Hard Root Beer Recipe
By Chris Colby
A traditional twist on the now-familiar soft drink, hard root beer used to be the more-common choice among homebrewers.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Let the bottles sit at room temperature, or slightly above, for 2 weeks, and then refrigerate them for at least 3 days before sampling.
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 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.