Homemade root beer is earthy, bold, and sweet all at the same time.
Notes: Sassafras root bark, birch bark and sarsaparilla root bark are available at some homebrew and herb shops. You can also order them online from Lhasa Karnak. Ale yeast can be found at homebrew shops, or you can order it online. Home brewed root beer has a slight alcoholic content (around 1%). If chocolate mint is unavailable to you, substitute spearmint. Be sure to sanitize the plastic bottles before use.
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- Yield:makes about 1 gallon
- Active time: 40 minutes
- Total time:3 to 5 days
- 1 gallon filtered water, divided
- 1 tablespoon sarsaparilla root bark (see note)
- 1 tablespoon sassafras root bark (see note)
- 1 tablespoon birch bark (see note)
- 3 star anise pods
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed ginger
- 4 sprigs chocolate mint (see note)
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/8 teaspoon ale yeast
Combine 2 quarts water, sassafras, sarsaparilla, birch, mint, star anise, ginger, and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let steep for 2 hours.
Strain liquid through fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth into large pot. Add remaining 2 quarts water along with the brown sugar and molasses. Stir until mixture is integrated, then cover.
Let cool to 75°F, then stir in yeast and let it sit for 15 minutes. Fill plastic bottles with mixture, leaving 2 inches of space at top. Screw on caps. Keep bottles at room temperature for 36 hours, then open a bottle slowly and carefully to see if it is carbonated enough. If it is, then go on to step 4. If not, reseal the bottle and let rest for another 12 to 24 hours until desired carbonation is reached.
Place bottles in the refrigerator for 2 days before drinking. You can store refrigerated root beer for about one month.