I'm planning on making a batch of root beer and am trying to source my ingredients. I would like to make a non-kit, non-extract batch, so I'm looking for sarsaparilla root, sassafras root, burdock root, etc. I stopped in my LHBS and they had a few things but didn't carry the different roots. Ideally I'd like to just visit a local store but ordering online is of course an option as well. Does anyone know any stores that carry these types of ingredients in the Midwest? Chicago area or Indianapolis area are preferred as I'll be travelling between the two this weekend. Or where have you purchased these ingredients online? I did find one company, Monterey Bay Spice Co. (California) but after putting the ingredients together shipping ends up being half of the order so I thought it might be worth to shop around a bit.
Also, a few other questions regarding root beer. When looking for sarsaparilla I have seen Mexican, Jamaican, and Indian varieties. Can anyone weigh in on the difference each of these may make in your root beer?
The recipes that I have found are specifying the roots in volume (tbs typically) but the sites I have found that sell the different roots specify them by weight, typically 1/4lb increments. Does anyone have any sort of conversation as to, say, how many tablespoons of sarsaparilla you'll get out of 1/4 lb?
I'm going to put down a few I've spotted during my search and suggestions from below.
Local specialty spices & herb shop
Local homebrew shop