What is Root Beer? What is its history?

Are you craving for a root beer float? A good root beer’s spiky kick paired with rich, creamy vanilla ice cream is truly a match made in heaven. However, a good float will also need the best root beer you can find.

There’s nothing more refreshing to many people, than a frosty mug of a creamy, tasty, old-fashioned concoction of flavorings, oils, and sweeteners found in root beers.

Root beers can have many different brews; therefore, there is no authentic recipe for it. However, over the years, root beer has contained common ingredients like molasses, allspice, coriander seed, birch bark, hops, guaiacum, ginger and ginger roots, etc.

Root beer as its name suggests, brewed from plants’ roots; however, today’s available commercially-made versions no longer contained roots. Manufacturers use artificial flavors as substitutes to mimic the taste of the sassafras root because it could potentially cause cancer in humans. Hence, it is banned by The US Food and Drug Administration.

The roots of root beer are ancient deep, and there are varying theories about who invented it and where it came to be. Early historical documents even noted that Shakespeare has drunk European brew or “small beers” made from an old colonial American recipe. It is a light, social drink that contained 2-12% alcohol. Besides, this drink was made from herbs, berries, and bark.

Root beer, birch beer, sarsaparilla beer, and ginger beer were introduced during the American colonial times, but only root beer emerged as a longtime favorite. Some historical documents showed that alcoholic root beers are brewed and enjoyed during family get-togethers, social gatherings, and parties.

Most historians believe that serendipity led to the invention of an actual root beer. Thanks to the pharmacist who was eager in his quest to develop a miracle drug in 1870. This unknown, probably low-key pharmacist, was toying a handful of roots, berries, and herbs when he discovered and came up with his root beer recipe. He made a mixture out of juniper, spikenard, wintergreen, sarsaparilla, pipsissewa, hops, vanilla beans, dog grass, licorice, and birch bark. Despite the promise as a cure-all medicine, the drink, due to its bitter taste, was not appealing to the public.

Meanwhile, it was a blissful honeymoon for another pharmacist named Charles Hires when he tasted an herbal tea that swept him. After his honeymoon, he took the recipe of herbs, berries, and roots back home to Philadelphia. He began selling a packaged dry mixture with the same ingredients as his original favorite tea. Because of the favorable response from those who had tasted it, Hires then decided to mix the 25 herbs, berries, and roots and develop a liquid concentrate. Fortunately, the people also loved the new drink and, in no time, became a popular drink of its day after Hires introduced it in public in 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition.

There are several ways of traditional root beer brewing. One common method involves cooking syrup from water and molasses. The syrup is cool down for about three hours before mixing with water, artificial sassafras flavoring, and other complementary flavors. Yeast is then added to the mixture to ferment for 12 hours. After this, the beverage is strained and rebottled for the second fermentation process. The resulting drink contains about 2% alcohol.

A London-based market research analysts forecast the global root beer market to grow at a compound annual growth (CAGR) of approximately 6% during 2017-2021. The global beer market has wide-opened doors for root beer. This beverage contains low alcohol content; thus, it is a healthier option for consumers as it has fewer calories than alcoholic beers. Guzzling extra bottles won’t leave drinkers intoxicated, just bloated.

It is commonly known that beer is favored more by men than women, but root beer has gained the most ground over the recent years. Flavored beer has been proven to be more attractive to millennials and Gen X women who are open to experimenting with new drinks and demand more variety of flavors. Root beer is also dentists-approved as it does not contain the acids that harm the teeth, according to the study in March/April 2007 issue of General Dentistry. This is a pretty good reason for women to love root beer even more.

Now, watch out and wait until August 6th and celebrate the Root Beer Float Day.

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