Bottle and Label: Classic and easily recognizable A&W label on a clear glass bottle.
Ingredients: Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sodium benzoate (preservative), natural and artificial flavors.
Smell: Fairly mild smell dominated by wintergreen
Carbonation: Low level of carbonation with most of the bite not coming until it hits the back of your mouth. A pretty smooth and pleasing brew in the carbonation department.
Color: Dark brown and barely transparent if held up to light. Overall, a nice shade of brown that does not look too watered down or too much like black coffee.
Head: Extremely tall head when poured in a frosted mug. The head dissipates very quickly after the pouring stops.
Flavor: A&W is definitely a root beer tailored to the mainstream. It’s flavor is very inoffensive and it is smooth from beginning to end with no bitter aftertaste. It is the best of the mainstream (national) brands. The flavor is average, not overly strong or weak and is very traditional. The only real flavor that I can distinguish is a hint of wintergreen.
Conclusion: A&W Root Beer is the finest of the mainstream brands and the standard to which I compare all other brews. When I decided to do root beer reviews, I wanted a starting point that most people could identify with. A&W is something that people from all over have access too and it creates a common ground. When I say that A&W is average (a ‘C’ on RBR’s scale) and another brew is an ‘A,’ that tells the reader that they are reading about a brew significantly better than a typical national brand. That said, A&W is perfectly acceptable for what it is. It is inoffensive to a fault and its broad reach and appeal is why it is dead center on RBR’s scale. If you can go out and find a good bottle of A&W you will have a better undertanding as to where the rest of the brews on this site rank in comparison.
RBR’s Grade- C