The best diet root beer should taste exactly like its non-diet counterpart. It should be sweet and slightly spiced and it definitely shouldn’t end on that telltale chemical flavor so many diet sodas have.
I tasted nine different diet root beer brands, and I know I am going to get dragged in the comments because Diet Barq’s is not among them. I couldn’t find it. I swear, I looked and I looked and it just wasn’t available. Diet A&W has been discontinued, it seems, but even A&W Zero Sugar was nowhere to be found. I get it. These are the big boys. And I failed you. But the grocery stores failed me. Once I get my hands on them, I will update this ranking, you have my word. I swear on the grave of Sierra Mist.
But the good news is that out of the nine diet root beer brands I did track down, four were exceptional. If you want that certain je ne sais quoi that the best root beer has but without the calories, here are the best bottles of diet root beer you need to try.
- Fitz’s Diet Root Beer
More than any other soda, root beer can get away with low carbonation. It’s complex enough that it doesn’t have to rely on fizz to make you feel the flavor. Fitz’s is one of those low-carbonation root beers, which makes it easy to guzzle and a good pick for folks who don’t like the prickle of spritzy soda. I really like the slightly bitter flavor—it makes it taste like an after dinner amaro, almost. I would definitely pick this as the best diet root beer if I was looking for something to settle my tummy.
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- IBC Diet Root Beer
Some root beers are a little fruity and Diet IBC definitely falls into that category. It’s a touch tart—like someone threw a splash of tart cherry juice into the mix. It’s also very heavily spiced. It’s definitely the best diet root beer to replace a cocktail—you get all the flavors of a well-crafted mixed drink (aside from that alcoholic heat).
- Hank’s Diet Root Beer
If you’re a fizz freak this is the best diet root beer for you. It explodes with tons of tiny bubbles that dance on your tongue. That’s right, the bubbles dance. The flavor is extremely good for a diet root beer—it’s round with cooked sugar flavor (not fake sugar) and some notes of winter spices. It ends decidedly sweet—almost like cream soda. It really doesn’t taste like a diet root beer. You would never know if you didn’t compare it with the real deal.
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- Diet Stewart’s Root Beer
Diet Stewart’s is the best diet root beer we tasted—it has tons of extremely small bubbles, a nice, spiced cinnamon or nutmeg quality, and it doesn’t taste like fake sweetener at all. It’s actually a bit on the dryer end of the spectrum, which is surprising for a diet root beer. Often, fake sweeteners come off tasting way sweeter than actual sugar. It’s extremely refreshing and I demand you try it.
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Best Low Carbonation
Best Mocktail Substitute
Best Extra Fizzy
Best of the Best
Other diet root beer brands we tried: Zevia, Diet Dad’s Old Fashioned Root Beer, Virgil’s Zero Sugar Root Beer, Diet Shasta, Boylan Diet Root Beer