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Old 09-25-2009, 09:58 PM   #1
oneisunoeuf
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Default Alcoholic Root Beer

I have been thinking about making a batch of alcoholic root beer as an experiment. How would I go about leaving behind some residual sugars in order to make the root beer sweet without having the bottles explode? So normally, I guess one bottles the root beer during primary fermentation before the yeast consumes the sugar, and this is why normal root beer is non-alcoholic and sweet. However, I was thinking I would complete primary fermentation, and let a priming sugar carbonate the root beer in the bottles. But I know that if you use too much of the priming solution, the beer can explode. Do you know if it is possible to use an an elevated amount of priming sugar to carbonate the root beer, and then de-activate the yeast by refrigeration before the bottles can overcarbonate and explode? Thanks for your help and if you have any suggestions, please share.

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Old 09-25-2009, 10:27 PM   #2
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you can up the sweetness by using unfermentable sugars like lactose, if i'm correct. or use another unfermentable sweetener. perhaps stevia? you really don't want to add additional priming sugar, just the usual 4-5oz or whatever it is. also, wouldn't a few of the herbs used in making the rootbeer add some residual sweetness? i've never made one, so i'm not an expert, but i've also been considering this myself.

Maybe others who might chime in could help out better though, as i'm only brewing since April.

If i can add further...
Does anyone remember the Sam Adams hard root beer they had in that limited edition 4pk? Is there a clone of that recipe anywhere?? I'd love to make a batch of that up, though i'm not much of a Sam fan. The stuff was damn interesting and hold sentimental meaning to this brewer. (drank it the night i met my bride to be)

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Old 09-25-2009, 10:38 PM   #3
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or pour vodka into some A&W...viola

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Old 09-25-2009, 11:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobcatBrew View Post
or pour vodka into some A&W...viola
ok, remember we are on a DIY site basically but I guess that would take opening 2 things so maybe your onto something
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Old 09-26-2009, 04:07 AM   #5
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So roommates and I tried this back in college - 'cuz we just knew we'd have more female attention than we would know what to do with when we pulled it off. Err, made alcoholic rootbeer.

We had several brew sessions under our belts at that point (7 - 10 if I remeber correctly) but were still brewing in the plastic starter fermenter. Our homebrew shop sold many flavorings and extracts for making licquor (mix with vodka) and sodas, and we picked up an ale yeast (dry) and a bottle of the rootbeer soda extract. Not caring about the flavor from the fermentables, we got bags of sugar from the grocery store.

It all went well enough to start: sugar, water, yeast, rootbeer extract and furious activity in the airlock - for an hour or two. Then nothing. We even set the fermenter in a tub of warm water to try to rouse the yeast. No luck. Went back to the homebrew store and puchased more yeast (at the suggestion of the clerk, mind you) and nutrient. Tried pitching that, with the same effect.

On further discussion with LHBS staff, we all realized that the soda extracts PURPOSEFULLY KILL YEAST after a short time to prevent bottle bombs. If you mix this stuff up with the intention of creating soda and bottle it immediately, you'll have enough lifespan to carbonate but not detonate, while retaining plenty of sweetness. We would likely have been ok had we added the flavoring after primary fermentation was complete.

Alas, the co-eds were to be disappointed. We didn't want to risk another failed batch on our limited budget, and so called our grand experiment a failure and moved on.

To keep a long story from getting too much longer: We poured the batch out, but the plastic tub was stained with rootbeer odor. Our next 2 batches had a varying degree of rootbeer aroma, which actually garnered many compliments (one was a brown ale, IIRC). So I can't say it was a total loss.

If I were to try again, I'd probably try to find a strain of yeast with low alcohol tolerance and keep it fermenting until it couldn't tolerate any more. I'd then add sugar to backsweeten, dump in the flavoring and force carb it. If bottling, I'd look to add some potassium sorbate. See this thread: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f30/pota...weeten-123599/

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Old 09-26-2009, 02:20 PM   #6
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Here's my method:

Make a base beer, a wheat is a good choice for body and head retention.
When it is fermented out, add extract and sweeten to taste with lactose and/or a non-nutritive sweetener.
Add priming sugar and bottle or keg and force carbonate.

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Old 09-26-2009, 02:56 PM   #7
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How'd that come out David?

Good enough to make again or just so-so?

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Old 09-26-2009, 05:00 PM   #8
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It came out well. Took some to a club meeting and the younger members liked it, even some of the hopheads. I doubt I'll make it again, just because I rarely repeat anything.

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Old 09-26-2009, 05:08 PM   #9
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Dark Rum & RootBeer used to be a crowd pleaser around here.

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Old 09-26-2009, 05:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42 View Post
It came out well. Took some to a club meeting and the younger members liked it, even some of the hopheads. I doubt I'll make it again, just because I rarely repeat anything.
I'll have to give it a try this winter...thanks.
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