I bought 9 root beers and sarsaparillas and I drank one each week after a grueling run. Why? Because that's the kind of guy I am. Which was best? Read on, then feel free to add your faves on the end, but one request: notice there's no "soda machine" brands on this list? Let's keep it that way.
  1. Sioux City Sarsaparilla 10/10
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    All the usual root beer yum plus very refreshing, tart "bite" and lots of cool wintergreen brrrr on the palate.
  2. Buckin' Root Beer: Jackson Hole Soda 10/10
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    This one was very balanced for the first half of the bottle with a cool wintergreen finish, but about halfway through, a dry earthy aftertaste emerged. A little odd but I didn't mind it. Satisfying and interesting.
  3. Sparky's: Fresh Draft Root Beer: Knox Brewing Co 5/10
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    At first, Ooh! Clove? Cinnamon? By halfway through the bottle, I thought it was gross: like doing the Cinnamon Challenge. Also, too sweet.
  4. Sea Dog: Sea Dog Brewing, Portland 8/10
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    Very balanced root beer yum: some fancy sounding ingredients but a rather simple taste. Not disappointing in any way, neither standing out. Perhaps a bit too sweet.
  5. Capt'n Eli's: Shipyard Brewing, Portland 8/10
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    Balanced root beer yumness with bright finish, becomes a bit cloying towards the end. Plus: too many apostrophes for a soft drink.
  6. Bulldog: Fresno 8/10
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    Plenty of root beer yum with a brown sugar / molasses undertone.
  7. AJ Stephans Sarsaparilla: Boston 9/10
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    I'm starting to get the feeling that I prefer Satsaparilla to root beer. This has more dry, refreshing wintergreen bite than the last few root beers with all the root beer yum.
  8. Sioux City Root Beer: 10/10
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    If root beer was D&D characters, this would be a "Human Fighter." Totally balanced, lacking nothing. Kicking ass.
  9. River City Root Beer: Sacramento 8/10
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    A bit strong in the cinnamoniness but interesting flavor mix. A tad gummy towards the end of the bottle.
  10. Gale's Root Beer
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    Created by Chicago-based pastry chef Gale Gand. It has a nice buttery/vanilla quality that I really like. Not sure how widely available it is outside of the Midwest?
    Suggested by @ladyprofessor
  11. Virgil's: Reed Co in LA 10/10
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    Bright, tart, with wintergreen brr. Almost "fresh!"
  12. Bundaberg: Australia 9/10
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    This bad-ass root beer is from down under. Maybe that's why the bottle says to turn it over before you drink. That...or the fact that there is YEAST in it? Ultimately, I didn't love it. But so legit.
  13. Sprecher: Pride of Milwaukee 10/10
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    Oy. So good. Like all things from Milwaukee. ❤️🍻
  14. Maine Root: Portland Maine 10/10
    Dry and herbal. The ingredients are: water, cane juice and spices. Yes. So dry, so herbally. Yum.
  15. Crater Lake Root Beer from Oregon
    Nice sweet edge and oh so bubbly. I can get it on draft at a place called Chuck's Hop Shop near me in Seattle. But otherwise it is a bit hard to find in stores here so even more precious to me!
    Suggested by @cordeliane