This past weekend my husband and I did something that brought back memories of my youth, and also memories of us being young parents with three little boys. What we did was decide it was time to brew some homemade root beer!
A couple things combined to make us decide it was time to give it a try again. My son built us this awesome rack to hold our brewing bottles of pop. We also are helping host a baby celebration for the upcoming birth of our newest grandson. We decided it would be kind of fun to have homemade root beer as one of the beverages.
Somehow during the years, since we last made root beer, we had managed to bury the bottles and equipment in a back corner of the garage. My husband dug out the crates and boxes of bottles from that back corner, and I spent an entire afternoon cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning those bottles. I was never so glad to own a bottle brush, as that afternoon!
The bottles, themselves, brought back lots of memories for me. As a kid, my Aunt Jean always brewed root beer. We begged and pleaded with my mom to give it a try also. My siblings and I spent countless hours going through ditches, looking for glass pop bottles. (This was in the days before the nickel deposit for bottles….and long before pop cans.)
Once we had amassed enough bottles, my dad purchased a bottle capper and we were set to go. That root beer was some of the best around on a hot summer day. When we were kids; pop was a luxury and our folks didn’t purchase pop very often, so we savored every sip we took. It always had a slightly yeasty taste but we thought it was wonderful.
When our sons were small we inherited the bottles and the capper. Through the years we also gathered more bottles to add to the collection. The bottles ranged from 7 ounce bottles to 32 ounce bottles. It is kind of fun to see where those bottles come from. Places like Fort Dodge, Ia, Spirit Lake, IA, Sioux Falls, SD, Mississippi, and who knows where! It is rather like a collage of old pop bottles.
Our sons fondly remember drinking ice cold homemade root beer on steamy summer days. My husband and I remember, not quite as fondly, the sound of a bottle blowing up in the middle of the night during the brewing phase.
The sound of a bottle blowing is slightly like hearing a cannon go off. At that time we lived on a different acreage and had the bottles brewing on their sides, on the steps in the upstairs stairwell. It took a long time to get the sticky, sugary root beer scrubbed off those stairwell walls. I do remember it smelled wonderfully to root beer for a long time.
This time my husband and I decided we should fill bottles in the garage as we could hose off the floor if we spilled too much. It worked great and was kind of a fun thing to do again. We ended up with 70+ bottles of root beer.
The real test will be at the end of this week when we do the taste test on a bottle. Hopefully, it is as good as we remember! I have a feeling this is an acquired taste as this root beer always tastes a little yeasty. I guess there is a great reason it tastes that way; as yeast is what is used to carbonate homemade root beer.
I am hoping that the first sip will bring back memories of years past. Memories of time spent drinking root beer with cousins, time spent making root beer with our sons and new memories to be made with family and friends.
When I was looking for quotes on homemade root beer (and not finding any!) I discovered that August 6, 2017 is National Root Beer Float Day in the United States! How amazingly cool is it that? That is the day of our baby celebration complete with homemade root beer for root beer floats.
“Life has an odd way of making things work out in the end.”
“…root beer floats are the stuff that toasts are made of.”
― Sandra D. Bricker,
If the Shoe Fits
I am editing this post to add the recipe I used. I had a request to do that so here it is:
Homemade Root Beer
1- 2 ounce bottle Root Beer Extract (I used Schilling)
5 gallons water
5 pounds white sugar
1 large teaspoon dry yeast
1 cup warm water
Put the yeast in the cup of warm water with 1 teaspoon of sugar
Mix the extract with the rest of the sugar
Pour the rest of the water into a large bucket (not metal)
Add the sugar/extract mixture
Add the yeast mixture
Bottle in clean sterilized glass pop bottles.
Cap with bottle caps (can get these from bottling companies).
Put bottles on their side in a warm place for 2-4 days.
Move to a cool place to store.
Chill well before serving.