For most of us, the first “beer” we had was a root beer. That sweet, slightly spicy beverage that parents loomed over us as a treat for good behavior. Today, one sip of a root beer takes me straight back to childhood. I’ll drink IBC in a pinch, but there are a rising number of well-crafted root beers on the market. We picked eight out of the crowd for you to try. Most of these sodas are produced on a relatively small scale and are probably tough to find in your market. But if you’re a huge root beer fan, you can usually get these through online sellers or directly from the makers themselves.
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Maine Root Beer
This handcrafted root beer is made from Fair Trade, certified organic evaporated cane juice, along with extracts of wintergreen clove and anise. It's the flagship of a company that has grown a dozen different sodas.
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Boylan Root Beer
Boylan, as a company, is more than 100 years old, starting with an apothecary serum derived from birch trees. They still make a birch soda, but they've grown to be one of the larger craft soda makers on this list. Their Root beer is made from cane sugar, cinnamon, sweet birch, vanilla and wintergreen oil to create a sassafras flavor.
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Fitz's Root Beer
Fitz's is an old-school burger and shake joint in St. Louis that also has a bottling line refurbished specifically for their own brand of sodas. You can actually get this one in most Sam's Clubs. And they have a new hard root beer flavor out now, too.
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Dominion Root Beer
Deleware's Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company brews beer, but they also brew a ginger ale and root beer. The latter is based on recipe found in the Library of Congress. It's made with a combo of cane sugar and local honey, so it doesn't taste like your typical root beer.
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Virgil's Root Beer
Virgil's is pretty ubiquitous as far as craft root beers go. The standard root beer has a pretty extensive list of all natural ingredients, from anise to molasses and everything in between.
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Saranac Brewing Root Beer
Saranac does some pretty wild beer flavors (you ready for a S'Mores porter?), but they also make a whole line of sodas. The Root Beer is made with vanilla and licorice and carries a big head, and won the sliver at the US Open Beer Championships. They also make a Diet Root Beer, but why the hell would you bother with that?
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Sprecher Root Beer
Yet another brewery that makes a non-alcoholic root beer, Sprecher goes all in on the hand-made aspect, throwing pure honey, vanilla and a mix of botanicals into a gas-fired brew kettle. It's so good, it won gold at last year's US Open Beer Championships. Yes, the US Open has a root beer category.
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Point Premium Root Beer
Stevens Point Brewery started brewing beer in the middle of the 19th century, and even supplied beer to the tropps during the Civil War. During prohibition, they switched to making sodas. They still make soda. Their Root Beer is made from local, Wisconsin honey and pure vanilla. Look for it in four packs of bottles.