The following is an excerpt from Homemade Sodaby Andrew Schloss (Storey, 2011). The excerpt is from Chapter 3: Root Beers and Cola Brew.
Root beer is a complex brew, radiating the wintergreen aroma of birch, the tang of sassafras, the woodsiness of sarsaparilla, and the palate-pumping pungency of licorice root. Modify those root flavors with floral vanilla beans and the fruity esters plentiful in raisins and you have one of the most sophisticated flavor combinations ever devised. In this chapter you’ll find more than half a dozen recipes for root beers; this one is beautifully balanced and rich-tasting. It gets its creamy mouthfeel from the addition of maltodextrin (available from most brewing supply houses and natural food stores).
Root Beer Syrup
enough for 1 gallon brewed root beer
4 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup raisins, coarsely chopped
2 ounces dried sassafras root
1/4 ounce dried wintergreen leaves
4 star anise
1/2 vanilla bean, cut into three pieces
2 cups light brown sugar
2 tablespoon maltodextrin (optional)
1. Combine the water, raisins, sassafras, wintergreen, star anise, and vanilla in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally; let simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
2. Blend the brown sugar and maltodextrin (if using), and gradually add the mixture to the simmering root infusion, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Then remove from the heat, let cool for 30 minutes, and strain.
This syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
To Mix with Seltzer:
1/2 cup root beer syrup
1 1/2 cups seltzer
1. Pour the syrup into a tall glass. Add the seltzer and stir just until blended. Add ice and serve. Makes 1 serving.
To Carbonate with a Siphon:
3 cups water
1 cup root beer syrup
1. Combine the water and syrup in a 1-quart soda siphon. Charge with CO2 according to the manufacturer’s directions. Siphon-charged sodas can be stored in the siphon in a refrigerator for up to 5 days.
2. Disperse as desired into tall glasses filled with ice, and serve. Makes 3 servings.
3 quarts lukewarm (80–90°F) water
1 batch root beer syrup
1/8 teaspoon champagne yeast (Saccharomyces bayanus)
1. Combine the water and syrup in a large container. Test the temperature; the mixture should be at a warm room temperature, from 75 to 80°F. (If it is too hot, let it sit until it cools a bit. If it is too cold, warm it over low heat.) Add the yeast and stir until it is completely dissolved.
2. Pour the mixture into sanitized plastic bottles using a sanitized kitchen funnel, leaving 1 1/4 inches of air space at the top of each bottle. Seal the bottles.
3. Store for 2 to 4 days at room temperature. When the bottles feel rock hard, the soda is fully carbonated.
4. Refrigerate for at least 1 week before serving; drink within 3 weeks to avoid overcarbonation. Makes 1 gallon.
These cocktails can be made with any kind of root beer.
Root Beer Beer
Combine equal parts chilled root beer and dark beer.
Add 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) spiced rum to 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) root beer. Serve over ice.
Add 2 ounces (1/4 cup) dark rum to 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) root beer and serve over ice in a highball glass.
Add 2 ounces (1/4 cup) coconut rum to 10 ounces (1 1/4 cups) root beer and serve over ice in a highball glass, topped with a squeeze of lime juice.
Excerpted from Homemade Soda (c) by Andrew Schloss, used with permission from Storey Publishing.
More Recipes from Homemade Soda:
• Ginger Ginger Ale
• Honeydew Mint Seltzer