Is Root Beer Alcoholic? (Alcohol Content in A&W, Barq’s, Mug, & Homemade!)

There’s no crazy reason why root beer doesn’t have alcohol in it, but it has to do with the fermentation process.

Root beer doesn’t have alcohol in it because it doesn’t undergo the typical fermentation process that makes a drink alcoholic. The sugar and yeast will not produce enough ethanol. When it ferments, the alcohol level will be equivalent to the amount of alcohol in a piece of bread. Despite its name, root beer is not actually a beer.

Read on for a bit of root beer facts and history, the discussion of commercial root beer brands, and hard root beer brewing information and tips. 

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Bottling homebrew with an auto siphon

Does root beer have alcohol?

Root beer was traditionally made with the root bark of the sassafras tree, with sarsaparilla as the main flavoring ingredient. It was found that safrole, a key component of sassafras, contained carcinogens and therefore was banned by the FDA. Most commercial root beers now use artificial flavorings.

There is no alcohol in root beer because, when it ferments, the environment for yeast to turn into alcohol is less than adequate. Since it’s often naturally carbonated, the amount of carbon dioxide is toxic to the yeast and will prevent the final product from being anywhere above 0.5% alcohol by volume.

This level of alcohol is nothing to fear, though. This amount is similar to what you would find in bread and even some fruit juices. That’s right, even your morning cup of orange juice might have more alcohol than your lunchtime bottle of root beer.

Did root beer ever have alcohol in it?

Root beer was first classified as a small beer, a beer with relatively low levels of alcohol.

Root beer was a type of small beer because it usually had between 0.5-2% ABV. These small beers were made because they were considered safer to drink: The fermentation process would help clean presumably tainted water.

It’s understood that small beers were a popular drink at any time of day because of their low ABV. It wasn’t until more recent times that hard root beer came into play, bringing higher ABV to the drink.

Does hard root beer have alcohol?

Any ‘hard’ beverage will be alcoholic. This is no different with root beer. According to the Des Moines Register, Sprecher Brewing Co. was the first brewery to make an actual ‘hard’ root beer.

Hard root beer is going to be different from the traditional ‘small beer’ root beer. Hard root beer will have an ABV upward of 4%, making it a true beer.

Perhaps the most notable hard root beer at the moment is Not Your Father’s Root Beer from Small Town Brewery with a 5.9% ABV. There are many different takes on modern-day hard root beer, which will be considered alcoholic under the FDA’s regulations.

Does A&W root beer contain alcohol?

According to the A&W website, its root beer has no alcohol in it. At least, not enough for the company to legally have to disclose it to the public.

A&W root beer contains the standard soda ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, coloring, preservatives, and flavoring. There is no alcohol in the beverage, per the company’s website.

This is likely the case with most commercial root beers.

Does Mug root beer contain alcohol?

Another commercial root beer that, as all root beers suggest, might be alcoholic.

Mug root beer is not alcoholic. PepsiCo’s subsidiary is no different than that of any other commercially produced root beer.

Confirmed: this root beer is safe for kids to drink and won’t give you any side effects of alcohol. The only thing you might get as a result of this drink is a sugar high. Here is the soda’s nutrition label.

Does Barq’s root beer contain alcohol?

Barq’s root beer is very similar to the previously mentioned root beers, even down to the nutrition label and the ingredients.

Barq’s root beer contains no alcohol. As with any other nonalcoholic root beer, you can drink as many of these as you can stomach and won’t get even the slightest buzz.

This drink, and the others mentioned, are intentionally produced to contain no alcohol. It’s still a safe, sweet drink for people of all ages to enjoy.

Does homemade root beer have alcohol?

Homemade beer is always going to have alcohol in it. That’s what makes it beer. However, with homemade root beer, you can decide whether or not you want it to contain alcohol. Most homemade root beer will have even the tiniest amount of alcohol in it, but you can use certain ingredients and methods to give it more or less.

Normally, because homemade root beer is still fermented with sugars and yeast, it will contain alcohol no matter what. You can control this, though, and produce even more ethanol to make your homemade root beer ‘harder.’ We won’t delve into the chemistry of it, but there are some simple steps to take.

You can make hard root beer by essentially adding root beer flavorings and aromas to a base beer like a regular old ale. This will ensure a relatively high alcohol level but might not get you the desired spicy, creamy flavor of root beer.

Another option would be to use multiple types of sugars. Typical, commercial recipes — especially nonalcoholic ones — call for cane sugar. This is a good start, but cane sugar is not the best for its yeast partner. Use other sugars like candy and corn sugar. Try the Lalvin ICV-D47 yeast strain, typically used for winemaking, that will eat up all of your different sugars and produce a wonderful taste and aroma while also resulting in a higher ABV.

Is homemade root beer fermented?

Homemade root beer is fermented, yes. This has always been the case, even when it was considered a small beer back in the day.

Homemade root beer is always fermented. The way that it’s fermented will produce a root beer that is more or less alcoholic, depending on the sugars, yeast, and overall process.

Almost all root beer has at least some trace amounts of alcohol in it. This is a result of the fermentation process and is typically not enough to notice.

Can you buy homebrew root beer kits?

Homebrew root beer kits have increased in popularity and utilization since the fairly recent uptrend of homemade, hard root beer production and consumption. These kits are usually for nonalcoholic root beers.

Here is a typical example:

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