The Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi presents the

Great American Root Beer Showdown

Round Nine

Many weeks went by since the last round of the Showdown, until it seemed that we must have another round of testing soon, if only to keep the momentum of the testing going, as well as make an attempt making a dent in all the new flavors from Christmas-time (see Round 8 write-up).

And yet only five of the veteran taste testers could make it to the laboratory on a cold and sunny March Sunday. Blame it on late winter doldrums, or hectic conflicting schedules, perhaps, for turning so many away. As for the five, they arrived thirsty and excited to begin the sampling.

Due to the smaller number of researchers, we decided to sample only six brands in this test, so that each researcher would only drink slightly more than one bottle of root beer in one sitting.

We finally acquired a bottle of Torpedo Juice on a trip to northeast Wisconsin, so that we would be able to set it up against Baumeister, to confirm or deny our suspicions of a conspiracy between these two brands (see evidence of conspiracy page). Another new, unknown flavor was a gift from a friend who found it at Samuel's Deli in Chicago. How many other small delis in town have their own brands of root beer? Ada's Deli once had their own brand as well, but by the time we discovered this, they'd discontinued it. So in lieu of that brand, the bottle of Samuel's Deli Root Beer was a welcome addition. The rest of the brands in the test came from the still-very-full crate from

The Root Beers Tasted:

  1. A&W - (Sample B)
  2. Baumeister - (E)
  3. Henry Weinhard's - (F)
  4. Mad River - (C)
  5. Samuel's Deli Root Beer - (A)
  6. Torpedo Juice - (D)

The Test

Once all the researchers were seated and ready, the assistant ran to the kitchen to pour the samples and begin the test. The taste testers freely admitted that they were quite thirsty, and the first sample was accepted with much anticipation.

Round Nine Results

Many of the researchers involved in this round freely declared that they were quite thirsty when the testing began. This often works to improve the scores for the first sample, yet many of the taste-testers admitted being reluctant to give the first sample a high score, not knowing whether the next samples would deserve an even higher score. Still, Samuel's Deli Root Beer (Sample A) was agreed to be a very good brew, even if it hadn't been the first tasted.

With fewer researchers in this round, each was allowed a larger sample portion per bottle, which allowed extended sipping and pondering and more astute analysis of particular flavors. In this round, the researchers agreed that each of the root beers sampled (with one exception) was a pleasurable brew and well worth the extra amount in each cup.

Total Scores

Average scores across all categories:

  1. Torpedo Juice - 3.70
  2. Baumeister - 3.62
  3. Samuel's Deli - 3.48
  4. A&W - 3.43
  5. Henry Weinhard's - 3.40
  6. Mad River - 1.87

Overall Taste

Average scores in the category of "Overall Taste":

  1. Torpedo Juice - 4.00
  2. Baumeister - 3.90
  3. Samuel's Deli - 3.70
  4. A&W - 3.40
  5. Henry Weinhard's - 3.40
  6. Mad River - 1.60


The close ratings of Torpedo Juice and Baumeister show that our judges were able to correctly identify the similar flavors of each of these brands (see evidence of conspiracy page). And they enjoyed these flavors as well, giving both brands very high scores and sending them to near the top of the list of root beers rated.

All of the brands scored well above average, except Mad River, which was dismissed with a 1.60 for Overall Taste, placing it as the 3rd worst in the entire Showdown at this point.

Our Rigorous Taste Testing

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Copyright 2002 Matt Bergstrom. Text Copyright Matt Bergstrom