Kids · Recipes

Grandpa’s Rootbeer Recipe


One thing I will always member about my grandparents is their homemade rootbeer. They made it in an old tin garden tub, siphoned it into  old green glass bottles. It tasted nothing like store bought rootbeer. It taste so much better. Less sweet and more earthy root flavors. Any man was it bubbly.My grandpa would always open a new bottle outside and have a couple of empty glasses ready to “catch” the cascade of bubbles that erupted from the bottle. I am pretty sure this came from my grandmother getting tired of cleaning up the sticky mess in the kitchen everything a new bottle was opened.

I remember they always had a stash of green bottles wrapped in an old wool blanket in the basement. My grandpa called it putting the bottles to rest. In order for the yeast to ferment and make bubbles it has to sit for several weeks. It was like treasure , just waiting in the basement for it’s time to be found.

My grandparents started making rootbeer when my mom was a little girl. My grandparents were very poor. My grandfather grew up on a farm during the great depression. One of eight boys. They had to wait for their older brother to grow out of the one pair of shoes they owned before they could wear them. So they learned to appreciate the simple things in life. They could not always afford lavish treats for the kids, but making rootbeer was a frugal way to give the kids something special.

My grandparents experimented with many different rootbeer extracts , but finally decided that Hires worked the best. Unfortunately, for awhile you could no longer get the hires extract that they liked. We went years without homemade rootbeer. It was very sad. But I finally found it again, thanks to the power of the internet. So rootbeer making is back in business.I still make this for my own kids. We still use the big tin garden tub and I put it in the same green glass bottles. Because why mess with a good thing.


My grandparent’s spent years perfecting this recipe. Hope you like it!


1  40z. bottle Hires Rootbeer Extract

5 pound bag of sugar (less one cup)

4.75  gallons of water

1/2 teaspoon yeast granules




  1. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon yeast granules in one cup warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove one cup sugar from a 5 pound bag of white granulated sugar. Add one 4 oz. of Hires rootbeer extract to the remainder of the 5 pounds of sugar. fill the bottle with warm water and rinse the remaining extract into the sugar.
  3. Add 1.5  gallons hot water to the sugar and extract. Stir to dissolve.
  4. Then add 3 1/4 gallons water, ending temperature should be luke warm, about 90-95 degrees to support the yeast growth. So add the water slowly adjusting the temperature of water added so that you achieve the right temp.
  5. Add the yeast and mix thoroughly.
  6. Siphon (using a sterile food grade siphon) into sterilized glass bottles and cap. Make sure you are using seamless glass bottles, otherwise the bottles could burst.
  7. Lay bottles on their side in a warm place for 2-3 days ( 65-75 degrees) Then store in a cool place to prevent bursting. My grandparents stored them in the basement. should be consumed with a few months.


Warning: will produce a lot of carbonation. Open outside or in the sink and have glasses ready!







10 thoughts on “Grandpa’s Rootbeer Recipe

  1. I was very excited when I saw this title in the reader… I have been searching for a good “yeast” root beer recipe… I will definitely be trying this… (my wife like most french people hates root beer… they think it tastes like medicine… but I love it and have so many fond memories around family and homemade root beer…)



  2. What a great post! I love the family history and that you still use the same washtub and bottles they used. Kind of sad about the shoes, but I’d guess they made do.

    We’ve never tried to make root beer. I’m going to show this to my husband, maybe we’ll try it. 🙂


      1. You know I think I misspoke, I am pretty sure it was microbiology… don’t ask me what I was thinking. 🙂 We made rootbeer and a small thing of sauerkraut, and had a “party” where were at fermented food. Did you know chocolate is a fermented food?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I just loved this post! I am fascinated by the way people lived on so little and made do during the depression just to survive. There is too much waste and non-frugality today. I may have to try this recipe, I bet it is delicious!😀


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