Finding the best root beer should not give you a headache or cost an arm and a leg. This North American soft drink is earthy, a little spicy, and has a whole lot of sweetness that tastes nostalgic. While some may not enjoy the flavor, a lot of root beer drinkers are on the hunt to find the best one out there.
To make the search easier for you, we have researched, tested and compiled some of the best root beers for you.
The Best Root Beers You Need To Try
Whether you’re choosy about your root beers or don’t want to waste your money on the “trial and error” method, we did the hard part for you so you can easily find the best root beers available in the market. Now that we’ve covered the basic determining factors for how to choose the best drink, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and take a closer look at these root beer brands!
A&W Root Beer
The rich and creamy flavor of the A&W root beer is what makes it one of the best-selling root beers in the United States as well as internationally. It is mostly sweet due to sucrose, corn syrup and caramel ingredients.
For the ones who enjoy sipping on the more classic sassafras flavors and want a very “rooty” root beer, the A&W root beer is definitely the one to try. With a hint of spice and depth to it, this root beer is easy to consume.
The smoothness of the drink makes it suitable for all ages. A&W was founded by Roy Allen and Frank Wright in 1919, and since the beginning, A&W has stood out for its unique taste and appeal. At present, the A&W root beer tastes perfect no matter how you drink it.
Its taste gets even better when paired with vanilla ice cream and consumed as a dessert, making it the best root beer to use for a root beer float.
This best tasting root beer comes in a variety of flavors and many recipes to try it with. However, the sweetness of the drink also means it contains a high amount of calories.
Barq’s Root Beer
Barq’s root beer is just as good and popular as A&W’s root beer, if not better. Not all root beers offer caffeine, and this is where Barq’s root beer easily stands out by offering a caffeine kick in a mass-produced root beer, which is rare to find.
In terms of taste, Barq’s root beer feels similar to the A&W root beer, making them both comparable to each other. Barq’s root beer was first brewed by Edward Barq in 1898 and is marketed as the root beer with a bite.
Interestingly, the beverage is manufactured by the popular Coca-Cola company. This classic-tasting root beer also comes in different variants, including diet and creme soda. Some of the main ingredients in this root beer are corn syrup, caffeine and caramel color, and it has a calorie count of 160.
Bundaberg Root Beer
The Bundaberg Root beer is the best bottled root beer that has a special taste, almost medicinal. The difference in taste when compared to typical root beer is due to the fact that it is originally from Australia, where real sarsaparilla root is not banned yet.
The Bundaberg root beer can easily be identified for its old medical bottle appearance. If you’re bored of the common sweetness of regular root beer, the Bundaberg is a good option as the only sweetness you will find in it is in the aftertaste.
The flavors of the beer are dominated by licorice root, sarsaparilla root, molasses and vanilla beans. The root beer flavor and light carbonation might become your new favorite non-American root beer. The beer brand was founded in 1960 by Cliff Fleming and is brewed for three days.
This root beer tastes even better when served with ice and mint or lime.
Refreshe Root Beer
Refreshe root beer is considered more of a generic root beer brand from Safeway. Even though it might taste a little bland or flat to some, the sweetness aspect of the root beer makes it smooth to drink, more than a mug.
The wide availability of root beer is also another factor that contributes to its popularity and why it’s well-loved by many root beer drinkers. Health-conscious consumers will find a hard time deciding whether they want to try the high-calorie drink or skip it as the Refreshe Root beer packs around 170 calories.
The sweet drink is made with high fructose corn syrup, natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, and a few more ingredients that mostly contribute to its sweet profile. The aftertaste of the beer is a pleasant and smooth feel. You can find it in a few different types of packaging, including canned and bottled options.
Sioux City Root Beer
The Sioux city root beer has an interesting history to it. The drink was originally derived from the sacred spring water that was once considered medicinal among the Potawatomi tribe. The water’s medicinal properties were highly valued over the decades, so the rich and deep flavor of the drink, along with hints of vanilla, make it a hit among root beer lovers.
One of the star ingredients and also the sweetening factor for the Sioux City root beer is cane sugar. With the amount of sweetness it packs, no wonder this drink contains 160 calories, which means if you’re conscious about calories, you might want to skip on this root beer.
Nevertheless, it’s one of the best sellers of the brand, which speaks volumes. Even though the brand claims to be a carrier of traditional root beer flavor, the delicious flavor from 60 percent cream soda is what makes root beer lovers fall for it.
IBC Root Beer
One of the oldest root beers on our list has to be the IBC (Independent Breweries Company) American root beer. Founded by the Griesedieck family in 1919, it has been a hit among root beer drinkers since the very beginning.
The only change that regular drinkers of IBC root beer can notice is its increase in sweetness level. The drink started out with a perfectly balanced taste profile, including licorice and vanilla, but over time, those flavors are almost overwhelmed by the sweet factor of the root beer.
For sweet root beer lovers, this one is definitely worth the sip. The beer initially contained high-fructose corn syrup but was later replaced by cane sugar, which adds a magnificent sweetness to it. In terms of taste, the root beer has a creamy mouthfeel but does not leave any aftertaste. Some describe it as having a peppery taste, but you can’t deny the traditional flavors that it holds on to.
You can expect a high-calorie count, but it feels refreshing in the mouth and a lot better than other typical root beers in the market. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative from this brand, try the IBC Diet variant.
Dad’s Old Fashioned Root Beer
Widely known as an American premium root beer, Dad’s Old Fashioned root beer gets its name from its original recipe. The brown-colored root beer is vastly popular and loved by many root beer enthusiasts for its rich taste. Dad’s Old Fashioned root beer was founded in 1937 by Ely Klapman and Barney Berns. At present, It is owned by Hedinger Brands.
With more than 84 years in the root beer industry, you’re definitely getting the traditional root beer taste that most people enjoy. The root beer offers aromas of a blend of licorice and vanilla with a hint of wintergreen, but in the mouth, the flavors are not as quite strong. It’s a great pick if you want something light in texture and carbonation but still sweet enough to love as a root beer.
Mug Root Beer
For a refreshing, foamy and sweet taste that feels just right and melts in your tastebuds, the Mug root beer stands out to be one of the best. If you don’t want added caffeine to your root beer, you should pick up this traditional root beer that pairs well with delicious fast foods.
It is owned by Pepsico, the internationally popular beverage company, so you can surely expect a very similar sweetness in the Mug root beer. The only downside to this well-known root beer is its sweetness that can come off a little too strong.
Unless you want to keep away from high-calorie drinks and want something less sweet, the Mug root beer serves as a great beverage. The root beer has 160 calories, which is quite a lot for health-conscious consumers, but the sweetness sets the Mug root beer apart.
The beer has a long history that began in San Francisco in 1940 with its former name of “Belfast Root Beer.” The good thing is that this root beer also offers a diet version with zero calories, and all the Mug root beer variants are gluten-free, which means children can consume them safely.
Sprecher Root Beer
Suppose you are in search of a delicious twist to traditional root beer flavors that offer alternative sweetness from cane sugar or molasses. In that case, the Sprecher is an award-winning root beer to try as it spices things up with the addition of honey.
As good as it sounds, the honey allows the root beer to taste very unique, rich and organic. The remarkable and well-balanced honey flavor, along with hints of vanilla, makes the root beer a treat to the tastebuds.
As for its texture, the Sprecher Root Beer is creamy, silky and ends with a foamy head. Most root beer lovers describe it as “very creamy.” The fire-brewed root beer is a combination of an interesting recipe from one of the oldest craft breweries in Milwaukee.
The Sprecher root beer was founded in the 1980s by Randy Sprecher, and they also offer a wide variety of soda and root beer options, including one interesting variant with Maple syrup replacing the honey.
Virgil’s Root Beer
For a creamy and spicy twist that melts in your mouth, Virgil’s root beer certainly meets the checklist. The root beer easily tastes different from others due to the addition of citric acid and sparkling water during brewing.
Virgil’s root beer tastes better because it is produced in small batches with utmost care rather than mass-produced for large markets. The sweetened version of the Virgil root beer may not be suitable for all, so pick up the diet version instead if you don’t want high calories in your drink.
Virgil root beer in the regular version contains 150 calories, hence the creaminess and sweetness. To enjoy the perfect sip of Virgil handcrafted root beer in its best form, serve it ice cold. Virgil root beer was founded in 1994, when it was co-owned by Jill Fraser and Edward Crowley. In 1999, Virgil’s root beer was purchased by Reed’s Inc.
Virgil root beer is an award-winning beer with a long list of ingredients such as cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, licorice, cloves, cane sugar and anise. Their Special Edition Bavarian Nutmeg is an expensive root beer to try if you are looking for something over-the-top from this beer brand.
Stewart’s Root Beer
Stewart’s root beer has been around for a very long time. It was founded in 1924 by Frank Stewart, who was a schoolteacher at that time.
This is considered one of the finest root beers ever made, with a special ingredient list that includes acacia gum, extracts of quillaia and yucca. The root beer gets its sweetness from cane sugar and packs around 150 calories.
At present, Stewart’s root beer is available in bottled form. The change of ownership indicates that you might not experience the traditional flavor of Stewart’s root beer, but it still tastes great. Interestingly, Stewart’s root beer achieved recognition in 2006 as the best root beer brand in the World Cup of Root Beer of the Year.
Hires Root Beer
One of the original root beers that initiated the trend of root tea is the Hires root beer. It was invented by a pharmacist named Charles Hires and was primarily sold as a medicinal root tea that came in powdered form and liquid concentrate. The root beer was sold in drugstores and is regarded as one of the oldest root beer brands in America since it has been around for more than 145 years.
Even though the exact history of how Hires Root beer came into light remains somewhat unclear, it is widely known that the marketing for the root beer began in 1876 by Keurig Dr. Pepper, and within a decade, the root beer gained immense success in the market.
Hires root beer is free from caffeine. The original recipe of brewing Hires root beer remains a secret, but its ingredients include berries, barks, herbs and roots. Some suggest that the Hires root beer leaves no aftertaste but offers crispness on the palate.
The transition of this root beer from a medicinal syrup to a glass bottled root beer is quite fascinating. Keep in mind that the vodka variant of the Hires root beer is not suitable for children.
Frostie Root Beer
Looking for a root beer that is strong in carbonation but light in flavors?
The Frostie Root beer is made with natural cane sugar that fits this category well. It is best served with ice or cool temperature. The beer is owned by George Rackensperger and was initially founded in 1939 by the Frostie Beverage Company of Catonsville, Maryland.
The brand has transferred to quite a few owners but at present is owned by Intrastate Distributors Inc. since 2009. The root beer gets its dark caramel appearance due to the presence of sugar cane, but it also contains other major ingredients such as anise, wintergreen and hints of vanilla.
As for its texture, the Frostie root beer is quite creamy. The sweetness level can sometimes feel a little overpowering while leaving a minty aftertaste that some may not prefer.
Frostie root beer is widely sold in high neck glass bottles with a remarkable packaging of Santa and snow. Fortunately, there are many different flavors and variants to choose from this brand, including cream soda, cherry, lemonade, etc.
We suggest you skip this one if you don’t prefer extra sweet root beers, but this is a perfect choice for those who do.
Factors To Consider When Choosing the Best Root Beers
There are numerous types of root beer available in the market, so that sometimes makes choosing the best one quite tricky and confusing. However, the best root beer is the one that perfectly fits the type that you’re specifically looking for and the one that you would be glad to drink without ever getting bored of the flavor.
We consider a root beer to be the best in terms of how well-balanced it is flavor-wise. For some people, root beer with a high sugar content might be just right, while others may despise it.
Apart from personal preference, here are a few things to consider when choosing the best root beer:
– Taste (Ingredients)
This is the most essential factor that determines whether a root beer is worth the sip or not. Some root beers on our list have an exciting combination of different flavors that contribute to its unique taste. In contrast, some root beers have chosen to stick to one main ingredient.
Some of the most common ingredients found in root beers are licorice, vanilla, wintergreen, anise, molasses, cinnamon, and quite a few others.
The taste of a root beer that has been mass-produced will definitely differ from root beers that were brewed in a small brewery, also known as handcrafted brews. Usually, mass-produced root beers tend towards a familiar taste, while handcrafted brews taste very unique and fresh.
Is the root beer readily available in your area, or will you need to drive to a distant location just to buy it?
If you’re willing to go the extra mile, then that’s also a good option, but most of us would prefer a root beer that we can purchase and sip on anytime we want.
– Sweetness level
Almost all root beers have a high sugar level in order to pair well with different food. You can try a spicy root beer or a bitter one, but you will always need something sweet for a good balance. However, excessively sweet root beer can be disappointing to some, while it can be a great addition to spicy food for others.
Do you prefer to drink from glass-bottled root beers or enjoy sipping on a can?
Sometimes the actual flavor of the root beer can get affected due to the packaging, which is why the packaging of the beer also plays an important role.
We have explored the 13 best root beer brands so far, which are only a few of the hundreds of root beer options out there.
Here’s a quick recap of the key takeaways of what we’ve discussed so far:
- Root beer is a non-alcoholic beverage.
- It has been around for hundreds of years and is a staple drink for Americans.
- Root beers are widely served as floats with ice cream, and kids enjoy them.
- The root beer was invented as a root tea and used for medicinal purposes to cure illnesses.
- Choosing the best root beer depends on a few factors, such as taste, packaging, availability, production and sweetness level.
- Some root beers are very sweet while some have a spicy taste.
- Craft root beer or handcrafted brews taste different from mass-produced root beers.
Root beer has a reputation for being a children’s drink as it contains no alcohol, but the carbonation, foaminess, sweetness, aroma and flavors make it a tastier alternative to regular sodas. Whether you’re looking for a distinct flavor or a good amount of sweetness, with so many root beer options in the market, you will find your holy grail for sure.
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