Hard Root Beer
(5 gallons/19 L)
OG = 1.038 FG = 0.995 ABV = 5.5%
Kit Harrington of Root Sellers’ advises, “Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), is great for knocking the acidity down and a little goes a long way! You will need to add it 1 tsp. at a time to dial in the right amount of pH.”
4 lbs. (1.8 kg) pure cane sugar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) molasses
½ tsp. yeast nutrient
Root beer extract (quantities vary based on extract)
2-4 tsp. baking soda (added to taste)
Clean fermenting ale yeast (Champagne works well also)
2 lbs. (0.91 kg) sugar to backsweeten (added to cold keg)
Step by step
Bring sugar, molasses, and water to a boil for 15 minutes. At flame out add yeast nutrient. Once cooled to yeast pitching temperature, add the yeast and allow the temperature to rise naturally to the upper limit of the yeast’s range; you want a good and fast ferment. After 10 days, cool to near-freezing to drop out as much yeast you can. Transfer the clear finished beer into an empty corny keg and add in the root beer extract and baking soda to taste. Finally, add the sugar (dissolved in 1 qt./1 L boiling water) to backsweeten. Mix all this very well or the dense sugar syrup will drop to the bottom and make for an awkward first pint.This beer likes to be well carbonated — try 2.4-2.7 volumes — and will stay good for quite a while in a kegerator.
Packaging hard root and ginger beers:
Once the hard root beer or hard ginger beer fermentation has run its course, the next step is back sweetening and then bottling or kegging. If kegging, which is recommended for both brews over bottling, the root or ginger beer will be force carbonated. If you’re priming with corn sugar and bottling, do not use regular beer bottles as there will be more residual sugar than a normal beer, plus refermentation in the bottle, and this will likely result in exploding glass bottles, which are very dangerous and unpredictable. Instead, use bottles with thick, reinforced glass such as 750-mL bottles that are corked with a cage. Better still, use Champagne bottles. Store in refrigeration.