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CHOW Root Beer Recipe

CHOW Root Beer
Total Time: 4 hrs 25 mins, plus bottling and fermentation | Active Time: | Makes: 4 (22-ounce) bottles plus 1 test bottle (about 3 quarts)

What to buy: Most of the ingredients are available in the bulk section of a good health food store or herbal medicine shop. Ale yeast is available wherever you buy bottling equipment.

Special equipment:
You can find cheesecloth at most grocery stores and kitchen supply shops.

A fine mesh strainer is a useful kitchen tool.

Use an instant-read digital thermometer for this recipe.

Don’t forget to design some personalized labels like ours from myownlabels.com.

Look for bottling equipment at a craft-brewing supply store. You can also buy the equipment online from San Francisco Brewcraft.

  • 4 large (22-ounce), dark glass, crown-cap or bail-top bottles
  • 4 bail tops (if using bail-top bottles)
  • 4 new metal crown caps, plus more for mistakes (if using plain bottles and caps)
  • 1 wing bottle capper (if using plain bottles and caps)
  • 1 small plastic water bottle (around 16 ounces)
  • 1 small funnel
  • 1 large funnel
  • 1 (5-gallon) bucket
  • 1 bottle brush
  • 1 clean dish towel
  • 1- or 2-gallon clean glass jug with a screw-on cap (an old apple juice bottle works great)

Game plan:
Be sure to have your bottling equipment already in the sterilizing solution... read more

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 (5-inch) licorice root, broken into pieces
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried sarsaparilla root
  • 2 tablespoons dried sassafras root bark
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dried burdock root
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 3 heads star anise
  • 3 quarts distilled water (12 cups)
  • 2 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 (1/8-inch-wide) strips of orange zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon ale yeast (also called brewer’s yeast)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Place vanilla bean, roots, and spices in a medium saucepan filled with 2 quarts (8 cups) of the distilled water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer mixture, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Stir in sugar, molasses, and orange zest, and continue to simmer for 10 minutes more, stirring often until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes.
  2. Pour remaining 1 quart (4 cups) of distilled water into the clean glass jug. Line a fine mesh strainer with several layers of rinsed cheesecloth. Set the strainer inside the large funnel, and strain root mixture into the jug. Place the cap on and allow mixture to cool, aiming for a lukewarm temperature (about 70°F to 75°F). This will take several hours. Once mixture is cooled, shake vigorously.
  3. Combine yeast and 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl. Let sit about 5 minutes. Add yeast liquid to the jug through the funnel, screw the cap back on, and shake vigorously. Now you’re ready to bottle the root beer.
  4. Place the 4 filled and sealed bottles and the test bottle upright in a cool spot at room temperature (about 70°F to 75°F) to ferment (we found that the bathtub is ideal).
  5. After about 48 hours, check the carbonation by sampling your test bottle. If it’s sufficient, place labels on the bottles and refrigerate them to halt the fermentation process; if not, let them sit for another day. We found that 3 days was perfect each time.