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
- Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon yeast granules in one cup warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- 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.
- Add 1.5 gallons hot water to the sugar and extract. Stir to dissolve.
- 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.
- Add the yeast and mix thoroughly.
- 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.
- 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!