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Rootbeerbrewing

Dave sent us this tasty step-by-strep for homebrewing root beer -

When I asked them about the yeast, the man behind the counter gave me a dreadful warning that making root beer with yeast is like making bombs. He said it was too dangerous as the bottles have a high likelihood of exploding. He also said that they had a high likelihood of fermenting the root beer and so it was a very poor way to make root beer. The method he suggested instead was carbon dioxide infusion. This required a carbon dioxide tank and regulator (I borrowed this from Dave) and a cornelious keg, which I purchased from Main Street Homebrew. It was used and set me back about $45. With the extracts and the book, I spent about another $25.

Mmmm … me likey non-explosive root beer – Root Beer: The Bacon of Beverages

More:
Diyrootbeer Crop-1
DIY root beer

Collin Cunningham

Born, drew a lot, made video, made music on 4-track, then computer, more songwriting, met future wife, went to art school for video major, made websites, toured in a band, worked as web media tech, discovered electronics, taught myself electronics, blogged about DIY electronics, made web videos about electronics and made music for them … and I still do!


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Comments

  1. Blind says:

    So the guy offered to sell him the expensive forced carbonization set up rather than the 60 cents of yeast that he would need to make root beer? That shop is a real winner.

    Of course the yeast is going to ferment the root beer. That’s the entire point. The yeast eats the sugar, processes it into alcohol and Carbon Dioxide, and this is how the root beer gets carbonated. When it’s done you will have something like 0.5% at most alcohol in the bottle, so who cares about the little bit of alcohol that no one will be able to test or get drunk off of anyhow?

    As far as the bottles exploding, I’ve had it happen with glass bottles that were too thin and not happen with glass bottles that were actually speced for such things. There is a pressure point where the yeast will stop producing alcohol/CO2. As long as the bottle can survive to that point (those $10~15 bottles with the 2 inch ceramic top can) then you are fine. And if you use plastic bottles, just press the sides in and when it’s the same firmness as a bottle of soda you’d buy at the store, stick it in the fridge to stop the reaction.

    The guy running that home brewing shop is a thief and a con man.

    pzb4

  2. cuetip says:

    I have to second Blind above; we made real root beer with yeast in 6th grade (which was only about 20 years ago for me) and there was really no danger of the sturdy glass bottles exploding. About half our class’s bottles were 2-liter plastics, and, following what Blind says, we had crunched them in slightly to let us know when the carbonation was ready.

    The shop guy just hoodwinked a customer, nothing more.

  3. Chris Connors says:

    Another way is to get a bottle of unflavored seltzer, add the root beer flavor and the sugar.

    There is a reaction when you pour the sugar straight into a bubbly bottle of seltzer, so be careful. It makes for a memorable family party, fountains of root beer and all.

    The middle bottle in the picture above costs less than $10us, seltzer is cheap enough, so is the sugar. Works great for flavors that are not available locally.

  4. Collin Cunningham says:

    @Blind – Good to hear the yeast method isn’t as hazardous as one might think. People can be overly cautious nowadays regarding chemistry and naturally businesses may market towards the prevalent attitude. It’s appreciated if we could hold back from namecalling. (Keeps things on the positive tip)

    @Chris – Sounds like fun – how’s it taste?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Does it still count as root beer if it’s just artificially carbonated and not fermented?

    Yea, I know A&W does it … but I always thought of homebrewing as being above all that.

    Seriously, though. Has anyone tried it both ways with the same recipe? Is there a noticeable difference? I would think that there would be, but I would be interested in hearing from someone who has tried the experiment.

  6. rvrebel says:

    Hey cool I just recently started making root beer. I read through many threads about exploding this and that but I think creating root beer as cheaply as possible is fun.

    $3-5 Extract (about $1 per gallon)
    $1-2 packet of yeast (makes a ton of rootbeer)
    $<1 sugar
    $0 Water

    I’ve used the 2-liter bottles and they only take a couple of days before it’s carbonated. I’ve also been making breads so I prefer to harness the power of yeast.

  7. paolo says:

    Hmmm, would there be a way to make it as alcoholic as regular beer ? Would make a sweet brew.

  8. brad says:

    Guys-

    I have made beer (without roots) for many years. Yes, you do not want to use bottles with twist off caps. However, any beer bottle with a cap that requires an opener (ie sam adams) should be fine unless you seriously screw with the recepie. Grolsch style bottles (with the flip tops) are not required. Just make sure you use an ale yeast (not a champagne yeast which may generate overcarbonation)

    I have suffered exploding bottles myself – quite exciting – but only when i used twist offs.

    Of course – you then need a capper as well.

    2L soda bottles would work fine for this. I wouldn’t use them for real beer as i like the ability to sanitize glass but for root beer would probably be fine

    As far as making it alcholic – sure! I’d just use a sweet ale receipe maybe a brown ale) and add the extract to that. Actually, i am a bif of a purist so would probably add roots and stuff but you could use the bottled extract and it would be fine.

    brad

  9. Jetlag says:

    I liked the idea of having a keg of soda that won’t go flat, so I did the math and find out it’s still much cheaper to buy 2L bottles of Coke than to buy of a box of Coke syrup at Sam’s Club and make my own. Must be an anti-compete thing going on.

    Now if I could get a box of Coke syrup made with real sugar, that might just be worth it compared to Mexican Coke ordered online.

  10. oldtanker says:

    Use the 2-liter soda bottles. Clean and sanitize with hot water and a bit of bleach, then rinse with boiling water. Follow the yeast-based instructions on the concentrate bottle. Fill the bottles leaving a few inches of space. Allow to ferment until the capped bottle is firm, just like it was when you bought it filled from the factory. Put it in the refrigerator and chill before decanting.

  11. Justin Garrity says:

    I wrote the original article this quote is referring to and avoiding exploding bottles is a small risk and not the primary benefit of making rootbeer this way. The primary benefits are:
    1. You can perfect the flavor separate from the carbonation
    2. You can control the carbonation precisely.
    3. You can recarbonate at any time.
    4. You can avoid the yeasty flavor
    5. You can make a large amount at one time
    6. You can serve it from a tap or bottle it

  12. Anonymous says:

    …and you don’t want to avoid them by being careful — use Splenda as your sweetener, and the natural sugar for bottle priming only. No excess sugar to eat -> no excess CO2 from the yeast.