Although the word “beer” stands in the description of this beverage, root beer is not beer in the conventional sense. Root beer is rather a subcategory of regular beer. While beer is made by fermenting grains, root beer comes from the root of the sassafras plant.
Typically, a mixture of molasses and water is made to which the root ingredients are added. Then, the process continues by adding yeast to trigger the fermentation.
So, root beer and beer have very little in common, and the only thing that connects them is the yeast fermentation process they go through.
Root beer is usually, but not always, non-alcoholic and has a foamy top. It is sweet, easy to drink, and carbonated.
The sassafras plant used to make root beer is known to have a very beneficial health impact, so it should come as no wonder that root beer was initially used as medicine.
Root beer has been around for a long time, i.e., since the 1800s, and Charles Elmer Hires was the first person to market it.
At first, he wanted to place it on the market as root tea, but he found that it would be a better advertising decision to call it root beer.
At first, root tea was sold in powdered form in small baggies with the intention to be dissolved in water later. However, root beer sounded much more fun than root tea, and the frothy head seemed much more attractive than the thin tea consistency.
Therefore, like many genius inventions, what was first indented as a marketing trick, turned out to be one of the best soft drinks.
Even though root beer became instantly popular, since it was initially placed for commercial purposes, its popularity dramatically increased during the Prohibition.
Since alcohol consumption was banned, people were yearning for a mug of beer, and root beer was the closest thing to what they were wishing for.
Although non-alcoholic, the appearance of root beer was very close to that of regular beer giving people the feeling of having a beer.
However, looking similar to regular beer isn’t the only thing drawing people closer to root beer. It is also a very delicious beverage and brings many health benefits. Therefore, the popularity of root beer constantly grows bigger.
Also check: 30 Best Cheep Beers in America
Top 30 Root Beer Brands
Today, there are many brands of root beer and variations to suit even the most discriminating of tastes. So, what are the best root beer brands?
Having many options makes people picky. Luckily, even the pickiest can find what they want since there are virtually countless root beer brands. In this article, I will give you a list of the 30 best root beer brands.
1. Sioux City Root Beer
What started as a company selling bottled water has grown into one of the best root beer brands. This root beer brand offers seven different flavors suited for almost anybody.
This root beer is soft, smooth, and sweetened with real sugar cane sugar, with vanilla flavor and a nice carbonization.
2. Barq’s Root Beer
This root beer is bottled and distributed by Coca-Cola, and it contains a dash of caffeine, so it has a little kick, although it is non-alcoholic.
It is labeled as “artificial flavors” and GMO-containing; however, the percentage of artificial flavorings and GMO ingredients does not surpass the allowed limit, so it is safe.
Somewhere in the middle between Coca-Cola and root beer flavored, this drink also has a sugar-free version.
3. Bundaberg Root Beer
This is an Australian root beer and one of the few that don’t come from America. It is less syrupy than American root beer, but it still has the typical American root beer essence.
Tasting like vanilla and licorice, this beverage also leans toward a more natural and herbal dimension. It has a rich and thick foam, but for the best results, keep the bottle upside down to get a nice thick head.
This root beer brand offers an excellent and delicious beverage, but it is among the most caloric and carb-rich root beers on the market.
Therefore, if you are looking for a diet-friendly drink, this isn’t it. Nevertheless, they offer a sugar-free version, but sadly, it is pretty hard to find it. This root beer is rich in taste with pungent notes of vanilla and a nice velvety mouthfeel.
5. IBC Root Beer
Even though it is distributed by a coffee company, this is a caffeine-free root beer. It is slightly less sweet than what you might expect for root beer, which is where its charms lie.
It is refreshing, slightly sharper than most root beers, and a bit bitter. Therefore, it is very close to regular beer and an excellent non-alcoholic alternative.
6. Dad’s Old Fashioned Root Beer
The Dad’s Old Fashioned root beer is indeed Old Fashioned. Adhering to the original root beer recipe, this is a rich and pungent beverage with explicit vanilla, licorice, and wintergreen flavors.
However, this beer has managed to keep up with the changes time brings, so it also has multiple flavors and a diet version.
7. Hires Root Beer
This is the first commercially sold root bear, initially named as root tea. Before it made a name as root beer, it was sold in powdered form to dissolve in water and have as tea.
However, from a marketing point of view, it turned out that the beverage would sell better as root beer, so it blossomed immensely during the Prohibition. This is a classic-flavored root beer, pungent and rich, and probably the best-known on this list.
8. Dang, Butterscotch Root Beer
With its non-conventional butterscotch flavor, this root beer definitely stands out. It combines notes of brown sugar, vanilla, corn syrup, molasses, cream, and butter, making this beer taste like butterscotch candy.
It also has a sugar-free diet version, but the fatty one is far more delicious. Nonetheless, the diet version has a loyal audience, too, making this beer a favorite of many.
9. Stewart’s Root Beer
Beginning as a hobby of a school teacher, it quickly grew into a side hustle, only to become a huge business. This root beer is lower in sugar and carbs than most in its category; however, the recipe doesn’t sacrifice the richness and flavor.
It mixes quillaia, yucca, and acacia gum flavors, whereas the sweetness comes from natural sugar cane sugar. So, this is one of the rare occasions when you can have your cake and eat it too.
10. Virgil’s Root Beer
This root beer brand has undoubtedly hit the bull’s eye, appealing to a wide audience by offering both sugar-free and a sugar version.
Both varieties are rich, palatable, sweet, and delicious. The sugary version uses cane sugar, while the sugar-free version uses stevia as a sweetener.
Both versions are spicy and creamy, and have an excellent fizz since they are brewed with carbonated water and citric acid. The exact tasting notes are left to the drinker, as the recipe is kept a secret, and nothing else is revealed except that this beer contains 15 roots and spices.
11. Mug Root Beer
Just like Coca-Cola has its flagship root beer, so does Pepsi. This is a well-carbonated, sweet, and thick beverage with a nice foamy head.
It is low in calories and sugar, but it is still sufficiently sweet. Delicious, with refreshing notes of vanilla and a slight bitterness, the Mug Root Beer is one of the best-sold root beers in the US.
12. Oak Creek Blonde Root Beer
This root beer is a sheer proof of what good marketing can do. Far from it, it isn’t that he beverage isn’t good, but the word “blond” is much more seductive than “gold,” for example.
This brand offers blond and brunette root beers, both delicious, sweet, and very rich. They come in small batches, age in oak barrels, and have a certain darkness and depth of flavor.
13. Frostie Root Beer
Best-served cold, this creamy and rich root beer has a pretty interesting history. It was initially brewed in a prison cell, so the first Frostie batch is known as the “prison batch.”
However, today this root beer is among the best-sold ones due to the quality and flavor it offers. Tasting like vanilla, anise, and wintergreen, this root beer is foamy, thick, and surprisingly delicious.
14. Sprecher Root Beer
Known as the root beer with no preservatives, this beverage contains honey as a sweetener instead of sugar. The honey used for this beer comes directly from the honeycomb; it is unprocessed and somewhat raw.
Therefore, the sweetness of this root beer is soft yet very intense, but the best thing is it is sweet yet sugar-free. The overall flavor of this drink is best described as natural and herbal, whereby you can taste a number of botanicals as well as a rich vanilla flavor.
15. Abita Root Beer
Named after the spring the water the brand uses comes from; this root beer sure is a Louisiana favorite. In fact, it is so well-known as a Louisiana sweetheart that it is popularly called the “Cajun root beer,” after the cuisine Louisiana is so well-known for.
The Cajun part is not totally unrelated to this root beer’s flavor, though, as it does have the famous Cajun spicy dimension. Overall sweet, with natural sugar cane, this root beer juggles spicy, vanilla, sweet, and herbal notes.
16. Dog N Suds Root Beer
Sweet and low-sugar, this root beer is a dream come true. Even though it doesn’t make the frothiest head, the locals in Illinois still call it “the frothiest beer in the world.”
The brand takes much pride in its winning recipe, and they keep it authentic and unchanged. The sugar in this root beer comes from fruit syrup and fructose, making it taste pretty vibrant and fruity.
17. WBC Goose Island Root Beer
Made following the “Chicago-style root beer formula,” this root beer comes from the 80s, which is visible from the retro-style bottle.
Known for its excellent fuzziness, this root is made with triple-carbonated water. Not as sweet as most on this list, this root beer wins in the fizziness and richness category.
The WBC Goose Island root beer combines notes of vanilla and herbs, creating a soft and creamy mouthfeel.
18. Hank’s Root Beer
Stronger in aroma than in flavor, the nose may trick you into thinking that this root beer is too rich for your blood. However, this flavor-aroma misalignment didn’t happen by accident, as the aroma supplements the flavor, intensifying it without making it overwhelming.
Not too soft, not too sweet, not too bitter, and not too spicy, this root beer is the golden medium and a perfect option for those looking for moderate and balanced notes.
19. Hansen’s Root Beer
Made with all-natural ingredients and advertised as non-GMO, the Hansen’s root beer is a contemporary-tasting root beer even though it is from the 1930s.
It is low-calorie, no-fat, no-protein, and no GMO, but it does contain plenty of added sugar. This beer is delicious vanilla-flavored with a slight herbal note and definitely an excellent choice if you are in the mood for something sweet and refreshing.
20. Saranac Root Beer
This root beer is known as the one that has it all. Everything about it seems impeccably crafted, from the frothy head to the creamy body to the sweet flavor.
Its eye-catching pink and black pack will draw your attention instantly, while the pungent yet balanced aroma will capture your senses, giving you no choice but to explore it further. It has fresh vanilla notes, an excellently balanced sweetness, a slight herbal dimension, and plenty of fuzz.
21. Adirondack Root Beer
On the upside, this beer is among the sweetest, richest, and creamiest on this list, but on the downside, it is one of the most caloric ones too.
Also, it doesn’t have a diet version, so it is a take it or leave it kind of deal. The flavor is definitely very attractive, as it really is delicious, but if you are on a calorie deficit or follow a restricted diet for any reason, you may want to skip this one.
On the other hand, if you want to enjoy deliciousness without minding your caloric intake, then you have to give this root beer a chance.
22. Babbling Brook’s Root Beer
This is an artisanal root beer, and it is, therefore, an original-flavored drink connecting tradition and creativity. It does follow the original root beer recipe, but it adds a certain magic to it.
The tasting notes include the unavoidable vanilla tone, enriched with licorice notes, orange peel flavor, and anise. The overall result is a slightly bitter drink with sweet, spicy, and herbal notes.
This root beer is definitely an artistic expression and a little different root beer experience than what you may have expected.
23. Virgil’s Zero Sugar Root Beer
This is probably the edgiest of the root beers on this list. You can either love it or hate it, as there is no middle with this drink.
It has a strong medicinal side, and if you don’t like the taste of herbal medical syrups, this is probably not the drink for you. If you like the intense herbal notes and a thick, almost sticky texture, this root beer should be your drink.
24. Wild Bill’s
Gluten-free and made with cane sugar instead of artificial sweeteners, this is a rugged yet subtle root beer. By looking at it, you may think that it is intensely flavored, but you will be surprised at its predominantly fresh and slightly bitter flavors.
It isn’t as sweet as you might have expected, and it resembles ginger ale, so if you are a ginger ale fan, you will definitely dig this drink too.
25. Not Your Father’s
Whimsically named so as to differ from “Dad’s Old Fashioned Root Beer,” this root beer offers a lot more than whimsy. The Not
Your Father’s root beer is a genius idea for being original and making the best of your circumstances. This is an alcoholic root beer, and a strong one too.
However, it tastes nothing like your typical beer. On the other hand, it is a strong root beer, tasting nothing like your typical root beer.
Therefore, it stands out in both categories. Vanilla-flavored, with a nice carbonation, creating a delightfully thick foam head and a kick you will undoubtedly want to repeat.
Although this root beer is a newcomer on the market, it has managed to make a name pretty quickly. Now, it can stand tall next to the big boys with a long-lasting tradition.
Known as an all-natural beverage, it has also built an image as being a health-beneficial drink. It also it resembles soda, incorporating the typical root beer vanilla and bitter notes with the softness of the soda drink.
27. Henry Weinhard’s
With notes of vanilla and honey, this is a classic root beer with that irresistible retro charm. As a brewery during the Prohibition, this brand has managed to make a name quickly in that time.
To this day, they have retained their original recipe, honoring their beverage and its rich tradition. This root beer is moderately frothy but very rich in texture and pretty thick and creamy.
28. Olde Rhode Island Molasses
The name itself is pretty explanatory, meaning that this root beer is sweetened with molasses. Molasses is a thick sweet syrupy substance used in the classic recipe for root beer.
Therefore, it is safe to say that this root beer is very natural-tasting, sweet, and vanilla-flavored with a discrete but noticeable herbal and tea-flavored note giving this root beer a slightly edgy dimension.
If you like balanced flavors without a particular accent on any of them, go for this root beer.
Sparky’s is a spicy root beer combining the traditional tasting notes of vanilla and sweet sugary tones with a little bit of edge. The spiciness of this root beer transpires all over its body, but it doesn’t dominate the flavor.
Instead, the spiciness is most visible near the finish, while in the middle, its purpose is to accentuate the rest of the included flavors, making this drink taste rich and moderately intense.
30. Dublin Texas
This root beer is known as delightfully fizzy and sparkly. It is also excellently balanced, so you feel the vanilla, sweet, and herbal notes simultaneously without overstimulating the taste buds. The rich and creamy body creates a nice frothy head on top.