I cracked open a bottle of my homemade root beer this morning after getting my eldest girls' breakfast- I think I've figured out the formula for Kid Beer. I took a drink-a little bitter, a little sweet, a bit yeasty. Flavorful, and has a nice head on it. I took another drink-yup, I now understand the concept of soft beer and how it eventually led to Root Beer.
I let my daughter try it(along with a bottle of cream soda from extract that has yet to carbonate), and she told me that she loved the big bottle better then the small bottle. Sure enough, the big bottle is my homemade root beer. I'm not sure how much alcohol is in it, but I'm willing to bet it's a little stronger then the 0.5% that is normally found in homemade sodas. My guess is that it's more on the 2-3% side, as it definitely has a slight alcoholic tang to it, although that could just be the full-bodied flavor of the ale yeast.
Anyways, traditional root beers call for two things in the recipe-a sweetening agent, and a bitter agent. It gives it a more complex flavor, and back in the day helped to mask the off-taste of leaky bottles which allowed some spoilage or the off-taste of bad yeast cultures. I think I used a bit much of my bittering agent(licorice root), and not enough of my sweetening agent-particularly the Sarsaparilla. I used 3 oz. of Sarsaparilla in a 1.5 gallon batch, but the recommended ratio is 3-5 oz. per gallon. I figured that it would be ok since I had a long list of ingredients. The sarsaparilla was sure to come out and enhance the other flavors-right? Wrong.
Next batch of root beer is going to use at least 5 oz. per gallon, and I'm going to exclude the licorice root. I'm also going to use star anise(instead of anise seed) next time around, as I didn't get any of the black licorice flavor I was looking for-although it was detectable when smelling the brew.
This wasn't a failure-it's a totally drinkable root beer. It's not what I was going for when I envisioned the root beer in my head though. However, I think if I allow my oldest daughter to drink this to her heart's content, she may just end up a little tipsy.
I won't do that. On a weekday anyways.
Click here for the first part of this article
Click here to read the recipe and process of making this homemade root beer