Best Root Beer: Get Fizzy with the 7 Best Root Beers

I’m relatively new to root beer, which is surprising considering home much I like anise-y spirits and how many bottles of Fernet I can guzzle. But as a child, it was just too…not Coke. I didn’t have a root beer float until I was in my very late teens. But once I did taste root beer, I was in. I was invested. And I continue to search for the best ones.

I want a root beer that tastes like it’s made from a root. I want it to be sweet and brightly fizzy. I want to be refreshed but I want to be intrigued. It shouldn’t taste like plain old soda. Root beer is sophisticated and all-American. Let it shine. 

To find these platonic ideals of root beer, the Sporked team sat down with Katrina “Chappie” Chaput, Mythical’s assistant graphic designer. They happen to only drink one type of soda and that soda happens to be root beer. So we were joined by a pro. Here are the top seven root beer brands that we tasted.

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Frostie root beer

Best of the Best

Frostie

You can’t deny the appeal of the packaging. It features a loveable little old man who might be one of the forgotten dwarves from Snow White—Frostie, one assumes. To me, this tasted the way root beer is supposed to taste. It’s like a better version of your childhood memories of root beer (I can only assume, having been afraid of root beer, as I mentioned). “This is perfect root beer,” Sporked managing editor Gwynedd Stuart said. “It’s creamy,” staff writer Danny Palumbo commented. “It has the flavor of a Dum Dum,” Chappie said. It’s all of these things wrapped up in a downright adorable package. 

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

River city root beer

Best for Root Beer Floats

River City

River City advertises this root beer as being made for ice cream. And, guess what? They did it. It has a ton of vanilla flavor to welcome in the ice cream and a nice, sharp fizz to cut its creaminess. “Oh yeah, that’s the root beer we know and love,” staff writer Jordan Myrick said. “That’s a craft root beer.” Plus, it has a riverboat on the label, so you feel like you’re down at the docks, swiggin’ an old-timey sodee pop in your best seersucker suit. That’s what I’m looking for in a root beer. 

Credit: Ryan Martin / Albertsons

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

IBC root beer

Best Grown-Up

IBC

Looking for a licorice punch? IBC is your root beer. It’s light, extremely dry (as in, not sweet), and very, very fizzy. Personally, I loved it. It didn’t overwhelm me with sugar, which kept me coming back for more. I would sip this on its own—almost as a replacement for an after-dinner digestif. It refreshes your palate and settles your tummy with its slight hint of bitterness. It’s been around since 1919 for a reason. 

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Dad's root beer

Best with Lunch

Dad’s

“It almost has a cherry flavor at the beginning,” said Chappie. “It’s good, but not what you’d expect.” A few of the root beers we tried had some fruity notes to them. It seemed odd at first and some of them were straight-up sour, but this one made it work. It tasted like a root beer that had been garnished with maraschino cherries—but the good ones, not the neon red ones. “It needs to be paired with a sandwich,” Danny said. “A turkey sandwich with chips—it completes an old man’s lunchbox.” It’s the acidity from the fruit that makes it so food or, specifically, sandwich friendly. But it’s not so fruity that you don’t know you’re drinking root beer. 

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Sprecher root beer

Best Packaging

Sprecher

If you are a child and you want to pretend you’re drinking beer, this root beer will do very nicely. (Do not do this, children, enjoy the innocence of your childhood.) It comes in an extremely pleasing, chonky-as-heck bottle. And the label features a fun-loving blackbird or crow or raven brandishing a frothy mug of root beer and a bottle. But it doesn’t just look good. It also tastes good. “It’s smooth, dark, and very rich,” Chappie said. Perhaps that’s because it’s sweetened with honey. They recommend enjoying a cold bottle with a “big hot dog.” 

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Abita root beer

Best Spiced

Abita

“I grew up drinking this,” said Jordan, who spent part of their childhood in New Orleans. “I love this as a special treat.” Chappie noted that it tasted a bit medicinal, but I think that’s par for the course with a more crafty root beer. To me, it tasted like Christmas. It was filled with notes of cinnamon and clove. It wasn’t too sweet, but it was very aromatic with a gorgeously foamy head (thanks to the inclusion of yucca, apparently). If you’re looking for some seasonal cheer in a bottle, try Abita. 

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Mug root beer

Best of the Big Brands

Mug

Obviously, we preferred the more craft-leaning brands to the big boys. After tasting through so many flavor-packed root beers, we were shocked to discover that most of the more ubiquitous root beer brands actually just taste like plain cola. Mugs, though, did taste like root beer. It held onto that signature bite and had some herbaceous notes. If you want to buy a big, giant bottle of root beer or are catering for a child’s pizza party, Mug’s will get it done. 

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

6/10

Sporks

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About the Author

Justine Sterling

Justine Sterling is the editor-in-chief of Sporked. She has been writing about food and beverages for well over a decade and is an avid at-home cook and snacker. Don’t worry, she’s not a food snob. Sure, she loves a fresh-shucked oyster. But she also will leap at whatever new product Reese’s releases and loves a Tostitos Hint of Lime, even if there is no actual lime in the ingredients.

Thoughts? Questions? Complete disagreement? Leave a comment!

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  • Virgil’s Root Beer is the best I’ve had by far.

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    • Seconded! Virgil’s is the greatest.

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      • We liked Virgil’s as a soda but it was too fruity and sour for it to fit into our concept of root beer! I will for sure drink it again, though. It’s just a little too outside of the box for us.

    • Yep, I was surprised it wasn’t even in the list.

      Somewhat related, I know I’ve seen it on some of the newer articles, but you guys really need to include a section with all of the brands/versions tested.

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  • A St. Louis classic, Fitz’s root beer is one of the most interesting root beers I have ever had. It changes up the root beer game. They use real cane sugar which just takes the cake.

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    • I came here to agree with Alyssa. I visited once, and I have never been the same. Can’t get it out my way.

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    • Yes! I agree Fitz’s should definitely be towards the top of this list!

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    • Best I’ve ever had

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  • Thanks for the article Justine. Welcome to the world of root beer. One king that can’t be ignored in the root beer world is A&W. One of the most popular brands; it might be too obvious to consider amongst this list. Although A&W straight from the can is a perfectly acceptable beverage, the real sleeper drink is A&W tap root beer from an A&W franchise restaurant. A&W on tap is an unparalleled experience that has to be enjoyed in house. The bonkers level of creamy richness makes it nearly a dessert by itself, while simultaneously staying true to its foundations. It’s really on a whole new level than A&W in a can, but it also puts other brands to shame, and calls back to an simpler era where the soda fountain experience could stand on its own two feet.

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    • Unfortunately we could only rank items that were available to us in a can or bottle. But I agree–a freshly poured A&W root beer in a frosted mug is incredible.

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      • A&W is over rated lol

      • A&W is widely available in bottles and cans. C’mon

  • Say, you are saying that you find Mugs root beer better tasting than A&W or Barq’s!? Really?

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    • Barq’s ftw

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      • Both A&W and Barq’s lacked that root beer bite!

    • Yeah, Barqs is my favorite of the major ones, I find Mug to taste like a root beer popsicle, and that’s not what I’m looking for.

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      • Never could agree more man

  • If you could make a list of every best soda I’d appreciate it. As a sober person craft sodas are the best.

    Also I like the idea of “articles” however having a pdf or just a list accessible would be a lot more convenient than scrolling to find a specific article-I know the search feature is an option but I don’t know what you guys have and haven’t reviewed. Maybe like a master list at the beginning like a report card?

    For sodas:

    Black cherry

    Cola

    grape

    Ginger ale

    Lemon lime

    Zero calorie soda

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    • Adding these to our list of upcoming tastings!

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  • Henry Weinhard’s is the best by far. Perfect blend of creaminess and spice.

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    • Totally a baller standard RB.

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    • I agree! Henry Weinhards is the best and I refuse to drink any other kind of root beer.

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  • No Boylan!? This is an outrage!

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  • I’ve not had sodas including root beer for about 2 months as of this moment, but yes honestly I felt like maybe a different brand than Mug would be on (and I’m kind of new to this site since seeing that FWF R & L snack video). I kind of thought A & W would’ve been on instead, because I thought at times that its diet version tastes almost like its regular version. Anyways, hmm I’ve seen a at least 1 or 2 crafty type root beers I’ve not heard of before so that’s kind of cool.

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  • I can’t believe you didn’t include Barq’s…….like, what?

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    • A little surprised as well it is three on my top three root beers, IBC, Mugd, Barqs.

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  • The character on the Sprecher’s is a a toon version of the brewery’s griffin

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    • love that.

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  • From a Regional Perspective,
    in the PNW – Crater Lake on tap. WOWZERS has a touch of fermentation that mixes with the star anise and malty finish.
    If you’re in Chicago- try Goose Island’s Rootbeer. It’s crisp, but be sure to drink it cold.

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  • I think the top three are Hank’s, Dog and Suds, and A&W.

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  • The best root beer I’ve ever had is Anchor. It’s hard to find, but it’s very tasty.

    Also, a word of warning about Sprecher: I got a bottle from a local pizza place once and it just…barely had any flavor. It was weird because I had gotten it many times before, and it was always pretty flavorful and tasty. I poured the dud bottle into a glass, and sure enough, it had way less color than usual, too. I called the pizza place afterwards to let them know about it, and they said they get ones like that every once in a while. It really put me off from the stuff, haven’t had it since.

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  • No Mikes and no Barqs… smh

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  • Pretty decent list, Frostie’s has a fantastic orange cream. Noticed no Pennsylvania Dutch, but I guess it’s a birch beer so the bite is a bit different

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  • Not sure on availability but Jackson Hole bucking’ root beer is my favorite.

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  • Having mug on here over Barqs and even A&W. No way. Just for that reason alone I can’t take this serious. Mug is thee worst root beer out there by far. Sorry!

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  • Fun fact: A&W root beer in the cans is totally different from the root beer in the restaurants. The root beer in the A&W restaurants is made in-house, and SO good. Y’all should try it, and let us know where it ranks on your list!

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  • No Barq’s? What are you even doing?
    Barq’s is best. It’s got bite. It’s not cloyingly sweet. It’s perfect balance.

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    • Absolutely, I can’t take this list seriously when someone chooses mug over Barq’s.

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  • I wish I knew what everything tasted was not just the winners dont count out faygo

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  • did you guys try jones soda root beer? just curious. not my fav but its good. barq’s is our favorite but i saw that didnt make the cut cuz it dosnt have enough bite? We disagree mug has less bite then a&w or barq’s. but i suppose it all boils down to preference.

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  • If this is the list of all the brands you tried, then this taste test doesn’t count. No A&W? one of the biggest root beer brands ever. And did you try Henry Weinhard’s, very smooth and yummy, my fav. You should show a list of ALL the brands you tried.

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  • Im sorry to have to tell you all this but you list is unfortunate incorrect… but only because your not in Canada and probably didn’t have access to the best root beer on earth. I’m talking a&w root beer of course! , it would slap every drink out of it way to the top I promise you.

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  • Henry Weinhard. Master brewer. It writes itself

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  • I was today years old when I learned that Tommyknocker was a small brewery. But still the best root beer I’ve ever had. If you can get it near you, get it. https://tommyknocker.com

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  • If you ever rank cream sodas, make sure and get some Sprecher. It’s delicious, complex even!

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  • Can you rank diet root beer? I swear diet is actually better when it comes to root beer. Does anyone agree? Am I crazy? Eh, probably crazy 😂

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  • Sprecher is criminally low on this list

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  • I can’t even fathom how boylans root beer is not on this list. It is hands down the best root beer ever made.

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  • I have never had any of the other root beers tested (I’ve had Barq and A&W) but I love Mug Root Beer also because it is caffeine free.

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  • Have you ever tried 1919? Personal favorite.

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  • A&W, but not the canned stuff. The flavor of what the restaurants serve is sweeter and creamier.

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  • One thing that bugs me about sporked articles is you never seem to provide a list of everything that got tried. If you read the comments below a lot of people are responding “What? *Insert Brand* didn’t make the list? How?!” But honestly, as readers we don’t know what brands didn’t actually make the list because we don’t know who was even in the running. For all we know you could have tried just the ones listed and then assigned them to categories.

    I doubt you’re actually doing that and I’m sure the work was put in, but could you please include the lists for the future?

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    • Oh also could you include a sugar-free or diet category in the future?

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  • Barqs, Virgil, Hanks and Stewards root beer

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  • Very happy to see Frostie at the top. I’ve tried many root beers but I’m pretty sure Frostie is up there with the best of them.

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  • Where is 1919? It’s easily the best in my opinion.

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    • Came here to agree with Caleb!

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  • Two of my favorite root beers (IBC & Mugd) are on here and that mames me happy (:

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  • Greetings to the Sporked team,
    My name is Savonna Clark (22) and I live in a small town in Oklahoma. I recently heard the news of your team rating root beers in the top 7 best root beers found on Sporked.com. As a root beer lover and connoisseur, I was thrilled to see others interested in this premier beverage. But to my astoundment, the top 7 that your team at Sporked chose were nothing near the best of root beers. To not have an honorable mention for the other root beers was also quite surprising. Brands such as A&W, Boyland, and Bundaberg, did not receive their proper respect in the root beer community in this rating. I am here to propose that you rethink your decision on those root beers and rate them again, or take it a step further and resort to the Mythical team to handle this matter in a ‘We Try Every Root Beer’ or a ‘What is The Best Root Beer’ naming the best root beer ‘Root Beer Brian’. I choose to stand by all root beer and advocate for the delightful fizzy underdogs that you have overlooked. I hope this email finds you well, and that you make a decision here. One that will change your mind of the so called, ‘best’ root beers that you chose.
    Sincerly,
    Savonna Clark

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  • Triple XXX Root Beer is 10/10 A+. Anyone could have it at #1. Not too sweet but still has a nice vanilla and honey flavor.

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  • Has anyone tried a couple of spoonfuls of heavy cream (33%) in a cup of root beer or cream soda? It reminds me of the Italian sodas I used to spend all my money on when I was in college!

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  • Mug is definitely my favorite!! Now I gotta try all of these

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  • Was 1919 rootbeer in the test?

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  • What about Faygo’s Root beer? My dad worked at the Faygo plant here in Michigan, so I always was around it. You also forgot about A&W. There is Town Club as well.

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