Talk:Root beer

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"Root Beer" as a category of soft drinks, a description of the process of making root beer, and other relevant information

A "root beer" is most accurately described as a carbonated, sweetened "root tea." A root tea is simply made by boiling plant roots. Ginger ale (or lager, depending on what yeast you use), sarsaparilla soda, sassafras soda (what most people commonly call simply "root beer"), and many other carbonated beverages (which could employ roots such as birch, burdock, licorice, and spearmint, along with a number of spices, herbs, seeds, fruits, twigs, barks, leaves, extracts, essences, oils, and other flavorings) are all classified as "root beers" because they are flavored by boiling roots from ginger, sarsaparilla, sassafras, burdock, and so on. They are generally named by the primary root used in the boil (e.g. sarsaparilla soda is different from the beverage commonly referred to as "root beer" because it uses sarsaparilla root in place of some or all of the sassafras root). They are usually boiled in water, but maple sap (which is much thinner than maple syrup and is naturally sterile) is also sometimes used. See the referenced book on homebrewing root beer for a complete (and very long!) list of possible ingredients.
The problem with this definition is that many "root beers" on the market today are actually flavored artificially. I'm not sure how to actually define these, except by the types of soda they are trying to replicate.
The best way to explain "root beers" is probably to just explain how they were originally made. "Traditional" root beers generally follow the following process for their transformation from root teas. They can be sweetened by a number of common sweeteners, from table sugar to molasses, honey, corn syrup, Belgian candi sugar (that is the correct spelling), and so on. They can then be naturally carbonated using a variety of yeasts, although brewer's ale and lager yeasts are most common, hence the "beer" in the name (I'm not sure of anyone who uses wild yeast strains like brettanomyces for carbonation, but they could theoretically work). These are pitched into the cooled, sweetened boil, which is immediately bottled so that carbon dioxide released as the yeast consumes only a small fraction of the sugar is "captured" and dissolved into the beverage. In root beers, there is usually a large excess of sugars at bottling, which gives them their sweet taste. The yeast will keep digesting the sugars regardless of the danger of destroying their containers. Therefore, as the yeast continues to ferment after several days (depending on how active it is), the beverage will actually become overprimed and the bottles could explode. To avoid this, the bottles are immediately refrigerated after the proper carbonation is obtained to slow yeast activity (which gives you several months before they eventually explode), or they are immediately consumed. You can test the carbonation by actually opening a bottle; most recipes call for batches in dozens of bottles, so one flat bottle isn't a real loss. When you naturally carbonate the root beer, you can't filter yeast and small root particles in the bottling process. This leaves a thin layer of solids at the bottom of each bottle, which is usually decanted by leaving a small amount of liquid remain in the shoulder of the bottle after gentle pouring (hence the origin of the common neck shape of the bottle; this process is used for bottled-conditioned beer and other carbonated beverages as well). However, the yeast and solid particles are actually nutritious and won't affect the taste of the root beer very much if you accidentally ingest some of it. Technically, root beers that are naturally carbonated contain a very small amount of ethanol (alcohol), but you really can't taste it. This is the process I, and many others, use to homebrew root beers.
Another way to achieve carbonation is through forced carbonation, the process of which is analogous to soda fountains in restaurants, where carbon dioxide is injected into the liquid. This is what they use at most root beer breweries; therefore, you usually can't see any solids at the bottom of a bottle of root beer bought from the store (because they are filtered before bottling) and you don't necessarily always find them in the refrigerated aisles!
Trying to describe what a "root beer" tastes like would require describing the flavors achieved from each of these roots, not to mention from other flavorings, such as the many varieties of hops and spices that could be used. For example, the "toothpaste" taste discussed in a different section of this page is probably from the use of spearmint or wintergreen. I think there should be separate sections in this article for common types of root beers, including ginger ales, sarsaparilla soda, ginseng cola, sassafras soda, and so on, as well as a section for macro-brewing methods that employ artificial flavoring.

I apologize if this is much more information that anyone wanted; hopefully it answers some questions in other posts as well. Most of it is from this book:
Cresswell, Stephen. Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop. 1998. ISBN 978-1-58017-052-9
I'm sure some of it is also from this book about brewing beer:
Palmer, John J. How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time. 3rd ed. 2006. ISBN 978-0-937381-88-5
The rest is from my experience brewing beer and root beers. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:27, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

A lot of information in this and other Talk points concerning root beer's history is fascinating. Why not include a History section in the article?B0cean (talk) 02:29, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

How about what it tastes like?[edit]

This is an incredibly inaccessible article, biased toward American readers. It doesn't describe what the beverage tastes like which should be an important part of any article about a beverage.


When I arrived in the USA from Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), I had never tasted root beer. In Northern Rhodesia, our soda pops (what we called "cool drinks") were things like ginger beer, colas, bitter lemon, and generally British or South African drinks. When I tasted root beer for the first time, I thought it was awful. It tasted soapy and very sweet. But later, I acquired a taste for it. Particularly with ice cream as a "root beer float". Now I live in Amsterdam, and I would kill for a root beer!

--Badharlick 01:06, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Not so easy to describe to someone who hasn't tried it. I see someone has added the claim that non-Americans think it tastes like "toothpaste". I don't recall hearing that one, but I've heard "medicine" a lot. The right answer is "ambrosia", but again, that won't help much if you haven't tried root beer. --Trovatore 06:04, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

If it tastes anything like Sars the flavour is flyspray. 03:32, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

I'm removing the current "toothpaste" part. It is problematic for several reasons. First, it is POV. It suggests that root beer is unpalatable but that North Americans have developed a cultural immunity to that. I happen to think that is untrue or perhaps particular to Western Europeans or Britons. I'm a Canadian and I have many friends who are immigrants to Canada and root beer is about as popular with them as it is with other North Americans, even amongst the newest of them. In any event I think the current passage probably constitutes original research. Thirdly I think that it is unhelpful for the introduction to describe what something is not. Most foods are unpopular outside of their areas of origin. Many British foods are famously unpalatable to Americans, a lot of Western foods are unpalatable to Asians and vice versa, but I don't think that belongs in the intros or probably in the article at all. --JGGardiner 18:40, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
FWIW, the brand Barq's definitely tastes like toothpaste. Doesn't stop it from being delicious. WilyD 13:23, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm removing the current "toothpaste" part. It is problematic for several reasons. First, it is POV.
Actually, sarsaparilla has been used in a particular toothpaste brand here, along with a chewing gum brand, to give them their taste. If enough agree on this, I'm not so sure it's so POV anymore. And I'm also not sure why a flavor reminding many of that would seem like an attack on the taste of root beer, unless it is worded explicitly as an attack. -- Northgrove 19:22, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
This more or less boils down to "root beer tastes like root-beer-flavored toothpaste", which I'm not sure is especially helpful. There are a great many toothpastes that don't taste like root beer (many of them taste like mint, for example, or cinnamon). --Trovatore 19:34, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Personally, I think that my first problem still stands. I agree with Trovatore's comments. That sounds like sars-flavoured toothpaste not the other way around. At any rate, the comments in the article were not referring to that particular toothpaste anyway. As for the second part, I already outlined it above. It suggests that root beer tastes bad but North Americans have developed a cultural bias in favour of it anyway. --JGGardiner 01:43, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Whether some varieties of root beer taste similar to some brands of toothpaste, or if it is the toothpaste that taste like root beer is POV in the true sense of the word. It all depends on what you tasted first. That they do taste similar is not POV, it is a fact and hardly a surprising one, since they share common ingredients.

Simply pointing out the similarity in taste between the two products can not be regarded as degrading to root beer, unless you have a strong dislike for toothpaste. It could on the contrary be very useful to those who has not yet tasted root beer. In any case, trying to suppress this kind of information is in conflict with the wikipedia policy of a neutral point of view. That is why the toothpaste reference should go right back in.

Rather than endlessly editing each others text on this subject I leave it to whoever took the passage out to refrase the paragraph and put it back in. That way i hope that the wording will be balanced and acceptable to everyone.

Instead of saying rootbeer tastes like toothpaste why not just say it tastes like wintergreen which is the common ingredient that both items share. 10:18, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Rabarberskaft 22:35, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

There actually hasn't been edit-warring here. In fact, I made the original edit over six months ago and it hasn't been changed since. Although there were some comments as late as August. Wily's comment said that one particular brand tastes that way (Barq's by the way was only recently branded as "root beer"). Dave said that he once thought root beer tasted awful, but not like toothpaste. And Northgrove only mentioned a particular brand also. I would also note note that the actual edit that I changed did not simply say "root beer tastes like toothpaste" but rather was this: "Foreign visitors to the U.S. often find root beer unpalatable, comparing its taste to that of toothpaste". So you see how toothpaste flavour is raised in a "degrading" way. Even that edit regarded the taste connection as a minority opinion (surely foreign visitors who try root beer are far outnumbered by North Americans -- and it only says "often" and not all).
The problem is that the connection in taste is not objective "information" but rather a personal feeling. First, "toothpaste" is not a flavour. It's like saying that toothpaste tastes like soda. In the Western world, most toothpaste is artificially flavoured and most commonly taste like mint. Second, to the extent that any particular toothpastes taste like root beer, it is a subjective opinion. I feel otherwise. Should my opinion be included also? Why is your palate more objective than mine? I think the toothpaste claim is an opinion and minority one at that. I think that is subjective and I won't include a subjective opinion in the article presented as fact. --JGGardiner 18:48, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the quick reply. You are right about toothpaste not being a flavour and neither is root beer. The characteristic flavour of root beer comes mainly from sassafras and sarsaparilla. Both plants have a long history of medical use. The native Americans are said to have used them against syphilis, rheumatism and fever. Later on they became a popular ingredient in the health tonics of the 19th century, the forerunners of today’s soft drinks. The first patent for chewing gum was sassafras flavoured, sarsaparilla followed soon after.

Because of its pleasant smell, taste and perceived antiseptic properties safrole was also used in perfume, soap and toothpaste. When the FDA banned the use of safrole in 1960 it could no longer be used as a toothpaste ingredient in the USA. However, it is possible that this kind of toothpaste was produced later than that in other countries or that the toothpaste industry, like the root beer manufacturers, found ways around the problem. Sarsaparilla is still used as a toothpaste ingredient.

So, the connection in taste is not subjective, it is not a personal feeling, it is sassafras and sarsaparilla.

Could this knowledge be useful in describing the taste of root beer to someone who has never tasted it? I think so. Finding other products with a sassafras/sarsaparilla flavouring is probably the best way to describe the flavour of root beer. I believe that a note on the use of sassafras and sarsaparilla in other products than root beer could help explain why some people come to think of medicine, soap, toothpaste or chewing gum when they taste it.

Judging from what I have read on this page I would say that this kind of information is of public interest. What do you say? Rabarberskaft 20:46, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

Sorry but I still don't feel that is an appropriate staement. My first concern is that a contestable fact like that must be verifiable. We don't have a proper source that says "root beer taste equals toothpaste taste" and I doubt that one can be found. What you've done is synthesized other information: product x contains an ingredient, product y contains the same one, therefore they must taste alike. That's a theory and maybe not a bad one but you can't introduce theory as fact: that contravenes Wikipedia's no original research policy.
Now, if you want to know why I doubt your theory... First, I don't believe that products that share ingredients necessarily taste alike. They have other ingredients which combine in various ways that affect overall taste. Particularily in this case where both products have multiple and likely complex arrangements of ingredients.
However, if I accepted that were true, there is a second problem: not all toothpastes and root beers share those ingredients. Most root beer today is artificially-flavoured and as we've both said, has no strict flavour. As you note above, not all toothpastes contain sassafras and I can only assume that not all contain sarsaparilla either. So this formula would have to exclude a) root beers which do not strictly adhere to most common formula and b) toothpastes which exclude one or both of your ingredients. So what are we left with? Probably most root beers, maybe all but not all toothpastes. Perhaps none in America? Then we would have to exclude products where the taste is masked by the artificial flavour. We can only guess but I would think that constitutes nearly all toothpastes in the Western World and certainly in North America. So the formula ends up:
Root beer (which contains sass. and sars. or is artificially flavoured that way) tastes like toothpaste (which contains sass. and sars.) (and which is not artificially flavoured).
I don't know what crossover there is but I can only imagine that is a minority and certainly not the overwhelming majority required to assert it as fact. And it would be unevenly distributed geographically (it would be untrue to all Americans for example). I think that inclusion would present an occasional occurence as the usual one. And of course we don't know the actual rate of occurence anyway. So I am still against inclusion. --JGGardiner 21:16, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

Stating that a sassafras flavoured product has a sassafras flavour is a truism and that hardly qualifies as research of any kind. The olfactory sense is able to distinguish among a practically infinite number of chemical compounds at very low concentrations. Furthermore you don’t have to single out and identify a substance to make a mental connection. Odour information is stored in the long term memory and has strong links to emotional memory.

On the top of this page Dave Cooper starts with asking what root beer tastes like. Several people, including two Canadian residents like yourself, have written that it reminds them of some brands of toothpaste. I believe you draw on your personal experience, or in this case rather lack of experience, when you disagree. Given the number of different brands in the world, it is very possible that you have not yet tasted any of the toothpastes in question.

I don’t regard it as a problem that the connection in taste is not true for all toothpastes, as long as you don’t say that it is. How an uneven geographical distribution of these toothpastes would be disqualifying needs more explaining. One could argue that root beer also has an uneven geographical distribution.

As you say yourself, you are only guessing when you write that the number of toothpastes with a root beer connection in taste is insignificant in the Western World and certainly in North America. Your claim that Americans don’t make this connection is contradicted on this very page, at least if you regard Canadians as Americans.

How would you describe the taste of root beer? Rabarberskaft 14:27, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

I don't necessarily disagree with your notion that toothpaste which tastes like root beer can be or is produced. But in order to include that as fact here you would have to demonstrate it. You would have to demonstrate that there is an occurence and the information can't include that in a misleading way. If you think that you can do that, I'm happy to take a look at whatever have.
The reason that I mention my personal feelings at all is to show that it differs from yours. I would never insist that my personal experience should be asserted as fact; I believe that my experiences are unique. I've asked from the start that we stick to policy; I only shared my personal thoughts when you asserted that your reasoning was sufficient for inclusion. The point wasn't that my feelings should be paramount but that because these disagreements happen, information should be verifiable and produced from reliable sources in accordance with the Wikipedia policies that I mentioned earlier. I think whatever disagreement there is with Wily with regards to the flavour of Barq's is a good example: he says it tastes like toothpaste, I think otherwise. Who is to say which opinion is correct? I can't imagine that anyone would include one of our opinions in an article. You might disagree with some of my opinions that I've mentioned here but please note that I haven't put them in the article. --JGGardiner 23:47, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

If you look up sassafras in Wikipedia you will find that it is the ingredient that gives root beer its characteristic odour and that it is used as an antiseptic in dentistry. Other references to sassafras soap and toothpaste can easily be found through Google.

So, back to Dave Coopers question: What does it taste like? Even if the flavour of root beer varies a lot, I think it would be safe to say that it could be described as aromatic and refreshing. If you think that is too much please let me know what you would suggest instead.

The reference to other products would perhaps be best included under traditional use, together with the mentioning of root beer as a herbal medicine. After all that is where the connection is. Here goes my suggestion:

Because of their pleasant flavour and medical properties some of the root beer ingredients have also occasionally been used in other products such as toothpaste, soap and medicine. This could explain why some people tasting root beer for the first time say that it reminds them of these products.

Is there anything that you feel needs to be added or rephrased? Your input would be very welcome. -- Rabarberskaft 08:34, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

Oops. Sorry, I hadn't noticed your message and was away from WP for some time. If you'd like to include that text in that section, I won't complain. Sorry again about the delay. --JGGardiner 18:41, 23 November 2006 (UTC)

There is one distinctive smell that helps me identify root beer as root beer. the root beer article lists a lot of herbs, but i can't believe that all those herbs are responsible for the special taste of root beer - can someone say which ingredients make up most of the root beer taste?

Thanks, --Abdull 16:22, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Only my opinion but it has to be the anise that lies at the base of the taste with other flavourings adding various tones to it. Dainamo 28 June 2005 23:19 (UTC)

Since the "root" in root beer refers to sassafras root, that's where most of the distinctive taste & smell comes from. But, as real sassafras root can't be used (at least in the US) the flavour is often artificial or made by other means. Andrew Lenahan - Starblind July 2, 2005 12:55 (UTC)

i'm in canada, and i've always associated the taste with toothpaste as well.. depends on the brand, though. 20:40, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Grocery stores, specialty shops? Where to purchase?[edit]

Where can this root beer be purchased? I live in Walnut Creek, CA 94595.

I love the taste it takes me back 70 years when my Dad made root beer for us. I would love to know where I might purchase it.



  • You should be able to find basic versions in with the soft drinks in any super market/grocery store, but if you want something more traditional, try health food or organic stores. I also found a recipe here though I'm not sure how good it is. Indium 02:02, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

You can also find excellent root beer flavorings at They are only a few miles from you in Dublin, CA —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:01, 31 July 2009 (UTC)


Sarsaparilla and Root Beer formed the culture of the USA during the wild west period, and they are distinctly different flavors. It's highly amusing to me whenever I read about someone who tries to claim that they are the same drink. All you people need to do is hit up a legitimate cooking website for the recipes of both drinks. Here's an example of the difference between the two : Root Beer typically has a ton of added ingredients that boost the flavor. Yes, it is typical to have Sarsaparilla in both drinks, but that doesn't mean they taste the same. The two drinks are as different as say if you compared a Strawberry Shake compared against a Strawberry Italian Soda (talk) 00:47, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

There should be a separate page detailing the drink sarsaparilla. As of now, links only point to the plant's page. I want to know what the difference is between "Root Beer" and "Sarsaparilla," especially since one company (Sioux City) makes both. Thanks, Ethan

I live in Vietnam. Root beer is not available here. They sell sarsaparilla (xa si in Vietnamese). It is NOTHING like root beer, more like Moxie. Root beer is available in all countries adjacent to Vietnam, except Laos and Cambodia. No one here knows what root beer is. And they KNOW it's not sarsaparilla. Who was the one who said that "root beer is known as sarsaparilla outside North America"? (Maybe I got that quote wrong.) It's very misleading. A&W is now international.

Thanks... Bill —Preceding unsigned comment added by Loyaltubist (talkcontribs) 07:15, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

I think that, "rootbeer" being such a vague word, it aplies to any of several beverages made from roots. In North America, rootbeer is usually only used in reference to a drink made mainly with sassafras. However, I believe that in the UK "rootbeer" may more commonly refer to a drink made with sarsaparilla. But I agree that sarsaparilla should not be listed as another name for rootbeer.-- (talk) 00:57, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

It's not the same. Not even in the UK. Root beer is made with sassafras, sarsaparilla is made with sarsaparilla. Yet... there is nothing in either article to indicate this. Sad.Fuzzform (talk) 09:00, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

Yes they are unrelated. I'm changing the first sentence. Bhny (talk) 23:25, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

Dandelion and Burdock[edit]

How similar is root beer to Dandelion and Burdock?

BTW, I remember hearing that US medicine makers made their medicines taste of root beer; since UK medicines have the same flavour, UK people (where root beer was- and still is- pretty unknown) later complained that root beer "tasted of medicine". Don't know how much truth there is in that... has to be said that Dandelion and Burdock has a strange medicinal flavour too, though.

Fourohfour 14:44, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

I don't think that root beer tastes like medicine more than other soft drinks. That sounds a bit to me like an excuse that people would use to justify a cultural bias to themselves. --JGGardiner 22:25, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
Actually, I've heard that as well from many friends in the UK. It's obviously a piece of wildly anecdotal evidence, but is interesting nonetheless.--PaddyM 01:54, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
I've tried Root Beer and am British, and I did think it tasted very much like medicine. Or rather, it tasted like that strange flavouring they add to some medicines and toothpastes to disguise the disgusting medicine taste. Since I've had the medicines and toothpastes long before I had Root Beer, it was the first thing I thought of when tasting it. It still makes me think of medicine when I drink it- nothing to do with cultural bias or any such clap trap, its just what medicines taste like. Patch86 03:15, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm British. What it tastes like, exactly, is the smell of Germolene or Deep Heat. I think it's the wintergreen; I don't know if the medicines cited have wintergreen oil in them, but for me wintergreen is the dominant taste/smell in a nice rootbeer, which might explain a few things. Anyway, it's not really anything like Dandelion and Burdock, beyond a sort of superficial "herbal" taste. (talk) 10:07, 28 June 2008 (UTC)


Nothing personal, but I notice this article doesn't have a picture of root beer yet. Is root beer copyright-protected, and would I get into any trouble just taking a picture of some? I think this article would look a lot better with a picture. (Not only that, but I need a picture for a home-made userbox on my user page.) Jonathan talk 30px 00:31, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

Go ahead and upload an image that you take. When you upload it, you will probably want to select license: GFDL (self made). The only problem you would have if you upload someone else's image that is copyrighted or whose copyright status is unknown. But feel free to upload your image. --rogerd 03:24, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

I added some images. --Polylerus 23:22, 19 July 2006 (UTC) One of the photos shows a can of A&W root beer next to a mug, appearing to contain root beer, that is branded with an Asahi logo. Is there a connection between A&W and Asahi? Perhaps this may be an instance of using the nearest convenient vessel to display root beer, but would this presentation be acceptable to either A&W or Asahi?Everiverever (talk) 13:38, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

I guess it would probably be confusing to readers familiar with both brands. And you're right, it was just a handy serving vessel. On the Japanese article there's a picture of one of those glasses with a Dad's rootbeer can. --JGGardiner (talk) 00:05, 30 April 2010 (UTC)


I am removing this sentence:

An example of this is root beer Sanded Candy Drops made by Pennsylvania Dutch Candies.

Because it sounds like a blatant advertisement for a specific product and company. There are no other examples of root beer flavored products not to mention it adds no useful context nor useful information to the article. Zigbigadoorlue 18:26, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Brewed root beer[edit]

Does anyone know if brewed root beer (that is, actually fermented) is commercially available, and if so, what brands?

On a related note, I seem to recall that a lot of US brewers switched over to making root beer when their product was outlawed by prohibition. If that can be verified, it would be an interesting addition to the article. (It also casts doubt on the claim that the name "root beer" comes from the drink's head; I think maybe it comes rather from its original mode of production.) --Trovatore 18:51, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

From what I know that is partly correct. Hires supposedly coined the term "root beer" (rather than "root tea") upon the suggestion of a friend because beer was popular at the time. He also later promoted it as a temperance drink. However that was in 1866, well before federal prohibition in the US. I have no idea what the texture of root beer was at the time. --JGGardiner 18:59, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
And did he brew it, or carbonate it artificially? That's not so clear from the article. --Trovatore 19:12, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Is it possible to get credible reference for this? --Siva1979Talk to me 19:49, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Most of that is pretty widespread. The whole thing, with the suggestion from a friend, is at Hires (Cadburry-Schweppes) website. [1] --JGGardiner 20:07, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
I added a mention of prohibition, citing the San Francisco Chronicle, which seems reliable enough... a better source would be nice though. BigBlueFish 18:21, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Uniquely North American?[edit]

The article says "Root beer is a uniquely North American beverage", but the picture is of a German root beer and the articcle also asserts that "in Britain there are several differentiated root beers". Surely root beer can't be uniquely North American, then. Could that sentence be removed?Struman 14:38, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

I changed it to "predominantly", which is accurate and relevant to the point being made. Incidentally I only read this post after I read it! Don't be scared to be bold... BigBlueFish 17:53, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
Why is it now back to "uniquely North American"? It once again conflicts with the British root beers. Vandalism or a new opinion on this? If so, please voice it? -- Northgrove 19:15, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

I was surprised by the references to British root beers; indeed, I looked at this article because of references on US television programmes. I did not know what root beer is, and have never heard the term in England. If there are such things would it not be helpful to provide information on them. Otherwise my temptation would be to remove all references to British root beers. And what is the position in Australia? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:09, 12 September 2010 (UTC)

In my (English) youth, my family brewed "Ginger Beer" which was started by some sort of yeast and diluted every weekend, then left to regrow. We stopped doing it because the production rate (i.e. growth) far exceeded our consumption and after ten days or so the bottled dilute would usually explode (generally between about 3 and 5 am). We dumped the starter down the drain where it is probably still working away sixty years later. John C Kay (talk) 02:17, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

We actually have an article on ginger beer, and I remember it being served at H. Salt Esquire when I was a kid. In my estimation, it is not similar enough to root beer to be treated in the same article (though a "See also" link would not be out of place, and now that I look, we already have one). --Trovatore (talk) 05:21, 5 February 2015 (UTC)


There are close to fifty brands listed. I'm thinking of removing some. Shall we establish some sort of criteria? --JGGardiner 05:57, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

I had added another brand the other day before reading your comment here. The interesting thing about root beer is that it is produced by such a variety of beverage companies. Along with the typical commericial brands, such as A&W and Mug Root Beer, you even have health food / organic brands, such as 365. Furthermore, the taste of Root Beer can vary greatly depending upon its recipe. For this reason, regional brands often never gain a national following, such as Dog n' Suds, a local Midwestern brand I was raised on. Likewise, gourmet Root Beer also only gains a select following due to their unique flavors (I personally dislike Virgil's Root Beer as I find the anise and licorice overpowering).

Going back to JGGardiner's comments - what should be done with the list? A criteria should be set, but how do we work taste / recipe variety (based on brands) into the article? Em-jay-es 16:42, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

I would keep the most popular and perhaps a few other notable examples. Right now we simply have a list of 49 names. That doesn't tell the readers anything other than that those brands exist. I don't know any difference between Journey, Pirates Keg or Barrelhead although I've seen them on the list. Is one "gourmet"? Does one use a peculiar ingredient? Is one a regional favorite? The list says nothing. I think that listing every root beer that any editor has ever heard of is just needless clutter in my opinion. A more exhaustive and detailed list can be found at the anthony's link anyway. --JGGardiner 19:12, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

There are now 67 brands listed. I'd like to trim that list. There didn't seem to be any objection that it should be done. Does anybody care how it is done? --JGGardiner 23:34, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Hard to say. Popularity by region? Living in the good ol' US of A, I've never heard of the majority of these. Prometheus-X303- 22:53, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Let's trim all of the red links, they don't serve any purpose. If agreed, I will delete all (or close to all) of the red links.--Witeandnerdy 15:17, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Good idea. That's actually what I was thinking of doing myself if nobody had said anything. --JGGardiner 21:04, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

OK, I trimmed all of the red links, and moved some link called "Blumers". It was in The P section or something, so I put it in the B section. Some people to edit more carefully. Well, I think we're good on links for now. Now we can focus on the actual articles.--Witeandnerdy 15:22, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

I have to agree with Prometheus, I've never heard of half the brands of root-beer listed. Just mention that there are many regional brands and varities possibly? Quick point, who has heard of FrosTop or 1919 Rootbeer? They're popular in the Upper Midwest(Southern MN and Eastern WI), but they're not mentioned.

We definitely don't need 2 lists of commercial brands, with duplicates like Barq's. Do we really need a list of brands here at all? There are several online sources, like my Root-Beer dot org brand database with over 2000 brands listed, that have been around for years. --Kguske 11:39, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Missing Virgil's by Reeds.

I was disappointed by the entry in that it did not list enough brands. I grew up in Florida drinking Frostie if I recall correctly, and also Hires; I wanted to check to see if my memory was accurate. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:30, 15 August 2011 (UTC)


I removed the image of a can of "Braunschweiger Mumme", which is brewed from malt and water (only) and therefore isn't root beer, but Malzbier. The commons title seems wrong, too. Dannycool 16:11, 1 June 2006 (UTC)


I don't think that root beer should be in the beer category. It is not an actual beer but was so name probably because it was an alternative to beer (see above) or possibly because of a similar consistency. But it is not actually beer any more than peanut butter is butter or a potato is an apple. --JGGardiner 21:45, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

I disagree with this as root beer is often slightly alcoholic when home brewed. It uses yeast, sugar, and hops when it is made. It is also carbonated. I'm not saying it should be outlawed for kids under 21, but i am saying it is technically a beer, it least it can be. --Witeandnerdy 00:32, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Even if it has a little alcohol, I don't think that makes it a beer. Beers are fermented from cereals. I never heard of one fermented from sugar-water. --Trovatore 00:43, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

I am afraid I didn't make myself clear. You see, hops, yeast, and sugar are all major ingredients in beer. Root beer can use all of these. It can then be fermented, as beer is. When you have a finished product, it is one with carbonation and alcohol, as beer does. However, root beer pherhaps is mostly not a beer. Commercial rootbeers wouldn't be, as they have not gone through the same process stated above, and any homebrewed beers do not have to follow that process either, and most recipes don't.--Witeandnerdy 00:52, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

You were clear, just wrong :-). Sugar is not an ingredient of beer; cereals are. It's true there are sugars in the cereals; is that what you meant? Not the same thing as starting with sugar, I'm afraid. --Trovatore 01:09, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Okay, I suppose I did mean that beer has sugar in it, not started with it, other that that, I am right --Witeandnerdy 01:45, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Actually, I just got what you meant by cereal, not Raisi* Bra*. So, with careful consideration, I guess root beer never falls under the category of beer as it never uses grains(cereals)(:--Witeandnerdy 22:18, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Actually, it's a beer because of the definition of "beer". Beers have not always been historically alcoholic, just many. Today, many people have forgotten that "beer" means beverages produced by fermenting non-fruit parts of plans, not just alcoholic beverages thereby produced. That's why we have root beer, ginger beer, sassafras beer, wheat beer, barley beer, etc. They're all beers. — Saxifrage 00:02, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

Wow, now I believe that side again.--Witeandnerdy 00:07, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

Carcinogenic nature of sassafras[edit]

I added some more stuff on the carcinogenic nature of sassafras. I found this link: ( It said that even if you removed the safrole oil, 2/3 of animals given the extract still developed cancer. It's reference was a study: (Tyler VE, Foster S. Tyler's honest herbal: a sensible guide to the use of herbs and related remedies 4th Ed. New York: Haworth herbal press, 1999:337-9.)

I hope this is helpful.

Shame, I love root beer now I'm scared $#!+£€$$ by it.

- Some guy who cares (August 17, 2006)

The article states that 3% of the north american soft-drink market is root beer -- millions of people. If the stuff was a dangerous as is claimed, where are all the dead bodies? More than likely this is yet another second order effect: you would have to wear a camelback full of the stuff, drinking many litres a day for years. A couple of hits of the bunch on the net: "Today's rootbeer is made with synthetic flavorings or oil of sassafras from which the safrole has been removed." "Safrole causes liver cancer if given to laboratory animals in high doses and for extended periods of time.[11] This requires metabolism of safrole by the liver into other toxic compounds, though the liver also removes some of these compounds for excretion through the urine.[12] [13] The overall risk of sassafras causing cancer in humans is thought to be low because it is only weakly active and the amounts normally consumed are low.[14] To eliminate the risk, sassafras products that contain safrole should not be consumed."
  • 11. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997:152–4.
  • 12. Luo G, Guenthner TM. Metabolisms of alklylbensene 2’,3’-oxide and estragole 2’,3’-oxide in the isolated perfused rat liver. J Pharm Exp Ther 1995;272:588–96.
  • 13. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997:152–4.
  • 14. Enomoto M. Naturally occurring carcinogens of plant origin: Safrole. Bioactive Mol 1987;2:139–59.
Remember that ~1 in 7 people are going to die of cancer. Everyone will eventually die. Drinking a bottle of root beer, I am ... mdf 18:26, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

There is no reason to be scared about getting cancer from root beer. As stated above, most commercial root beer is either made with synthetic sassafrass or other parts of the sassafrass plant. Again, as stated above, if it's so dangerous, where are all of the dead bodies. However, for those who make thier own root beer, it is probaly best for them not to use the sassafrass root at all, even if it is not going to nessecarily cause cancer. This should not be a problem, as root beer has an almost infinite amount of combinations of root beer ingredients --Witeandnerdy 00:43, 13 November 2006 (UTC)


The first two paragraphs appear to be contradictory: that root beer is a fermented beverage (alcohol) but also considered a soft drink (no alcohol). I gather both varities exist, but not being an expert on the subject, I'm refraining from clairifying the opener. Jeffhoy 03:12, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

Any fermentation of a beverage will lead to the production of ethanol. Thus, the "non-alcoholic" rootbeer that is fermented naturally actually has a minute percentage of alcohol.Fuzzform (talk) 09:02, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

External links[edit]

I think the external links need to be trimmed back a bit. Prometheus-X303- 20:18, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

Which ones doe you think we should delete?--Witeandnerdy 00:35, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
Good question. I deleted some spam and non-relevant links. Maybe one of the review links can go too. How many do we need? Prometheus-X303- 14:48, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

Well, we only need a few, some links we should definitely delete, such as: A Report on ROOT BEER, Root Beer In The UK, and

Okay, I think we're good on links for now.--Witeandnerdy 15:56, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. Prometheus-X303- 16:14, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Caregories of root beer[edit]

Does anyone else think it might be a good thing to add the six types (or categories) of root beer. These are: Homebrewed, Specialty root beer, Microbrewieries, National Root beer, Supermarket root beer, and diet root beer.--Witeandnerdy 23:44, 27 November 2006 (UTC)

I think that would be good. The purpose of this site is to share knowledge, and I would think that the majority doesn't know that there are different categories. Most of what we know is just supermarket root beer. Prometheus-X303- 05:03, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

Bad news, I only have one source on these categories, how would I know they are correct? --Witeandnerdy 22:14, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic versions[edit]

I've rewritten the intro to explain there is a "hard" version of root beer and a "soft drink" version.

Before, the intro contradicted itself, saying that root beer is a "fermented" beverage and then saying it constitutes 3% of the American soft drink market.

From reading the old intro, one may be lead to think that A&W Root Beer is a company akin to Anheuser-Busch when the market is clearly divided into alcoholic beverages and soft drinks. It's my understanding that in the U.S., root beer is primarily a soft drink so I added the {{globalize}} tag to the top.

Perhaps a new article should be started, called Root beer (soft drink) instead of dividing this article?

Should we have separate article for the alcoholic version and the soft drink version? --Pixelface 20:09, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

For now, I've isolated the companies I know of that are soft drink brands and moved them into their own section. More help would be appreciated. --Pixelface 20:29, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
I don't understand what the difference is between the two categories that we now have. Is the top confirmed soft-drink brands and the bottom unknown? It's a little confusing because the names are almost identical. --JGGardiner 21:06, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
I agree - the distinction between "commercial soft drink brands" and "commercial brands" is very unclear. "Commercial brands" are further described as "traditional." Is this supposed to be the same as the distinction between alcoholic and soft drink root beers? If so, Henry Weinhard's Root Beer is a soft drink (I have a six-pack in my car at the moment), although the company does produce alcoholic beers. I suspect that is true of a number of the other "traditional" root beers listed. PubliusFL 18:55, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

Out of over 2000 brands in the Root-Beer dot org brand database, fewer than 5 are even slightly alchoholic. That hardly justifies having a distinction, much less a separate article, about it. This includes several brands outside the US (in the brand database, you can click on the appropriate country flags to see the brands by country). The brands should either be combined or removed altogether.--Kguske 17:03, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Interesting (to me at least) that alcoholic root beer has less alcohol than so-called non-alcoholic beer ( I have to admit that until I read this article, I had never heard of alcohol in root beer -- and I've been a root beer fan for decades. (talk) 05:32, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

Beer in it?[edit]

Does root beer have beer in it? 06:13, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Root beer was supposedly so named because it was an alternative to beer. It also shares some phyiscal characteristics with beer. Although it is (quite rarely) produced in an alcoholic variety, as I understand it there are no root beers that are otherwise actual varieties of beer. --JGGardiner 09:13, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

There is now. Link: — Preceding unsigned comment added by Adipocere1066 (talkcontribs) 19:22, 21 October 2012 (UTC)

Should "Root beer in culture and entertainment" be spun off into its own article?[edit]

Let's take a vote. I'll abstain because I believe that this decision should be impartial. --Dans1120 18:08, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

No. Fuzzform (talk) 09:02, 2 February 2009 (UTC)


This article falls some mile short of explaining "Root Beer" in its cultural phenomenon status in the US, as is commonly experienced. Many many years ago it was the "alternative" to Coca-Cola and was deemed beneficial to youngsters in that it contained no caffeine. An entire business was set up around it in the form of A&W Root Beer Stands. Also, it was iconic in its use for "root beer floats", only marginally mentioned in the article. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Griselinia (talkcontribs) 09:01, 14 May 2007 (UTC).

Too many images[edit]

This article has 3 images which basically all show the same thing, whilst other articles don't have any. I propose that 2 of the images are removed.

How will we decide which one to keep? --Dans1120 20:31, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
The one on the top shows foam thats' the best 1 nthe other 1s r kind of crappy --ColaDude


where does the nsame come fom? why isit calledd beer?

Fanta ?[edit]

Under "Commercial soft drink brands", besides some others, the brand "Fanta" is mentioned. Since when is Fanta a Root Beer ? I think it should be removed, unless someone can come up with a good explaination why it should be mentioned amongst Root Beer Brands. -- 20:26, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

I kind of remember a brown Fanta in one of the Asian countries I've visited in the 80s. Can't remember if it was root beer inside. --Emana (Talk) 22:11, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

Anus is an ingredient !?[edit]

Anyone have any insight, of is this just a crude form of vandelism by Special:Contributions/

If it's a real ingredient, the link has got to be wrong. Eet 1024 (talk) 19:49, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Update: It's been corrected.

User Special:Contributions/ has changed carbonated water to liquid water.

Ingredients: root beer extract?[edit]

Under Ingredients, the only information given is that root beer is made from 'root beer extract.' This doesn't seem terribly helpful. It's a bit like saying Kool-Aid is made from Kool-Aid mix.

What is root beer extract made from? That would be helpful.

The ingredients of soft drink root beer are listed under the alcoholic version, but it's not made clear that these are ingredients of both versions. VictorLaszlo (talk) 11:47, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

The problem with asking what root beer extract is made from is that there can be many different recipes for root beer and root beer extract. Root beer can be made from a large variety of ingredients including burdock root, maple syrup, honey, spruce twigs, anise (seed or star anise), ginger, lemon, sweet basil extract, sassafras bark, yeast, rasins, licorice root, cinnamon bark, sassafras root, sarsaparilla root, dandelion root, and mint leaves. Where am I getting this? The Root Beer Book: A Celebration of America's Favorite Soft Drink by Laura E. Quarantiello (ISBN 0-936653-78-7 published 1997) and Homemade Root Beer, Soda, and Pop by Stephen Cresswell (ISBN 1-58017-052-8 published 1998). Cresswell includes a recipe for homemade root beer extract that's made from rasins, water, sassafras root bark, and sugar. Commercial extracts will have different recipes and many artifical flavorings. -annonymous 5/15/11 11:37 PM EST —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:37, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

Reference to link contains more info than link itself[edit]

On this page there is a link to tommyknockers that states it glows in the dark but on the tommyknocker page there is nothing remotely related. As I know little about root beer other than I love it, I can't correct. Unrelated to root beer, this seems to be a common problem esp found on the main page in the "did you know" or "on this day" pieces. —Preceding unsigned comment added by A1jacktar (talkcontribs) 13:31, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

WP:FOOD Tagging[edit]

This article talk page was automatically added with {{WikiProject Food and drink}} banner as it falls under Category:Restaurants or one of its subcategories. If you find this addition an error, Kindly undo the changes and update the inappropriate categories if needed. You can find the related request for tagging here -- TinucherianBot (talk) 10:59, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

Brands criterion[edit]

We need some criteria for brands. A random list with no inclusion criteria is unhelpful and just an invitation to spam. My thought is to list the major bottler brands and maybe pick. the top-rated root beers off of Bevnet. It's a bit arbitrary, but no less than the current list, and much less prone to fights. Cool Hand Luke 20:04, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Sarsaparilla in Victorian England[edit]

Apparently Sarsaparilla was a popular drink in Temperance Bars in England, in Victorian times. I just saw something on TV about it. Somebody that knows more about it should add this, as the article makes it look like Root Beer is just an American thing. Jason404 (talk) 11:04, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Merger: Sarsi (drink) -> Root beer[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The result was NO merge after 20 days of non-action.-- Emana (Talk) 17:30, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

A merger of the article Sarsi (drink) to Root beer has been suggested by Adrian727. Please vote:

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.


Not much if anything on the history of root beer & sarsaparilla, or it's nickname "sasparilla." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:22, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

Again, sarsaparilla is not the same thing as rootbeer. Former is made with sarsaparilla plant, latter is made with sassafras plant.Fuzzform (talk) 09:04, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
If that's the case, then how come I find a recipe for sarsaparilla soda that calls 9 tablespoons sarsaparilla root and 5 tablespoons sassafras root bark?. Both are also used in root beer. My source, Homemade Root Beer, Soda, and Pop by Stephen Cresswell (ISBN 1-58017-052-8 published 1998). Cresswell even says "Traditionally, sarsaparilla soda is made with sassafras root as well as sarsaprilla root." -annonymous 5/15/11 11:46 PM EST. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:46, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

Richardson Rootbeer[edit]

I just thought one of my old favs "Richardson Rootbeer" should be added to the big list of Root Beers, but I don't really like to add stuff to the Main Article too much. I did find several search results for it, though, and "Hamburger Heaven" in Elmhurst, Illinois supposedly still serves Richardsons Rootbeer!!! Lesbrown99 (talk) 05:26, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

Yes, it's true!!! There is a place by the name of "Hamburger Heaven" down around Chicago, Illinois like at the corner of North Avenue and York Road/York Street practically in the middle of some suburb there, and this place still has one of the original Richardson Rootbeer barrels and serves the real thing! So, if somebody can add Richardson Rootbeer to the list that would be great! Lesbrown99 (talk) 04:52, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

I received a message on my Watch List today that something had been done to the List of Rootbeers and so as I checked it, I noticed Richardson had NOT yet been added by anybody who knows how to add stuff. . . so i added it, and it seemed to work fine; that is it's on there anyway. Whether it needs to be a LINK to another site, sorry i'm not sure right off hand; i'll check. However I'd have no idea how to do that, anyway! Thank-You!!! Lesbrown99 (talk) 15:34, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

Yuca or yucca?[edit]

A recent IP edit changed yucca to yuca (that is, cassava). Can anyone check this? Neither the yucca nor the cassava article mentions root beer, and I don't know which (if either, really) is correct. --Trovatore (talk) 21:41, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

I did a little Googling and it appears that root beer uses yucca, not yuca, so I changed it back. However I didn't find anything that looked like a solid reliable source; they were sort of off-hand mentions. If anyone can find a specific reference, that would be a service. --Trovatore (talk) 22:45, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Who invented this?[edit]

Is root beer at its core a Native American recipe, or was it invented by the European settlers? A related question, do East Asians use any of the other two Sassafras varieties in food or drink? Please add this info if you have it. -- (talk) 11:36, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Ramblin' Root Beer[edit]

Hello, I have created the article for Ramblin' Root Beer, and I was wondering if anyone affiliated with this article would check my work and possibly expand it Purplebackpack89 13:52, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

President's Choice[edit]

President's Choice has Root Beer too and its a pretty major company too. It should probably be added to the root beers. Sorry I don't know how to do it myself — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ottokarone (talkcontribs) 21:13, 17 August 2011 (UTC)


I think there should be a variety of popular root beers that are compared and contrasted to one another. This section should also include pictures of these different styles. I also think that there should be more emphasis on the popularity of the soft drink and the different companies that are out there. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rkon3318 (talkcontribs) 14:37, 9 February 2015 (UTC)