Making root beer is simple. You simply take water, sugar and the root beer flavoring and stir them together. However, the resulting liquid will be flat (have no carbonation). Getting carbonation into the root beer & soda is where the difficult part comes in. So you can better understand the problem, here is a brief explanation of how carbonation works:
Carbonation can be introduced into a liquid (water, beer, root beer etc.) by chilling the liquid and applying carbon dioxide (CO2) gas under pressure and forcing CO2 to dissolve in the liquid. This is called “forced carbonation”. If you have a kegging system, this is very easy to do. You simply mix up the root beer flavor or soda flavoring, sugar and water, chill the keg and the force carbonate by rocking or shaking the keg under about 30 lbs of pressure until you get the desired level of carbonation. You can also do this with the “soda siphons” that are marketed for making your own carbonated water at home using the small CO2 cartridges.
Natural carbonation is a process where the action of yeast “eating” sugars produces CO2 (and alcohol). Bread rises because the yeast creates CO2 bubbles in the dough. Beer is carbonated in the same way. Bread contains only enough sugar for the yeast to make the dough rise the proper amount. The sugar in beer is almost all used up by the yeast, which creates a lot of alcohol and a lot of CO2 (which is allowed to escape). When beer is carbonated by homebrewers in the bottle (called bottle conditioning) all of the initial sugars have been used up and the beer is flat, so a tiny bit more sugar is added - just enough to cause the correct amount of CO2 to be formed in the bottle. Since the bottle is now capped, the CO2 cannot escape and carbonates the beer.
Now on to root beer & soda problems: If you can’t force carbonate the root beer (with a kegging system or soda siphon) then you’ll need to carbonate the root beer or soda in the bottle. The problem lies in the fact that we want a lot of sugar to remain in the root beer & soda (most of it). But left to its own devices, the yeast will eat all of the sugar. Not only will this take the sweetness out of the root beer or soda, but it will create an alcoholic beverage and lots and lots of CO2. If you put the normal amount of sugar in your root beer or soda, add yeast, bottle and then keep the bottles warm so the yeast can eat all the sugar, enough pressure will build up inside the bottle until it eventually explodes. These bottle grenades are at the least extremely messy, but could actually cause serious bodily injury and even death.
So how do we solve the problem? The good news is that standard ale yeast stops working at cold temperatures. So we let the bottles sit at room temperature for a day or two to let the yeast eat some of the sugar and carbonate the root beer or soda, then we chill the bottles to 45oF or lower to stop the yeast. Note that some root beer or soda instructions call for the use of Champagne yeast. This is holdover from the days in which dry ale yeast didn’t exist. The problem is that Champagne yeast still continues to work at low temperatures. So the trick is to use ale yeast. This works fine, but you have to have enough refrigerator space to store all of the bottles, and if you make a five gallon batch, that’s 53 twelve ounce bottles. The good news is that you don’t have to make the entire batch at once. You can also make “diet” root beer by using a sugar substitute such as aspartame. Since aspartame is un-fermentable, it also solves the problem, but don't forget to add 1/2 cup of regular table sugar so the yeast can make some carbon dioxide.
Making the Root Beer: These instructions assume you’re making the entire 5 gallons of root beer with one bottle of Root Beer #1 or #3 or two bottles of Root Beer #2. If you’re making less, simply scale back the recipe appropriately (when using just one bottle of Root Beer #2 then use ½ the amount of sugar, yeast and water). When measuring smaller amounts of the root beer flavor, it might help you to know that 1 tablespoon equals ½ oz. You’ll need a container that will hold the full amount of your batch with some headspace for stirring, a long-handled spoon, enough bottles, caps and a capper, ordinary table sugar, 10 to 15 gms of ale yeast (not bread or wine yeast) and the root beer extract. Begin by putting 5 gallons of lukewarm water into the container. Stir in 4 lbs of sugar (you can use less or more to taste). Add the bottle of root beer flavor and stir in thoroughly. Sprinkle in the yeast and stir in thoroughly. Bottle and cap. Now keep the root beer at room temperature for 24 hours. Open a bottle. If you get a nice hiss, then cool down all of the remaining bottles immediately. If there’s no hiss, wait another twelve hours and check again. Repeat until you get the hiss. Don't worry if the root beer isn’t actually very fizzy at this stage. The CO2 will dissolve in the root beer after a few days in the fridge.
Making Cream Soda or Dr. Cherry: Our 2oz containers will make 4-5 gallons depending on how strong you like your soda. Follow the same instructions for making root beer.
Options: You can use cleaned 2 liter (or any size) PET soda bottles to bottle your root beer instead of glass bottles and caps. Not only is this a little safer than glass, but also allows you to easily release some pressure if the bottles get over-carbonated. You can also tell when the carbonation is right by waiting for the bottle to get hard. If you have a kegging system, The Carbonator is great little device for making up a small amount of root beer. You can make diet root beer by sweetening with aspartame and then using 1/2 cup of regular table sugar for carbonation. Since aspartame is un-fermentable, you won’t have to chill the whole batch at once.
Questions or problems? Give us a call on our advice line: 1-925-803-1455 Also find useful advice at www.homemadesodacompany.com
Root Beer Kit
These are the instructions for Homemade Soda Company’s Root
Beer Kits that include a soda syphon. These are not the general instructions for
our root beer flavors.
This kit contains a Soda Siphon, Root Beer Flavor(s), spare
CO2 cartridges (soda chargers) and optionally Homemade Soda Company Foam
Enhancer. You’ll need a set of measuring
spoons, ½ cup (dry) and 1 liter (liquid) measuring cups and something to mix
the root beer in that can hold 1 liter of liquid with room to stir (it also
helps if this container is easy to pour from).
You’ll also need some regular granulated table sugar.
Step-by Step Instructions
Start by thoroughly
rinsing out the soda siphon bottle, the tube and gasket assembly and the
overfill tube. The top of the cartridge
holder is designed to be used to remove the overfill tube. Insert the tab into the slot in the overfill
tube and turn it like a key and then pull.
Re-install the overfill tube after rinsing.
Measure 1 liter
(or 33 ozs, just a tad over a quart) of room temperature water into your mixing
container. Add ½ cup of table sugar to
the water and stir until dissolved. If
you are using Homemade Soda Company Beer Flavors #1 or #3, stir 1 1/4 teaspoons
of flavoring into the water. If you are
using Homemade Soda Company Root Beer #2, use 1/4-1/2 teaspoons. (If your kit included Foam Enhancer, add ¼ to
1/3 a teaspoon of that if you want a nice creamy head on your root beer.) Carefully pour this mixture into the soda siphon
bottle. Be careful not to overfill the
container. Insert the tube and gasket
assembly and screw the top onto the soda siphon. Make sure it is good and tight. Now put the whole soda siphon into the
refrigerator to chill. You need to get
the liquid as cold as possible in order for it to carbonate correctly. Depending on your refrigerator, this can take
between 4 and 8 hours.
It’s very important
that the liquid be cold. Be sure to
leave it in the fridge at least 4 hours, 8 hours or overnight is even
better. Once the liquid is cold, insert
a new CO2 cartridge into the holder. Do
this by inserting the thin end into the large slot angling it into the threaded
area from the back and then snap the rear of the cartridge into place. It will not go in and out through the round,
threaded end. Remove the protective cap
from the soda siphon top and carefully screw the cartridge holder into
place. Be prepared – as the holder is
screwed into place, the cartridge will be punctured and the gas will be
released into the liquid. Keep screwing
the holder until it won’t go any more.
Now vigorously shake the entire assembly for about 30 seconds. Now unscrew the cartridge holder and replace
the protective cap. Remove the cartridge
from the holder and discard (push the cartridge out of position using the small
slot on the back). Put the holder in a
Your root beer is now
fully carbonated and ready to drink.
Be careful when you dispense it!
It comes out fast so be very gentle on the lever. If you don’t dispense it all at once, keep
the rest in the refrigerator. There
should be enough carbonation and pressure to get all of the root beer out of
the soda siphon, but if you run out of pressure near the end, simply unscrew
the top, remove the gasket/tube assembly and the overfill tube and pour out the
Be sure to rinse out
the soda siphon immediately after you dispense the last of the root beer. You do not want the root beer to dry in any
part of it. Be sure to remove the gasket
and tube assembly and the overfill tube and rinse them separately. Use warm water only, never use hot
water. Also be sure to rinse out the
dispensing head. Turn it upside down,
depress the lever fully and run a stream of water into it until you see clear
water coming out of the nozzle.
Options: If the root beer is not strong enough (or too
strong) feel free to vary the amount of flavor to taste. If the root beer is too sweet or not sweet
enough, you can also vary the amount of sugar.
You can also experiment with different kinds of sugar for differing
flavors. Some folks like to add some
honey or molasses. We have found that
plain table sugar works the best. If you
want to make diet root beer, simply substitute the appropriate amount of
artificial sweetener for the sugar. If
you want a nice creamy head on your root beer, use Homemade Soda Company’s Foam
Enhancer (included with the deluxe version of this kit). Add about 1/3 of a teaspoon of Foam Enhancer
to the liquid after you add the root beer flavor.
If your root beer is
not carbonated enough, it is most likely that you didn’t get it cold enough
before carbonating. 35oF is
ideal. Try leaving the soda siphon in
the fridge over night to make sure it’s good and cold.
problems? Give us a call on our
advice line: 925-803-1455 Or visit our
website at www.homemadesodacompany.com