Everything about Brewing a Killer Kegged Root Beer at Home
Listen, I am not going to bore you with a definition of brewing kegged root beer or explain in detail how easy it to brew at home. If you are here, it’s must be because currently you are just looking for those chef’s secrets in order to ensure your first batch becomes a hit.
You are definitely in the right place as next I am going to answer those questions that are running in your mind. So, without further ado, here are some crucial things that you need to know to come up with crisp, tasty, and perfectly brewed homemade kegged root beer:
Homemade root beer (how-to in steps)
It is actually a great idea to make root beer at home as it allows you to play with different ingredients so that it suits your taste and preference perfectly. Besides, you can control the amount of sugar going in it as well. The brewing process becomes quite easy if you have the right equipment and tools for the job.
Equipment and tools that you need to have:
- Stovetop or other sources of heat.
- 5-gallon stock pots (2 units).
- Stainless steel spoon (long-handled) for stirring.
- Plastic funnel.
- Fine sieve or cheesecloth.
- Kitchen thermometer.
- Keg or storage bottles with caps.
- Cooler (optional).
Yes, there are many different recipes that you can try out by using different ingredients. However, it will be best to first master the art of making traditional root beer. Here are the ingredients that you will need for an old-school style root beer:
- Distilled water (1 gallon).
- Crushed star anise (4 pods).
- Crushed cloves (2 pieces).
- Licorice root (4 tablespoon).
- Sassafras root bark (1 tablespoon).
- Sarsaparilla root bark (1 tablespoon).
- Birch bark (1 tablespoon).
- Wintergreen (1 tablespoon).
- Grounded nutmeg (1 tablespoon).
- Crushed ginger (1 teaspoon).
- Brown sugar (1 ¼ cups).
- Molasses (1/2 cup).
- Split and seeded vanilla bean (1 piece).
- Brewer’s ale yeast (1/2 teaspoon).
Guide for homemade kegged root beer (step-by-step):
- First deal with the yeast
You will need the yeast later on in the brewing process. In order to carbonate the root beer you have to use yeast. But it will be a smart move to take care of the yeast activation process before you start. Prepare the yeast and keep it aside before commencing.
To activate the type of yeast used to make classic root beer, pour a cup of distilled water (room temperature) over it and keep the jar aside.
It should be mentioned here that you should never mix hot water and yeast. I learnt that the hard way. The heat kills the yeast and as a result the brew does not get fermented properly.
- Boiling the spices and herbs
This step is fairly easy. It is just like brewing up your favorite cup of herbal tea. Start by pouring distilled water to the 5-gallon pot. It is highly recommended that you get pots that are made with stainless steel as they are a great investment.
Into the pot add all the roots, spices, and herbs. So, you will be adding sarsaparilla, sassafras, wintergreen leaves, mint leaves, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, vanilla bean, ginger, and licorice.
Bring the water to a boil. By maintaining high heat, boil the brew for at least 30 minutes. You can boil it for few minutes more to really infuse the water with the flavors of the different spices and herbs.
You have to turn off the heat as soon as the water comes to a rolling boil. Now, let the boiled mixture sit for 2 hours to steep the herbs and spices better into the water.
- Straining the infused liquid
I have found an easy way to tell if the spices and herbs have been steeped in the water well. I noticed that most of the roots and herbs fall to the pot’s bottom. When you notice this, you should immediately remove the herbal residue from the water to get the herbal tea only.
You can avoid completely even the smaller particles if you use both strainer and cheesecloth to strain it. The liquid should be clear and few from any sort of herbal residue.
This is where you will need to use the 2nd 5-gallon pot to make the process easier. Strain the herbal tea into the 2nd pot to get it ready for the next step.
- Make it sweet
A root beer enthusiastic like me can write a saga about the importance of the sweetness of any root beer. The intense herby-fruity and mouth-feel crispy flavor of the root beer is only prominent and enjoyable when the sweetness level is just correct.
A combination of molasses and brown sugar can bring the sweetness that you are looking for in your home-brewed kegged root beer. Many new root beer brewers tend to use white sugar as they are easily available. However, if you want your outcome to be just like store-bought then skip white sugar and use these two ingredients only.
The job of molasses is to provide that distinct caramel flavor. On the other hand, brown sugar will help you to bring that signature dark brownish color.
Take the pot and put it over heat (medium to high). Keep stirring the liquid with the long-handed spoon. The trick is to boil the liquid for about 20 minutes. This will allow the liquid soak up all the sugary ingredients better.
- Cooling the brewed liquid
According to experts and my experience of brewing homemade kegged root beer, you need to cool down the liquid to around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the optimal temperature to add the yeast without killing it. Hence, do make sure of this before adding the yeast as it will massively affect the taste and texture of the root beer.
- Pitching the yeast
Yeast will ferment the liquid and provide what is necessary to transform the brewed and sweetened herbal tea into the delicious carbonated drink which everyone enjoys having.
Pour the yeast which you can prepare before starting the brewing process to the cooled down liquid. Stir it well and allow it to sit for around 30 minutes before transferring the root beer to the storage bottle or keg.
- Pour it in the keg
Before you add this liquid to the keg to ferment it further, make sure that you have cleaned and sanitized the keg well. After filling the liquid, closed the lid and turn pressure gauge up to 25 to 30 p.s.i. Do make sure that you leave the gas on. Store the keg in dry, warm spot for at least 36 hours.
After 36 hours, turn the pressure down to 15 p.s.i. During this time, check the root beer and have the taste to get a feel of the level of carbonation. If you want more carbonation, reseal the keg and store for an additional 12-24 hours.
Once it is ready, transfer the ready-to-drink root beer in glass bottles with a funnel and cool it. You should only sever your freshly brewed homemade kegged root beer chilledto enjoy it to the fullest. Kegged root beer kept at room temperature for many weeks (6 months to a year in most cases).
Can you get root beer in a keg?
There are some well-known and well-loved companies/breweries that rent out root beer kegs. Each kegged root beer will contain around 15 and � gallons of root beer (160 cups capable of holding 12 ounces of root beer). The cost of such a keg is around $125. Yes, it is a great deal. However, it will be more profitable to home brew it if you need larger quantity.
How do you carbonate root beer in a keg?
The process is quite easy. All you have to do is add the activated yeast to the prepared root beer mixture. Seal the keg and use turn pressure gauge up to 25 to 30 p.s.i. After just a few days (around 36 to 72 hours depending on the type of yeast used) your kegged root beer will be carbonated.
Most modern breweries mix carbonated water to the root beer syrup make it carbonated. It is done either through mixing it with carbonated water from a soda fountain or through injection of carbon dioxide gas. You can also use these techniques if you have the equipment available to you.
How long does root beer take to carbonate?
The job of the activated yeast is to eat the sugar present in the prepared root beer. This is how the root beer gets carbonated. The temperature of the room and the type of yeast used affect the carbonation time.
If everything is ideal (using high-quality brewer’s ale yeast and keeping the keg in a dry, warm spot at 62 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit), the carbonation process will take around 36 to 72 hours. You can also use force carbonation method which can carbonate homemade kegged root beer within 24 hours.
Is homemade fermented root beer alcoholic?
Typically, homemade fermented root beer is not alcoholic. This is the reason why even kids can enjoy your brewed creation without any risks. However, you should be informed that it is also possible to brew fermented kegged root beer at home that is alcoholic in nature.
There you have it; hopefully by now you know the proper knowledge you need to make an out-of-this-world homemade kegged root beer. There are plenty of different recipes of root beer available online. So, go ahead and find a recipe to try using the information provided in this guide. Personally, I like to add different spices. I have used mints, hops, anise, ginger, fennel, clove, cassia, cinnamon, nutmeg, chocolate, and allspice to season the root beer. You can use them as well to give your kegged root beer an elevated flavor profile.