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Where Was Root Beer Invented? [FACTS & Ingredients]

Where Was Root Beer Invented

Ever been curious as to how and where root beer was invented? I’m sure that’s why you’re here isn’t it?

Well lets get right to it..

So, where was root beer invented?

The first commercial root beer was made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA by Charles Hires in 1876, 10 years before Coca Cola, according to Philly Magazine.

However, root beer is thought to have been made and consumed as early as the 1500s.

Beer’s have been enjoyed for many hundreds of years, and Shakespeare referred to ‘small beers’ many times in his famous plays, in the opinion of Anchor Brewing.

But, what exactly is root beer, how is it different from sarsaparilla, and other similar drinks, and does it contain alcohol?

Read on, to discover the answers to these questions and more.

What Is The Oldest Root Beer Brand?

What is the oldest root beer brand

Root beers were made under small brands by hobbyists and entrepreneurs throughout history.

But, the first commercially made root beer brand is the Hires brand, started in 1876 by Charles Hires in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Therefore, the oldest root beer brand is roughly 150 years old.

Root beer gets its name because it was commonly made with the root of the sassafras tree, according to Bundaberg.

Which gave it a spicy and flavorful taste.

It was also made with a combination of ginger root, sarsaparilla root, liquorice root, and cinnamon.

Interestingly, Bundaberg claims that sarsaparilla inspired the invention of root beer.

And explain that root beer is a sarsaparilla soda, that’s made with added acacia, nutmeg, and clove.

Both root beer and sarsaparilla have a similar appearance and taste.

Owing to licorice root, which overwhelms the other herbs and spices in it’s flavor profile.

Sarsaparilla root can still be bought today, but sassafras has been banned in the USA, by the FDA, after it was found to be toxic in large doses.

Nowadays root beer’s are made using flavors that mimic sassafras.

But, contain all the other ingredients that still make it delicious to this day.

However, I found root beer to be an acquired taste, and I have read anecdotally on the internet that people have had a similar experience.

And either love it or hate it.

Is Root Beer Only Popular In The US?

Is root beer only popular in the US

Root beer is popular in the US, and was the first known country to produce it commercially.

Australian soda manufacturer Bundaberg, also makes a root beer.

And root beer is sold and consumed in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK as well.

Data provided by suggests that the market share for root beer is biggest in the Americas who have 41%, followed by Europe, the Middle East, and Africa who have 32%, and the Asia pacific account for 26% of the global sales of root beer.

A drink that’s similar to root beer in the UK is Dandelion and Burdock, which is made by Fentimans. It has a similar taste and color to root beer and sarsaparilla.

Does Root Beer Make You Drunk?

Does root beer make you drunk

Root beer is sold as non-alcoholic and enjoyed as a soda, but is also sold with alcohol.

Some well known alcoholic root beer manufacturers are: Not Your Fathers, Victory, and Sprecher.

Most have about 5% to 6% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Non-alcoholic root beer will not make you drunk, but alcoholic root beer will.

Non-alcoholic root beer is similar to Coca Cola, or Pepsi.

Whereas alcoholic root beer is similar to a standard beer that you can buy at a bar, or liquor store.

Root beer is one of the lowest alcohol content drinks.

Comparatively wine has about 10% alcohol, and spirits such as Vodka, and Whiskey are normally around 40% alcohol.

Can kids Drink Root Beer?

Can kids drink root beer

Kids can drink root beer.

But, root beer is sold in two varieties – non-alcoholic and alcoholic.

According to the, alcohol is not suitable for children.

Alcoholic root beer is commonly called hard root beer.

Non-alcoholic root beer is a type of soda similar to Coca Cola.

Soda’s are generally thought to be bad for your health.

And one study found that one soda a day can lead to increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

So, they shouldn’t be consumed by kids regularly.

I recently wrote about this in an article titled: Is 1 Soda a Day Bad for You?

You can read the full details of the study, and related questions, by clicking that link.

Does Root Beer Contain Ginger?

Does root beer contain ginger

Traditional and homemade root beers were made with ginger, however, nowadays each manufacturer uses a unique recipe.

Some of the most well known root beer manufacturers A&W, and Barq’s do not use ginger in their root beer.

 Here is a list the ingredients of A&W Root beer, Barq’s Root beer, and a homemade recipe:

A&W Root beer ingredients Barq’s Root beer ingredients Home made recipe ingredients
Carbonated water Carbonated water Water
High fructose corn syrup High fructose corn syrup Sarsaparilla root
Caramel color Caramel color Ginger root
Sodium benzoate Sodium benzoate Licorice root
Natural and artificial flavors Citric acid Dandelion root
Quillaia extract Caffeine Birch bark
  Artificial and natural flavors Star anise
  Acacia Sugar

The ingredients for the home made recipe is provided by Nourished Kitchen.

Ingredients for A&W and Barq’s from their official websites here and here.

In the ingredients A&W and Barq’s list natural and artificial flavors, and that could include ginger.

However, they aren’t giving away any secrets at this stage.

Where Was Barq’s Root Beer Invented?

Where was Barqs root beer invented

Barq’s root beer was first invented in Biloxi, Mississippi in 1898 by Edward Barq Snr, according to the official Barq’s website.

They make both a root beer, a diet root beer, and a creaming soda.

Barq’s was acquired by Coca Cola, and their headquarters is now located in Atlanta.

The official Coca Cola website says that they bought Barq’s in 1995, and was the first carbonated drink company that Coca Cola bought.

Barq’s is well known in the southern most states of the USA, in the region known as the Gulf Coast.

Which includes Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

What Brand Is The Original Root Beer?

What brand is the original root beer

The first commercial root beer was made by Charles Elmer Hires, under the Hires root beer brand, according to E.

Sortomme a PhD from

The Hires brand was later sold to Keurig Dr. Pepper in the 1980’s.

Keurig Dr. Pepper was originally part of the Cadbury Schweppes group.

And later on they separated out the soft drink part of its company into Keurid Dr. Pepper.


Root beer has been made and consumed for hundreds of years, and it’s exact origin is unknown.

The first commercial root beer was produced by Charles Hires, under his brand Hires Root Beer in Philadelphia, in 1872.

A traditional root beer recipe is made using a range of root powder, such as sassafras, ginger, liquorice root, and dandelion root.

Modern recipes are kept a closely guarded secret, however, sassafras root is no longer used because it’s banned by the FDA for health reasons.

Root beer was originally derived for sarsaparilla.

Which is a drink made from sarsaparilla root and other plant extracts.