A Beer Root Beer

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ChefJoeR

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Just wondering if anyone has brewed a root beer to be an actual beer. I have searched around the net and found a couple of tries, but they just come from letting the wort ferment like you would a beer and then bottling. This has mostly been done by accident and the taste is said to be unsatisfactory. I am thinking about doing this, but would like to see about getting some input first. I am not looking for world winning, but at least something that I can say I know where to go from there.
 

MBasile

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I got the idea a while ago to look into this for my girlfriend (she said the idea would be her favorite kind of beer). What first came to my mind is that root beer is probably sweetened with something along the lines of table sugar, and IIRC beer yeast does not ferment large amounts of "table sugar" without off-flavors. I never got around to formulating a recipe that could be fermented cleanly.
 

mitch171

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table sugar can cause some problems, I would get most of my fermentable from malt still. Use something neutral. You could probably mash really high to keep sweetness.

To back sweeten I see three options:

1. Use a sugar alternative (artificial, stevia ect.)

2. Kill the yeast off with metabisulfate, sterilize any that are left with potasium sorbate and then force carbonate in a keg.

3. Back sweeten + prime in plastic soda bottles, when they are hard put them in the fridge to stop fermentation keep them cold until you drink them.
 
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ChefJoeR

ChefJoeR

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I am thinking make a Xingu clone and tweak with turbinado and add some root beer extract for a deeper flavor. Just have to figure out what is in Xingu now.
 

airving

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My experience agrees with the linked thread stating that rootbeer extract flavor sticks around. We couldn't get the smell out of our fermenting bucket - it absolutely soaked into the plastic (no doubt glass / ss would be different). However, our next batch had a modest rootbeer quality to it that was very popular.

One further note: our rootbeer beer was doomed to failure (little did we realize at the time) when we added the soda extract to our fermenter. Given the high sugar content of sodas, this particular extract killed off the yeast after a few hours - long enough to bottle and carbonate, not enough to create bottle bombs. I couldn't tell you now what brand it was, but I expect any that are designed to be naturally carbonated would do the same.
 

HotbreakHotel

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I made a hard root beer that came out pretty decent. I used:

44.25% extract, wheat/barley blend
29.5% honey
10.25% lactose
3.75% molasses
7.25% 60L
2.5% Special B
1.85% Chocolate Malt

Ummm, I don't think those add up to exactly 100% but close enough.

20 IBU fuggles at 60 min
10 IBU fuggles at 20 min

US-05 yeast

OG about 1.095. My root beer was deceptively strong.

For the water I used a tea brewed from sassafras roots I dug up in my yard and a few oak twigs. This was to taste -- I don't know how much it was.

At flameout I added 1 tsp natural vanilla extract, 1" cinnamon stick, and 4 cloves per gallon.

I was going for something sweet, but not syrupy. That's why I added all the honey. The lactose helped some with sweetness and mouthfeel, but it wasn't enough, and I didn't think adding more was going to get me there. So at bottling I dissolved xylitol in boiling water and added it to taste. It really did the trick.

I have another batch fermenting, but I'm trying a different approach. Xylitol is so expensive, plus I would rather not have so much artificial sweetener, even though it's one of the better ones. This time I added 1 tsp dried stevia leaf to the end of boil, so I'm going to see how much I can sweeten with the stevia. When I get it into the secondary I can slowly add more and see what happens. I still might add a little xylitol because it added a nice slick mouthfeel. Also this time I did all grain, mashing really low at 148* and used 20% plain table sugar instead of 44% honey. I'll see how it works out.
 
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