This is a step by step guide to the art of root beer making (or any kind of soft drink along those lines) in your home.
You will need a few things to do this:
A strainer or cheese cloth
A large glass bottle like they use for apple juice.
Measuring cup (at least a 3 to 4 cups sized one)
And a funnel.
Some long necked heavy glass bottles (optional)
Now the Ingredients:
One package yeast
Okay first you have to make an extraction of your herbs or spices. We do this by putting water into a pot, and then putting our spices in there. What kind of spices? Well to make root beer the main spice is sassafras, you can find its dried roots in any health food store like Wild Oats. You must put alot of it in the water to get a strong taste. I have made this with just cloves, it works really well. Any heavy spice like this works well. You can also use herbs, a very effective herb is mint. Another good herb would be horehound. As you can see the selection for making your drink is as wide as your imagination, so use it. After you throw your spices in put a bunch of brown sugar into the water and stir it. Do this until the water tastes sugary enough. Now get it hot, but not quite boiling. Then turn your heat down to around 2 or 3 and put a cover over it. Let it cook for around 20 minutes to half an hour. Stir it from time to time.
Once the water tastes like it's been flavoured enough take it off the heat and put your measuring cup in a sink, with the strainer on top of it. Now pour your extraction into the measuring cup and let the strainer catch all the spices. Now put the cup aside and we will test our yeast.
Put 1/4 cup of water into a cup and then pour your package of yeast and a bit of sugar into the cup. Stir and put aside. Make sure the water is room temperature, not too hot, but not cold either. In about 5 minutes or so your yeast should be ready.
Now that your yeast is ready pour your extraction into the large bottle and then pour some cold water. Test the flavour until the extraction has been diluted enough to still have flavour. The drink should also be around room temp now so pour your yeast into the bottle. Put the cap on and shake up the bottle until everything is well mixed together. Now put it in a cool dry place and let it ferment for about 4 or 5 hours if you wish to make a non-alcoholic drink. If you do want this to become a real type of beer let it ferment for many days. One thing for sure though, every once and a while open the cap and let the pressure out, if you don't you will have a mess on your hands. Now once you have let it ferment enough to your taste either A:bottle it into glass bottles and refrigerate it, or B:put the entire large bottle into the refrigerator. This will stop fermentation. Now enjoy!
A note of warning however, bottles can blow up if you don't release the pressure, be sure to open the bottles slowly many many times while you are fementing the drink. You can also use Plastic bottles if you are worried about exploding root beer.
And for the Black and White Food Quest: dump some vanilla ice cream in your new root beer and you will have a Root Beer Float.