Recipe ingredients and directions:
bottle washer (optional but well worth it!)
5-gallon container for mixing (not aluminum)
siphon tube (at least 3 feet long)
at least 4 dozen 12-oz bottles (be sure to use the kind
which requires a bottle opener, because the threaded
necks of the twist-off variety are too easily broken)
1 packet of champaign yeast (I usually get two, in case the
first one doesn't proof)
5 lbs of table sugar
1 bottle root beer extract (regular size)
at least 5 dozen bottle caps
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Carefully & thoroughly wash the bottles. It is best as well
as convenient to first wash them in the dishwasher to loosen
up and remove the primary dirt particles; then, scrub the
inside of each one with the bottle brush followed by several
blasts on the bottle washer to rinse it out. Inspect each
bottle by holding it up to a light -- If you still see any
dirt or debris stuck to it, either throw it away or attempt
to clean it again (this choice is usually driven by supply
versus patience). Yes, this is the biggest pain-in-the-ass
part of the whole operation, but it is important to ensure
each bottle is clean.
Dissolve a couple tablespoons of the sugar in a cup of
barely luke-warm water, and stir in the packet of yeast.
After 10 minutes or so, it should start to foam up a little.
This is called "proofing" the yeast. If it doesn't foam,
throw it away and try again with a fresh packet.
Prepare root beer mixture...
Using your 5-gallon container, thoroughly dissolve the
remaining bag of sugar in 4 1/2 gallons of luke-warm water.
Mix in the bottle of root beer extract. When the yeast has
proofed, add it to the mixture and let it stand for at least
Prepare siphon tube...
Thoroughly clean the siphon tube and affix the siphon clamp
to one end. Affix a small weight (a spoon works well) to
the other end of the tube and drop it into the root beer
mix. Tilt the bucket by propping it up on one side with an
old book or something (about 1 or 2 inches thick), and
reposition the weighted-end of the tube such that it rests
on the bottom-most corner of the bucket. A few clothespins
strategically placed around the rim can help ensure the tube
stays in place.
Fill & cap the bottles...
to leave about 1 inch of head room in each bottle. Affix a
bottle cap to each with the bottle capper. Any bottle that
should become even slightly cracked by the capper should be
discarded along with its contents.
Keep the root beer in a dark place at room temperature for 2
to 4 weeks. During this period the yeast will consume sugar
and produce CO2, thus carbonating the beverage (this phase
is known as "conditioning"). Be careful: If it is kept too
warm or left out too long, the yeast will create more
pressure than the bottles can handle, resulting in a major
mess when they all blow up -- it only takes one to start the
Monitoring and refrigeration...
for the root beer to achieve an acceptable level of
carbonation. The actual time will vary from batch to batch
due to many unknown and/or uncontrollable factors (e.g.,
mixing temperature, conditioning temperature, freshness/type
of yeast, sugar structure). In order to monitor the
progression of carbonation in the batch, you'll have to
periodically sacrifice a bottle for sampling. Open the
first one about 10 days after bottling, then check another
one every few days after that, until the desired level of
carbonation is reached -- then refrigerate the entire batch.
When the root beer has achieved the desired carbonation, you
You must refrigerate it, else you'll have your own Mutiny
requiring Bounty. Refrigeration causes the yeast to slow
down to an almost inactive level; any subsequent raise in
room temperature will speed it back up again. If you
continue to keep the bottles at room temperature, they'll
progressively become more and more carbonated and,
Root beer which has been allowed to get just a bit more
carbonated than intended is still quite drinkable -- you
just need to be more careful when uncapping in order to
avoid unintentionally decorating your ceiling (or yourself)
with twelve ounces of sticky brown liquid seeking its first
flying lesson. When opening a potentially fiesty bottle,
you'll want to "sneak" off the pressure a little at a time
by slowly raising the bottle opener until you just hear the
hiss of escaping gas, then hold that position until you see
foam starting to rise up above the surface of the liquid,
then immediately lower the opener again -- the bottle will
then reseal itself, allowing the foam to subside. Keep
doing this until you sense that enough excess pressure has
been bled off.
Category: Beverages & Drinks Recipes