Summer Project: Brewing Root Beer

Geek Culture

RootBeer-IMG_1162RootBeer-IMG_1162Nothing says summer better than Root Beer floats.  This weekend the kids and I started on the first half of that magical concoction.  Hopefully we can find an ice-cream maker to borrow for the second half next weekend.

We started out with a kit from (aka Mr. Root Beer).  We might consider graduating to other sodas and getting our ingredients from cheaper sources, but the price of the Mr. Root Beer kit isn’t much over $20 shipped.  I have brewed a few batches of their beer in the past so had the handy 2.5 gallon keg for mixing the root beer and a box of empty bottles for bottling.

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Mr Beer provides an easy to use sanitizer and you’ll need to be sure to clean every utensil, bowl, spoon, and bottle that comes in contact with the ingredients.

Since the yeast arrives in an inactive state we need to wake it up in a bowl of warm water.  This takes about 10-15 minutes, so it’s best to do that first, and set it aside.  I took the opportunity to read up about yeast on Wikipedia and give the Geeklets a little biology lesson.

The directions recommend making 1 gallon in a gallon water jug.  We made 2 gallons in my 2.5 gallon brewing keg, and I’d recommend against that.  1 gallon will be easier, quicker, and if you want to tweak the recipe you have less to drink before you can make more.

Stir and shake all the ingredients, adding the yeast last, then bottle.  We used a mix of plastic 1 liter beer and 12oz A&W root beer bottles.  The kids had wandered off sometime during the mixing process, but the promise of filling bottles brought them scurrying back. 

Once all the bottles were filled, capped and places out of the way we poured the last bit over ice and had a taste.  It tasted fine, a little yeasty, and a bit sweet, but that should change as the yeast convert some of the sugar into CO2.  In a few days we will kill the yeast by placing the bottles in the refrigerator.  If we let it go too long the bottle could leak or explode.

Fast forward to two days later, and we had some home-made root beer with supper and root beer floats for desert.  I’m pretty happy with the flavor, but I think we could use quite a bit less sugar.  Somewhere around 2/3 the suggested amount would taste better.  This little project was a lot of fun and extremely easy so I’m now looking at some recipes and ideas online for mixing up our own soda and maybe some home brewed energy drinks.

Just to see how much they kids remembered from Saturday, I popped a quiz about yeast over supper.  Travis remembered where the bubbles came from and that yeast is a microscopic creature that eats sugar.  Hannah remembered that it burps Carbon Dioxide, so they were paying a lot more attention than I gave them credit for.

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