Root beer is a sweet, creamy, and slightly bitter soft drink enjoyed nearly all over North America. This delicious beverage contains the root bark of the sassafras tree, which has been used for centuries to treat ailments such as diarrhea. This drink’s origins date back to 1876.
Interestingly, there has been a contentious debate about whether root beer contains caffeine.
This debacle over whether root beer is caffeine-free is caused by the fact that most soft drinks and teas contain caffeine. Unfortunately, root beer falls victim to this trap and is mistakenly grouped with cold carbonated sodas and drinks frequently.
Root beer does not contain additives such as caffeine. However, some root beer manufacturers add caffeine to make the formulation similar to a cold drink.
In this article, we’ll explain caffeine’s role in root beer and answer any questions you have related to it. So, if you’re particularly fond of this thirst-quenching beverage and want to know more about it, keep reading!
Are All Root Beer Caffeine Free
All root beers are not caffeine-free. A wide variety of brands offer caffeinated options. However, it’s typically uncommon to do so.
Adding caffeine to root beers is a choice made during the production process. Although it’s not essential to add caffeine to root beer, some brands prefer to do it so that their root beer can have the same effect on its drinkers as a cold drink.
Historically, root beer was made using sassafras, which the FDA later banned because of its carcinogenic effects. Traditional root beer also contained substances such as mint, nutmeg, and licorice for a more flavorful experience.
Therefore, root beer will only contain caffeine when added deliberately. You can check the ingredient list of the root beer to verify whether it contains caffeine. Local brewpubs or microbreweries usually brew their root beer without any caffeine.
Why Doesn’t Root Beer Have Caffeine
Root beer doesn’t have caffeine because it was traditionally brewed with ingredients that did not contain caffeine in the first place. Certain brands only add caffeine as an additive after the brew.
Root beer was initially called root tea due to its herbal components, but to this day, many firmly believe it contains additives such as caffeine.
But why do people assume that root beer contains caffeine? Well, this misconception is tied to root beer’s marketing as a soft drink. Soft drinks such as Coke had caffeine and were sold at pharmacies as a ‘pep drink’ to be taken after medication.
After Coca-Cola took the market by storm as a beloved soft drink, other beverage companies followed suit and started adding caffeine to their drinks, which led people to assume that root beer also contained caffeine.
However, since root beer was invented before these cold drinks, it was not subjected to the market demand caused by Coca-Cola’s beverage formulation.
Therefore, root beer manufacturers could continue branding their beverages as caffeine-free drinks, although some brands eventually succumbed to the pressure and started adding caffeine to their beverages.
Interestingly, while traditional root beer had a decent amount of alcohol, modern root beer barely contains any traces of ethanol and is even enjoyed by kids all over North America.
What Root Beers Are Caffeine Free
Most root beers in the market are caffeine-free. The usual ingredients are food coloring, carbonated water, sugar, preservatives, and artificial coloring. Most importantly, however, caffeine is not a part of this list.
If you’re homebrewing, going to a microbrewery or a pub, or buying off the grocery store shelf, the chances are that you’re choosing a caffeine-free drink.
Some root beer brands offer multiple options and a ‘diet’ variety that is assured to contain zero caffeine. Such brands are A&W Root Beer, IBC, Diet A&W Root Beer, Mug Root Beer, Diet Mug Root Beer, Dad’s Root Beer, Diet Dad’s Root Beer, and Barq’s Diet Root Beer.
Which Root Beer Has Caffeine
Some brands have minimal caffeine to produce a unique flavor profile and a notable effect on their drinkers. For example, Barq’s is renowned for its caffeinated root beer.
Many brands offer different options. You can opt for a caffeine-free diet by choosing diet options or flavored caffeine-free options. Brewing your root beer at home is also an excellent idea, as you can control the number of additives in your beloved drink. Micro Breweries and pubs usually refrain from adding caffeine too.
Even the root beers that do contain caffeine add it in an extremely minimal amount. For example, a typical 8-ounce (240-ml) cup of coffee contains approximately 96 mg of caffeine, which is about four times the amount in a can of Barq’s.
Other drinks such as green tea, chai, black tea, and espresso shots contain twice or thrice the amount of caffeine. So if you’re cutting down root beer intake but not soft drinks, you’re definitely consuming more caffeine than you’d like.
Therefore, root beer is a safer option despite being more caffeinated than other drinks. Plus, the FDA requires caffeinated products to mention it clearly on the ingredient list, so look at the label to decipher if a particular root beer will suit your preferences.
Can Root Beer Keep You Awake
Root beer can keep you awake if it’s caffeinated. However, the alertness won’t last long because it contains a small amount of caffeine.
Most root beers can keep you awake, but that’s attributed to the high amount of sugar in them, not the caffeine, as sugar is also linked with alertness and insomnia.
However, most people prefer not to consume root beer before bed as it can potentially disrupt sleep patterns.
It’s best to keep your root beer consumption limited to daytime and the evening, as drinking this beverage at night can cause some unfavorable side effects.
All in all, while some root beers contain caffeine, others don’t. Root beer containing excessive caffeine is a popular myth as it is more of a tea than a soft drink. However, you can verify the amount of caffeine in a root beer by consulting its ingredient list.
Therefore, you can drink this beverage without concern for caffeine intake. This is among the many reasons people across North America prefer this creamy and strong cold beverage so much!