Luke's Root Beer Pages

Root Beer Reviews, Tastings, Arcana and a Trivia Contest...

10 Best Root Beers in America for 2005 Named

        The 2005 results are in! Check out the press release.   For previous years: see 2004's results and press release.  See also 10 Best Root Beers in 2003.


Root Beer!

        Root beer has been an American staple for centuries, quenching the thirst and aiding the digestion.  It came into the commercial marketplace in the late 19th Century when Charles Hires began marketing his particular brew, and had an upsurge in popularity during prohibition.  The discovery in the 1960s that one of the main ingredients in sassafras root -- sassafrol -- caused cancer may have led to a decline in root beer drinkers.  The waning popularity of drive-up root beer stands like A&W and the subsequent nationalization of many previously popular local brands led to a decline in quality of root beers through the 1980s and 90s.  However, with an upsurge of micro-brews and specialty sodas, root beer is back. There is a root beer renaissance!

        In these pages, I review root beers, provide the results of various root beer tastings and taste-offs we have conducted, exhibit some old root beer ephemera, test your root beer trivia knowledge, and offer links to other fun root beer-related sites.


Types of Root Beer -- Luke describes the gamut from sublime to ridiculous...


Luke's Root Beer Reviews  

        Reviews, ingredients, and contact info for contemporary root beers.  181 root beers reviewed thus far... see the RANKINGS here.

    #:  21st Street Drive-In  •  365

    A:  A+  •  A&W  •  Abita  •  AC  •  Adirondack  •  AJ Stephans  •  AJ Stephans Birch  •  Alameda Brewing Co.  •  Albertson's  • Americana  •  America's Choice  •  America's Choice Diet  •  Anthony's Pizza Palace #2  •  Anthony's Pizza Palace #2 Birch

    B:  B&K  •  Barons Boot Hill Sassparilla  •  Barq's  •  Baumeister  •  Bear Tooth  •  Bedford’s  •  Bennett's Big Bear  •  Berghoff  •  Best Choice  • Best Yet •  Big K  •  Big K Diet  •  Black Mountain Brewing  •  Blue Corn Cafe  •  Blue Sky  • Bootreer •  Boylan Bottleworks  •  Boylan Diet  •  Boylan's Birch Beer  •  Boylan's Creamy Red Birch Beer  •  Boylan's Diet Birch  •  Briar’s  •  Buckin'  •  Bulldog

    C:  Cable Car  •  Capt'n Eli's  •  Clover Classics  •  Coastal Fog  •  Columbia Soda Works  •  Cool Mountain  •  Crater Lake

    D:  Dad's  •  Dempsey's  •  D-n-A  •  Dog N Suds  •  Dominion  •  Down to Earth Value  •  Dr. Brown's  •  Dr. Tima  •  Druther's Black Cow

    F:   Faygo  •  Faygo Diet  •  Filbert's  •  Firehouse Brewing Co.  •  Fitz's  •  Fitz's on draft  •  Flying Pig Brewery  •  Food Lion  •  Frostie

    G:   Gale's  •  Gene's  •  Glacier Brewhouse  •  Goose Island  •  Grand Teton Brewing Company  •  Gray's  •  Gray's Diet  •  Great Bear Brewing Company

    H:   Hank's  •  Hank's Diet  •  Hansen's  •  Hard Times Cafe  •  Harris Teeter  •  Harvest Moon Brewery  •  Health Valley Old Fashioned  •  Health Valley Sarsaparilla  •  Henry Weinhard’s  •  High Desert Brewing Co.  •  Hires  •  Hosmer Mountain  •  HyVee  •  HyVee Diet

    I:  Ian's Favorite  •  IBC  •  Il Vicino  •  Iron Springs  •  Ithaca

    J:  Jack Black's Dead Red  •  Jaxon's  •  Jeff's  •  Joe Wold's  •  Jones  •  Jones Sugar-Free  •  Journey Desert Sage  •  Journey John Barleycorn  •  Journey Shenandoah Sassafras  •  Jumpin Johnny's

    K:  Kellys Brewery  •  King Kullen  •  Kutztown Birch

    L:  Laurelwood Brewing Co.  •  Levis  •  Lion Brewery  •  Lost Coast  •  Lost Trail  •  Lowe's  

    M:  M • Maid-riteMain Street • Manhattan Special • Mark TwainMarket Basket • Market Basket Sarsaparilla • Mason's • Mason's Drive-In • Milligan's Island • Millstream • Mr. D'z Route 66 • Mr. Fizz • Monterey • Moose's Tooth Brewing Company Mt. Angel • Mug 'N Bun • Myers Avenue • Mystic Seaport Birch • Mystic Seaport • Mystic Seaport Sarsaparilla

    N:  Napa Valley Soda Co.  •  Natural Brew  •  Nor-Cal

    O:  Olde Brooklyn  •  Olde Philadelphia  • Old Faithful  •  Old Fashioned  •  Old Town   •  Our Family

    P:  Pathmark  •  Pathmark Birch  •  Pathmark Diet  •  Pearson Bros.  •  Pennsylvania Dutch Birch  •  Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Diet  •  Pirate’s Keg  •  Pizza Port   •  Polar  •  Polar Diet

    R:  Rat Bastard  •  Red Ribbon  •  Riley's Pizza  •  Root 66  •  Route 66 Malt Shop

    S:  S • Safeway Select • Safeway Diet • Santa Cruz Organic • Saranac • Sayre • Schiano Family • Schnuck's • Scooter's • Scuttlebutt Brewery • Sea Dog • Shasta • Shenandoah • Shur Fine • Silver Spring • Sioux City • Sleeping Lady • Sno-CapSocorro Springs • Soho • Sonora • Sparky's • Sprecher Brewery • Sprecher Lo-Cal • Steap • Steaz • SteelheadStewart’s • Stewart's Diet • Stewart's Drive-In • Sunny Select • Sycamore Drive-In

    T:  Thomas Kemper  •  Tiger  •  Titletown Brewing Co.  •  Tommyknocker •  Trader's Joe's  •  Trader Joe's Draft  •  Trader Joe's Organic  •  Tubz  •  Turtle Mountain

    V:  Virgil's  •  Virgil's Special Edition

    W:  Waist Watcher  •  Walgreen's  •  Way 2 Cool  •  Western Family  •  Wild Bill's  •  Wild Oats  •  Wynkoop Brewery

    X:  X Root Beer Riot  •  XXX

    Z:  Zesto


Luke's Root Beer Rankings -- Ratings for 181 root beers so far

        Luke's personal rankings.  Luke's ranking changes frequently as more root beers are added to the list.  Last updated November 18, 2006.  Also includes cumulative rankings from the annual Cole Family Root Beer Taste-off (15 root beers).


The Root Beer Tastings

         The Cole family members are root beer connoisseurs from way back. At Christmas we do a blind tasting, and each summer we do a general tasting on Luke's birthday. Check out the results and the methodology below...

        Luke's Birthday Root Beer Tasting 2006 -- eight more varieties please the crowd, Fitz's emerges as the favorite.

        Luke's Birthday Root Beer Tasting 2003 -- not a blind taste-test, but a large-sample review of 21 brands at Luke's annual birthday barbeque.

        2002 Root Beer Taste-off -- The Cole Family continues, with six new brews and the three winners from last year.

        2001 Root Beer Taste-off -- The Cole Family reviews nine brews, mmm!

Root Beer Trivia

        OK, so it's only four questions so far.  Send me some more, I'll put them up.


Root Beers around the country

        Find the root beer near you!  (See also, Where can I buy all these root beers? below)


  Root Beer Bottle Caps

        Photos from Luke's collection of bottle cap images.  Festive!


  Luke's Root Beer Archive

        Photos of old root beer bottles and labels from an amazing assortment of brands. (still under construction!)


Our favorite Labels

        The best in the business today.  Under construction.


The Tasters -- Who is chiming in on all these root beers reviews, anyway?


Other Root Beer Tastings and Reviews

        The Great American Root Beer Showdown -- these devotees have an almost monthly tasting, fun reviews of many brands, even a downloadable survey instrument and spreadsheet that will tabulate your own tasting results -- great site. 

        Anthony's Root Beer Barrel -- reviews and more.  Anthony has reviewed 270 root beers so far on this site!  The guy is a root beer maniac, I don't know where he finds them all.

        Spike's Root Beer pages -- fun site, including grades for 50 root beers.

        Interesting Ideas Root Beer report -- another tasting, this one by four different panels, of up to 18 beers at a time.  Nice discussion.

        Jeff and Loren's Soda Pop -- their soda reviews include 50 root beers, ranked from 0 to 5 mugs.  Humorous and informative reviews.

        "Cachien" of San Francisco reviews 45 root beers, coming up with an A list and a B list.

        Ben Cacace's one-line reviews of 89 root beers

        Wayne's Taste Tests -- 16 less well-known root beers, and some common ones too.

        Justin Sherrill's reviews of 15 root beers, in no particular order.

        Jordan Mendelson's reviews of 14 root beers (among other colas) from staying up too late and ordering a bunch of sodas online (we know this story all too well!).

        Fresh Graphics Root Beer Tasting (9 brands, all national).


Root Beer Links

        Root Beer World -- which keeps track of the 2,134 brands of root beer they have found so far...

        Roadside Peek at Root Beer Stands -- wonderful collection of photos of root beer stands, one of many satisfying pages in this web collection of roadside Americana.

        Neil Simonetti's Root Beer Can collection -- what can we say about the guy who has 1103 cans from 440 different brands?  A nice source of obscure root beer brands.

        Steve S.'s riffs on root beer on the Teen Ink site.

        Soda Brands site -- Excellent archival photos and histories of sodas, including root beers.  Nice photos of old root beer bottles, but Angelfire has these annoying pop-ups so I don't go there so much anymore.  Three pop-ups to view one page is not a good ratio!

        Superfunhappy's root beer list -- up to 98 root beers as of April 2004.  Too many pop ups on this site, though.


Where can I buy all these root beers?    

        On-line resources we have used to find those obscure root beers.  (For information on specific brands, see the brand's reviews, above.)


Other fun links -- check out...

        chef cb presents the food page - fun links for those who love to eat!

Luke's Root Beer Rankings

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

Luke Cole Home