Luke's Root Beer Homepage

Luke's Root Beer Reviews

The 10 Best Root Beers 

in America



Contact: Luke Cole, 415-346-4179 x2, or luke AT


The “10 Best Root Beers in America” list for 2005 was issued today by San Francisco root beer connoisseur and critic Luke Cole, who reviews root beers for the website “We have traveled the country looking for great root beer, and these are the best, based on our reviews of over 160 root beers,” Cole said in announcing the list. Because of a four-way tie for 9th place, the 2005 list actually includes 12 root beers (the 2004 list also included 12 brews).

The so-called “Mom and Pop” root beers, from Drive-Ins and roadside stands, continued their dominance of Cole’s annual list, with seven of the 12 slots. “The roadside stands still make root beer the way it used to be, rich and creamy – not the dumbed-down stuff you get from national brands,” said Cole. Regional brews filled out four of the other five slots, with just one national brand, Henry Weinhard, making the list. The number one root beer in the country for the third straight year was Gale’s, of Chicago, which was noted for its rootiness and spiciness. Bulldog, XXX and Route 66 Malt Shop all returned for a third year to the highly selective list.

The root beers came from seven states. Washington state had three entries on the list, while California, Illinois and Indiana had two. Connecticut, New Mexico and Wisconsin rounded out the list.

“There is a renaissance in root beer making,” observed Cole. “Regional brewers are able to market nationally through the internet, microbreweries are making root beer again, and in many parts of the country the root beer stand is as popular as ever. We need to preserve this part of American culture.” Cole noted that root beer is an American invention, as Native Americans used roots for medicinal purposes. It was first marketed commercially in the latter half of the 19th Century, with some crediting Charles Hires with popularizing it. Root beer’s heyday was during prohibition, when beer makers switched to the non-alcoholic brew. “Its ironic that today’s microbrewery craze means that there are more root beers today than in years,” Cole said, “because many of the national breweries only survived Prohibition by making root beer.”

The 10 Best Root Beers in America for 2005, in order, are:

1. Gale’s, Chicago, Illinois (8.94)
2. Bulldog, Fresno, California (8.81)
2. 21st Street Drive-In, Paso Robles, California (8.81)
4. Gene's Root Beer, Anderson, Indiana (8.75)
4. Route 66 Malt Shop, Albuquerque, New Mexico (8.75)
4. Sycamore Drive-In, Bethel, Connecticut (8.75)
7. Americana, Redmond, Washington (8.69)
7. XXX, Issaquah, Washington (8.69)
9. Henry Weinhard, Tumwater, Washington (8.63)
9. Maid-rite, Springfield, Illinois (8.63)
9. Mug N' Bun, Indianapolis, Indiana (8.63)
9. Sprecher Breweries, Glendale, Wisconsin (8.63)

(The scores in parentheses are on a scale of one to ten, and reflect the average of eight different parameters Cole uses in reviewing the root beers.)
# # #

Luke's Root Beer Homepage  +  Root Beer Rankings

2001 Root Beer Taste-off  +  2002 Root Beer Taste-off

Luke Cole's Homepage