Root Beer Root beer originated in North America and remains most popular in North America. Historically made using the root of the sassafras plant with that being its primary flavour, there is no standard recipe. Root beer can vary from mild and easy drinking to strong and more challenging, but to give a very general definition it is a sweetened, carbonated beverage.
- The origins of root beer can be traced back to 18th century American farm brewers who adapted native North American recipes to make very low or non-alcoholic family drinks, known as a small beer.
- This was a widespread and popular practice and George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are all said to have had their own favourite root beer recipes.
These small beers were made from all sorts of herbs, barks and roots. Favourite ingredients were sassafras root, ginger, sarsaparilla, hops and birch bark, but wintergreen, vanilla beans, liquorice allspice, coriander, juniper, burdock root, dandelion root, spikenard, guaiacum chips, spicewood, wild cherry bark, yellow dock, prickly ash bark and dog grass were also used.
After extracting the flavours from these naturally occurring products by heating them in water to produce what is known as the wort, sweetener in the form of honey, maple syrup or molasses (which was cheapest and added flavour and colour), more water and yeast were added and the wort was then barrelled to ferment.
If a very low alcohol beverage was required the liquid was bottled and corked straight away and then cooled after a day or two to stop fermentation. The amount of alcohol in these instances would have been akin to what is found in a loaf of bread. Fermentation produced carbon dioxide as a by-product which resulted in some carbonation (fizzing) of the drink.
Farming families believed that the beverages they made were good for them and given that they were brewed from boiled water from what might sometimes be a tainted source they probably often were a healthier option than water. What’s more, the tiny amounts of alcohol had an antimicrobial action as did the carbon dioxide.
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.
- He introduced a commercial version of the tea which he sold in 25-cent packets of powder, each of which yielded five gallons of root beer.
- He claimed the powder was a solid concentrate of sixteen wild roots and berries.
- In 1893, the Charles E.
- Hires Company began supplying Hires root beer in small bottles.
A & W Root Beer, which is still widely for sale today, is another early brand. It was created by Roy Allen, who began marketing root beer in 1919. Non-alcoholic versions of Root Beer were particularly popular during Prohibition and the constraints of the period probably contributed to preserving the domestic art of making traditional root beers.
- Sassafras extract from the roots of the very fragrant deciduous sassafras tree was once a primary ingredient in root beers.
- Unfortunately it was found that the safrole (also once used as a fragrance in perfumes and soaps, food and for aromatherapy) contained in sassafras is a carcinogen and Root Beer took a terrible hit in 1960 when the United States Food and Drug Administration banned its use in commercially mass-produced foods and drugs.
Commercial root beer brewers had to reformulate their recipes, either balancing out the missing sassafras with other roots or synthetic flavours or by removing the safrole from the sassafras root oil. In 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act removed the ban on sassafras oil and microbrewers once again began to use sassafras, but it is now unlikely to be found in big commercial brands.
Most mainstream brands of root beer are unadventurous in their ingredients, fairly ubiquitous in taste and are often very sweet. More interesting variations are made by many North America microbrewers and the home brewing tradition survives to this day. Flavourings commonly included in the more interesting modern root beers include vanilla, wintergreen, cherry tree bark, liquorice root, sarsaparilla root, burdock nutmeg, acacia, anise, cinnamon, dandelion, ginger, juniper and cloves.
Modern sweeteners include aspartame, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, molasses and most commonly, sugar. Many brands of root beer contain sodium benzoate as a preservative. Most are caffeine-free but one or two contain caffeine. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic root beers can have a head, to any degree of thickness and foam when poured.
- This is often enhanced by the addition of yucca or Auillaja saponaria extracts.
- Most modern root beer brands are artificially carbonated by injecting carbon dioxide gas or mixing the root beer syrup with carbonated water (as with a soda fountain).
- Sarsaparilla, a soft drink, originally made from the Smilax regelii plant, can be classified as a root beer, and some consider it to be the father of root beer.
: Root Beer
What was original root beer made from?
Foam – Root beer was originally made with sassafras root and bark which, due to its mucilaginous properties, formed a natural, long lasting foam, a characteristic feature of the beverage. Root beer was originally carbonated by fermentation. As demand and technology changed, carbonated water was used.
Who invented the first root beer?
Two origin stories – Orlando/Getty Images In many ways, you could say that root beer was invented twice. Once by the early settlers of America who made their own beer with roots to have a safe beverage to drink when water wasn’t always clean and the next when it was created as an alternative to beer in the 19 th century (via Renegade Brewing ).
- The first settlers of the New World were forced to get creative when making beer because they didn’t have hops to give the beer its bitterness, so they turned to roots.
- These roots could include sassafras, sarsaparilla, and ginger, among others.
- It wasn’t until the second half of the 1800s that root beer was sold as a soda commercially, according to Sprecher Brewery,
Charles E. Hires, a pharmacist, was inspired to create root beer after he tasted a delicious brew. After tweaking the recipe, he began to sell his new drink as “powder root tea,” which wasn’t a well-received name. Hires, a Quaker who was opposed to drinking alcohol, first marketed his beverage to miners as an alternative to the hard stuff.
Is root beer healthier than Coke?
While all soda is not labeled as a health food, root beer is considered to be a healthier option than cola.
When did McDonald’s stop selling root beer?
Aldi product that ‘tastes exactly like McDonald’s item from 80s’
An Aldi shopper has caused a stir on a popular page for shoppers at the budget supermarket, by comparing one of their products to a McDonalds equivalent from the 1980s. For a brief period of time in the 80s, appear to have sold root beer – a distinctly American fizzy soft drink with a sweet, herbal flavour.However, the selling of root beer by the brand was restricted to a small number of McDonalds restaurants by 1992, due to poor sales, and stopped completely in 1993.But one fan thinks the root beer currently sold by the brand tastes just like the McDonalds one from the 80s.
Traditional Indianapolis diner meal with a root beer (Image: Handout/Mirror) Posting in the Facebook group ‘, they said: “I’ve got good news for people who enjoyed the taste of root beer at McDonald’s in the 1980s: Aldi is selling root beer at the moment, and it tastes exactly like the root beer at McDonald’s in the 1980s.” For more news and features about London directly to your inbox sign up to our newsletter,
What is the oldest soda still sold today?
Schweppes (1783) – Art Konovalov/Shutterstock The oldest soda brand still on the market today is none other than Schweppes. Schweppes was founded initially in 1783 when Jacob Schweppes created carbonated mineral water (via Coca-Cola ). The product’s notoriety grew, and Schweppes began selling in Geneva and England.
This early soda was not initially sold as a sugary treat like it is today but was instead used as medicine to treat illnesses such as upset stomachs. By the 1870s, Schweppes began producing ginger ale and tonic water with quinine in it (via Fairway Market ). In 1863, King William IV gave Schweppes a Royal Warrant of Appointment, further pushing the brand into the public eye (via Schweppes ).
The brand was a huge success due in no small part to an aggressive advertising schedule. While Schweppes is still on the market today, there was a brief time when the product was unavailable. During World War II, Schweppes was taken off the market in England.
When and how was root beer invented?
The First Commercial Root Beer – Most people don’t spend their honeymoon seeking out inspiration for their next entrepreneurial venture, but we’re assuming Charles Hires wasn’t most people. In fact, you can thank Hires for contributing to the widespread popularity of root beer we enjoy today.
It all starts in 1875, While on his honeymoon, Hires discovered and developed a taste for an herbal “root tea,” taking the recipe home with him to Philadelphia. There, he tinkered with the recipe and became the first to market root beer as a commercial product, The packaged dry blend contained 16 ingredients and was introduced to the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876,
One package of his product cost 25 cents and could create five gallons of the finished drink. Consumers loved it. Encouraged by the enthusiastic response, Hires soon re-formulated his dry blend into a liquid concentrate of the drink, which included nearly 30 different herbs, berries, and roots. Seeing an opportunity, other brands would later emerge and market similar products of their own. Barq’s launched in 1898, followed by followed by A&W in 1919, Dad’s Old Fashioned made its debut in the late 1930s, becoming the first product to utilize the standard six-pack packaging format we enjoy for most beverage products today.