How to Brew Root Beer and Ginger Ale

Have you ever tried making your own soft drinks?

  • Yes - great! Please share your experiences in the Comments Section Below
  • No - then read on and learn how.
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For that Authentic Old Fashioned Taste

Before the advent of refrigeration, there was no way to preserve juices for more than a day or two as they would spoil. However, ancient peoples soon discovered that there were two types of spoiling - contamination by yeast and contamination by bacteria.

Contamination by yeast resulted in the sugar, which occurred naturally in the fruit, being converted to alcohol which then acted as a preservative as well as providing a kick when it was consumed.

Contamination by bacteria resulted in the juice turning sour and consumption of the contaminated juice often leading to illness or even death.

Grapes have both a high sugar content as well as yeast which grows naturally on their skins and this resulted in the first wines being made from grapes. In time, people began to understand the brewing process and were soon brewing alcoholic beverages from every type of vegetable material available.

Since these non-grape fruits and other plant materials did not contain enough sugar for brewing, sugar had to be added and, by controlling the amount of sugar, you could control the alcohol content of the beverage.

Alcoholic beverages known as small beers were brewed in Elizabethan England and Colonial America. These small beers had a low alcoholic content ranging from 2 - 12 percent and were consumed by children and many women.

Original root beers were made from a variety of berries, tree barks and roots. In America sassafras root became a popular ingredient in the making root beer (sassafras was also used to make a medicinal herb tea).

Stopping the Fermentation Produces a Fizz

A by product of the fermentation process is the release of carbon dioxide gas.

Normally, the gas is allowed to bleed off but, if the brewing container is sealed, leaving no means for the gas to escape, the carbon dioxide ends up dissolving in the liquid giving the drink its effervesce.

This build up of dissolved carbon dioxide also results in stopping the fermentation process. The result is a sweet, effervescent or fizzy drink with a very low alcohol content.

In the past century or so, large scale commercial producers of root beer and other effervescent drinks have developed processes for dissolving or injecting carbon dioxide in without resorting to the fermentation process.

Thus, modern commercially produced soft have the fizz found in to original versions of these drinks but lack the small amount of alcohol that resulted from the original process.

Below are recipes for making root beer, ginger ale and other flavors of soft drinks using the fermentation process. Since, the fermentation process is stopped after a few days by refrigerating the drink, the alcohol content will be extremely low.

Ingredients and Materials Needed

  • One 2 liter soda bottle with a screw cap, Any two liter soda bottle will do so long as it has been thoroughly cleaned and is completely dry in
  • One Funnel, This will be needed when pouring the mixture into the soda bottle
  • 1 cup of Sugar, Use more if you prefer a sweeter root beer
  • ¼ teaspoon of powdered baker's yeast or dry champagne yeast, (either will do so long as it is in powder form and not past the package expiration date as yeast)
  • 1 tablespoon of root beer extract

A Note on Yeast and Root Beer Extract

Baker's yeast can be purchased at any grocery store (usually found in the baking aisle).

Champagne yeast can be found in wine making and home brew stores as well as on line.

Because yeast is a living organism it is important to use yeast before the expiration date on the package as only live yeast will work in the fermentation process.

Root beer extract is also often available in the flavorings section of the baking aisle of many grocery stores (usually in the seasonings and flavorings section) as well as online and in wine making home brewing stores.

Instructions

  1. Using the funnel, pour the sugar into the bottle and then pour in the yeast.
  2. Remove funnel and shake bottle to mix sugar and yeast.
  3. Replace funnel and pour in root beer extract.
  4. Leaving funnel in place, fill bottle half full with water from tap. Use this opportunity to rinse root beer extract from tablespoon and funnel into the mixture in the bottle.
  5. Remove funnel and swirl contents in bottle until dissolved.
  6. Fill bottle to the neck with water and screw cover on tightly.
  7. Let bottle sit at room temperature for about four days or until bottle feels hard like an unopened bottle of soda in the grocery store.

Storing and Opening Your Root Beer

Store in a cool place where the temperature is below sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius).

Before opening, place in refrigerator and chill thoroughly. Loosen cap slowly when opening to allow gas to escape and avoid liquid fizzing over.

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4 stars from 1 rating of Homemade Root Beer and Other Soft Drinks

Instructions for Brewing Ginger Ale and Other Soft Drinks

Recipe for Ginger Ale:

Except for the root beer extract, the process, ingredients and tools are identical for ginger ale.

However, with ginger ale you can either use ginger ale extract (which can be found at the same wine making and brewing stores or on line sites as the root beer extract) or substitute 1 ½ tablespoons of grated fresh ginger root (you have to grate it yourself) in place of the 1 tablespoon of ginger ale extract.

Otherwise simply follow the root beer recipe above and substitute ginger ale extract or freshly grated ginger extract for the root beer extract.

Recipe for Other Soft Drinks:

When you go on line or into a wine making shop, you will find numerous other flavor extracts that can be used to make flavored sodas. Some, like vanilla (for cream soda) or orange extract, can also be found in the baking aisle of your local grocery store.

These are the same extracts that are used for baking. In the case of cream soda, you may want to use a little more than 1 tablespoon of vanilla for the cream soda depending upon your taste.

Some Final Advice

Diet Soft Drinks - unfortunately, you CANNOT use the fermentation process to make diet soft drinks as yeast will not cause artificial sweeteners to ferment.

Do NOT use glass containers - always use plastic containers as the pressure build up inside the bottle during fermentation will often cause the bottle to explode and scatter broken glass all over.

I know this from experience as, years ago, prior to the advent of plastic soda containers, when we were teenagers, my parents let my brother and I make root beer.

After a couple of successful batches, the weather warmed up and we had two, one-gallon jugs explode on us. In addition to broken glass all over the room in the basement we had a very sticky mess to clean up.

Watch the Temperature - Do NOT keep fermenting soda at room temperature for more than four days.

In fact, you should move it to a cooler place (65 degrees Fahrenheit or below) as soon as the bottle becomes as hard as an unopened bottle of soda from the store.

While you won't have the glass problem, the plastic bottles will still explode if the pressure gets too great and you will have a sticky mess to clean up.

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72 comments

DrTszap 4 years ago

Tempted to send Dr Frankhauser a tin of Couger Gold to go with his whine... 8-) ('cept he might accuse the WSU Creamery of plagiarism even though they've been making cheese since before the good Dr came into this world *g*) - OTOH I might not have found your hub without investigating the false claim...


reagu profile image

reagu 4 years ago from Los Angeles

I have always liked rootbeer would try these before trying homegrown beer.


Ray 4 years ago

I started the Ginger Beer Plant 5 days ago. I seem to have gotten off to a slow start. 5 days in and I have a fairly good fermentation going on. The yeast is starting to form small globules. The liquid still smells sweet and fresh. Fingers crossed.Many thanks for the guide.


jb 5 years ago

my daughter and her friends won a competition last year and are competing again this year


PJ 5 years ago

I used to make root beer all the time for my children. It was really good, wholesome and natural. We bottled it in brown stubby beer bottles. It has to mature for awhile, and one summer we left it and went camping. The weather turned hot and when we got home all the bottles had exploded!


Annie 5 years ago

Thank you for this page, and the link to Wehrley's book!


Chuck profile image

Chuck 5 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

none of your business - click here ( http://hubpages.com/community/Why-in-the-WORLD-wou... ) for the Hub I wrote in response to the same baseless accusations you made in the request you sent me.

You might also actually read my Hub on brewing root beer above and compare it to what Dr. Frankhauser wrote before posting such wild accusations.


none of your business 5 years ago

the wording in this recipe is almost exactly the same as in another recipe by dr. fankhauser of u.c. Clermont college, and his was put up way earlier!! "chuck" so totally plagiarized this recipe. it would be fine if he would list a source, but by not doing so, he implies that the idea was his, which it is NOT!!!!!!!


KEONA SMITH 5 years ago

THIS WORKS PLUS IT CAN HELP YOU SAVE MONEY BY MAKING YOUR OWN SODA


Kaiyah Turner 5 years ago

I love this projects so much,plus now I know how to brew root beer and ginger ale.


Cynthia 5 years ago

They have a "yeasty" taste because you are using baker's yeast or champagne yeast. Although champagne yeast is somewhat better, the best of all is to use WILD yeast present on the skins of the fruit or roots you are using. This also leads to a gentler fermentation process with less likelihood of exploding bottles.

I've used the following recipe successfully many, many times: http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/recipe-ginger-...

The only modifications I make are that I only leave it at room temperature after bottling for about 5 days, rather than the 2 weeks suggested. This is because both my husband and I prefer it to still be somewhat sweet and not that alcoholic. I also rarely if ever see the mixture "bubbling", but I proceed to make the ginger beer anyway after the bug has been fermenting for 4 or 5 days. It has always turned out well.

The article on this page claims that the fermentation process is "halted" when the bottle is sealed. Not true at all. The mixture will continue fermenting inside the bottle, even when well-sealed (we use Grolsch bottles). It will also continue fermenting in the fridge, albeit more slowly.

In short, I don't think this is such a great resource if you want to brew your own home-made sodas. I'd recommend "Wild Fermentation" by Szandor Katz for anyone seriously interested in fermenting their own products at home. It's educational, economical, and the products usually turn out very tasty.


Henrietta 6 years ago

I was wondering since you need the yeast to carbonate the soda, would you be able to use carbonated water and no yeast? I would love to find a way to make root beer with no alcohol content. Thanks for the interesting hub.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

the pink umbrella - in answer to your question I really don't know if making your own would be better. In the Hub I reduced the recipe so that you could make 2 liters at a time (the size of a standard plastic soda container) so that readers could make a small amount to try first (most flavoring concentrates come with recipes for making 5 gallons which, given the price of sugar, is expensive if you decide you don't like the end result.

So try two liters worth and see if you and your stomach like it better.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

nasser - I doubt this would work with non-alcoholic beers as I assume they have preservatives in them to prevent this. As far as adding sugar and yeast to soft drinks sold in stores I believe that the carbonation that is added in the manufacturing process would prevent fermentation in these beverages as well.


the pink umbrella profile image

the pink umbrella 6 years ago from the darkened forest deep within me.

chuck- i live on ginger ale as i have a weird stomach. Im thinking making my own would be a better alternative to store bought.


nasser 6 years ago

By adding suger and yeast to classic non alcoholic beer which can be found in form of cans or in bottels in stores,is it possible to alcoholic beer?if so,what would be the procedure.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Paul - Thanks for pointing this out.

Chuck


Paul 6 years ago

While I enjoyed this article, it does need a small improvement on a single point. Souring in fermentation is almost always not unhealthy, although it may often be undesired, as in regular "beer". Souring occurs when l.bacillus bacteria produce lactic acid and lower the pH to below 3.9. Such a low pH is far better at protecting against pathogens than the low levels of alcohol produced from yeast fermentation (5-15% alcohol by volume). This is one of the reasons why wine and beer are pasteurized--their low alcohol levels are not sufficient to protect against pathogens. Also keep in mind that most commercial soft drinks have low pH to mimic the low pH of lacto-fermented drinks of the past.


Hanate 7 years ago

do u know why root beer is called root beer if it has no relation to beer??? i need the answer for extra credit in my health class. 50 POINTS OF EXTRA CREDIT!!!! please help. or try at least.


bob 7 years ago

if you substitute ale yeast for other types of yeast there is next to no chance of the bottle exploding


Chuck profile image

Chuck 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

joel - Yes, you can substitute other flavors besides root been and ginger ale extract when using the above recipe to make your own soft drinks. Some flavorings, like orange, can usually be found in most grocery stores (usually in the baking asile) while a much wider selection can be found in brewing or winemaking supply stores or on the Internet.


joel  7 years ago

Can u add other flavors to make your rootbeer and ginger ale different?


Chuck profile image

Chuck 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Tony - while brewing your own soft drinks can be fun, it is time consuming which is probably why most people don't brew their own instead of relying on commercially produced soft drinks.

In my Hub http://hubpages.com/food/How-to-make-a-Pizza-at-Ho... I provided a fast and easy way to make a very good pizza at home. While it is very good and I enjoy it, even I find it easier to simply stop at a pizza take out on my way home from work and pick up a ready made one than come home and make one myself.

Thanks again for the comment


Tony 7 years ago

I always wondered by people don't brew for themselves more. Seems like it would put a lot of companies out of business.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Dr. Frankhauser -  since your comment this year was more civil than the one you posted in late December of 2007 I am leaving it up and replying to your claim that what I have written in this Hub is nearly identical to what you had previously posted on your site.  

While I removed the original comment which you posted in late December of 2007, mainly because it was an unfounded attack on my personal integrity. However, I did not simply blow it off but, after a lengthy search of your website, found a link for people to reply to you via email and replied to your accusations privately via email on January 1, 2008.  Since you never replied to that email, I assumed that the misunderstanding had been resolved.

While strongly disagreeing with your original accusation that I copied and plagiarized the material on your site, I honestly have no problem acknowledging that the content I provided in my article above is nearly identical to similar content on your pages, DESPITE THE FACT, which I pointed out in my email, THAT I NEVER SAW AND WAS UNAWARE OF THE EXISTENCE OF YOUR WEBSITE UNTIL I CLICKED ON THE LINKS IN YOUR DECEMBER 2007 COMMENT (WHICH YOU POSTED A YEAR AFTER I PUBLISHED THIS HUB).  

The fact is we both wrote about the same simple process, fermentation, which has been known and used by people since prehistoric times and both of us provided recipes which have been used at least since the Middle Ages and have been available in cookbooks for 150 years or more.  I didn't need to go to your website for the root beer and ginger ale recipes as they are widely available elsewhere both on the Internet and in print.  Go to the flavorings and spice shelf of almost any grocery store and you will find one or more brands of root beer extract each of which is the same size and the directions on each brand's box are almost always identical, word for word, to those on the boxes of other brands.  These directions appear not to have changed much since at least the mid-nineteenth century when drug stores (referred to as pharmacies or chemists in the old books) used to sell root beer, ginger ale and other flavoring extracts to be used in the making of these drinks.  

Anyone who has taken a chemistry or biology course in high school (I took both) has probably been introduced to the concept of fermentation which is simply the action of yeast on sugar dissolved in water.  Down through the centuries prisoners, soldiers and sailors, regardless of their education level or lack thereof, have been able to obtain the basic ingredients  and produce alcoholic beverages regardless of attempts by those in charge to prevent this.  

When I was in college my brother and I tried our hand at making wine, root beer and yogurt.  This was back in the 1970s when the Internet was a Cold War military project that was little known to the general public and totally off limits to the public.  My point is that this is a simple and widely known process, the description of which can be found in countless places with little variation in the wording.  One only has to take a tour of a winery or brewery (and I have visited a number of them in both the U.S. and Europe) where the guides describe the fermentation process using basically the same wording as you and I used. The same is true for the recipes.  I got my original recipe for root beer from the same place where you probably got your original recipe - from the instructions on the box that contained the bottle of concentrate.  Since I assumed, as you probably did as well, that the majority of my readers were interested in trying the process rather than producing it as a standard drink for the household, I adjusted the recipe to produce a smaller output just as I have done with many recipes when there has been a need to produce more or less of the item for a particular meal.  

Also, as I explained in my article above, having had experience with some of my glass bottles exploding when my brother and I tried our hand at making root beer, I recommended  that people use plastic soda bottles rather than glass - unfortunately plastic soda bottles with screw on caps were not available in the early 1970s which forced my brother and I to use the next best thing which was gallon glass jugs with screw on caps.  Since the advent of the plastic bottles recent authors, including the McCormick Company, a box of whose root beer concentrate I have next to me as I write this.  Among the things listed under CAUTIONS:  on the side panel of the box are: "Plastic bottles are highly recommended for bottling homemade root beer.  They are easily checked during fermentation to determine the firmness of the bottle.  We recommend that you NOT use glass bottles."

Given a recipe that contains 4 ingredients and a simple preparation process, it is difficult to describe it in a manner that is different from the way hundreds of thousands of others have described it.  

One can alter the quantity of each ingredient, as you and I (and many other recent authors) have done, but we have very little leeway in altering the proportions of the ingredients.  The only ingredient that is variable is the flavoring.  One either uses the ingredients, proportions and process and gets the desired result or omits or significantly alters something and spoils the end product. 

As far as the ginger ale is concerned, I simply directed my readers to follow the root beer recipe and substitute either ginger ale concentrate or grated ginger for the root beer concentrate.  You, on the other hand, provided detailed, step by step, instructions on a separate page of your site.  I am sure that you are unaware of, let alone copied, the recipe for Ginger Pop (a common name in the Northeastern U.S. for soda) that appears on page 272 of "Jennie June's American Cookery Book" by Mrs. J. C. Corly and published by the American News Company in 1866.  However, with the exception of cream of tarter, your ingredients are identical to hers and your description of the process, while longer and more detailed than hers, is basically the same.  Here is a link to the page on Google Books: http://www.google.com/books?id=QodUCl0V9LEC&prints...

As I stated above, I have no trouble acknowledging that you and I both wrote about the same thing and I do not dispute your claim that you created your site and published your material some years before I published my article.  Your material is also far more extensive than mine and provides more in depth information than mine.  However, while your site was written to educate people on food chemistry, I wrote mine in response to a far simpler request that had been submitted to the managers of HubPages  who, in turn, had presented it to those of us writing on the site as a topic to answer.  The was for instructions on how to make root beer and ginger ale.  I responded to the request with both instructions for making these two beverages and also provided some additional background information on the history and process behind them.

In addition to letting your comment above with its links to your site stand, I have also added your links to the link module in my article above along with additional links to Google Books containing recipes for these drinks and descriptions of the fermentation process.  

Finally, while appreciating the link on your website to this article, I would ask that you remove the accusation that accompanies it which claims that I copied your site without permission.

Chuck Nugent


David Fankhauser 7 years ago

Chuck: I am still waiting for acknowledgement from you that your pages on root beer and ginger ale are nearly identical to my pages which I posted in 1996 and 2000. Please do the right thing and do so. Thank you for not deleting this request which I have made again. I suggest that readers compare the pages in question and reach their own conclusions:

http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/Cheese/ROOTBE...

http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/Cheese/Ginger...

Thank you for your attention to this on-going problem.

Dr. David Fankhauser

Professor of Biology

University of Cincinnati


Chuck profile image

Chuck 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Steven - thanks for the tip about the "Carbonator". This gives people an additional alternative which is always appreciated.


Steven 7 years ago

The only way to make this an alcohol free drink is to force carbonate with CO2. This can be easily done without purchasing kegs and CO2 cannisters and all the gadgets that go along with them.

If you have a brewshop that sells beer making supplies, most of them will sell what's called "The Carbonator" I've included a link below.

If you are planning on making root beer (or other sodas) frequently, then this is a good investment at 15-20 dollars. All you would need to do is attach this to a 2 liter soda bottle filled with rootbeer, then take it to your local brew shop and have them put a tiny bit of CO2 into your bottle for you. All you need to do with the recipe is omit the yeast and drink. No need to let it sit for a few days either.

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/products/ProdByID.a...


geoalim13 7 years ago

i got a kit to brew root beer this year for christmas and i found that pic of the extract is the same kind i have

ps if you go to www.brewhorizons.net you can get the kit and choose from these flavores:

root beer

sarsaparilla

ginger ale

cream soda

raspberry

orange

spruce

cola

each bottle costs $6.50

pss my kit came witk a 6.5 gallon bottling bucket with spigot, 4 feet of 3/'' fda tubing, spring bottle filler, root beer extract, 18'' stirring paddle, pack of wine yeast, 8 pet 1/2 liter plastic bottles, caps, 2 packs of c-brite cleaner


Chuck profile image

Chuck 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Ton, you are correct and this is the way root beer and other carbonated soft drinks are made today. However, there is considerably more expense involved as special hardware is needed along with the compressed carbon dioxide. Also, since this is not a fermentation process, you can substitute artificial sweetners for the sugar and, of course, dispense entirely with the yeast.

The process I described is basically the old fashioned way which was used by people before compressed carbon dioxide was available and before root beer and other soft drinks were available commercially.

Thanks for visiting and for tha added information.


Ton 7 years ago

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It should be possible to make a totally non-alcoholic version by force carbonating the root beer. Compressed CO2 and the necessary hardware could be purchased at a home brew store.

You might want to use an artificial sweeter as opposed to sugar. Just in case some wild yeast gets into the mix.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Tim - the yeast is the ingredient that produces the carbon dioxide which is where the fizz comes from in the drink. The carbon dioxide is released as a by product of the action of the yeast on the sugar. The interaction of the yeast and sugar produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. When making wine, the carbon dioxide is allowed to bleed off. But, when making root beer or other carbonated soft drinks, the carbon dioxide is not allowed to escape which forces it to dissolve in the liquid. This dissolved carbon dioxide both gives the drink its fizz but also stops the fermentation process early thereby keeping the alcohol level very low.


Tim 7 years ago

I brewed some root beer recently using a different recipe. I made it from scratch without the root beer extract.

I'm leaving the bottles semi-unsealed so that the glass won't explode from the carbon dioxide.

It's been fermenting for two days. I tried a little and it was gross. I'm thinking about using a different sweetner (other than cane sugar) and using more vanilla bean.

I saw some comments mentioning a yeasty flavor. I've noticed that. Is there any way to get rid of that? Do we really have to add yeast in the first place? When I was done making it and shook it up, it started fizzing without the yeast...


Peacemaker 8 years ago

I like root beer......


tourmaline2777 profile image

tourmaline2777 8 years ago from Chicago

I love root beer! Definitely would like to try brewing my own.


amoxicillin 500 8 years ago

Great Hub... But I prefer to buy them bottled!


luna5 8 years ago

This brings back old memories of bewing batches of root beer as a kid. We used glass quart botltles and made up 5 gallons or so every few months ( never had any explode). I still have the bottle cap crimper and stores still sell the caps ( Agway for one) ! I have bottles from a local soda manufacturer that still uses the old fashoined refillables-they are much thicker than current glass "recycleable" ones. Part of the process that was deemed critical was sterilizing the bottles with boiling water to avoid contamination( I don't imagine that plastic would work due to the temperatures) . We stored the filled bottles on their side until we needed some and then to the refrigerator in the upright position so the yeast products settled to the bottom. I found a recipe that ( as I remember) is exactly what we used here:http://www.greydragon.org/library/brewing_root_bee...


Chuck profile image

Chuck 8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

mattyboy - thanks for the tip. I will try one of these other yeasts the next time I make some root beer.


mattyboy 8 years ago

After digging around a little, i found that bread yeast may be contributing that yeasty flavor in your brews. Try a champagne, montrachet or ale yeast(not a lager yeast) and say goodbye to yeast bite:)


big polar bear 8 years ago

"Contamination by bacteria resulted in the juice turning sour and consumption of the contaminated juice often leading to illness or even death." This isn't very accurate. Vinegar is from bacteria contamination. Although usually not good for drinking ;), its not a bad thing. Yogurt is made from bacteria, as is cheese. And there's lots of bacteria peacefully co-existing in our digestive system. Bacteria is purposefully introduced to Lambic beers and many wines. There is good bacteria and bad bacteria- in brewing as in production of other foods.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Brad, thanks for the comment. As to your question, I am not sure. The cooling will slow down or stop the fermentation as yeast, like most bacteria, need a warm environment in which to grow and function.

However, it has always been my understanding that it is the dissolving of the carbon dioxide, which is a by-product of the fermentation process and which is what gives the root beer its fizz, that causes the acid level in the mixture to rise and this is what kills the yeast thereby stopping the fermentation.

When you make the root beer, be sure to make it in a plastic bottle. I also recommend that you not mail it to the person you are giving it to and when transporting it, place the bottle inside a picnic cooler or other container that will contain the liquid in the event the bottle splits and leaks. I also would not let it sit in a hot area (like a car in Arizona during the summer) and would suggest to whoever I was giving it as a gift to store it in the refrigerator. You might also want to cool it in a refrigerator before opening since if the drink is warm it might fizz out over the top when you open it.

Maybe some other reader can provide a more complete answer for this.

Thanks again and good luck.

Chuck


Brad from Regina 8 years ago

Thanks for the tips. I also remember my grandparents making root beer when I was really young.

I understand that cooling root beer after the "four days" stops the fermentation. Will the bottle still explode if taken out of the fridge or is the yeast deactivated? I would like to make some root beer and give as a gift, but I would like to make sure that it is safe.

Thanks

Brad


market solution profile image

market solution 8 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

Your hub brought back memories of making root beer as a child. We always had homemade root beer every Friday night. I had forgotten. Oh, and I also experienced the mess of exploded glass bottles. It was a huge mess - with glass flying for nearly 20 feet and sticky root beer all over the library and books. UGH!


Pete Michner profile image

Pete Michner 8 years ago from Virginia

Thanks for this hub, making it yourself definitely sounds more fun than going to the store and buying some root beer!


barnabybear profile image

barnabybear 8 years ago from Columbus, OH

My brother made Ginger Ale once and the bottle exploded LOL.

Thanks for an interesting hub. :)


DonnaCSmith profile image

DonnaCSmith 8 years ago from Central North Carolina

I read that about sassafras, too, but I am not to concerend considering the difference between what we'd drink in relation to what they give a lab rat. Anyway, I do have it growing in my woods and I've made the tea before.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

DonnaCSmith - thank you for visiting my Hub and for your comment. As to using sassafras root, that used to be the way to make root beer and sassafras tea (boiling the root or maybe the bark in water to make an herb tea with sassafras). However, I would check this out further before going ahead with using sassafras root because, when I was doing background research on the history of root beer, I recall seeing some articles on the web warning about health dangers associated with sassafras.

I didn't include information on sassafras in the article since root beer extract has been bottled and sold commercially by Hires and others since the late 19th century and can be found in most grocery stores. Prior to selling the commercially bottled extract on store shelves 19th century pharmacists used to mix and sell the syrup on request. Also, all of the 19th century recipe books that I checked called for using syrup to make root beer.

Finally, while ginger root can usually be found in grocery stores, one has to go looking for sassafras in the woods. Also, ginger extract is not as common in stores as the root beer extract and one must either go to a specialty store that deals in brewing supplies or go on the web to find the ginger extract. Cook books from the 19th century forward also contain recipes for ginger ale using both the extract or the ginger root itself.

Thanks again for visiting my hub.


DonnaCSmith profile image

DonnaCSmith 8 years ago from Central North Carolina

Can you use sassafras root instead of the extract? And if so, how much? Would it be the same amount as the giner root?


Dave Saunders profile image

Dave Saunders 8 years ago from Washington, DC

I love root beer. I think I might be brave enough to make my own. Thanks for the hub.


jones88 8 years ago

thanks


Chuck profile image

Chuck 8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

jones88 - I wouldn't recommend this as my brother and I originally used 1 gallon glass jugs and that is what exploded. Instead of a 1 gallon glass jug, why don't you simply triple the recipe and use 3 two liter soda bottles?


jones88 8 years ago

can i make triple the recipe and put it in a one gallon glass jug or will it explopde?


beer 8 years ago

mmmm beeeeer


johnr54 profile image

johnr54 8 years ago from Texas

I never knew they made kits for brewing root beer. My brother brews beer, and my dad used to make wine, but given my druthers I'd rather have root beer. I'll have to give it a try.


arrow sheds profile image

arrow sheds 8 years ago

I am going to have to try this with my son, he loves root beer! Nice job


Margret 8 years ago

thank you for these instructions! my husband was amazed at my new found skills!


betty, Texas 8 years ago

love it, im an alchoolic ya know!!


caspar profile image

caspar 8 years ago from UK

My mum used to make ginger beer and we loved it! We did have a batch explode in a cupboard and it was very messy. Thanks for this great hub.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 9 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

JeffM & Garrett, Thank you for visiting my HubPages and for leaving your comments.

The answer to both questions is 'No'. The fizz in the homemade soft drinks is the result of the carbon dioxide gas being given off by the fermentation process being dissolved in the liquid. As I said in the article, the alcohol content is minimal but the beverage does contain alcohol.

As to the root beer and other soft drinks sold in stores, that does not contain alcohol as that is made by injecting the carbon dioxide into the liquid and not relying on a fermentation process to produce the carbon dioxide.

Thanks again to both of you for your comments. Chuck


Garrett  9 years ago

Does the root beer that you buy at the store contain any alcohol?


JeffM 9 years ago

Is there any way to make this as a completely alcohol free concoction? My first guess is no because of the key ingredients required for making it. I love Vernor's ginger ale and would love to try making a batch of homemade ginger ale but don't drink anymore. No big deal if it's not possible. I will say it was an interesting hub, nonetheless.


rrd257r profile image

rrd257r 9 years ago from NY

Love the hub and I encourage everyone to read Wendy's (3rd comment) and Nick's comments (which should be a couple above mine)... it's a great little tip/explanation. This Hubpage thing is gettin friggin' addicting. A lot of these hubs are great! Hell, I even got a bit of a history lesson out of this one. Great Stuff Chuck... Keep the Posts Comin'


Nick 9 years ago

The raisins are there so you know when it's ready since you can sqeeze a glass bottle to check the pressure. Raisins will float when the drink is carbonated.


Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet 9 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

we do this for science projects..It really is fun..thanks for the info!


dreadpal profile image

dreadpal 9 years ago from Boulder Creek

Really fun hub. Thanks for the info. I've always wanted to try this. I've made wine and my son has brewed many batches of beer, but never root beer. This is pretty simple, though, so may be worth a try for the fun of it!


Anon. 9 years ago

Thanks, This is very interesting for my first rootbeer brew. The cap is kind bad when I started. I clean and rinse with sulphite from previous homewinemaking kit to rinse it before the rootbeer mixture going in. The store that makes wine for customers says sulphite will do a good job in sanitzing carboy. I will throw the cap away later and using the jug to brew wine(all kinds of wine).


Chuck profile image

Chuck 9 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Anon, If there is an air leaking sound from the cap, it probably means that the cap is either not on tight or that it doesn't make a good seal when screwed on tight. So long as you can hear air leaking out there shouldn't be any problem with the brew becoming contaminated (assuming the jar was clean when you started and there were no contaminating bacteria in the jar or mixture when you stared) as the pressure on the inside is greater than the outside which is why air is leaking out and not being sucked in. However, if this changes and air gets sucked in you do risk contamination (which will probably either be visible with mold floating in the mixture or a bad smell or taste that will prevent you from drinking it and becoming sick).

If you let this continue to sit with the air leaking out will probably be a flat tasting rootbeer. The air that you hear escaping from your bottle is carbon dioxide which is being released by the yeast acting on the sugar in the mixture. If you have a tight seal on the bottle this gas cannot escape and will dissolve in the rootbeer giving it its fizz. If the gas is allowed to escape rather than dissolve in the mixture there will be no fizz. Also, when the gas dissolves it creates a condition that kills the yeast and stops the fermentation process (the converting of the sugar to alcohol) giving you not only a fizzy drink but one whose alcohol content is near zero. Allowing the air to escape and the fermentation process to continue will result in a rootbeer tasting wine (assuming that it does not get contaminated with air coming in) rather than the rootbeer soda you are expecting.

As to how long you should let the rootbeer stand before opening, about four days to a week should be sufficient (but chill it first before opening as stated in my article above) to produce rootbeer. Of course, this assumes that you have an airtight seal that keeps the carbon dioxide in the bottle. Finally, if the bottle you are using is glass rather than plastic, then be careful if you do get an air tight seal that it doesn't explode as happened to me one of the times I made rootbeer using a glass bottle.

Chuck


Anon. 9 years ago

I am brewing rootbeer now with an old Ocean Spray Cranberry juice jug(3.78L). It has an air leaking sound from the cap. Now does this matter? Or is this brew poisonou to consume? How long are you supposed to brew before you can drink it? I want a response to all these questions. Thanks!!!


Chuck profile image

Chuck 9 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Wendy, thank you for the comment. The only recipe I have is the one published above. I never heard of putting raisins in the bottle when making rootbeer however, I did know a fellow once who told me that he used to toss a raisin in the bottle when making cranberry wine. Although, he never explained why he did it.

When I made this as a college student with my younger brother, we also had to use glass bottles (we used 1 gallon jugs) because there were no plastic bottles in those days either. Frankly, we made the root beer a couple of times for the fun of while we were making wine (also for the fun of it). I never particularly cared for the end product as it had a distinctive yeasty taste and I much prefered to drink the store brought product instead. The same with the grape wine that my brother and I made - it also had a yeasty taste. Although, the cranberry wine (using Ocean Spray Cranberry juice) had a very good taste as did the grape wine that I made with a neighbor a few years later - in that case, instead of a package of yeast and a can of frozen grape juice concentrate, we used real grapes and let them naturally forment using the yeast that grew naturally on the skins of the grapes. Though not award winning quality, the wine that we produced was decent tasting.


Wendy 9 years ago

I remember my grandmother making us root beer when I was a little kid. She used glass bottles, because there was no plastic back then. we would put 1 or 2 raisins in each bottle to carbonate the soda but no more or they would explode. It seemed that we had to let them sit longer than 4 days though. they where stored under the kitchen sink. I don't have her recepie so I don't know if she used yeast but I sure remember the raisin part. Do you know of a recepie like that?


Chuck profile image

Chuck 9 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

They do, at least the ones my brother and I brewed, have a yeasty taste which is one of the reasons (in addition to lack of time) that I prefer to buy soda from the store. But it is fun to brew a batch or two of your own soft drink. Thanks for the comment.


livelonger profile image

livelonger 9 years ago from San Francisco

This is cool. Don't these taste a little "yeasty", more than store-bought varieties?

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