Gluten-Free Root Beer

I’ve always meant to try it, and it was on sale at the grocery store the other day, so I grabbed a couple cans (and one of the cream soda). Before even tasting it, I was amused by the prominent label declaring the brew both gluten- and caffeine-free. (I’m expecting a similar warning on my bottled spring water any day now.)

I suppose root beer could have caffeine, but its whole gestalt is mellow childhood. No one puts caffeine in! (Do they?) As for gluten, real beer has it, and I suppose it’s possible someone might link beer with root beer. (As I’ve said before, I find myself bemused by the necessity of treating consumers like stupid children.)

It’s got a cool name, though. Ya gotta give it that!

It’s named after the one baseball player in the whole of baseball my sister could probably name: Harmon Killebrew.

He was kind of a big deal around here back in the day. He played for the Minnesota Twins from 1961 to 1974 and was one of the more notable players (in baseball, not just for the Twins).

Our childhood here, my sister and I, was from 1960 to 1967, so we overlapped a good chunk of Killebrew’s career. (My family moved to California in 1967. I moved back in 1984.)

The Twins retired his number, and he’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame, plus one of the gates at Target Field is named after him (#3, the Killebrew gate):

The first time I visited (the brand new) Target Field in 2010 I made a point of entering through gate #3 for old time’s sake. (It must have worked, the Twins won that day.)

For a while, the Twins even covered a nearby water tank in his honor:

As you see, it was visible from the field. (I believe the tank is gone now, possibly even the building it was standing on.)


As for the Killebrew root beer, it’s okay. (Yeah, just okay.)

I’m not concerned about caffeine or gluten, even if it was commonly found in root beer, but I am not thrilled the first three ingredients are: Spring water, high-fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup.

The website brags that, “our ingredients start with pure natural spring water flavored with real Minnesota honey,” (and “quality brewed” in Minnesota).

That’s great (especially the local manufacture), but between that spring water and honey is a lot of corn syrup, the bulk of which is high-fructose.

I refuse to buy any BBQ sauce that uses high-fructose corn syrup, and let me tell you, it limits my choices severely. (Just try reading the labels some time. It’ll be the first ingredient in many of them.)

I will give it points on fragrance. It smells like a good root beer.

But it’s lacking in body, and it’s the least carbonated root beer I’ve ever had. No head at all, and in a root beer, that’s major points off.

A good test of a root beer is a root beer float. Haven’t had one in ages. Maybe later this summer. You know, just to thoroughly test the product before I never buy it again.


Childhood favorite!

Of course, I’ll have to buy some really good vanilla ice cream. The real stuff, not air-puffed, thick and creamy. Häagen Dazs grade or better.

Which means I’ll have to get some really good caramel sauce, because I can’t use up all the ice cream in root beer floats, so I’ll have to force myself to just eat the rest. Might as well put some caramel on it to help me choke it down.

It’ll be nostalgic!

As a kid, and still to this day, it was all about the caramel, or butterscotch, or root beer (they make root beer candy, too).

I like chocolate and nuts and various other treats as much as anyone (not big on cream fillings, though). But that caramel-butterscotch flavor is second to nothing. (Although root beer came in a reasonable second.)

And now that I’m old and retired, I can stock up on Werther’s without shame! (They’re gluten-free, too.)

Stay brewin’, my friends!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

9 responses to “Gluten-Free Root Beer

  • David Davis

    Sunkist Orange has caffeine but not as much as it used to.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      What is it about caffeine and orange juice? I live on Diet Mtn Dew, where the first two ingredients are carbonated water and concentrated orange juice. And then caffeine at some point down the line.

      Turns out that most soda doesn’t have anything like the caffeine of a cup of coffee, so I don’t worry much about it. (And it’s not clear there’s any harm to caffeine in any event — there’s even evidence it’s helpful.)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    I was just in the store and almost bought more root beer plus ice cream plus caramel sauce, but decided that, since I’d picked up a bag of Werther’s, that was my treat for the week.

    But then I realized there’s an important anniversary to celebrate in a couple days, so I really should have gotten party treats.

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    “No one puts caffeine in! (Do they?)”

    Barq’s has bite. 22 mg caffeine. Low for soft drinks, such as Coke (34 mg) or my beloved Diet Dr. Pepper (41 mg), but there. When I gave up caffeine for a while many years ago, I drank root beer for a while and had to be careful not to drink Barq’s. (I’ll never give up caffeine again unless the doctor tells me I’ll die or something.)

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Heh, why am I not surprised. Caffeine in root beer just seems so wrong!

      Totally with ya on not giving it up. There’s no strong evidence it’s bad for you, there’s some evidence it’s helpful, and the whole “it dehydrates you” thing has been disproven.

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