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Glass or PET bottles, favorite extract, champagne or Ale yea
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callmebruce
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:19 pm    Post subject: Glass or PET bottles, favorite extract, champagne or Ale yea Reply with quote

Okay, some very basic questions. I want to get started making rootbeer, and wanted to know if there is a difference in flavor between glass or PET bottles? If you were stocking your kitchen, which way would you go? Empty out some good beer bottles, buy some caps and a bottle capper - or just buy PET bottles and caps?

Also, I've read some recipes that call for Champagne yeast, stating it does not interfere with taste very much, and other recipes calling for Ale yeast. Have folks tried both? Do you have a preference for Ale or Champagne yeast?

Finally - I think to make it simple, I'll just start out using an extract. It looks like Zatarains is available, or hop-tec has some, and other places have different types. I think I saw Hires online as well, but am not sure. Any preference for an extract? I'm looking for smooth, creamy. Kind of like Dog 'N Suds in Indiana.
  
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callmebruce
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Glass or PET bottles, favorite extract, champagne or Ale Reply with quote

Replying to myself, lol.

The PET bottles I've found are 500ML, or just under 17 ounces. I'd prefer to use 12 ounce bottles, as I don't want to have too much sugar and calories per bottle. I'd prefer my kids (and me!) to use 12 ounce, or even old style 6-7 ounce bottles. Looks like we're going glass. On the other hand, I like the idea of just being able to squeeze the bottle to know when it is ready to put in the fridge. Hmmmmmm.

I read some more of the Homemade Root Beer Soda and Pop book, and will simply use Ale yeast, rather than Champagne.

Not sure if I'll pick up Zatarain's rootbeer extract, or go to hoptech's (Homemade Soda Company) #2 flavor. I'm guessing #1 flavor might be like a Virgil's, anybody try it?
  
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steveb
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

callmebruce - I am very green at brewing root beer, but I'll give you my 2 cents worth. I have used empty 2 liter plastic bottles. They work great at knowing when they are ready to go in the fridge. I have used Ale yeast - but have been turned off by the taste of the yeast. It doesn't seem to matter how much I use, the yeast overpowers any flavor or extract I add. I purchased extract from Hoptech (#2 and #3), and I also tried one from my local grocery store - Mccmormick's. Since I just really taste the yeast, it doesn't seem to matter what brand I use. I have visited with another person about the yeast flavor, and he said everyone will taste it differently, and some people are more sensitive to the flavor of the yeast (which must be me). I would really appreciate any other suggestions other brewers have, or let me know how your experience comes out.
  
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callmebruce
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Glass or PET bottles, favorite extract, champagne or Ale Reply with quote

How much yeast did you use? And what brand? And how strong was the carbonation/how long did you let it work before popping it in the 'fridge? I know my kids won't go for a yeasty flavor, either.

For my first batch of homemade soda, I put fresh blackrasperries in the food processor, then pushed the mixture through a sieve. Then I did a one to one ratio of sugar to water, and boiled it gently to make a syrup. I put the blackraspberry syrup and sugar syrup in a tall glass, poured in club soda (also tried seltzer, and it worked fine). I liked it, and my 14 year old son liked it. Anyway, it is all gone, and I'm eyeing strawberries and kiwis and thinking it would be pretty good.

I'll try doing the yeast fermenting thing with a root beer extract, but perhaps just using a soda syphon and co2 cartridge might give a cleaner flavor? Anyway, there is a wine making shop about 10 miles from me. I called and they said they have beer brewing and soda making supplies - so I'll ask about yeast and flavors.

(hmmmmm - maybe just making my own syrups and extracts and mixing with seltzer would be quickest and easiest - then I could buy a syphon or try fermentation later? Might be fun to bottle up a bunch of different types of syrups - orange, blackraspberry, strawberry/kiwi, orange, ...)
  
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steveb
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have varied the recipe from a 1/4 teaspoon to 1/8 teaspoon, to just a pinch. The more yeast you use, the stronger the tastes, but the bottles will be ready faster.

The original recipe I found showed baker's yeast, so I tried Fleischman's, then I read that ale yeast is good to use, so I purchased some from hoptech.com which they sell Coopers. Those are the only two I have tried.

I am looking into the soda syphon, but I like the idea of "brewing" the root beer. The amount of time varies due to temperature of the room you have the root beer and the amount of yeast - maybe 3 days? The batch in which I used a pinch of yeast, took a lot longer. The seltzer or syphon would definitely be alot quicker.
  
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callmebruce
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I made a quick and easy batch today, using McCormick's extract. Directions where 1.5 cups of water, 3/4 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil while constantly stirring to dissolve the sugar. I took the sugar syrup off the stove and added 1.5 teaspoons of root beer extract and stirred it well. Then I put that in a pitcher with lid and added 1 liter of seltzer. I let it cool for an hour or two and tried it.

The idea was to see what the mix tastes like without the yeast. Just get a clean flavor from it. It was good straight from the pitcher, but it got watery with a lot of ice. I should expect that.

I think I'd want to make it a little stronger, or maybe add a little bit of vanilla or mix in some other flavors. But it was good, not too sugary and quick.

So I think it would do okay with a soda syphon. I'm thinking I would make the sugar syruo, mix in the root beer extract, then refrigerate the mix. When it came time for root beer, I'd add the seltzer at that point.

Getting back to brewing. I decided to pick up glass bottles. I have 12 amber glass bottle (Sam Adams and Fat Tire). I ordered a bottle capper off e-bay. I need to go pick up some Ale yeast.

From what I've read, PET bottles might have been a better choice, as they would not explode. Fingers crossed! Also, I picked up Steve Creswell's book - Home Made Root Beer, Soda and Pop or something like that. He recommends pouring the brewed root beer out of the bottle slowly, to keep the yeast in the bottle. So I'll give that a shot.

Anyway, fingers crossed. Should have the capper in five days or so. So will need to pick up a funnel and a one gallon glass bottle by then.

Also searched for homebrew forums and found one that has a soda subforum. Plenty of discussions about brewing root beer there. I probably should not post the link, but you should be able to find it quickly (or just pm me)
  
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steveb
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read about using glass bottles before I decided on plastic, and I may make a small suggestion on using one as a test. I read if you open one, and you get a good hiss, then it is time to pop them into the fridge.

I think I found the forum you were referring to. I found information about how to make your own carbonation caps, and how to fill the bottle with C02. I would assume I would need to purchase food grade co2 cartridges. Very interesting.....may have to make a tiny investment to try this out.

Good luck, and let me know how the brew turns out.
  
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callmebruce
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:56 am    Post subject: Re: Glass or PET bottles, favorite extract, champagne or Ale Reply with quote

That would be cool for bottling! I was thinking of just picking up a soda syphon and co2 cartridges, then making a syrup of extract, sugar and water. Then simply mix it right in the glass. I guess that wouldn't travel well, so forcing carbonation would be the way to go for bottles. The syphon and cartridge is about 45 bucks at Target online. I'm sure there must be a place local to here that has a good setup I could check out.

Anyway, I'll try brewing some (still waiting on the bottle capper). But if it is too heavy of a flavor, will go the other route. I'm giving serious thought to the syphon and cartridge - as I want too make strawberry/kiwi soda or more blackraspberry soda. I don't think I'd want to brew those using yeast. That might give it too heavy a flavor.
  
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steveb
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll have to let you know how the inflator and cartridges work. I was looking into a soda syphon as well, but I think the inflator would work better for me. I can still make it 2 liters at a time, or use 1 liter bottles. The valve stems cost me $10 for 4 of them, the inflator and 12 cartridges was $37 including the shipping. Not cheap by any means, but I think will yield a good flavor compared to the yeast.
  
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callmebruce
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let me know how that works out. I dropped by a homebrew place today and picked up some caps, a one gallon glass jug, some funnels (one with a filter) and some ale yeast. Already have glass bottles and a stock pot - and ordered a bottle capper. Hopefully the capper will arrive in a day or two or three - then I can get started.

I saw the carbonization caps at the homebrew shop. I did not check out the co2, or how you would charge them. Let me know how it works out for you, that might be the way to go!
  
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callmebruce
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I put up a batch last night.

I used one gallon water, 1.5 tablespoons McCormick root beer extract, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar. I heated it to dissolve the sugars, then put a lid on and put the pot in a sink full of cool water to bring it back down to lukewarm.

I took a quick taste and it seemed weak, so I added 1/2 tablespoon root beer extract, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and a little bit of clover honey. I'm still thinking it's light on sugar.

Then I put lukewarm water in a bowl and added 1/8 teaspoon brewer's yeast and let it sit for 10 minutes. It did not get frothy, and I expected it to - but thought it would be okay.

I transferred the root beer mixture to a one gallon glass bottle using a funnel. I then added the yeast, capped the bottle and mixed the contents several times. I let it sit for 15 minutes, then shook it again to make sure the yeast was well mixed in.

I filled one 12OZ plastic bottle and 10 12OZ glass bottles. My son and I capped the bottles, rinsed them (to make sure no sugars were on the outside to attract ants) and put them in a cooler.

There is no ice in the cooler. It is just to keep the bottles covered in case of an explosion. I read this trick on the homebrew forum, soda subsection.

Fingers crossed! I'm hoping it will carb up and that it tastes good, and does not taste too yeasty. Next time I might try a different extract, as this one seemed kind of bland when mixed with seltzer, and when tasted last night.

We're counting this as science for my son's online school.
  
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steveb
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tried the carbonator cap and the inflator last night - SUCCESS!! Good taste, carbonated, and very quick! I just have to tweek my recipe a little now that I can actually taste something other than yeast.
My recipe was close to yours, but it seems to be missing something, or a little too much honey?
1 tbl extract
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp vanilla

The 20 oz plastic bottle was probably a good idea. It gives you a good idea how much the yeast is working w/o having to crack open one of the glass bottles.

I wouldn't necessarily expect the mix to get frothy - I don't think any of mine did, and the yeast still worked.

One thing I might mention is to make sure you have active brewer's yeast - I accidentally bought inactive brewer's yeast once. Complete waste of money.
  
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callmebruce
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where did you get the inflator? That sounds like a great price!

My rootbeer came out weak and bland. It needs a LOT of tweaking! I think it has too little sugar, and the McCormick's is kind of bland. Anyway, I'll try something else.

In the meantime, I put up some cream soda. I used a vanilla bean, 1.75 cups brown sugar (some dark and some light) and a 1/4 cup raisins. Also about a third of a cinnamon stick. I simmered them for 20 minutes and tasted. Then added 1/4 cup of honey for body and a tablespoon of vanilla extract and some cream of tartar.

It seems a little strong. I might have been able to get away with just the vanilla bean, or maybe a little less cinnamon, or less dark brown sugar. I'll see how it comes out after setting for a few days.

Anyway - sounds like you have a great combination! Let me know what root beer extract you end up liking the most. It would be cool to compare McCormick's, Zatarain's, Gnome, Rainbow, Sodastream and the three that homemadesoda company has out.
  
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steveb
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I purchased the inflator and cartridges via Amazon, but I am sure there are other places to find them. If you go that route, be sure you purchase food grade cartridges. From what I have read, the regular cartridges contain some oil in them, the food grade do not.

You used a total of 2 tablespoons of extract huh? I was wondering if you had used enough since your recipe is a larger batch than mine, but 2 tablespoons probably would have been plenty. I still have some McMormicks left over, so I'll try some of that next time. It would be neat to compare all the extracts. I just wish I could find some locally - shipping gets ridiculous for a few little bottles.

The cream soda sounds interesting to try, if you get a good taste, let me know.
  
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callmebruce
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a hard time finding the extract, until I wandered in to Walmart. Right in the spice section, and inexpensive. Couldn't find it in my grocery store. I'd love to find Zatarains!
  
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