By OWEN MORRIS
A couple of weeks ago, taste-testers at The New York Times sampled 25 root beers. They included a lot of root beers that aren't available in the Kansas City area and, while I trust the Times that Abita is a good root beer, I'm not driving all the way to Louisiana just to find out.
So I rounded up four of my root beer-loving coworkers for a test of brews that can be found in normal Kansas City stores. After the jump are the results from worst to first, along with a quote that summed up the general consensus about each root beer.
10. Natural Brew (Whole Foods): "Oh that's shitty! Tastes like sweetened ice tea.”
9. Virgil’s (Whole Foods): "Jagermiesty. Horrible and chemical. Godawful."
8. Mug (Price Chopper): "Tastes like a diet root beer and not in a good way."
7. A&W (Quick Trip): "It's as bland as it gets but a comforting dull and blandness."
6. Lost Trail (Dean and Deluca): "Tastes like a banana split. Really lots of banana."
5. Jones (Price Chopper): "Too sweet, watery and flat."
3. (tie) Blue Sky (Whole Foods): "Nice sharp edge but did not care for the aftertaste."
3. (tie) Barqs (Price Chopper): "Bouncy and neat."
2. Sprechers (Price Chopper): "Clean and light but doesn't have an herb punch.
1. IBC (Hen House): "Crisp, rooty even flavor. Solid. Good."
A few extra notes: Natural Brew was the clear loser, drawing comparisons to cough syrup, flat Tab and sweetened ice tea. Three co-workers described Virgil’s as “chemically,” even though Virgil’s is supposedly all natural and sweetened with cane sugar as opposed to corn syrup. The biggest disappointment was Sprechers, which was the Times ranked number one. Two of our reviewers called it “middle of the road” and, even though it came in second, it really didn’t impress. IBC was winner by default, being the most even-tasting of the bunch.
None of the root beers delivered the sharp, powerful pow! we were hoping for. As one co-worker put it while trying his fifth sample: “Most of these just taste like root beer.”