There are as many recipes for Root Beer as there are fish in the sea. It’s a unique soda that way. Every variety of Root Beer offers a slightly different experience, yet it is one of America’s most distinct soda flavors. Some are die-hards for Dad’s Old-Fashioned, others have an exclusive relationship with Barq’s, while a majority won’t settle for anything less than an A&W Root Beer in a frosty mug. Wherever you fall on the Root Beer spectrum, there is one thing we can all agree on: it is delicious.
At VanGo, we recently completed our very own Root Beer flavor after thorough research, experimentation and testing. We lived, breathed and drank Root Beer for the last year and a half, and as a result, we learned a thing or two about its history. Ever wonder where Root Beer came from? Who invented it? And what’s in it anyway? You’re in luck because we have answers to all your questions!
Root Beer originated as a “small beer”. Small beers date back to pre-colonial times but became popular in American during colonial times because of the lack of potable drinking water. Back then, it was more sanitary to drink beverages like beer than to risk drinking infected water. Thus, the popularity of small beer which was called “small” due to the very small amount of alcohol it contained. Small beers were made using a variety of roots, barks and herbs. The most common varieties were birch beer, sarsaparilla beer, ginger beer and, of course, root beer!
Root Beer has been around for so long that no one can say for sure who invented it. However, Charles Hires, a pharmacist from Philadelphia, is credited with popularizing Root Beer in the 1870s. The story goes that Charles discovered a delicious recipe for herbal tea while he was on his honeymoon. After experimenting with over twenty-five herbs, berries and roots, Charles created his version of this recipe that he would later call Root Beer. He first introduced his carbonated soda water drink to the public in 1876 at Philadelphia’s Centennial Exhibition. From there, the Hires family continued to manufacture and sell Root Beer for many years, contributing to the popularity of the modern-day drink.
There is no one recipe for Root Beer. Back in its early days, Root Beer was made using all sorts of ingredients including allspice, birch bark, coriander, juniper, ginger, hops, burdock root, dandelion root, dog grass and wild cherry bark — just to name a few! Modern-day Root Beer usually contains filtered water, sugar and artificial sassafras flavoring as a base. Popular flavoring added to this base include vanilla, wintergreen, cherry tree bark, licorice root, sarsaparilla root, nutmeg, acacia, anise, molasses, cinnamon, sweet birch and honey.
From day one, our main objective was to create a flavor that not only tasted like Root Beer, but that truly captured the full-bodied experience that Root Beer provides. To do that, we had to go back to basics. First, we built the “rooty” base of the flavor by carefully selecting and balancing spices and unique earth tones in minute amounts. Then, we endeavored to replicate the sweet syrupy goodness of the flavor. Once we got that just right, it was time to blend these two flavor profiles together! We took the rootiness and the sweetness (which we referred to as “light” and “dark”) and combined them. This last phase took the longest because we wanted to ensure we achieved the perfect balance between “light” and “dark”. The result is a beautifully balanced flavor that preserves the earthy authenticity of Root Beer yet is also enjoyable to vape all-day-long. And yes, we're pretty proud of it.
We are officially launching our new Root Beer flavor at the end of November, but if you just can’t wait that long, feel free to reach out to us for a pre-release sample!
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