I wanted to call this the Great American Root Beer Tasting, but some people in the Midwest already did almost that. If you want to do your own root beer tasting, they even have a form you can download.
We modeled our tasting after a tasting that our parents did when my Dad was at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, surrounded by social scientists who fussed over their wines. Their vanilla ice cream tasting, which they wrote up for California magazine, has vanished entirely from the ether, except on the Double Rainbow Website, where they reference the fact that they won the Grand Vanilla Taste Off.
In a weird coincidence, Boylan’s root beer, which was the winner of the Midwestern tasting mentioned above, also won our tasting. Not all of our root beers overlapped but enough did so that I am confident that Boylan’s is a pretty good root beer, and next to my friend Jackie, one of the best things to come out of Patterson, New Jersey.
I also really liked Abita root beer which scored high on their tasting but wasn’t a big favorite of my nephews and brother, the other tasters at our table. Abita is out of Louisiana and appears to brew actual beer primarily. I liked the taste of that good old Louisiana cane sugar. In fact, in spite of my annoyance at the whole “anti-fructose corn sugar” hysteria, all of the root beers that did poorly at our tasting contained it.
Another key difference? We used glass glasses for our tasting because we felt that paper cups might flavor the samples. Don’t attempt this without your Mom to wash all that glassware. Another caveat? Westies should never participate in your tasting, no matter what. They are cute, but they get foam in their beards.