Does Root Beer Taste Like Beer?

  • By: Max S.
  • Date: September 13, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Root beer is the go-to drink of many people, while others hate it. Its taste is one in which you have to pick a side. Several brands produce their version of the drink, attracting drinkers with its all-natural flavor composition.

Having a wide array of flavors in its formulation, including ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, and licorice, this drink mesmerizes your taste buds with its distinctive taste. 

Until the late 1960s, sassafras extract was one of the primary flavors contributing greatly to its taste.

The ban on using sassafras extract (safrole) as a flavor in root beer came due to the carcinogenic tendencies of the extract. At the time, many producers struggled with finding a replacement for the flavor, with most of them going with wintergreen oil. 

Wintergreen oil is the primary flavor that gives the drink its taste now. In some cases, manufacturers use synthetic chemicals intended to taste like the sassafras extract without being carcinogenic.

Despite having ‘beer’ attached to the name, root beer is nothing like beer. Infact, the safrole-flavored drink was initially ‘root tea’ but was finally called ‘root beer’ as a marketing stunt to make it more appealing to coal miners in Pennsylvania. 

In addition to its distinct taste, root beer tastes sweet from the sweeteners. When the drink was made using sassafras extract, it may have tasted like beer, but that is also a stretch.

Beer typically tastes malty with flavorings from hops such as bread, citrus, and herbs. This is a contrast to the sweet taste of root beer.

The taste of root beer, in most cases, differs by the company. Beverage companies like A&W and Sioux City add a vanilla flavoring to their version, which is quite different from the version produced by Barq’s and some other large producers.

Is Root Beer Beer Without Alcohol?

Is Root Beer Beer Without Alcohol?
Is Root Beer Beer Without Alcohol?

No, root beer is usually non-alcoholic and without caffeine, but it does not taste like beer and also differs in composition from beer.

Root beer was originally a homemade beverage that you could easily make. Old-time drinkers still make it this way. 

First, a syrup is formed from the cooked mixture of molasses and water. This syrup is mixed with sassafras root and bark (which provides safrole) and, sometimes, wintergreen. 

Yeast is added before fermenting. This gives the root beer a low alcohol percentage. This recipe can be adjusted to allow for more alcohol content.

When compared to non-alcoholic root beer, some people prefer the alcoholic variant. But this is strictly a matter of taste buds. Knowing your preference may require you to try the two versions. 

Large producers of this drink, such as A&W, Barq’s, Dad’s, Hires, and Mug, manufacture a non-alcoholic variant, which is why non-alcoholic root beers are easily found in stores.

Does Root Beer have Beer in it?

Does Root Beer have Beer in it?
Does Root Beer have Beer in it?

No, there is no beer in the drink. Most root beers contain the typical soda ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, coloring, preservatives, and flavoring.

Before drinking, It is likely for a first-timer to assume that the drink has beer in it because if it’s going to be called a ‘root beer,’ why not put actual beer in it, right? 

This is not the case in most drinks. In fact, a high percentage of the root beers produced are non-alcoholic variants and taste as sweet as most sodas.

However, hard root beers contain a significant amount of alcohol and are considered true beers. With an alcohol by volume (ABV) of above 4%, hard root beers differ from the traditional safrole-flavored drink.

Was Root Beer Alcoholic?

Initially, root beer was categorized along with small beers because of its low level of alcohol. Small beers have an ABV of 0.5 – 2%, which is not considered harmful and can be drunk at any time of the day without having adverse effects on the drinker.

Children now drink root beers which may contain less alcohol than most of our daily meals or juices. Most non-alcoholic variants of the drink contain small amounts of alcohol that are not put on the label because they are insignificant and harmless.

With the introduction of hard root beers such as AB-Inbev Damn Root Beer, Not Your Fathers Root Beer, and Abita Bayou Bootlegger, the drink is now increasingly associated with alcoholic variants.

Can Root Beer Make You Drunk?

Can Root Beer Make You Drunk?
Can Root Beer Make You Drunk?

Root beer cannot make you drunk because its fermentation process does not allow a toxic level of alcohol. There is no artificial carbonation process, and it is often naturally carbonated. 

This creates significant carbon dioxide that is toxic to the yeast, resulting in a low alcohol volume. The fizz in the drink comes from the bubble created by the yeast during the fermentation process

While drinking root beer does not intoxicate you, the drink contains some ingredients that are not safe when taken frequently in large amounts. Some of these ingredients include high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), artificial flavor, caramel, and caffeine (in some cases). Cherry bark, used by some manufacturers, contains traces of cyanide. 

Hence, check the label to confirm the alcohol level, sugar level, and other ingredient compositions which may not be compatible with your body in large amounts.

Is Root Beer Malt?

Malts are usually found in beers. Root beer does not contain malts and is mostly flavored by wintergreen, anise or licorice, vanilla, or birch bark. 

Some hard root beers are marketed as flavored malt beverages. But as most brands do not divulge their ingredients, there is no proof that they contain malts. 


Root beers do not taste like beer. They have a distinct taste that is sweetened by artificial sweeteners. Typically non-alcoholic and caffeine-free, this drink is more similar to regular sodas than beers. 

If you’re craving a beer taste, you are better off getting an actual beer. But if you’re up for a sweet and refreshing beverage, you should get a root beer!