Alrighty, I saw the make your own root beer article on Here and I am somewhat appaled. The information was right on, but extract. Ok I’ll admit if your new to brewing it’s probably the best way to go…but where’s the fun? So I’ll teach ya how to really do it from scratch.
First what do you need to make rootbeer from scratch?
Vanilla (use real vanilla, but not the bean)
How much of each? Thats up to you…thats the beauty of it…for example, I like a bit more sasparilla in mine. 2½ oz. Wintergreen ¼ oz. other ingredients, 1/2 oz. of sasprarilla.
When the roots are gathered they should be rinsed in clear water. All dirt and tops should be removed. Roots that are heavy should be cut or split. When it comes to barks care should be taken that the woody part is removed. The inner skin is the part of the bark that will be used. Herbs & leaves must be gathered when the plant is in seed or flowering stage. When gathering herbs, the plant must be cut where the first leaf begins to branch out. When I state leaves, it is the leaves only that we want. After washing, these items should be laid out to dry, and care should be taken so that they are spread out where the air can get around them to prevent molding. Can also get them in a health food store, but where’s the fun in that lol.
Now just boil the ingredients for about 30 minutes, remove the roots and herbs, and proceed to the fermentation stage below. Vanilla beans contain very tiny seeds, so don’t use the bean unless you’re prepared to filter the liquid first (boiling the bean without slicing it open doesn’t provide enough flavor).
You are going to ferment your root beer, but it is also possible to force carbonate instead. For right now though, we’ll just stick to fermentation. It is the process of fermentation that puts the little bubbles, carbon dioxide, into the root beer. It is also pretty simple to accomplish. Pour your flavored sugar water into a bucket that can be covered, and then add a package of ale yeast when the liquids temperature is warm (about 75 degrees F.). Over the next 12 hours the yeast will start eating the sugar and huge amounts of carbonation and foam will result and then subside. Now it is time to bottle. But before we bottle, just a couple notes. Do NOT use champagne yeast, which is often recommended by root beer manufacturers and books written 20 years ago (I’ll explain why under the bottling section). The type of yeast that you use will substantially effect the final flavor, so experiment. Liquid yeast costs a lot more, but tastes much cleaner and should probably be used if you’re making a traditional root beer from natural ingredients. I get my yeast from Midwest Brewing Supplies, they got a lot of yeast, but Hoptech has a full line of yeast – just remember to use ale yeast. One thing that must be followed strictly is to KEEP EVERY THING CLEAN. Bacteria can easily contaminate your root beer and make it really nasty (I am understating the importance of this – please keep everything clean). Along the same lines, don’t leave your root beer exposed to air, keep it covered, or bacteria will get into it. Now, a note on tradition, fermenting root beer was how things were originally done. By 1866 (and probably much earlier), even though carbonation by fermentation was still popular, it was not uncommon to force carbonate. I use a plastic fermentor from Midwest brewing in their brewing kits. I also use ironically a airlock and a coca-cola bottle half filled with water. (See Guide to brewing How to brew beer (a good brewing guide) Brewing equipment guide Brewing terminology guide)
Let’s get this stuff bottled. After the initial carbonation subsides, about 12 hours, you can start bottling. If you don’t have a good uniform fermentation going, you might want to consider letting it ferment another 12 hours or so, which will help ensure you have a uniform yeast population throughout the brew. Once again, any homebrew supplier can help with bottling supplies. You will need a bottle-filler, which is much easier than a funnel, and keeps your root beer from being exposed to air. You will also need some bottles. Make sure all bottles are clean (you have to guard against bacteria). Now all you have to do is transfer the root beer to the bottles. You will need to keep an eye on the bottles. The reason you don’t want to want to use champagne yeast is that champagne yeast has been developed to live at much higher pressures than ale yeast and your root beer can continue fermenting until the bottles explode. Although this *can* also happen with ale yeast, it is very rare and the conditions have to be just right (including glass of less than the best quality). Once the pressure in your bottles gets to a certain point, the ale yeast will be killed off because it can’t live in a high pressure environment.
That means when you open it, it goes pssst…Drink me I’m cold and carbinated
Ps…Midwest brewing sells extract and a soda making kit! Soda kit is 20 bucks! Soda making kit at midwest brewing supplies.