Although it’s really only been the past 2 centuries that have brought with them the introduction of mass market available root beer, it has been brewed in one form or another since ancient times. However, the flavor that we traditionally recognize as root beer came about in 1922, when Charles Hires brought his now famous soft drink to the world.
That’s enough history for now. Lets get down to the meaty part of this article, and see just how we can make our own tasty root beer.
1) First, get thyself some root beer extract. The quality of the extract you buy is really going to have a strong bearing on the flavor of your finished product, so I suggest you stay away from the extracts commonly found in supermarkets. Instead, I’d recommend you invest in a high quality extract such as those offered at http://www.hoptech.com . Don’t feel you need to stick with root beer though. There is a myriad of different flavorings to match almost all major soft drink types (e.g. cola, orange, ginger ale, grape etc.)
2) For step two, I’ll have you look at the bottle of extract that you bought. There is going to be instructions for that particular brand, and they will dictate the amounts of water and sugar and how to mix and boil them. Feel free to experiments with your ingredients; none of this is set in stone. There is a wide variety of different sugars open to your use. Here are some common ones:
* Corn syrup
* Nutrasweet (if your concerned about calorie intake)
* Molasses, maltose, brown sugar or even honey!
Tap water is fine to use, so long as you normally consider it to be good drinking water.
3) Now it’s time to carbonate your soda. There are two ways of doing this, with the most common method being fermentation. The other is forced carbonation. In this article were going to focus on the easier of the two, which is fermentation.
Although the process of fermentation is the same process that’s going on in a batch of beer or wine, such a small amount of alcohol is produced when making a batch of soda that it’s completely unnoticeable. You’d have to drink gallons to even get a buzz!
Before getting started, be sure to sanitize all ingredients with a diluted bleach solution and rinse thoroughly.
Pour your flavored sugar water solution into a sanitized bucket with a lid.
When the solution reaches a temperature of around 75-80˚F it’s time to sprinkle a package of ale yeast (this can be obtained from any home brewing shop, and even some larger supermarkets). Just be sure to get ale yeast. Now we wait for 12 hours. Don’t worry, all the foam that shows up on the top of your soda is completely normal.
4) Now it’s time to bottle. To do this we will need the following:
* 5-6 feet of clear plastic tubing to use as a siphon
* Enough bottles and caps for the amount of soda your making
– You can get both of these at home brewing supply shops
* (Optional but Highly Recommended) Bottling tip for your siphon. Ask as the home brew shop, and they’ll hook you up with what you need.
Before you transfer the soda into your bottles, don’t forget to sanitize your siphon and bottles/caps. Now all that’s left to do is to transfer the soda to each bottle, cap, and store your finished product in the fridge.
That’s it. You’re done! Consider giving your soda another twelve hours in the fridge to finish fermenting/carbonating before you drink it.
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