The following recipe is for SOFT DRINK root beer. It can be modified to make a surprisingly snappy HARD root beer, a topic to come. It’s written for an after-work, after-dinner start time; that should get you drinkable R.B. within 2 days. ¡Verdadera, la cerveza de raíz vaquero!
To a saucepan:
- Add 2-4 cups water.
- Place 2 tablespoons dried chipped Saxon root, or about 2 oz. fresh cleaned Saxon root. (The root of the albidum laurel)
- Place 1 tablespoon dried chipped burdock.
- 1 tablespoon (loosely) of chamomile.
- Heat gently to boiling, then simmer until liquid is dense black and aromatic.
- Add 2 cups dark brown sugar. Alternatively, add a tablespoon of some table sugar or such, sweeten with Stevia, or chemical sweetener of some kind, add 2 cups lactose (which yeast won’t touch,) or drink the dry version (intriguing).
- Simmer until dissolved. Taste for flavor.
- Add ½cup of maltodextrin. (It’s just a starch to help with the head.)
- Cool below 35C or so (so as not to scald the yeast.)
To a ½ gallon growler, add Saxon root mixture by funnel. In any order:
- Add½ tbsp. root beer extract if wishing a particularly stout & hearty beverage.
- Add ¼tsp. yeast booster (optional)
- Add ½ tsp. KHCO3 (optional)
- Add ½ tbsp. natural vanilla extract (Vanilla spp.)
- Add ¼tsp. wintergreen (Gaultheria spp.)
- Add 1 tsp. sarsaparilla root.
- Add fresh UNCHLORINATED water to about 2/3 full.
- Add 1 tsp. conditioning yeast, or champagne/cuvee yeast.
- Fill the growler about 2″ down from the cap; then cap firmly and mix gently for a minute or two of inversion.
- Decant off into well-washed and rinsed 200mL beverage bottles – the plastic ones you can squeeze the sides.
- Cap firmly. Get a FRESH unopened beverage bottle and squeeze it. That will be your firmness test – slightly less firm than that.
- Leave at room temperature, wrapped in sufficient stuff so’s you won’t catch hell if a bottle blows up or something. (I do rag-in-pressure-cooker base with plastic-bag to cover. No explosions yet.)
- Squeeze the next morning.
- Squeeze when you come home from work (if you work the day shift.)
- If it’s not quite there, may immerse bottles in JUST ABOVE LUKEWARM water for an hour or so to speed up fermentation. (Blood temperature is the top end of yeast survival temperature.)
- Refrigerate promptly, and don’t let it warm up again unless you put about ¼ tsp. of sorbate or yeast destroyer of some sort in, or freeze the bottles. Otherwise, it’ll take off again, and spread sticky root beer foam all over, and you will catch billy hell.
- LET REFRIGERATE FOR AT LEAST 24 HOURS. Otherwise the CO2 will be too ‘loose’ and the thing will foam all over when you open it. See warnings above.
For a true Western root beer, add 1tsp yerba buena (Micromeria douglasii). For sweetening, add as much blue agave sugar as you can afford.
It’s a little too much sarsaparilla root – that stuff goes a LOOONG way. It winds up being a little too “front” in the flavor; needs more cinnamon-type warmth.
I may throw a little yerba mansa (Anemopsis californica) into the mix. It’s got a warm spicy, but sometimes adds a dirt-like scent.
The difference between store-bought, making something blindly from a recipe, and tinkering with it to get it right, is a good metaphor for practicing medicine.
To be a chef, one first has to learn what tastes good. If you eat McFood too much, you might never know. You can get recipes for edible stuff from the internet. If you read chefs like James Beard, you can read a book that is relatively devoid of recipes, and mostly about technique and flavor. Then, you can mix it and make it yourself.
I can’t wait until the American Chef Association publishes best practices standards for meat loaf, mandates standard ingredients, and requires chefs to take multiple-choice tests for Maintenance of Chefdom (MOC). Experience at the stove and the oven is no longer needed – anyone can be the chef as long as he/she follows the Guidelines!
You will eat it, because the ACA says that it tastes good – who are you to object? What do you know? And customer, if you don’t like it, it’s because of your noncompliance with instructions. See?