While most root beer doesn’t contain caffeine, some brands use it in their sodas. This includes Barq’s beer, though their diet version is caffeine-free.
Root beer is a fizzy soda made with water, sweetener, and sassafras root or extract. You might also see recipes featuring ginger, licorice, or dandelion root — though today’s store-bought root beer usually relies on artificial flavors and colorings.
None of these ingredients contain caffeine, but some manufacturers add it to their sodas.
Read on to find out which brands will get you buzzy and which won’t.
Again, most root beers don’t have caffeine since none of the ingredients in traditional or modern recipes naturally contain any. You have plenty of options if you’re looking for a sweet soda that won’t make you jittery.
Some popular brands of root beer without caffeine include:
- A & W Root Beer
- Diet A & W Root Beer
- Dad’s Root Beer
- Diet Dad’s Root Beer
- Mug Root Beer
- Diet Mug Root Beer
- Jones Soda Root Beer
- Kroger Big K Root Beer
- IBC Root Beer
- Barq’s Zero Sugar Root Beer
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can brew your own natural root beer at home with sassafras.
What about sarsaparilla?
Sarsaparilla and root beer are sometimes referred to interchangeably, but they’re not the same drink. The difference between root beer and sarsaparilla is that root beer derives its flavor from sassafras root, while sarsaparilla is made from the sarsaparilla vine.
Like root beer, sarsaparilla doesn’t contain caffeine unless it’s added.
If you’ve ever seen or heard commercials for Barq’s root beer, you’ll remember the brand’s catchy slogan: “Barq’s has bite!” This doesn’t just refer to the soda’s zingy taste. Barq’s is one of the few root beer brands to add caffeine to their product.
Even though Barq’s includes a pop of stimulant, it’s not that much. A 12-ounce can contains 22 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. That’s a fairly small amount compared to commercial energy drinks, coffee, or other sodas. For comparison, a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola has 34 mg of caffeine, an 8-ounce cup of coffee has about 92 mg, and a 12-ounce Red Bull has 107 mg.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends a daily limit of 400 mg of caffeine. So, a can of Barq’s on its own won’t put you over that line. Oh, and the diet version of Barq’s is caffeine-free.
Other brands, though, contain higher levels. If you’re looking for a soda with oomph, check out these brands of root beer with caffeine:
- Barq’s Root Beer
- Jolt Root Beer
- Rev’d Up Root Beer
Unlike fat, carbs, protein, and other nutrients, caffeine content isn’t a required line item on the nutrition facts label. So how can you decipher how much you’re getting when you reach for a cold bottle of root beer?
First, if you know you don’t want any extra pep with your soda. Stick to brands that clearly state they don’t add caffeine to their sodas.
If, on the other hand, you’d like a root beer pick-me-up, you’ll need to do a little sleuthing for answers. Responsible food manufacturers should list their products’ caffeine content online.
And if all else fails, you can experiment with various brands to see how perky you feel after drinking. Though, this prob isn’t the best method. Caffeine’s effectiveness usually peaks 30-60 minutes after consumption, so pay attention to your energy levels within that window. Trial and error should give you a sense of which root beers give you the energy boost you’re looking for.
Want your sweet fizz with buzz or without? Either way, you’ve got plenty of appealing choices for root beer floats, mocktails, and barbecue sipping.
As you take your pro- or anti-caffeine stance, remember to drink root beer in moderation. The refined sugars add up fast which can lead to gnarly sugar crashes and an increased risk of various health concerns.