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Old Fashioned Taste Test: IBC or St. Arnold?

St. Arnold Brewery
Stephen can't wait until school starts and his teacher asks the students what they did over the summer. He insists he is going to stand up, pump his fist in the air, and proclaim, "I went to a BREWERY!"

The Parent of The Year award is always just outside of my grasp.

When Grandma came to visit, my husband Eric made arrangements to amuse her. One of the things on the list was to take her to St. Arnold for a tour on brewing. It IS educational, so we brought Stephen along, and I was amazed at how many others came to the same conclusion. There were more kids on that tour than adults! Which may be why they served root beer free, while charging (on a 'chip' system) for their other brewed items.  

So that's the setup for how we decided to do this week's activity. While trying out their root beer, Stephen decided it was the best he had ever tasted. Eric said IBC was still his favorite, and Grandma and I were undecided. So, we simply had to know: were Eric and Stephen choosing the best according to flavor, or by brand loyalty?

Inquiring minds HAD to know!

We bought St. Arnold root-beer, then swung by the store for the IBC. And since you can't judge root beer just for root beer's sake, we also picked up Blue Bell ice-cream. The real test is in the root beer float.

Now, admittedly, there was no need for the blindfolds; we could have just brought our test subjects in with no-brand cups, but I wanted it to be fun and feel authentic. But mostly fun. Just watch a blindfolded person fumble around for their cup- you'll laugh your tush off.
St. Arnold or IBC?

We divided into two groups. One to set up, and one to taste.  Stephen and Grandma were tasters first.  Stephen was, of course, excessively dramatic about reaching out blindly with his hands, somehow even tripping while sitting on his seat!  Oh, the temptation to keep moving stuff away from him was, at times, too great!  After a lot of overacting, and a few sips of both root beers- straight and then in floats- both Stephen and Grandma voted for St. Arnold.

When it was Eric's and my turn we had a tougher time.  I tasted cup
St. Arnold for root beer- IBC for floats
#1, then cup #2, then #1, then #2, and still couldn't decide which was better.  It was a hard call, but St. Arnold root beer by itself was both of our choice.  Then came the floats.  That made things much easier.  When used in the floats, cup #2 was much smoother and creamier.  For floats, Eric and I voted IBC.

So, although I had hoped the taste test would surprise us, it mostly just showed us how similar these two root beers are.  Until you add ice cream- then IBC really stands out.

But this test wasn't really about the root beer.  It was about having a little fun making consumer choices.  How much of our decisions are made by branding- and how much is determined by the amount of sugar added?  (St. Arnold Brewery informed me that they use a pound of sugar per gallon- WOW!  I was shocked until I looked up how to make root beer.  It turns out that amount of sugar is pretty average.)

So what foods are you and your kids picky about?  Is it really the taste, or is it the prestige of the brand?   It can be fun to discover a little more about the real you and the brands you like.  Just add a blindfold- and if you want to guarantee your brand's success- a little vinegar.
I did no such thing!

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