Homemade Root Beer

Homemade root beer in woozy bottles and a jug

Old fashioned root beer is a great complement to summer gatherings, and has been for hundreds of years. History indicates that a version of this creamy carbonated treat was brewed by eighteenth-century farmers in stills for family gatherings and parties.

It seems making homemade root beer is part of our roots! Read on for a way to continue this tradition.

Ingredients:  Ingredients needed for homemade root beer

  • root beer concentrate such as McCormick® or Shank’s 
  • sugar
  • lukewarm spring water
  • dry active yeast
  • preboiled water (cooled to 85 to 95 degrees)
    *Follow the measurement guide on the back of the root beer concentrate.
  1. Pour sugar in a large nonaluminum container. Stir in spring water and root beer concentrate.
  2. Dissolve yeast in preboiled water. Allow yeast to dissolve undisturbed (about 10-15 minutes). Add to sugar mixture and stir well.
  3. Using a funnel, pour mixture into bottles or jugs immediately, leaving space at the top of bottle. Cap tightly. Pouring root beer into woozy bottles
  4. Store each bottle on its side in the summer sun, or in a warm place (70 to 80 degrees). Be patient, and let the bottles soak up the sun for 5-7 days giving plenty of time to create the sparkly carbonation that we love. Homemade root beer fermenting in the sun
  5. Store upright in a refrigerator to chill.
  6. Enjoy!
    Kids enjoying homemade root beer

Tips:
If you want to make personalized, single-serving bottles, try the 8 oz. Woozy Bottle and lids. This is a great project for kids. Have them fill their own bottles and create personalized labels.

For large, multiserving containers, we recommend the Half Gallon Loop Handle Jug or the One Gallon Loop Handle Jug. Both jugs can use the same size lid.

To make a traditional root beer float, serve in a frosty mug topped with some creamy vanilla ice cream.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Lisa
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    My mom carried out this great idea when we were on vacation with the extended family…the kids were thrilled to have their very own little bottle and the grownups were happy to keep refilling their floats…yummy! Just got done with some yard work and how refreshing this would be NOW!

  2. Melissa
    Posted November 19, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I saw another post about making root beer (http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/Cheese/ROOTBEER_Jn0.htm), and it was similar but used a plastic bottle and said the root beer was done when the bottle felt hard. It cautioned against leaving the root beer in the warmth after this point, because it can explode.

    I’d much rather make root beer in glass, but I’m worried about the explosion factor. How much space did you leave at the top? Do the pictures show that, or do they show the post-fermentation levels?

    One more question: it’s winter and I’m hoping to make this for Christmas presents. Our place stays at about 60 degrees. Is this enough to ferment the yeast? Should I let it sit longer?

    Thanks so much. Great post!

    • fcadmin
      Posted November 20, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      There is a wide range of opinions and variations on home-brewed root beer. We’ve always used the recipe with the extract, so we can’t offer advice on other recipes.

      Allowing about 2 inches of head space has given us good results. Because we recognize the potential for explosion, we always brew our bottles outside. It will really come down to your comfort level…if you want to use glass, but can’t brew outside, you might consider placing all of your bottles in a tote that would contain the mess, should there be one. Another suggestion is to use a couple of plastic containers as testers along with glass, so that you can have a better idea of the pressure increase during the brewing.

      Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way of measuring the carbonation or pressure without actually opening one up. I believe that the 60 degrees will be a little on the cool side – most recipes call for “room temperature” during the fermentation period, which is typically 68-72° F. You may want to find a warmer place and then open one after the recommended time to determine if it has the amount of zip and taste that you desire. After the brewing is complete, it is important to store them in a cool place (your 60° should be fine) and to treat them as a carbonated beverage during handling and opening. Many of our local brewers use the pulp/poly lined lids, as they vent more quickly than plastisol. Hope this helps!

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