Mug Shots: Illinois Root Beer

Illinois brews up some fantastic root beer. You'll find local variations all throughout the state at breweries, roadside stands and local eateries. 


Illinois rocks root beer. Brewpubs, stores and stands sell local variations on the dark, frosty nectar, including alcohol-added versions that pack a spicy punch.

  • Illinois Brews

    Locally brewed root beer in fantastic flavors is available all over Illinois.

Berghoff Root Beer, Berghoff Brewery, Chicago

During Prohibition, the beer maker stayed afloat by selling Bergo, a root beer-like draft soft drink. For years, Berghoff worked with Filbert's Old Time Draft Root Beer in Chicago, which has made its own beloved brew since 1926.


Maple Root Beer, Homer Soda Company, Homer

The tradition of syrup-making in a historic sugar maple grove near the company’s headquarters inspired the flavor.


Salted Caramel Root Beer, Cicero Beverage Co., Chicago

The flavor won a Gold BevStar Award from Beverage World magazine. 

Big Muddy Root Beer, Big Muddy Brewing, Murphysboro

The bottle label features Bigfoot, a nod to the Big Muddy Monster of local lore.


Not Your Father's Root Beer, Small Town Brewery, Wauconda

Founder Tim Kovac caught lightning in a bottle with his spicy yet potent alcoholic brew. In a few years, it shot from local fave to national best-seller. 


Gale's Root Beer, Chicago

Brand owner Gale Gand, a James Beard Award-winning chef, adds touches of cinnamon and ginger. 


Ryan's Root Beer, The Forge House, Sycamore

Enjoy it at the restaurant or take it home in a 64-ounce growler or 32-ounce howler.

  • Drive Up Drafts

    Drink a frosty mug of local root beer in the ambience of a drive-in or stand.

Cranwill’s Root Beer Stand/Drive-In, Pekin

At the counter or in the car, the root beer is just as tasty at this favorite south of Peoria. Try it in a float with chocolate ice cream.


Jaenicke’s Root Beer Stand, Kankakee

Opened in 1940, the family-owned, family-run drive-in off Interstate-57 south of Chicago brews the root beer it serves.


Lou’s Drive-In Peoria

When it gets nice out, Lou’s opens for the year. Since 1953, it has served brewed-on-site root beer from a wooden keg. 


Mini Corral Hamburgers, Alton

Taste vanilla and maple syrup in the root beer made and served at this place in a Mississippi River town north of St. Louis.  


Root Beer Revelry, Galena

Part store, part soda fountain, this Main Street shop sells root beer in bottles to go or in a mug to drink right there. 


Root Beer Saloon, Alto Pass

The self-billed world’s first root beer saloon features an eye-popping display of antlers and taxidermy. 


The RootBeer Stand, Oglesby

Classic car shows add to the retro feel of this stand. Opened in 1959, it retains the look of its A&W past.

by Gary Thompson and Jason Donnelly

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