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Do They Have Root Beer in England? [Popular UK Sodas]


Do They Have Root Beer in England

I’ve been learning a lot about root beer recently, it’s a very common soft drink in the USA, but what about the rest of the world and in particular England.   

Can you buy root beer in England?

Root beer isn’t as popular in England as it is in the US, or North America however, you can still buy the A&W brand of root beer online in the UK on, and

You can also buy in larger Tesco and Asda stores throughout England. 

These UK grocery stores are similar to what Walmart is in the US.

It’s not readably available everywhere in the same way is in the states but you can find it if you go looking for it.

Root beer has an interesting origin.

Also, root beer and sarsaparilla taste very similar and have subtle differences.

Below, I’ll explain where root beer originated, the differences between it and other similar sodas, as well as, other interesting info about root beer in the UK.

Is root beer banned in the UK?

Is root beer banned in the UK


There appears to have been a ban on root beers that contain a high amount of sodium benzoate in 2014, according to Robs Root Beer Review, after the UK banned it due to health concerns.

Nowadays though, you can buy root beer in the UK easily online, and at certain specialty stores.

Tesco, a large supermarket chain in the UK, lists Bundaberg, Virigils, and Tropical Sun root beer on their website.

But, you’ll want to call ahead to the individual store to see if they stock it.

Also, Asda, another large supermarket chain that has stores throughout the UK, lists 3 brands of root beer on their website – Bundaberg, Ben Shaws, and Tropical Sun.

Sarsaparilla more popular than root beer in the UK

Root beer isn’t as popular in the UK, and it is in the US. But, sarsaparilla is widely available in the East end of London, and in the North of England according to Wikipedia.

Anecdotal evidence from forums online has comments from people in the UK who say that sarsaparilla is popular in the North of England as well.

Sarsaparilla is made from sarsaparilla root, and was the inspiration behind the creation of root beer, according to Bundaberg.

But, it also included other spicy and aromatic herbs such as cinnamon, star anise, and licorice root.

Technically sarsaparilla is a root beer, because it’s made mostly from dried and ground roots of various plants.

But, sarsaparilla is still called sarsaparilla and not root beer.

I wrote about the differences between root beer and sarsaparilla in this article What Is Sarsaparilla Soda

It also explains the differences between sarsaparilla and Dandelion and Burdock – a well known ‘root beer’ in the UK.

Is Root Beer American?


Is Root Beer American

The first commercial root beer was produced in Philadelphia USA, under the brand Hires in 1876, 16 years before Coca Cola.

Root beer was originally made using sassafras root which is native to North America.

So, it’s safe to say carbonated root beer is American.

Root beer is technically a herbal tea, with added sugar, and fizz. Herbal tea has been drunk for many thousands of years.

So, what was invented was adding carbonation to it.

According to Sodastream, carbonated drinks were invented by Joseph Preistley in England in 1767.

And 20 years later it was first commercially produced by Jacob Schweppes.

No doubt during this time various concoctions were made that included ingredients similar to what are used in root beer.

And it’s likely that a version of root beer was made in England.

But, the commercial production and extensive marketing of the Hires brand made it widespread throughout the USA, where today it’s more popular than in England.

Interestingly, nowadays, root beer is made with different ingredients because sassafras root was shown to cause health issues, and was subsequently banned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to Wikipedia.

What are the most popular sodas in the UK?

What are the most popular sodas in the UK


According to information provided by the most popular sodas in the UK are colas at 55% market share, followed by lemonade with 8.8% market share.

And the remaining sodas have about 5% market share which include orange soda, tonic, mixers, bitters, lemon/lime, other. 

Root beer is in the other category, and is less than 5% of the total amount of sodas sold in the UK.

Which means that a maximum of 1 in 20 people drink root beer over other sodas in the UK.

In a study published in BMC Medicine, UK consumption of sodas containing sugar dropped by 50%, and was replaced by diet and zero sodas from 2015 to 2018.

However, the increase in diet and zero soda consumption increased by only 40%.

Which means that 10% of people quit drinking sodas from 2015 and 2018.

As I wrote about recently in an article: Is drinking 1 soda a day bad for you?  I explained studies that showed that naturally sweetened sodas are correlated with getting Type 2 diabetes.

It was also shown that drinking sodas that are artificially sweetened – such as diet and zero sodas – and those sweetened with fruit juice also have a correlation with developing Type 2 diabetes.

But, the results weren’t conclusive.

Why do foreigners hate root beer?

Why do foreigners hate root beer


Root beer is an acquired taste, and people who didn’t begin drinking it at an early age can find its taste repulsive and very foreign

Root beer is made with licorice root, according to Bundaberg – a root beer manufacturer – and people commonly say it tastes like mouthwash or toothpaste. 

Therefore, it’s understandably not what people have in mind when they want to drink a soda.

Does Tesco sell root beer?

Does Tesco sell root beer


Tesco absolutely sells root beer throughout stores in the UK, including in England, North Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

They sell Virgil’s, Bundaberg, and Tropical Sun branded root beer.

Tropical sun is the cheapest and typically found around the following rates

  • £0.15 per 100 mL
  • Bundaberg is £0.36/100ml
  • Virgil’s is £0.54/100ml.

*rates are correct as of 2021

Tesco is one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK and has around 7000 stores, according to

When did Mcdonald’s stop serving root beer in the UK?

When did Mcdonald's stop serving root beer in the UK


In the opinion of, McDonalds stopped serving root beer in 1993.

According to the official McDonald’s website, Mcdonald’s doesn’t have any plans to bring it back, and it was discontinued because it wasn’t very popular in the UK.

In my opinion, most people are used to the taste of traditional sodas like Coke, Sprite, and Fanta, and root beer has a distinct taste, very different from regular sodas.

It’s also an acquired taste, and unless a person grew up drinking it, they wouldn’t think it tastes very good.

As a result, most customers probably tried it once, or are aware of how it tastes and ordered something else instead.

In Conclusion

They sell root beer in England at big Tesco and Asda stores, as well as, online on, and

Root beer was banned in the UK for a time, but it’s now sold regularly throughout England and the UK. There is a traditional UK equivalent called Dandelion and Burdock, which is a sarsaparilla.

The first commercial root beer was sold in the US.

However, based on the fact that root beer is a carbonated and sugary herbal tea.

Root beer likely existed before it was first commercially produced.

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