This weekend, I gave a shot at my first non-extract root beer. I used the 1912 Fleishman recipe (http://www.root-beer.org/recipe2.htm), adjusted down for just one gallon. Through a bit of a mishap (my brain focuses more on prices than an details sometimes) I ended up with sassafras leaves instead of sassafras root. Overall the product turned out pretty well. Having used ginger instead of hops, I ended up with a pretty decent flavored ginger beer, instead of the root beer I was hoping for. However one thing I had noticed while bottling, was that my brew had taken on an almost syrupy texture. Not quite as thick as pancake syrup but a lot thicker than tea normally would be.
Earlier this morning, by coincidence I was reading "Organic Orcharding" by Gene Logsdon, and stumbled across some interesting trivia. In the book, while discussing sassafras, Logsdon notes that sassafras leaves were/are often used as a thickener in gumbo.
I suppose at this point I would wonder about the potential applications of sassafras leaf as an intentional thickener in sodas. I actually really enjoyed the texture that was produced, as it was very soft textured having a really nice thickness to it, without being too thick. I think if I use this intentionally on a future brew, I might cut back on the amount, or possibly add it a little later in the process so as to create a little less thickness.
Has anyone else ran into this or heard of sassafras leaf being used to intentionally alter root beer texture?