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Does Root Beer Have Caffeine? [A&W, Barq’s, IBC]

Last updated on August 11th, 2021

does root beer have caffeine

Root beer is a creamy and beloved soft drink that is consumed all over the US and across the world.

Made from the sassafras root, root beer is a popular drink for its earthy tones, sweet flavor, and full-bodied texture.

And despite being so popular many  people don’t really know much about root beer though. And I get question on my blog regularly. 

For example,

Does root beer have caffeine?

The answer is, most modern varieties of root beer do not contain caffeine. If a root beer brand does contain caffeine, it is normally added after the fact and is not produced as a part of the root beer brewing process.

The lack of caffeine has made root beer a popular drink for those who want to limit their caffeine consumption.

Root beer is also suitable to drink by religious groups that forbid the consumption of mind-altering substances, such as Mormons.

We thought you might be interested in this selection of Root Beer here

People may still have a lot of questions about root beer so we put together this comprehensive guide on this favored drink.

We will cover topics on how root beer is made, which brands of root beer continent caffeine, and whether or not root beer contains alcohol.

What Makes Root Beer Unique?

What Makes Root Beer Unique

Root beer is a type of soda but it is not considered a cola.

Root beer is not a cola because it normally does not contain extract of the kola nut.

Many would consider that in order for something to be a cola, it must contain the extract of the kola nut.

In fact, it is this lack of the kola nut that makes most brands of root beer caffeine-free.

In most colas, such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi, caffeine is produced from treating the kola nut.

So colas contain caffeine as a natural part of the production process.

Root beer, in contrast, is made using the sassafras root. Root beer is made by brewing the sassafras root with several other spices and roots, such as

  • allspice
  • burdock root
  • ginger
  • juniper
  • spicewood
  • yellow dock
  • vanilla beans
  • molasses
  • birch bark
  • coriander

These ingredients explain why root beer has a unique taste.

Root beer was originally created to be a kind of grain beer and is brewed using similar methods. However, root beer normally does not contain hops, which is what makes beer alcoholic.

However, most modern root beer is not made with sassafras root anymore. This is because sassafras was discovered to contain a molecule called safrole which is a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent).

As such, the FDA banned the use of sassafras for mass-produced food and drink in the 1960s.

Most modern root beer is now made with artificial sassafras flavoring. Some varieties are made with sassafras root that has had the safrole chemically removed.

Root Beer Varieties & their Caffeine Content

Root Beer Varieties and their Caffeine Content

In general, no. Most varieties of root beer do not contain caffeine.

The original formula for root beer from back in the 1870s did not contain caffeine.

In contrast, most colas such as Coca-Cola explicitly included caffeine as a therapeutic agent.

Also unlike colas, root beer was not originally marketed as a medicinal product whereas Coca-Cola and Pepsi were.

Here is a list of some popular brands of root beer that do not contain caffeine:

  • A&W Root Beer
  • Mug Root Beer
  • Dad’s Root Beer
  • Barq’s Diet Root Beer

Most popular brands sold in the US are caffeine-free, although some brands do have caffeinated versions of their popular drinks.

If a root beer contains caffeine, it is most likely added in during the production process rather than being a natural result of it.

So if you do find a root beer brand that has caffeine, the caffeine was added in after the fact.

We thought you might be interested in this selection of Root Beer here

Some varieties of root beer contain caffeine, such as Barq’s root beer. Although Barq’s Diet Root Beer does not contain caffeine, the regular variety does.

A regular Barq’s root beer contains approximately 22 mg of caffeine per 12 oz. can.

In contrast, a normal can of regular Coke contains about 34 mg. A 12 oz. can of Pepsi contains 38 mg of caffeine.

So even if a brand of root beer contains caffeine, it is most often less caffeine than cola brands. Root beer also has less caffeine than a cup of regular green or black tea, which can contain anywhere between 28-48 mg per cup.

How to Tell if Root Beer Has Caffeine

For foods that naturally contain caffeine, such as chocolate, tea, and coffee, manufacturers are not required to list caffeine on the ingredients list.

However, products that do not naturally contain caffeine must list caffeine on the ingredient list.

Since root beer does not naturally contain caffeine, if a root beer brand does have caffeine, it will list it on the ingredients label.

However, the FDA does not normally require brands to list the exact amount of caffeine on the label.

So if you are curious as to how much caffeine your root beer might contain, you can check the official brand website for details.

Is Root Beer Healthy?

No variety of soda is considered “healthy” in general.

But some varieties of soda are considered healthier than others.

Various brands of cola such as Coca-Cola contain phosphoric acid, which is known to eat away at the enamel of the teeth which can cause cavities.

We thought you might be interested in this selection of Root Beer here

Root beer, in contrast, does not contain this corrosive chemical and so is usually considered easier on the teeth and gums.

However, root beer does contain high quantities of sugar.  For example, a 12 oz. can of A&W Root Beer contains 46 g of sugar.

In contrast, a 12 oz. Can of Coca-Cola and Pepsi contain 39g and 41g of sugar, respectively.

So root beer actually contains more sugar than most other brands of cola.

Sugar is the main “unhealthy” ingredient in root beer as it can cause obesity, insulin sensitivity, and cavities. 

As such, while root beer might be considered healthier than cola in some respects, it is not healthier than cola in many other respects.

Either way, soda in general is not healthy and should be an infrequent treat rather than a daily drink.

Is Root Beer Alcoholic?

is root beer alcoholic

Generally no, root beer is not alcoholic.

Although the process of brewing root beer is similar to beer, root beer does not usually contain hops which is the main alcoholic ingredient in regular beer.

So root beer in general is a non-alcoholic beverage.

However, some varieties of root beer do contain alcohol. Some brands of root beer that contain alcohol include Hard Root Beer;

Even though root beer is not made with alcohol, many people use root beer as a mixer for alcoholic drinks.

Root beer typically goes well with rum and whiskey as it brings out the sweet vanilla flavor of each kind of liquor.


Root beer is one of the most popular kinds of soda in the country and for good reason.

Root beer as traditionally brewed does not normally contain caffeine, but some brands add caffeine to give it some extra pep.

If a root beer does contain caffeine, then it should be on the ingredient label. So you should never be getting a root beer that has caffeine but that does not make a note of it.

We thought you might be interested in this selection of Root Beer here