Sunday, January 10, 2010

Root Beer #5

Since I lost recipe #4, I went back to #3, upped the bitters, as I suggested, and added wintergreen.

4 Tbsp sassafras
4 Tbsp coarse birch bark
2 1/2 Tbsp sarsaparilla
2 Tbsp wild cherry bark
2 Tbsp wintergreen leaves
1 1/2 Tbsp yellow dock
2 tsp licorice root
1 tsp burdock
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/8 tsp ale yeast
1 gal water

This is getting close to what I want. It definitely has a much woodsier aroma than commercial root beer, but it's sufficiently sweet (wondering if more licorice or something like stevia can substitute for some of the sugar, though) and has a complex, well-rounded flavor. There might be a little too much bitterness, so maybe taking the yellow dock back to 1 Tbsp would be good.

It definitely has a taste of ale that you don't find in non-brewed carbonated soda. There must be something in the roots that inhibits the yeast, because even at a steady 70 degrees, the root beer carbonates much slower than ginger ale with the same yeast. After three days, a not-completely chilled bottle got a bit of a head, but wasn't super-bubbly, so I gave it another day. Fully chilled after four days fermentation, and it has a nice bubbly feel in the mouth, but doesn't get a head or look very bubbly. 1/4 tsp of yeast in a gallon seems like a lot, but I'll have to give it a try.

Talking about it with my roommate, I counted the ingredients. Perhaps this should be called eight-tree ale. That has a good ring to it.

1 comment:

  1. What mainstream/manufactured root beers would you compare your recipes to?
    I'm a very big fan of Sprecher and I like Barq's, but I can't stand A&W or IBC (which are my sis's faves oddly enough) and concentrate's tend to be either too much like a sasparilla or cream.
    Most of the 'from scratch' I've found don't describe them in comparison to anything.
    You are about the best bit of information I've found on custom recipes.

    Have you ever tried simmering separate ingredients (to a very low amount of water) then saving them and combining as needed? I've done this for stock of beef & chicken but don't know how herbs would take to it.