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Brewing Root Beer
 
 
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parsa
Home Brew Guru


Joined: Dec 15, 2003
Posts: 50
Location: Escondido, CA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 10:53 pm    Post subject: Brewing Root Beer Reply with quote

This thread features recipes and brewing experiences specifically for root beer.

My first experiences and recipes are detailed in the thread called A first shot at brewing.

Parsa
  
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parsa
Home Brew Guru


Joined: Dec 15, 2003
Posts: 50
Location: Escondido, CA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:10 pm    Post subject: Recipe #3 Reply with quote

I tried a third attempt at root beer this past week. Evidently I seem to have better luck with ginger ale and cherry vanilla soda. The root beer seems to be hard to carbonate. I guess there aren't enough nutrients for the yeast to thrive. I'll either have to pitch more yeast, or give them something besides sugar and roots to live on. As I said in another post, I may try some 100% cherry juice from Trader Joes in a future recipe.

This batch tastes OK. I used a lot of different roots and ingredients again. It doesn't taste or smell like pure sassafras. It only lightly carbonated, and there's no real head to speak of. It tastes like iced coffee made from some grainy coffee substitute. Not bad, but not exactly a great example of classic root beer.

Here's the recipe for root beer 3.0:

1.5 tbs wintergreen leaves (steeped before adding to the wirt)
23 g sassafras root
3 tsp sarsaparilla root
3 tsp crushed juniper berries
2 tsp yellow dock root (curly dock)
2 tsp anise seeds
1 tsp burdock root
1 tsp licorice root
1 tsp cuculmeca root
. . .
2.5 tbs Brer Rabbit Mild Flavor Molasses
1 cup white cane sugar
1 cup dark brown cane sugar
. . .
3 tsp vanilla extract
. . .
0.25 tsp liquid English ale yeast from White Labs


Parsa
  
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parsa
Home Brew Guru


Joined: Dec 15, 2003
Posts: 50
Location: Escondido, CA

PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2004 5:28 pm    Post subject: Heat and nutrients Reply with quote

I believe that there may be two factors in the problems I've had with the roots. The two factors are heat and nutrients. Since the roots are not freshly dug up from the ground, they are not as pungent or flavorful as they probably would be fresh. In the three root beer trials, I believe I boiled the water. At least I know I did in the last batch, and it did not really carbonate. Truthfully, I've resorted to pouring some milk into my root beer batch #3 (as people have mentioned in another thread) and it tastes like a root beer iced frappe. However, I certainly would like carbonation and a root beer head.

The ginger ale I made was probably not that nutrient rich, but it did carbonate sufficiently. I did not boil it strongly. The cherry vanilla soda was not boiled at all, and the natural sugar in the cherry juice made good nutrients for the yeast.

So, I will not boil the wort in which I place the roots on my next trial. I'll make the water slightly warm and steep the roots longer. I will also add some of the concentrated cherry juice from Trader Joes. I could use hops instead I suppose.

If anyone has any ideas, speak up, I'd like some feedback. I don't have a grandpa and grandma around to give me sage advice on brewing roots.

Parsa
  
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aruzinsky
Root Beer Connoisseur
Root Beer Connoisseur


Joined: Oct 13, 2004
Posts: 159
Location: IL, USA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 1:00 am    Post subject: Re: Heat and nutrients Reply with quote

parsa wrote:
I believe that there may be two factors in the problems I've had with the roots. The two factors are heat and nutrients. Since the roots are not freshly dug up from the ground, they are not as pungent or flavorful as they probably would be fresh. In the three root beer trials, I believe I boiled the water. At least I know I did in the last batch, and it did not really carbonate. Truthfully, I've resorted to pouring some milk into my root beer batch #3 (as people have mentioned in another thread) and it tastes like a root beer iced frappe. However, I certainly would like carbonation and a root beer head.

The ginger ale I made was probably not that nutrient rich, but it did carbonate sufficiently. I did not boil it strongly. The cherry vanilla soda was not boiled at all, and the natural sugar in the cherry juice made good nutrients for the yeast.

So, I will not boil the wort in which I place the roots on my next trial. I'll make the water slightly warm and steep the roots longer. I will also add some of the concentrated cherry juice from Trader Joes. I could use hops instead I suppose.

If anyone has any ideas, speak up, I'd like some feedback. I don't have a grandpa and grandma around to give me sage advice on brewing roots.

Parsa


If you boil roots, you could use a condenser to drip volatile essences back into the tea. I think it is called a "Solvent Recovery Condenser." See http://www.sci-bay.com/catalog.asp?prodid=354326&showprevnext=1

If you like the flavor of cherry bark, I suggest that you experiment with the spice, mahlab, which tastes similar but much stronger. See http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/p-penzeysmahlab.html Certainly, mahlab is not a traditional rootbeer flavoring, but who cares if it gets you the taste you want?
  
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parsa
Home Brew Guru


Joined: Dec 15, 2003
Posts: 50
Location: Escondido, CA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 1:35 am    Post subject: Re: Brewing Root Beer Reply with quote

I think the problem with the boiling is not the loss of any of the flavor or scent of the roots. It's the loss of oxygen from the water. Yeast needs oxygen as much as we do, and when the water is boiled, it tends to lose its oxygen (just like warm soft drinks are less soluble and lose carbon dioxide). Cold water can dissolve more gas than warm water.

---

A syrup made from the sour cherries is available here in middle eastern markets, but I have not seen the mahlab. In Persian it's called arbaloo.
  
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aruzinsky
Root Beer Connoisseur
Root Beer Connoisseur


Joined: Oct 13, 2004
Posts: 159
Location: IL, USA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 12:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Brewing Root Beer Reply with quote

parsa wrote:
I think the problem with the boiling is not the loss of any of the flavor or scent of the roots. It's the loss of oxygen from the water. Yeast needs oxygen as much as we do, and when the water is boiled, it tends to lose its oxygen (just like warm soft drinks are less soluble and lose carbon dioxide). Cold water can dissolve more gas than warm water.


A simple test of essence loss during boiling is, "Does it stink up your kitchen?" If so, you have essence loss.
  
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dmckean44
Root Beer Fan
Root Beer Fan


Joined: Aug 15, 2005
Posts: 11
Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 9:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Recipe #3 Reply with quote

parsa wrote:
I tried a third attempt at root beer this past week. Evidently I seem to have better luck with ginger ale and cherry vanilla soda. The root beer seems to be hard to carbonate. I guess there aren't enough nutrients for the yeast to thrive. I'll either have to pitch more yeast, or give them something besides sugar and roots to live on. As I said in another post, I may try some 100% cherry juice from Trader Joes in a future recipe.

This batch tastes OK. I used a lot of different roots and ingredients again. It doesn't taste or smell like pure sassafras. It only lightly carbonated, and there's no real head to speak of. It tastes like iced coffee made from some grainy coffee substitute. Not bad, but not exactly a great example of classic root beer.

Here's the recipe for root beer 3.0:

1.5 tbs wintergreen leaves (steeped before adding to the wirt)
23 g sassafras root
3 tsp sarsaparilla root
3 tsp crushed juniper berries
2 tsp yellow dock root (curly dock)
2 tsp anise seeds
1 tsp burdock root
1 tsp licorice root
1 tsp cuculmeca root
. . .
2.5 tbs Brer Rabbit Mild Flavor Molasses
1 cup white cane sugar
1 cup dark brown cane sugar
. . .
3 tsp vanilla extract
. . .
0.25 tsp liquid English ale yeast from White Labs



1) You can't make wine out of kool-aid. You're not providing any nutrition to your yeast. Try adding the juice of two squeezed lemons per gallon of root beer (this also as the side effect of making the brew more acidic and easier for the yeast to thrive in). The cherry juice would be OK, but theres little nutrition in that too because it's been bottled and sitting on a shelf for probably months.

2) You need to be creating a starter for your yeast, especially liquid ale yeast. Feed your yeast a tablespoon of sugar or blackstrap molasses 12 hours before you start your rootbeer fermenting.

3) Wintergreen slows fermentations (not as much as peppermint or spearmint) so it'll take at least double the normal time to fully carbonate.
  
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