Sweet, frothy and refreshing – there’s nothing quite like a frosty mug of root beer. It’s the grandaddy of all carbonated beverages and its sassafras flavor is uniquely American.
The first guy to market root beer to the masses almost called it “root tea” instead. Thankfully, Charles Hires realized that his potential customers – Pennsylvania coal miners – would probably be more interested in beer than tea.
Root beer skyrocketed in popularity during the Prohibition era, and today different versions are made all over the United States.
You’ll find plenty of savory root beer recipes right here in Wisconsin – including some that you can only get in Green Bay and the Fox Valley. These are our favorites…
1. Baumeister Old Fashioned Root Beer
For more than a century, Baumeister Old Fashioned Soda has been making some of the most popular root beer in Northeast Wisconsin.
Baumeister will always hold a special place in my heart and will forever be my favorite. It was the soda that my Grandma always had around (and still does). Once I even broke into her house with some of my friends when she was gone – just to get a taste.
(That’s my childhood dog, Tawny, finishing off a bottle as a puppy)
As the story goes, founder Heine Baumeister tapped into an artesian well in Kewaunee back in 1907. He used it to create his locally legendary sodas. The tradition continues today through Lakeshore Bottling Company in Green Bay.
Baumeister also makes an orange soda, which was once called Kewaunee Orange Crush. More recently, Lakeshore Bottling added a Baumeister Cream Soda and Door County Cherry Soda to its offerings as well.
You can get this root beer at most area grocery stores and it’s also served in many local bars and restaurants.
2. Titletown Brewery’s Sno-Cap Root Beer
Titletown’s Sno-Cap root beer has a great story that includes a Green Bay family tradition.
Back in the ’60s there was a place on Velp Avenue called the Sno-Cap Drive In. It was run by the grandparents of the people who founded Titletown Brewing Company.
Grandma Gladys, as they call her, perfected her own recipe. She sold root beer by the glass for as little as a nickel and 75-cents for a gallon jug.
They still follow her recipe – including some special secret ingredients.
- Read More About the History of Sno-Cap Root Beer
Sno-Cap definitely gets the award for the most fun-filled logo. Clyde the Penguin is named after Gladys’ husband – Grandpa Clyde.
You can get a half-gallon growler, four pack of bottles or a case of Sno-Cap Root Beer when you stop in at Titletown. It’s also the perfect drink for the designated driver when everyone else is having micro-brews. Plus, you might find it at various restaurants throughout Wisconsin.
3. Stone Cellar Brewpub’s Stone Arch Root Beer
I recently discovered the deliciousness of the homemade, all-natural root beer at Stone Cellar in Appleton.
Two things make Stone Cellar’s root beer unique. The first thing you’ll notice is the color. It’s much lighter, like a blonde root beer. That’s because they don’t use any artificial coloring. So this is probably closer to the root beer that Charles Hires made back in the late 1800s.
This soda is also made with pure cane sugar – not high-fructose corn syrup. Some people say that makes Stone Arch Root Beer extra sweet.
Stone Cellar bottles seven other homemade sodas, which you can buy in six packs at the brewpub. Availability varies, but they always make the root beer.
4. Sprecher Root Beer
From my personal experience, Sprecher Brewing Company’s root beer could be the most delicious root beer I’ve ever tasted. The New York Times agrees with me. In 2008, four judges ranked it the best root beer in the United States.
The first time I tried it I was skipping class in high school. Maybe that influenced my taste-buds too. But I remember taking a gulp and then asking myself – “What’s in this stuff?”
Raw Wisconsin honey – that’s what! The way Sprecher describes the process will make your mouth water…
“Our extracts are prepared at the brewery in a hand-made, gas-fired brew kettle, by combining honey, pure vanilla and a host of aromatic botanicals. The dark, honeyed brew will build a delicious, frothy head when properly poured into a frosted mug.”
Glendale, Wisconsin-based Sprecher also makes a variety of other sodas and straight-up beer. But it brews more root beer than anything else.
5. Berghoff Root Beer
Danica Patrick was born in Beloit, Wisconsin – but she was raised in Chicago and she’s a Bears fan. Berghoff Root Beer is made in Monroe, Wisconsin but it’s known as a Chicago root beer.
It gets its name from the historic Berghoff Restaurant in the Windy City’s downtown where it was first brewed and sold. The Berghoff started serving root beer as a temperance drink during the Prohibition.
But for decades, the soft drink has been brewed and bottled in Monroe at what was first the Blumer Brewery, then the Joseph Huber Brewing Company, and is now known as Minhas Craft Brewery. It’s the second oldest operating brewery in the country.
Despite any negative feelings you may have toward the Chicago connection – you have to appreciate the history here.
You may also find this same soda bottled as Blumer’s Root Beer.
6. Point Premium Root Beer
Stevens Point Brewery comes in at number five on the list of oldest privately owned breweries in the U.S. It even provided beer to Union soldiers during the Civil War. And they make a pretty good root beer too.
Root beer reviewers/bloggers (yes they exist) like RootBeerBrothers.com - give it a top rating, calling it creamy with a good head.
The Point Brewery website suggests this is the perfect choice for making a root beer float.
It has also won plenty of awards – including a Bronze Medal at the 2012 U.S. Open Beer Championship, and a Gold Medal in 2003 from the Beverage Tasting Institute.
What’s your Favorite Root Beer?
Is it on the list? Do you know of other Wisconsin-made root beers that we missed? Tell us about them!
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