Updated at: 25-08-2023 - By: John Lau

Are you wondering where your favorite fizzy beverage, root beer, originated? The story of its invention is as frothy and intriguing as the drink itself!

This article will take you on a bubbly journey through the history and evolution of root beer, answering your questions along the way.

Let’s unveil the secrets behind this beloved American beverage!

The Early History of Root Beer

Where Was Root Beer Invented

Indigenous Root Medicine

Native Americans discovered the medicinal qualities of sassafras and birch bark long before European colonists arrived.

They brewed these ingredients to make a healing tonic, treating ailments from stomachaches to coughs.

This indigenous root medicine was not only effective but also surprisingly tasty.

Over time, it became an essential part of their diet and served as the foundation for what we now know as root beer.

Root Beer in Colonial America

Colonial America was an important period in the history of root beer. During this time, root beer began to gain popularity as a non-alcoholic alternative to traditional alcoholic beverages.

People in colonial America enjoyed drinking root beer because it was refreshing and had a unique flavor. It was made by fermenting various plant roots with sugar and yeast, creating a fizzy, carbonated beverage that satisfied their thirst.

Root beer quickly became a favorite drink among colonists and played an important role in their daily lives.

Root Beer goes Commercial

Root Beer was not always a commercial beverage. In its early days, it was used by Native Americans as a root medicine and later gained popularity in colonial America.

However, it wasn’t until the 1800s that Root Beer began to be produced commercially.

Entrepreneurs recognized its potential and started brewing and selling it on a larger scale. This marked the beginning of Root Beer’s journey from a homemade remedy to a widely available soft drink.

Prohibition and the Birth of Big Root Beer

During the era of Prohibition in the United States, when the production and sale of alcoholic beverages was illegal, root beer saw a surge in popularity. It became a popular alternative to alcoholic drinks, as it offered a similar fizzy and refreshing experience without the alcohol content.

Root beer quickly gained commercial success during this time, with many breweries focusing their efforts on producing non-alcoholic beverages like root beer instead.

This period marked the birth of “Big Root Beer,” with major players in the industry emerging and establishing themselves as leaders in the market.

The Banning of Traditional Root Beer

The banning of traditional root beer occurred during the era of Prohibition in the United States. This was a period from 1920 to 1933 when the production, sale, and distribution of alcoholic beverages were illegal.

Traditional root beer, which was often brewed at home or produced by small local breweries, contained a low alcohol content due to fermentation.

As a result, it fell under the restrictions imposed by Prohibition and became unavailable to consumers during this time.

The Origins of Modern Root Beer

Who Makes Root Beer Soda (4)

The Fire-Brewing Process

Crafting root beer through the fire-brewing process involves a unique blend of ingredients and a specific brewing technique.

In this method, various roots, barks, and herbs are boiled together to create a flavorful concoction.

The mixture is then cooled before adding sugar and yeast for fermentation. Once fermented, the brew is carbonated to give it that signature effervescence.

This traditional fire-brewing process adds depth and complexity to the root beer’s taste, making it distinct from other soft drinks on the market.

The “Why” of Root Beer

Another reason is its versatility. Root beer can be enjoyed on its own or used as a base for various drink creations, such as floats or cocktails.

Plus, it’s non-alcoholic nature makes it accessible to everyone, including those who prefer not to consume alcohol.

So whether you’re looking for a tasty alternative to alcoholic beverages or simply want something flavorful to quench your thirst, root beer is the perfect choice.

The “why” of root beer goes beyond just taste and versatility – it also has historical significance. Back in colonial America, when clean drinking water was scarce, people turned to fermented drinks like root beer as a safer alternative.

By fermenting herbal teas made from sarsaparilla and other plants with sugar and yeast, they created a carbonated beverage that was both enjoyable and less likely to cause illness than water contaminated with bacteria.

The Spread and Popularity of Root Beer

What Alcohol Is In Not Your Father'S Root Beer (2)

Root Beer Brands

Root beer brands are numerous and varied, offering a wide range of flavors to satisfy any palate. Some popular root beer brands include:

  • A&W: Known for its creamy and smooth taste, A&W root beer has been a favorite since it was first introduced in 1919.
  • Barq’s: With its bold and full-bodied flavor, Barq’s root beer has become a beloved brand among root beer enthusiasts.
  • Mug: Mug root beer is known for its rich and robust taste, making it a go-to choice for those who prefer a stronger flavor profile.
  • Dad’s: Dad’s Old Fashioned Root Beer offers a classic and nostalgic taste that brings back memories of simpler times.
  • IBC: IBC root beer is known for its premium quality and traditional brewing methods, resulting in a rich and satisfying flavor.
  • Sprecher: Sprecher Brewery crafts artisanal root beer using natural ingredients and traditional recipes, creating a unique and sophisticated flavor experience.
  • Stewarts: Stewarts’ root beer stands out with its smooth and creamy texture, making it a popular choice among root beer aficionados.

Root Beer and Health Concerns

Root beer has long been a popular beverage choice for those seeking an alternative to alcoholic drinks. However, health concerns have arisen around the consumption of root beer due to its high sugar content and potential negative effects on dental health.

The carbonation in root beer can also contribute to bloating and gas. It’s important to consume root beer in moderation and be mindful of its impact on overall health, especially for individuals who are diabetic or watching their sugar intake.

That being said, there are some healthier options available on the market today that offer low-sugar or diet versions of root beer.

These alternatives utilize artificial sweeteners or natural sweeteners like stevia instead of traditional cane sugar.

This allows individuals with health concerns to enjoy the taste of root beer without compromising their well-being.

Where Root Beer Was Invented

Root Beer was invented in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Charles E. Hires.

Legend of Charles E. Hires

Charles E. Hires is a legendary figure in the history of root beer. He was an entrepreneur from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who played a vital role in popularizing this beloved soda.

Born in 1851, Hires experimented with various herbs and flavors to create his own unique blend of root beer.

After years of perfecting his recipe, he introduced it commercially in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia.

This marked the beginning of the widespread popularity of root beer as a non-alcoholic and carbonated beverage.

Today, Charles E. Hires is remembered as one of the pioneers who made root beer accessible to people across America and beyond.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania holds a special place in the history of root beer.

Today, Philadelphia is still celebrated as the birthplace of modern root beer. Visitors can explore various landmarks associated with its creation and even sample different versions of this beloved carbonated drink at local breweries and soda fountains.

The legacy of Charles E. Hires lives on in Philadelphia’s proud tradition as a hub for all things related to root beer.


Root beer was invented by Charles E. Hires in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

This fizzy, flavorful beverage has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a traditional root medicine used by Native Americans.

Today, it is enjoyed all over the world as a delicious non-alcoholic alternative to soda.