Recipe by Tony Papaleo
Real root beer, naturally carbonated: A strong taste without being harsh. As close as you can get to store-bought and still have all natural ingredients. The taste is much more honest than store-bought as well. The keys are your choice of flavorings and using yeast to naturally carbonate. This recipe produces just under 2 liters. I found this after searching the Web for the easiest version possible that uses no special equipment, just household items, although you have to search for suitable real root beer extract. To give proper credit, the basic recipe has been worked out by Dr. David B. Fankhauser, Ph.D. , Professor of Biology and Chemistry, U.C. Clermont College, Batavia OH. The recipe is a perfect demonstration of Henry's Law. Look it up. You must use fresh yeast, otherwise it won't be fizzy and it will taste like "skunky" beer that went bad. You can try increasing the yeast a tiny fraction to get more carbonation, but again, too much and it's like drinking from a bicycle tire. Use plain white granulated sugar. The sugar provides food for the yeast which makes the carbonation happen. I searched my neighborhood for root beer extract, no grocery or health food store had it. I finally ordered directly from Zatarain's from their web site. The bottle: Use a plastic 2-liter soda pop bottle with a resealable cap. CLEAN this thoroughly before using. Do NOT, for safety's sake, use a glass bottle. The funnel: A clean plastic funnel is best.
- 1⁄4 teaspoon active dry yeast (not instant)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon root beer extract
- 2 liters water, room temperature (tap water is OK, but bottled water will help avoid chlorine and other additives)
Directions See How It's Made
- Use the funnel to pour the sugar in the bottle.
- Add the yeast.
- Toss the sugar and yeast around in the bottle so it mixes well. Just swish it around, don't shake it violently. Make it so there is a little depression in the center of the dry mixture.
- Add the root beer extract via the funnel.
- Add some of the water by pouring it over the tablespoon so get the extract residue into the bottle.
- Fill up the bottle about half way with some more water.
- Put the cover on the bottle and GENTLY swish to get the sugar/yeast mixture slightly dissolved.
- Add the rest of the water to about 1 to 1-1/2 inches from the top, then cap this TIGHTLY.
- Let stand in a cool place (65 to 72 degrees F) for three to four days.
- Do not shake the bottle or move it around unnecessarily. Leave it be.
- After about 24 hours of brewing itself, the bottle will start to feel hard as the pressure builds.
- After three/four days, the bottle should be very hard -- resist the urge to shake it up or open it, you will ruin your root beer. Place in refrigerator overnight. This arrests the yeast action.
- After chilling, decant into a glass and enjoy.
- Note: There will be leftover yeast in some sludge at the bottom of the bottle. Be careful decanting as you get to bottom of the bottle. That yeast will be skunky.
- Another note: The yeast is still working! Drink this up right away, keep it chilled.