|There are two things
that could be called "root beer"; one is any ale made from
roots, the other is the
modern soda pop called root beer which used to be flavored with
sassafras root, which is now illegal because it supposedly causes
cancer and not, let me make this clear, because sassafras root is
difficult to dig up and a limited commodity that can only be supplied
naturally, unlike wintergreen, which is what soda pop manufacturers use
today that is toxic but it is also cheap, plentiful and can be made
synthetically. This page and product, which I choose to call "roots
beer" to distinguish it from a soda pop, is about the alcoholic ale
or beer that is made from roots, although, truth to tell, there is not
a lot of difference between roots beer and root beer. They are both
fermented beverages. One is just fermented longer and so it has more
alcohol than the other. The other product, a more soda-like root beer,
can be found here
1 quart of spiced water
Issue: use of sassafras root
are various products made of sassafras root such as sassafras root bark that
can be used (legally) as a substitute for sassafras root, but if you've ever
smelled true sassafras root you will know that
there is a wide difference. Some people who own mature female sassafras
trees will dig up the sassafras saplings that grow around it to use the
roots for flavoring.
There are many
spices that can be used for your roots beer. A combination that will
yield a pleasant root-beer-like taste can be ginger, cloves, star
anise, licorice stick, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Other spices that
have been used are such things as juniper
white birch bark, spruce buds, and fennel seed. Some recipes will give
you an exact list and precise amount of each spice, but it may be a
long time, not to mention an expensive expedition, before you can
gather all the spices named. I suggest you use what you have
on hand plus what you can gather or forage in forest or garden plus any
spices you buy that you like.
exact proportions can vary. Try to make a record of what you use so
that you can copy it in the future if you like it, but there are so
many variables, and tradtitionally the brewer would use what was in
season or available locally that there can be no, one, precise recipe
for any flavored beer.
a handful of the spices you have chosen or gathered. You can grind or
up and put in a cotton cheesecloth (muslin) ball and secure it tightly
or you can leave the material in larger pieces. The bigger the pieces
used for the spices and flavoring, the longer they will need to be kept
Put the spices in a quart of water in a slow cooker. If you want a dark-colored
soda pop, include some pieces of plant or wood charcoal in the bag.
Cover the slow cooker and steep on low heat for 1 or 2 days. When
it has steeped, remove the bag or filter out the liquid. Use the spiced water in the recipe that follows follows.
1 quart of water
potato (weigh about 3 1/2 ounces)
3" beet (beetroot) (weigh about 3 1/2 ounces)
5" carrot (weigh
about 3 ounces)
1 cup of sugar syrup (boil 1 3/4 cups of sugar in 7/8 cup of water)
1 cup yeast starter
1 tablespoon of sorghum syrup, barley malt extract or dry malt extract
and grate potato, beet and
in a gallon jar or other container
suitable for brewing and add 2 1/2 cups of boiling water. Add cup of
sugar syrup. If it has cooled down to tepid or lukewarm, add the cup of
yeast starter. Cover with an airlock (anything that will keep bugs out
but let gas escape).
it starts to ferment (froth appears on top), let it ferment for 3-7 days. (See Adjusting Alcohol to determine how long to ferment it.)
Strain it through
cheesecloth (muslin), loosely woven cloth or a fine sieve to remove
sediment. You may be able to just let it set and then pour it off the sediment slowly.
Pour into plastic soda pop bottles, adding a teaspoon of sugar syrup per bottle.
Screw cap on tightly.
bottles are firm and cannot be squeezed, ale is ready to drink. Refrigerate
and drink with 3 days.
This bottle is not
yet ready to drink.
carbonate everything in
plastic soda pop bottles. The advantages to this are that plastic
doesn't risk accidentally exploding, sending long pieces of sharp,
pointy glass into your flesh, and it's easier to check on carbonation
by squeezing a plastic bottle. It's okay to brew in glass and then
transfer to plastic when bottling. If you want to carbonate in glass
fermentation bottles, I suggest putting them in a sturdy wooden box and
packing sand around them.
use other roots?
Sure. You can use dandelion roots, burdock, cattail, chard. Any starchy
root, even turnip. You will probably need to add more sugar.
about sassafras root?
root has been used in the past as the
main flavoring ingredient of root
beer. If you have ever sniffed a sassafras root, you will know why, as
it has an exquisite taste and aroma. The US government then outlawed it
on the grounds that massive quantities of it caused cancer in rats, and
commercial root beer is now flavored with oil of wintergreen, a known
toxin that is deadly in high doses. Personally, I prefer sassafras
root, which you can't buy but you can pull up saplings under a mature
sassafras tree, and you would put into the spice concentrate water, but
I cannot recommend it here because it is illegal
and would probably violate the terms of service of this website to do
Making Beer Into Wine
you forget your beer after it has fully fermented and gone flat, you
can still make it into wine. Add more sugar syrup if it is not sweet
enough, replace caps with airlocks in case more fermentation takes
place and let it sit for 3 months to a years. Any real ale can be made
into wine. Most wines are made with a sugar ratio of 5 pounds of sugar
gallon of wine, so the recipe could be adjusted to make a gallon of
wine as such: 5 pounds of sugar, 3 potatoes, 3 beet roots, 3 carrots, 1
pint of yeast starter and a gallon of water.
Fermentation by Sandor Katz.
and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen
Taste, Health and Community With Naturally Fermented Foods by Nancy