Blind Root Beer Pairing Test

Blind Root Beer Pairing Test Header

Left to Right: Dr. Browns Original, IBC, Sprecher, Music City 2nd Avenue, Hank’s Gourmet

The Setup:

We have mentioned many times throughout reviews on this site that root beer is an incredible pairing with a cigar. Having only ever tried a few brands, we decided it was high time we grab a few varieties and see which we liked the most. We’re fans of IBC and massive fans of Sprecher, but didn’t want our bias to impact our decision making. The other three root beers were new to both of us.

So, while Nick and I enjoyed the Arturo Fuente Rosado Magnums you see above, a kind helper poured glasses of root beer at random and brought them out to us. The only thing missing was somebody rubbing our feet and fanning us with grape leaves.

And which root beer reigned supreme? Let’s find out…

Root Beer A:

As the first glasses are delivered, we are wondering if we’ll be able to tell IBC and Sprecher when they get their turn. Our first thought is that this first drink doesn’t look like either, and the above average fizz level confirms our suspicions…or so we think. It’s not overly sweet and tastes a bit generic. It wouldn’t surprise us if this was a run of the mill root beer from the grocery store, such as Barq’s or A&W. In a pinch, this works just fine to pair with a cigar, but wouldn’t be something we’d go out of the way to get again.

Root Beer B:

After taking the first sip of Root Beer B, an audible “whoa” could be heard. This was far sweeter than A. The fizz level was more appropriate but the flavor was strange, with strong notes of bubblegum being front and center. That by itself isn’t a huge turnoff, but the aftertaste reminded us of diet soda, with an aspertame-y like flavor lingering long after you swallow. This doesn’t jive with the cigar, and leaves us wanting to move on to the next drink ASAP.

Root Beer C/Devil’s Juice:

Just when we begin to hit our root beer stride, we are delivered two glasses of red liquid. Our interest is piqued as we sniff the glass. Hmmm, doesn’t smell like any root beer I’ve ever come across. One sip was all it took for us to realize something was terribly, horribly wrong. This was no root beer. The liquid inside our glasses can only be described as Devil’s Juice. No human being should drink this.

Our helper is laughing as the color drains from our horrified faces. “What is this?” we ask. “Bacon Soda”, they reply. There is a saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Well, when life hands you Bacon Soda, run the hell away. Fast. I know most people are curious and will probably want to try it, but I encourage you to do the opposite. If a friend offers you a sip of Bacon Soda, you grab that bottle and smash it on their floor. They deserve it.

Because I know you are curious, here’s the photo of the bottle.

Root Beer D:

After just having consumed the Devil’s Juice, our first sips of Root Beer D are a welcome relief, and may just be the best thing we’ve ever tasted. It’s not overly sweet or fizzy. There’s a lot of cream with a slightly subtle spice kick, while also going down smooth. At this stage, it’s the best we’ve had and pairs great with the AF Magnum. This is easily a root beer we’d buy again.

Root Beer E:

Now we’re really hitting a stride. The second delicious root beer in a row! The lone drawback is the high level of fizz, which tends to take a little bit away from the cigar pairing. Flavor is good, with a not overpowering sweetness and notes of vanilla. There is a little bit of bit of a kick, but not nearly as much as D, so were not as impressed with the complexity. A solid root beer, but we’re more impressed by its predecessor.

Root Beer F:

Ohhh man, this is good. The dominant flavor is a rich, creamy vanilla. The fizz level is ideal, making this an excellent pairing with your favorite stick. There is a small kick, more like a punch, that keeps you coming back for more. From the minute you take the first sip, the smoothness will make you fall in love. This is a root beer that will pair great with just about any cigar out there.

Results:

After finishing Root Beer F, we set to ranking the beverages we had just gluttonously consumed. With surprisingly little debate, we came up with a list. We then called for our helper to reveal the truth. Here are the results from best to worst:

F – Hanks
D – Sprecher
E – IBC
A – Dr. Brown
B – Music City 2nd Ave
C – Bacon Soda (Devil’s Juice)

Blind Root Beer Pairing Test Final Rankings

Conclusions:

Hanks, a root beer that neither Nick or myself had ever tried, beat all the competition to become our new favorite. Now, that’s not to say it’s so much better than everything else, as Sprecher was a very close second and IBC a respectable third. You also shouldn’t consider this to be the decisive guide on root beer. There are plenty of delicious brands out there that we didn’t/couldn’t include, with Virgil’s being one obvious exclusion. The bottom line is that all but B & C would be a fine pairing for you cigar, but for the love of all that is holy, don’t you dare pair a cigar with Bacon Soda.

Is there a root beer you think we need to try? Let us know in the comments below! And, if you are interested in other pairings, check out the rest of our pairing tests!

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