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Best source for root beer extracts

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ELittle

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Hi, im looking for source recommendations for root beer extracts. I have found tons of them online, but im wondering if there is a golden standard or some well liked ones out there. Thanks for any help.
 

PintOfBitter

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I've only ever seen 2 brands around - Rainbow and Gnome. I believe Gnome is well regarded, but never used either. Have you considered going with raw ingredients?
 
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ELittle

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Yeah, im thinking about making both kinds, I just wanted to try extract first so i could see how they compared.
 

Shooter

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Ha! I was in Dublin a few days ago. Damnit. Thanks for the info.
As was I, picking up more root beer extract. They have their own brand. If you decide to try it, make sure you ask at the counter. They have third party extracts on the shelf, but you have to get the root beer extract from behind the counter. They have three different flavors of root beer. I've tried their #2 and #3, both good, but I prefer #3. The #1 extract is their biggest seller. I've got a bottle of that carbonating right now.
 

brewdragon

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Sprecher makes the best root beer extract we have ever done. It is a huge success with all our friends and family (cream soda is good too).

(Note: must be kegged...not an option to yeast carb.)
 

Shooter

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As was I, picking up more root beer extract. They have their own brand. If you decide to try it, make sure you ask at the counter. They have third party extracts on the shelf, but you have to get the root beer extract from behind the counter. They have three different flavors of root beer. I've tried their #2 and #3, both good, but I prefer #3. The #1 extract is their biggest seller. I've got a bottle of that carbonating right now.
Just a further update. The #1 Hoptech root beer is done and also very good, a tad more licorice flavor, hard to say which I like better #1 or #3. My wife likes the #2 best...so, great, now I have to keep all three on hand! :mad:
 

Brewin_the_goods

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I've only had homemade once (bottled anyway), and the brewer told me he used McCormicks extract. Tasted really good, like a root beer beer.
 

jcobbs

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I've been brewing up some sodas for the kiddies and gotten pretty good results with ordinary McCormick's extracts from the grocery store and some cheap baking yeast. The root beer is a good one. Also just bottled some using McCormick's raspberry extract. I wanted to leave it clear but the yeast colored the water a bit, so I put 5 drops of red food coloring in a gallon batch. It is the prettiest shade of pink I've ever seen in a beverage. I wish I could make a wine that color!
 

lustreking

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Look for Zatarain's root beer extract... very tasty with a bit more mint/spice than Gnome or Fermentap. I made it a few times with brown sugar to give it some body and further flavor.
I like Zatarain's too. I've made it with a mix of sugar and honey for the same reason you used the brown sugar.
 

mordantly

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Old Fashioned Root Beer

From Excellent Recipes for Baking Raised Bread (the Fleishman Company, 1912)

Time: 6-7 Hours Serves: 32
Ingredients
Instructions

1 cake, compressed yeast
5 pounds, sugar
2 ounces, sassafras root
1 ounce, hops or ginger root
2 ounces, juniper berries
4 gallons, water
1 ounce, dandelion root
2 ounces, wintergreen
The US FDA determined natural sassafras to be carcinogenic in the 1930s. The sale of natural sassafras has been outlawed since. For more information, see the Encyclopedia Rootannica.
1. Wash roots well in cold water.
2. Add juniper berries (crushed) and hops.
3. Pour 8 quarts boiling water over root mixture and boil slowly 20 minutes.
4. Strain through flannel bag.
5. Add sugar and remaining 8 quarts water.
6. Allow to stand until lukewarm.
7. Dissolve yeast in a little cool water.
8. Add to root liquid. Stir well.
9. Let settle, then strain again and bottle. Cork tightly.
10. Keep in a warm room 5 to 6 hours, then store in a cool place. Put on ice as required for use.
 

Guinness

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I picked some up at my LHBS, brand was Royal. Haven't tasted it yet.
 

zorcy

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I have used Zaterans as well. the history of the company started with it. nice read. i picked up a case since they were so cheap. kids ask about them all the time now.
 

mack25

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+1 on the Zatarans. Great stuff, plus you can't really beat the price.
 

bobberuchi

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As was I, picking up more root beer extract. They have their own brand. If you decide to try it, make sure you ask at the counter. They have third party extracts on the shelf, but you have to get the root beer extract from behind the counter. They have three different flavors of root beer. I've tried their #2 and #3, both good, but I prefer #3. The #1 extract is their biggest seller. I've got a bottle of that carbonating right now.
I believe that this extract is now available at the HomeMade Soda company.
 

bobberuchi

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That's correct, he sold HopTech off a couple of years back and does the soda business through the web.
I went ahead and contacted the owner of Home Made Soda Company. I ended up ordering the 3 pack kit that includes 3 extracts, 3 packs of yeast and the foam enhancer. Whatever his root beer tastes like his customer service is great. I should have my order in a day or two and have a batch brewed up that night.

I have heard good reviews on their soda on other forums as well and I am very hopeful that this particular extract will fill a taste void I have been trying to fill for years.:ban:
 

ryangibson77

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Does anyone know where to get safrole-free sassafras extract?

I am just getting into making root beer, and want to make it from scratch with my kids, but my kids are probably going to drink as much or more than I will, and don't want to give them something that could potentially give them cancer at some point. :drunk:

I have been searching the web high and low, and other than some shady deals on Ebay, I have been completely unable to uncover a reputable source of safrole-free sassafras extract, or even an artificial sassafras flavoring...where do the commercial root-beer manufacturers get it?

Also, does anyone know which or if any or all of the root-beer "kit" extracts are safrole-free or not?
 

ryangibson77

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I just bought the only book I could find on making Root Beer, and virtually every recipe in it uses sassafras...even his "modern" recipes.

Nearly every recipe I've seen online is similar...the recipe authors all basically say "don't use sassafras, the FDA says it will kill you" and then go on to list a recipe that uses sassafras...for example: http://www.greydragon.org/library/brewing_root_beer.html

Also, if you go to the "kit extract" pages, it lists the main flavors in it, which also contain sassafras: http://homemadesodacompany.com/rootbeer3.aspx

If you know of a good repository of sassafras-free recipes, please let me know!
 

Shooter

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I just bought the only book I could find on making Root Beer, and virtually every recipe in it uses sassafras...even his "modern" recipes.

Nearly every recipe I've seen online is similar...the recipe authors all basically say "don't use sassafras, the FDA says it will kill you" and then go on to list a recipe that uses sassafras...for example: http://www.greydragon.org/library/brewing_root_beer.html

Also, if you go to the "kit extract" pages, it lists the main flavors in it, which also contain sassafras: http://homemadesodacompany.com/rootbeer3.aspx

If you know of a good repository of sassafras-free recipes, please let me know!
I'm not even sure if that extract contains actual sassafras. You will note that it contains the "taste" of sassafras. It might also taste like victory to some people and have what plants crave. :confused:

I think what you're going to find is that most commercial rootbeers are utilizing wintergreen and most home recipes still call for sassafras. The recipe authors are just covering themselves so that if you do develop cancer thirty years from now from drinking five gallons of root beer a week you can't come back and say you had no idea. If I was brewing up an "authentic" batch of root beer every now and then, I'd probably just use sassafras. I don't really put it on the same level as a recipe that calls for a dram of quicksilver. You know, to aid digestion. Now, where's my laudanum?!!?

:mug:
 

ryangibson77

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I'm not even sure if that extract contains actual sassafras. You will note that it contains the "taste" of sassafras. It might also taste like victory to some people and have what plants crave. :confused:
Brawndo!! :rockin:

I think what you're going to find is that most commercial rootbeers are utilizing wintergreen and most home recipes still call for sassafras. The recipe authors are just covering themselves so that if you do develop cancer thirty years from now from drinking five gallons of root beer a week you can't come back and say you had no idea. If I was brewing up an "authentic" batch of root beer every now and then, I'd probably just use sassafras. I don't really put it on the same level as a recipe that calls for a dram of quicksilver. You know, to aid digestion. Now, where's my laudanum?!!?
:mug:
I'm pickin' up what you're puttin' down...and if I was just brewing a batch here and there for myself, who cares...however, this is for my kids, who will probably drink a lot of it...and I don't want to have to ration it out for fear they might drink enough of it to have a problem down the road. That's not to say we let them drink soda all day anyway, I just don't want to have to worry about them getting cancer or liver damage from it more than we are already concerned about obesity or their teeth rotting out. Maybe it's nothing...I just don't want to take that chance on me kids, ya know?

I just don't see any recipes that indicate how to replace sassafras with wintergreen, or any other herb. I'm an experienced all-grain brewer, but these roots and herbs are completely new to me, so I don't know how to substitute anything yet...and there is virtually zero documentation, (including the nearly worthless book I just bought) that has a decent written description of the flavors of the various ingredients.
 

Shooter

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I'm pickin' up what you're puttin' down...and if I was just brewing a batch here and there for myself, who cares...however, this is for my kids, who will probably drink a lot of it...and I don't want to have to ration it out for fear they might drink enough of it to have a problem down the road. That's not to say we let them drink soda all day anyway, I just don't want to have to worry about them getting cancer or liver damage from it more than we are already concerned about obesity or their teeth rotting out. Maybe it's nothing...I just don't want to take that chance on me kids, ya know?

I just don't see any recipes that indicate how to replace sassafras with wintergreen, or any other herb. I'm an experienced all-grain brewer, but these roots and herbs are completely new to me, so I don't know how to substitute anything yet...and there is virtually zero documentation, (including the nearly worthless book I just bought) that has a decent written description of the flavors of the various ingredients.
I hear what you're saying. I don't know if I've ever seen a home recipe that contains wintergreen. The Creswell book uses a LOT of sasafrass!! Personally, I've only ever made root beer from the Homemade Soda Company extracts, but the recipes in his book for kvass and switchel are both pretty good.
 
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First, bravo on the idiocracy references.

Second, I've used Rainbow RB extract and it's very good. I'd like to try a different one next time, but I'm surprised how well it turned out. I made 4g per this recipe. I used a cup less table sugar, and no maltodextrine. It certainly doesn't need the maltodextrine. And I would cut back another cup of the table sugar. My kids are hammering it hard. It won't last long.

I would like to go "all grain" too. Everything I saw everywhere indicated that sassafras has been replaced with wintergreen.

sassafras is almost a palindrome. Almost.
 

ryangibson77

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I just found a recipe that calls for wintergreen instead of sassafras. I haven't tried it yet, but its a start. I will order some raw ingredients to experiment with in the same general proportions and/or similar to other recipes in the Creswell book. I'll post back in a couple weeks after I make a batch. :mug:
--------
http://www.inventionsthatwork.com/soda recipes.htm

Root Beer ( Makes 1 litre of concentrate for 10 litres of Root Beer)

Most Root Beers available today use Oil of Wintergreen or the synthetic equivalent Methyl Salicylate instead of sassafras due to safety concerns. This oil in combination with anise oil (strong liquorice flavour) creates a nice root beer flavour.

5 drops Oil Of Wintergreen
2 drops Oil of Anise
10 Tablespoons Molasses (adds flavour and "head" to the root beer)
20 drops Natural Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon (4.5 grams) Citric Acid (can substitute lemon juice-3 Tablespoons)
4 cups (900 grams) Table Sugar
2 cups (460 ml) Spring Water or Filtered Tap Water (preferably with chlorine removed)
 

MrFoodScientist

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My Dad used to make root beer with Hire's root beer extract. It was delicious!!!
Yeah! My Dad did too!!! Wonder what happened to that brand....
It was sold off by whichever of the big three were contracted to bottle it.
The brand is alive and well in Sandy, UT which includes one of the original "Big H" drive-ins. In and around Salt Lake City you can find the extract in grocery stores or you can buy it direct:
http://store.hiresbigh.com/rootbeer-extract

There's a cherry flavor and vanilla flavor on their website that you can add to your root beer as well. I went to school with some guys that did product development for them, though I don't see that the product they were working on ever made it to market.

I don't think a lot of modern rootbeer contains sassafras. My understanding is that they use wintergreen flavoring.
I'm not sure where this keeps cropping up from, but I don't believe that wintergreen is used as a direct replacement for sassafras, but it is a flavor that is commonly used in root beers along with vanilla, cinnamon, dandelion root, burdock root, sarsaparilla root, etc.

Keep in mind that wintergreen oil is one of the precursers to aspirin, which is not good to give to kids either. So pick your poison.

Does anyone know where to get safrole-free sassafras extract?

I am just getting into making root beer, and want to make it from scratch with my kids, but my kids are probably going to drink as much or more than I will, and don't want to give them something that could potentially give them cancer at some point. :drunk:

I have been searching the web high and low, and other than some shady deals on Ebay, I have been completely unable to uncover a reputable source of safrole-free sassafras extract, or even an artificial sassafras flavoring...where do the commercial root-beer manufacturers get it?

Also, does anyone know which or if any or all of the root-beer "kit" extracts are safrole-free or not?
If you want to go safrole-free, there are options out there. Pappy's Sassafras tea concentrate is not necessarily widely available, but it's available through their online store as well as Amazon. It being a straight sassafras flavor extract(without the safrole), it's a little different than the average root beer extract which is essentially a cocktail of various flavors
 

Shooter

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I'm not sure where this keeps cropping up from, but I don't believe that wintergreen is used as a direct replacement for sassafras, but it is a flavor that is commonly used in root beers along with vanilla, cinnamon, dandelion root, burdock root, sarsaparilla root, etc.

Keep in mind that wintergreen oil is one of the precursers to aspirin, which is not good to give to kids either. So pick your poison.
Not sure of the original source. I believe Cresswell might mention it in his book. I don't know that a lot or any of his recipes call for sassafrass AND wintergreen at the same time. I don't have his book in front of me at the moment, but this may be the source of the belief that the omission of sassafras often results in a substitution of wintergreen flavoring.

I do know this is also commonly mentioned on several sites, noting that, modern root beers are often flavored with wintergreen, usually along side some sort of note about the historic use of sassafrass in root beer recipes.

As for wintergreen being a precursor to asprin, I would have to do further research on that. I have found that a number of relatively harmless ingredients are often precursors to some sinister compound. I've also found life to be a precursor to death and recommend that others avoid it at all cost!;)

:mug:
 

ryangibson77

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Keep in mind that wintergreen oil is one of the precursers to aspirin, which is not good to give to kids either. So pick your poison.
As I understand it, giving aspirin (salicylic acid) to kids is only an issue if they take it when they have a fever (virus), which may cause Reye's Syndrome. It also has a level of toxicity, like just about anything else, including water. However, it is not known to be carcinogenic. It's all about moderation.

I do not plan on keeping "essential oils" around my house for a similar reason, and plan on making root beer with all dried, or possibly fresh ingredients (if I can find them). Keeping a vial of wintergreen oil where the kids could possibly get a hold of it and do taste testing on the pure oil wouldn't be good. The raw ingredients however should be low enough in concentration that creating a "tea" should be safe enough.

I just ordered a sample of most of the "common" ingredients in root beer, including sassafras, for comparison purposes. I know I am not likely to exactly replace sassafras, but may be able to get "close" using a combination of ingredients, as indicated by the recipe above.


If you want to go safrole-free, there are options out there. Pappy's Sassafras tea concentrate is not necessarily widely available, but it's available through their online store as well as Amazon. It being a straight sassafras flavor extract(without the safrole), it's a little different than the average root beer extract which is essentially a cocktail of various flavors
Thanks for the link, I'll check it out! :mug:
 

ryangibson77

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As for wintergreen being a precursor to asprin, I would have to do further research on that. I have found that a number of relatively harmless ingredients are often precursors to some sinister compound. I've also found life to be a precursor to death and recommend that others avoid it at all cost!;)
:D
I've heard that nearly 100% of test subjects who breathed oxygen died within about 100 years...so we should probably avoid oxygen at all costs... :cross: :mug:
 

bassdokes

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Also true that every person who has eaten a cumulative 5 pounds of carrots in their life have died or will die.
 
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