This was my first homebrewing project, a porter flavored with root beer extract. Under the tutelage of my housemates, I went down to the home brewing supply store and bought malt extract and about a pound of specialty malts and a small bottle of root beer extract. Everything else we had at home.
The next Saturday came and I dedicated it to my beer making. The are other nodes to tell you what all that involves.
A few weeks later, after fermentation, after bottling and some time to condition, on an appropriately warm afternoon, I tried the homebrew. For some reason, the carbonation didn't take too well, so it went back to sit for a week. After that time, I tasted again, it was a little too bitter from the extract. However, poured over a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream, it was an exceptional root beer float.
My second root beer was brewed on Monday August 27, 2001. It was based on a root beer recipe from Charlie Papazian. His recipe is an unfermented process, and is intended to be force-carbonated by using a keg and a gas cylinder. My intentions, however, were to start an initial fermentation, then bottle condition the result. Hard root beer was the goal. The recipe:
The malt was steeped in 2 gallons of water as it came to a boil, then removed. The molasses and shredded herbs were then mixed with the water and boiled for about 45 minutes. The fragrant wort was then strained over ice, then decanted into a 5-gal fermenter. Once the wort had cooled sufficiently, 5 grams champagne yeast was added.
For the next 8 days I scrutinized that damn fermenter for any sign of life. I nearly gave up multiple times. The yeast refused to flocculate. Around day 20, I realized I had been obsessing, and decided to ignore it for like 5 days or so. At the end of that time I bottled 16 bottles (the batch should have made almost 50+) and dumped the rest. I put the bottles down for conditioning; this hard root beer had already missed summer, I was in no hurry.
Four bottles of the experimental liquid made it to Chez Roninspoon in November. (Those four bottles also made it out of his icebox.)
misuba once said "root beer is the nectar of the gods", so I want him to be on hand for the first tasting of this concoction.
He and I taste it first. "It's like no root beer I've ever tasted," is his response, and I must agree. It is lightly carbonated, but swirls as if it is a little thick. The taste of molasses comes right through (Papazian says that a cup of molasses will show its taste through a 5 gallon batch of beer). The taste of the component herbs has mellowed and melded nicely, but not into what I would identify as "root beer". I have no means to judge whether or not this is a mistake or a rustic harkening back to a pre-mass-produced constructed beverage.
Quizro shows up, so I hand him a cuppa, "Here, taste this, attempt to leave any preconceptions behind you."
"Okay, but I see steak sauce and lemons on the table, what preconceptions could I possibly have?" he drinks it, "This tastes, um, interesting."
factgirl nails it right on the nose, "It's almost but not entirely unlike root beer."
And Roninspoon suggests that it might make a different marinade for chicken, which was another sign that he is an excellent host.
This issue of Irregular Zymurgy was posted Tue Nov 27 2001