I’ve got to commend Red Star Cuvée Champagne Yeast.  I tried lagering – leaving the root beer at 10° C – since Saturday.  The plastic bottle was pretty hard for the low-test batch (low alcohol ferment), so I put it in the refrigerator last night.  Carbonation is measured by the squeeze test.  Also the ‘kaboom test,’ which should be avoided.  Red Star Yeast – a bargain.  About 10 batches can be made using ¼tsp. of yeast.  That’s 10¢ worth of yeast.

This morning, I cracked the screw-cap, and saw a pleasant bubbling come up around the edge.  The high-test batch, which is being fermented to allow for an alcohol content, is still lagering.

Warming the bottle up to 25°C or 30°C makes the ferment speed up smoothly and rapidly; I tried it with both bottlings.  we’ll see soon.  Cheap plastic bottles have revolutionized the home-bottling industry.  Lagering means leaving something in the garage at 10°C.  that’s pretty easy to do.

Why not brew beer and such?  I don’t drink alcohol, so root beer’s about it.

Astoundingly dry, with a hint of vanilla.  The rootiness made for a slight scent – can’t tell if there’s alcohol in the ferment, and I need a good test for proof.  Nice strong root beer.

You know, this lagering experiment’s been fun, but the process was quicker and easier than expected.  Here’s the recipe, from the website MAKING ROOT BEER AT HOME
©David B. Fankhauser, Ph.D.  (LINK)

It was “customized” as follows, with ingredients:

  • 1 cup table sugar [alias cane sugar or sucrose]
  • 1 cup brown cane sugar
  • Gnome Root Beer Extract (TWO tablespoons)
  • Zatarain’s Root Beer Extract (one tablespoon)
  • powdered baker’s yeast (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Red Star Cuvée Champagne Yeast (¼tsp.)
  • cold fresh water
  • 1 liter spring water
  • 1 liter distilled water
  • ½tsp. vanilla extract (the good stuff)

The way to tell it was done was to take a bottle of commercial cola, 2L, and give it alternating squeezes and see which bottle was harder.  The yeast was clearly working at 10°C – after refrigerating it to stop the ferment, it rained down to the bottom of the bottle.

I’ve never tried the straight-up recipe, but what I got was a decently-carbonated root beer with no head on it, perhaps a whiff of alcohol, a very pleasant woodsy undertaste – and COMPLETELY dry, without a hint of sweetness.  May mix some Stevia into it.

Will post on the hard ferment when it gets opened.

If I try to make soft root beer again, I’ll probably use a little less abstract, and sweeten it to taste after the ferment.