One of my first memories at my grandmas house was getting bottles of root beer out of the fridge and pouring it into blue plastic cups for Thanksgiving dinner. The memory is vivid to this day. I was probably four or five at the time. Since I grew up with this homemade root beer recipe there is not another root beer I love quite like it.
It used to be we’d call my grandma up whenever we needed the recipe and make it as we talked. A few years ago I typed it up and that’s the recipe we use. But still, I find myself calling her and asking her trivial questions about it just because it seems necessary to talk to her while we make it.
Overall homemade root beer isn’t too difficult. You mix all the ingredients, bottle them, and wait! The two important things is to make sure you make the root beer a few days before you want to drink it and that you put it in the fridge to get cold on time. I’ll put the recipe first but make sure you read the detailed process. I include a lot of tips and tricks to make it turn out perfect!
- 5 gallons water
- 5 lbs of honey plus 1 cup
- ¼ - ½ cup molasses
- 2 bottles Watkins root beer extract
- ¼ cup vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp yeast
- Warm water and dissolve honey and molasses in water.
- Add root beer and vanilla extract to the mixture.
- Taste and add additional sweeteners or extracts if desired.
- Take a half quart of warm water and add yeast, let sit 5 minutes and add to mixture.
- Stir well and fill jars or bottles with root beer.
- Cap bottles or put lids on jars and place in dark area for three days.
This recipe can be halved or quartered. If doing so, reduce the amount of the yeast but not the amount of the water that the yeast sits in.
This is not your mix with seltzer water root beer and it’s not the fun, witches brew root beer with dry ice; this is yeast root beer. So it has a different flavor than other root beers. However, it shouldn’t taste too ‘yeasty’ unless something was done incorrectly. While you can be a little flexible with flavors, sweeteners, and the like please don’t be flexible with the yeast or the timing.
We start with honey, molasses, yeast, water, and root beer extract. This is because if we’re going to take the time to make our own root beer we want high quality and good taste. We also like to avoid processed sugars. If you want to do sugar instead, double the amount. Molasses is for the coloring plus flavoring; since we use Watkins root beer extract because it doesn’t have artificial colors in it.
Start by mixing honey and water together. You’ll want warm enough that the honey will melt but not too hot so that it kills the yeast when it dies. We start by melting everything in a pan and moving the water gallon by gallon to a big five gallon drink cooler. After all the honey is incorporated you add in the vanilla and root beer extracts and molasses.
So growing up we used root beer extract only. Once you pour it in fill the bottle full of water and pour that in as well so you can get all the flavorings. Recently, we’ve been experimenting with other flavors so if you want a more robust or distinct flavors, here are some options:
Add drops at a time, tasting after each addition.
After everything is all mixed well inside of your container, take a half a quart of warm water and add your yeast. Let it sit five minutes and then add it to the mixture. Mix everything one more time.
Make sure that when you taste it the last time it’s a little sweeter and a little stronger than you like it. The carbonation and the coldness later on will dilute the flavors.
Now bottle it! Since we use our big drink cooler we simple put a funnel in our bottle/jar and dispense the liquid into the bottle. Personally, cap bottles are my favorite. We cap them ourselves using the same technique as you would making beer. However, you can put this homemade root beer in pretty much any container that seals tightly. We often use mason jars and lids.
Store the bottles in a dark place for 2-3 days. If you are using beer/pop bottles you can lay them flat in a box and cover them with towels. After the third day all bottles must be refrigerated so that the carbonation process is stopped. After the third day they start to taste little less like root beer and a little bit more like beer which isn’t the goal here. If you leave them long enough out of the fridge, they will explode.
I hope you try it out and love it as much as we do! Let me know if you do.
You can find more of my recipes here