We get a lot of questions about how exactly to make root beer from our Kitchen Alchemist’s 9-Spice Root Beer Kit, so we made this guide to walk you through the process from beginning to end. We intended for this to be a complement to the recipe card you’ll get in the kit, but it isn’t a replacement, so make sure you have the recipe handy when you’re ready to begin. The whole process will take about 90 minutes, plus cooling time, but about an hour of this time will be mostly hands-off while the root beer simmers. This is a great project for a lazy weekend afternoon — find a hammock and a good book for the downtime, and reward yourself with a glass of your own homemade root beer at the end.
Step 1: Prep
With this kit, you’ll be making a concentrated root beer syrup that can be mixed with soda water to make a fizzy root beer. To start brewing, you’ll need one of our 9-Spice Root Beer Kits, dark brown sugar, fancy molasses, a chef’s knife, a cutting board, a large pot, cheesecloth, and a funnel.
Open your root beer kit and take everything out of the jar. Wash and dry the jar.
Empty the package of raisins onto the cutting board and chop them up roughly. No need to be too careful — we’re going to strain all the solids at the end. Transfer the chopped raisins into the pot.
Remove the vanilla bean from the package and straighten it out on the cutting board. Using the tip of the knife, slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise.
Inside the vanilla bean are a lot of tiny, sticky, dark seeds — this is known as the “caviar”. Run the back of your knife blade (i.e. not the sharp side) along the inside of each half of the bean to remove the caviar, and scrape it into the pot.
Chop the empty vanilla pod into short sections and add those to the pot as well.
Now add the other spices and botanicals to the pot — ginger root, sarsaparilla root, licorice root, burdock root, dandelion root, birch bark, black peppercorns and star anise. DO NOT ADD THE GUM ARABIC AT THIS POINT. Pour in six cups of cold water.
Step 2: Brew
Place the pot on the stove and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer 45 minutes to an hour, or until the mixture has reduced by about one-third.
Step 3: Sweeten
While your root beer is infusing, measure two cups of dark brown sugar into a bowl and add the gum arabic. Mix the gum arabic into the sugar and set the bowl aside. This step will keep the gum arabic from clumping when added to the liquid.
When your root beer has reduced, add the sugar mixture and the molasses to the pot. Bring the syrup back to a boil to dissolve the sugar, and mix well.
Step 4: Cool
Remove the root beer concentrate from the heat, cover the pot, and set it aside to cool completely.
Step 5: Filter and Bottle
Cut a piece of cheesecloth, and fold it a few times to form a square. Place the funnel over the mouth of the jar, and line it with the cheesecloth square.
Working carefully, pour the root beer concentrate into the lined funnel. A liquid measuring cup or ladle is great for this.
You will have to periodically discard the solids from the cheesecloth — make sure you gently squeeze out any liquid first. It may help to have a bowl close by so you have a place to put the solids.
You should end up with about 4 cups of liquid root beer concentrate — enough to fill the jar. If it doesn’t fill the jar, you may have reduced it a little too much. It’s fine to add a bit of water to bring the level up. Close up the jar, label it, and pop it into the fridge until you’re ready to use it. It will last a while in the fridge, but not forever, so don’t forget about it!
Step 6: Serve
To enjoy your home-brewed root beer straight up, combine 1 part concentrate with 3 parts soda water in a glass. Add ice, and give it a stir.
If you’d like something a little stronger, try one of the drink recipes on the back of your recipe card.
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