Elvis tunes to set the tone for our test. While Elvis himself would probably have preferred an RC Cola, somehow the music seemed to fit well with the Root Beer Showdown.

The testing proceeded smoothly through each sample. When Sample C was brought forth from the kitchen, the staff member opening the bottles warned us to keep silent, but few could resist making some crude remarks about the strange weak yellow liquid in the little sterile cups. But all was in good fun, and the taste testers soon returned to the serious contemplation of the flavors before them.

Round Eight Results

In the past the reviewers have been reluctant to sample more than six flavors in one sitting, even showing a bit of fatigue and sluggishness of tongue if the test continues to a seventh sample. For this test, however, all the reviewers agreed that seven flavors was just the right amount, and maintained their faculties to the end. Now that the Root Beer Flavor Horizon has expanded, it is well that the reviewers are willing, because there is now a lot more ground to cover in each round of testing.

Total Scores

Average scores across all categories:

  1. Hosmer Mountain - 3.68
  2. Hires - 3.45
  3. Sioux City Root Beer - 3.24
  4. Abita - 3.17
  5. Blumer's - 2.88
  6. Blue Sky - 2.86
  7. Santa Cruz Organic Root Beer - 1.67

Overall Taste

Average scores in the category of "Overall Taste":

  1. Hires - 4.00
  2. Hosmer Mountain - 3.93
  3. Sioux City Root Beer - 3.57
  4. Abita - 3.43
  5. Blue Sky - 3.00
  6. Blumer's - 3.00
  7. Santa Cruz Organic Root Beer - 1.67


The flavors sampled in Round Eight proved to be a high quality bunch. Perhaps all of the root beers taken from the big 24-bottle crate from described earlier in this experiment write-up will prove to be oustanding brews, instead of just a random bunch of bottles. Hopefully there will always be a few terrible samples such as the Santa Cruz Organic Root Beer included in this test, just for a bit of levity and entertainment for the reviewers. Each test seems to go well if uncovers a "bad guy" flavor that underscores just what the stakes of the game are, as well as push the boundaries of the root beer universe.

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Copyright 2002 Matt Bergstrom. Text Copyright Matt Bergstrom