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-   -   Carbonating Root Beer Without A Keg (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f95/carbonating-root-beer-without-keg-240408/)

Duffman53 04-17-2011 11:40 PM

Carbonating Root Beer Without A Keg
Howdy! I was thinking about making a batch of root beer but every recipe and thread has implied that it needs to be kegged to help the carbonation.

I only bottle my beers and don't have a kegorator. Is there anything I can do to get a batch of root beer to carbonate? Couldn't I just add priming sugar when I bottle just like with a batch of beer and wait a couple of weeks for it to carbonate?

Any advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

cvstrat 04-17-2011 11:56 PM


Looks like you could just let it naturally carb.

Hazarmaveth 04-18-2011 05:20 PM

The trick is that soda is not fermented dry like beer is. There is generally more fermentable sugar than you need for carbonation, so it will keep fermenting and raising the pressure until you stop it. If you don't stop it soon enough, it over-carbonates and you get bottle bombs. You generally stop (or at least drastically slow down) the fermentation by putting the bottles in the fridge when they feel pressurized enough. You are using plastic bottles, right? They should end up feeling about as hard as a plastic bottle of commercial soda, at which point you chill them and keep them cold. This is usually a matter of days, not weeks.

I make my sodas in one-gallon batches. The recipe basically goes like this:

2 cups brown sugar
3 Tbsp malto dextrine (for mouthfeel, not really a necessity)
4 tsp or so root beer extract from the grocery store
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp anise extract
1/4 tsp champagne yeast
And the rest is water.

Mix the sugar, malto dextrine, extracts, and most of the water until everything is dissolved. You may want to heat the water to get the malto dextrine to dissolve. Rehydrate the yeast in some warm water. When everything is at a good temperature, add the yeast-water and aerate the mixture. Transfer to plastic bottles, cap them, and let them sit somewhere to ferment. Check them once a day, and when they are hard like normal soda bottles, stick them in the fridge. If you forget about them while they are fermenting, they will explode.

Duffman53 04-19-2011 02:23 AM

Thanks for your input. I was hoping to use glass bottles but that doesn't sound like a safe idea anymore.

I was hoping to use Charlie Papazian's recipe for MacJack root beer in the homebrewer's companion. He mentions to not use any yeast and I was hoping to make a non-extract root beer.

So it looks like my two options are stick to extracts and recipes that use yeast in PET bottles or buy kegging equipment.

Thanks again for your input.

duganderson 04-19-2011 07:15 PM

If you're careful and use a plastic test bottle, I have made a bunch of batches in glass 12 oz with no problems. I just like glass better.

Hazarmaveth 04-19-2011 11:17 PM


Originally Posted by duganderson (Post 2851466)
If you're careful and use a plastic test bottle, I have made a bunch of batches in glass 12 oz with no problems. I just like glass better.

Have you successfully used beer bottles? I've used the 12oz glass Coke bottles, which are built like tanks. I wasn't sure if the thinner beer bottles could take the additional pressure of soda.

oldmate 04-20-2011 06:25 AM

I am by far no expert on soda-making, but couldn't you just pasteurise your bottles? There's a sticky in the cider forum on this site. It's simple and effective, I've never had a problem with my ciders.

Hazarmaveth 04-21-2011 07:17 PM

That would work fine, but it's not my point. You can stop the fermentation well enough by sticking the bottles in the refrigerator. The thing that makes me nervous is that sodas are carbonated to two or three times the pressure of beer. On the other hand, I do have some root beer bottles that weigh exactly the same as some of my beer bottles: 7.6 oz. So it would probably work, now that I really think about it.

Erroneous 05-21-2011 03:57 AM

I've been thinking about making soda and using Thinkgeek's U-Fizz kit to carb a 2-liter bottle. The kit just connects 2 2L bottles together and you add vinegar and baking soda to one side and swirl the other around for a few minutes until you have carbonated your drink. I think that instead of the baking soda and vinegar method use yeast and sugar in one bottle. It'd take longer, but one should be able to produce the same amount of CO2 over time without having to worry about refrigerating to kill off yeast like in the natural carbing situation.

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