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Hard Root Beer Recipe

Author Photo
By Chris Colby | Jun 16, 2020

Photo by Shutterstock/Brent Hofacker

This fermented, carbonated root beer has an ABV of 4.8 percent. The easiest way to package this volume of root beer is in three 3-liter plastic bottles and one 2-liter plastic bottle. Unlike with soft root beer, you don’t have to worry about creeping overcarbonation.

Fermentation Time

Fermentation Type: Alcoholic

Primary Fermentation: 4 to 5 days

Secondary Fermentation: 2 weeks and 3 days

Total Time: About 3 weeks

Shelf Life: 1 month                

Yield: 3 gallons.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds light dried malt extract
  • 1 pound sugar
  • 1 pound lactose
  • 1 ounce Cascade hops
  • 1 ounce sassafras root bark (about 6 tablespoons)
  • 0.8 ounce licorice root (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 3 vanilla beans, or 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon yeast nutrients, such as Wyeast or White Labs
  • 11-gram sachet of Fermentis US-05 dried ale yeast
  • 7 ounces molasses (for priming bottles)


Photo by Shutterstock/COULANGES

Instructions

  1. To a 2-gallon or larger pot, add 1 3/4 gallons of water and begin heating slowly. Stir in the malt extract until it dissolves completely. Then, stir in the sugar and lactose until dissolved.
  2. Bring the mixture to boil. Add the hops, and boil for 5 minutes. Then, add the sassafras and licorice, and boil 5 more minutes. Add the vanilla and yeast nutrients, and boil 5 more minutes. You should end up with 11/2 gallons of wort (unfermented beer).
  3. Cool the wort to approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine it with 1 1/2 gallons of cool water in a sanitized fermentation bucket or a 5-gallon stainless steel pot. Use a sanitized whisk to whip the top of the wort into a froth. Sprinkle the dried yeast on top of the wort. Allow the mixture to ferment at about 68 degrees for 4 to 5 days.
  4. Add approximately 4 ounces of water to your molasses to produce an 11-ounce solution. Boil that solution for a couple of seconds to sanitize it, and then cool. Add 2 ounces of the solution to each of your 2-liter bottles, or 3 ounces to every 3-liter bottle. Siphon or funnel the wort into the bottles, leaving 1 to 2 inches of headspace. Seal the bottles.
  5. Let the bottles sit at room temperature, or slightly above, for 2 weeks, and then refrigerate them for at least 3 days before sampling.

Visit Back to the Roots of Root Beer to learn about the origins of root beer, or make your own soft drink with our Soft Root Beer Soda Recipe.

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