Does Root Beer Have Caffeine?
No, caffeine is typically not found in most Root Beer brands. However, there are a few popular root beer flavored sodas that do feature the stimulant, most notably Barq’s Root Beer.
Written by CraftJack | Updated | 5 min read
We will examine six popular brands of root beer to determine their overall caffeine content, not all of which will be American. We’ll answer some of your questions regarding the caffeine content of Root Beer vs other soft drinks, including Coke and Pepsi, and we'll also touch on whether or not energy drinks have more or less caffeine than this historically brewed, yet now produced through other methods, beverage.
For some people, caffeine intake needs to be limited. That means that large amount of energy drinks and soft drinks are off limits. Dr. Pepper, for example, is one type of pop that’s laden with caffeine, 42 milligrams of caffeine to be precise.
Monster the Beast Unleashed however, does not.
Long before your grandmother made you your first Root Beer Float. For those that don’t know, a Root Beer Float is made with Vanilla Ice Cream. It’s awesome.
Anyway, let’s go further back. Long before Charles Hires made and sold his first batch of Root Beer in 1875, the indigenous people of North America created “medicinal” teas using sassafras root (akin to licorice root) to treat various ailments.
Given that settlers were already accustomed to drink herb, root and spice-based tonics such as Ginger Beer or Birch Beer, Root Beer wasn’t a hard sell.
According to Difford’s Guide, “Root Beer is first known to have been marketed commercially at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876 by a teetotal Philadelphia pharmacist named Charles Hires who is said to have discovered a recipe for a delicious herbal tea while on his honeymoon.”
|Root Beer Brand||Caffeine (mg)|
One interesting comparison to Coca-Cola is that both originated with ingredients that are no longer used. In Root Beer’s case, that’s roots of the sassafras tree. For Coca-Cola, it’s the kola nut. With regard to the former, safrole was the flavoring agent that helped establish the flavor of the drink root beer. However, it was found to be carcinogenic, and thus, not supported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Guess that puts a real damper on the “natural flavors” vibe of a root beer recipe. So yeah, bring on the artificial flavors and sweeteners to help create the flavor of root beer.
And, crazy story for those that don’t know, Wintergreen is actually a flavor in modern root beer.
No, A&W is a caffeine-free root beer.
A&W celebrated its hundredth anniversary in 2019. The brainchild of Roy W. Allen, A&W Root Beer made its debut at a roadside stand where Allen peddled his concoction to passersby. To note, A&W’s recipe dropped high fructose corn syrup from its recipe back in 2017.
One other amazing thing about A&W was their chain restaurant empire, of which there are nearly 500.
Yes, Barq’s possesses approximately 22.5 mg of caffeine per 12oz serving. Compared to the other brands on this list, 22.5 mg is a lot - obviously, since it compares to 0 mg. However, compared to a cup of coffee, which is 142 mg of caffeine per 12oz serving, the amount of caffeine in a regular can of Barq’s is not all that much.
Barq’s Root Beer was first brought to market in 1898. According to GrubAmericana, Barq’s was a, “Sasparilla-based” soft drink that leaned heavy on the carbonation. It wasn’t marketed as traditional root beer at the time because the company was hesitant to get into a potential legal battle with the popular incumbent, Hires.
We always loved the slogan, “Drink Barq’s. It’s good.” Regular Barq’s Root Beer has just shortened it down to, “It’s good.”
Boylan’s Root Beer is caffeine-free. Boylan’s employs cinnamon, sweet birch, vanilla, and, you guessed it, wintergreen oil to produce their creamy root beer. We’re told that Boylan’s is:
- Made in America
Not bad, Boylan’s. Not bad. But it’s still soda pop.
No, Bundaberg Root Beer does not contain caffeine. In fact, “All the products produced by Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, with the exception of Royal Crown Draft Premium Cola, do not contain caffeine.” Those facts are straight from the horse’s mouth - aka - Bundaberg.
Bundaberg is a low-carbonation root beer brand from Australia. With an ingredients list of ground ginger, liquorice root, molasses, sarsaparilla root and vanilla bean, Bundaberg’s root beer is brewed over 3 days to create, “maximum flavor.”
No, IBC Root Beer does not count caffeine as one of its ingredients.
To note, IBC arguably makes the best diet version of the soft drink. So they have that going for them. Another interesting tidbit is IBC’s refusal to move away from the traditional glass bottle packaging. This is the type of thing that would cause a stir, as your Dad may claim that root beer should only packaged in a bottle, and that a can of root beer just doesn’t taste right. Doubly so for a plastic bottle, as many modern root beers are.
According to CaffeineInformer, no, Mug Root Beer does not contain caffeine.
Among the more popular root beer brands is Mug. Mug Root Beer, originally named Belfast Root Beer, was introduced in 1940 and has been owned by Pepsico since 1986. The SodaJerk, a soft drink enthusiast, claims that Mug “lacks of the bite” of a can of Barq’s and doesn’t quite live up to the creaminess of A&W.
We agree with their assessment on this matter.
No, Red Arrow Root Beer does not have caffeine. So scratch this one off your caffeinated beverages list.
Bottled in Mukilteo, WA, Red Arrow Root Beer is purportedly named after the 32nd Infantry Division of National Guardsmen from both Michigan and Wisconsin that fought bravely in WWI and II, according to beverage producer, Orco Beverage, Inc.
No, Stewart's Root Beer has zero caffeine in it. Stewart's can be found in many grocery stores around the United States.
Interesting fact, Stewart's was created as a side hustle to founder, Frank Stewart's day job as a school teacher.
No, let often than it’s non-diet counterpart, Diet Root Beer does not have added caffeine. Is it possible for a brand to sneak one by us? Sure.
But for the most part, this diet soda - aka - carbonated water with flavor - is caffeine-free. Because weight gain. Or, something like that.
- Coke - 34mg.
- Diet Coke - 46mg
- Diet Pepsi.- 35mg
- Dr. Pepper - 42mg
- Mountain Dew - 54mg
- Pepsi - 37mg
- Sprite - 0mg
On average, Root Beer has less caffeine content than your typical 12oz serving from other soft drink brands.
If you're looking for a soda alternative that is caffeine-free, give Malta a try.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that adults do not consume more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. Stimulants such as caffeine should be restricted further for children.
Does this make root beer safe to drink for children? Yes. And no.
One 12oz can of root beer served on occasion to a child is probably fine as a special treat. Serving soda daily, or serving multiples cans or bottles daily is not.
Most root beer is caffeine-free. Brands such as Barq’s has half to two-thirds the caffeine content of the average soda.
We aren’t here to argue the health benefits of the tonic. But hopefully we’ve highlighted how popular root beer brands tend to skip over the added caffeine part of the production process.
If you're feeling ambitious, try making root beer. That will give you a better perspective on the ingredients and chemical composition of this aged tonic.
References & Sources.
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