Today’s guest post is all about research into brewing your own homemade root beer.
Hey all you amazing root beer peeps! I am The Root Beer Person’s significant other, Val! I’m the guest writer today with superior wit and unparalleled charm. If The Root Beer Person is a tenured root beer university professor steeped in knowledge and wisdom, I am but a humble undergraduate student trying to take a sip from that great mug of knowledge for one of my electives.
It’s nice to meet y’all!
I am not a usual root beer person, but part of being in a good relationship means that you share your root beer with your significant other–or else they’ll stage a hostile takeover of your intellectual property, and ruin your reputation. Okay, so maybe that won’t happen, but I do think that root beer is tasty and I do steal the occasional sip from my partner’s brew. If that’s not the basis for a great relationship, I don’t know what is.
So why am I even here?
Well to talk about the process of brewing your own sweet beverage, duh! Being the neophyte carbonated beverage enthusiast that I am, this is an exciting avenue to explore. Hopefully my research provides some insight into the beers themselves. Now, before I continue, be sure that when you’re brewing your own root beer, you take all of the safety steps you possibly can. You’re responsible for your own health!
Pros and Cons
Overall, I’ve found that brewers agree that being able to craft their own root beers allow for more interesting flavor than store bought alternatives. You’re in control of the recipe after all. You can also get your hands on fresher ingredients. If you’ve read The Root Beer Person’s posts, you know that this next one is a big deal. You can brew without additives, too much sugar, or weird food coloring!
The cons, however, are all about risk. There’s a risk of mess, risk of sickness, and a risk of over carbonation (which could result in explosions.) Obtaining sassafras root might make it difficult too, especially in America, since the FDA banned it from commercially made drinks for potential carcinogenic properties.
First step? Bottles. According to DybrnSoda’s video, we can use old glass bottles and re-cap them to carbonate and store our brews. Glass bottles do have a higher tendency to explode, but there’s definitely no chemical leeching like that found in plastic bottles. Cassie on Wholefully mentions that her and her family wrap the bottles in bubble wrap and check them often during the carbonation process to make sure that nothing goes awry. Flip-top bottles can release a bit of pressure, so those might be a worthwhile avenue too. Eric San Juan on Homebrew Supply mentions that it is important to keep your bottles refrigerated after you carbonate them in order to mitigate the risk of explosions and excessive alcohol content. There’s going to be a small amount of alcohol content. Generally speaking, you want to limit this.
It looks like the other ingredients you might need are unorthodox. Ale yeast (or baking yeast if you can’t find any,) sassafras root, sarsaparilla bark, and licorice root, are the most common ingredients that are difficult to find. Most of these affect that traditional root beer flavor, which means you can just straight up buy root beer extract if you don’t feel like making it from scratch. Mel’s Kitchen Café uses that in her recipe Jenny of Nourished Kitchen’s recipe, provides a really old-timey, folksy flavor, so you add dandelion root and wild juniper berries. Or even adding maraschino cherries like DybrnSoda did in his recipe. It all depends on your tastes, your preferences, and the spices available to you. The hardest part might just be figuring out what sort of taste you want!
Lastly, you will need time. Since root beer is historically an alcoholic beverage as Eric San Juan explained in his article, it needs to ferment. Don’t worry though, this doesn’t mean you’re doomed to make boozy root beer. It just means that you have to closely monitor your brew and ensure you don’t leave it to ferment too long! The general consensus that I found for non-alcoholic root beer is 2-7 days, depending on the heat of the area it is kept in and the type of yeast. Again, this is a question of taste and instinct rather than an exactly precise measurement. Just make sure they don’t explode!
Overall, making your own root beer is time-consuming but relatively easy. There are a myriad of recipes out there for you to try and experiment with, maybe I’ll even make some for The Root Beer Person to review! How cute would that be? If I do, I promise I’ll document this for him to share with you lovely root beer aficionados. For now, I’ll hand the controls right back to your favorite root beer overseer.
Val, signing out!