Duboman, can you post your recipe? I see the starting one. (I found that one too.) But, what did you change exactly? Did you end up going with an extract? If so, how much?
Being from IL, did you happen to go to Brewfest in Plainfield a couple of weeks ago? Not Your Father's had a special 30% -- yes, 30%! --batch! It was delicious. I spoke with the owner (I forget his name. My husband and I were pouring all day for the event and by the after party, when I finally got a taste, I was exhausted), and he told me he doesn't use extract at all. He listed off some of his ingredients -- wintergreen, vanilla, ginger, and I thought he said both sassafras and sarsaparilla - maybe it was just sassafras.
Anyway, I too have been on the hunt for an "adult root beer" recipe.
I found this from MotherEarthNews.com...
A mixture is made by adding 1 1/2 gallons of molasses to 5 gallons of boiling water. This is allowed to stand for three hours.
Then 1/4 pound each of sarsaparilla root, bruised sassafras bark, and birch bark (wintergreen flavor) is added.
Next add 1/2 pint of fresh yeast, and enough water to make about 16 gallons total volume.
This is allowed to ferment for 12 hours before being drawn off for bottling (the same as in making beer), after which the secondary fermentation creates the carbonation.
Keep the temperature at 65 to 75 degrees F. during fermentation and after bottling until the carbonation process is complete.
The amount of alcohol in the beverage is dependent upon how long the batch ferments prior to bottling and the level to which the bottles are filled. By partially filling the bottles, the fermentation continues for a longer time and the alcoholic content is correspondingly increased. It is possible to obtain up to 10% alcohol with this process.
Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/guide-making-root-beer-zmaz71ndzgoe.aspx#ixzz2dpzl0U6z
Then I found this recipe, for a non-alcoholic version from WelnessMama.com:
½ cup Sassafras Root Bark
½ teaspoon wintergreen leaf (or more- try this to taste but start with a little as it has a very strong flavor)
1 cup unrefined organic cane sugar like rapadura
¼ cup molasses
1 cinnamon stick or 1 tiny dash of ground cinnamon (optional)
dash each of coriander and allspice (optional)
2 teaspoons of natural vanilla extract
3 quarts filtered water
¼ cup lime juice (optional but good for flavor)
¾ cup homemade ginger bug or other starter culture like whey or vegetable starter
Put the sassafras root bark and wintergreen leaf in a large pot. Add cinnamon, coriander and allspice if using.
Add 3 quarts of filtered water and turn on high heat.
Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove herbs.
While still warm, add the sugar and molasses and stir until dissolved.
Let cool until warm but not hot and add the lime juice and then then ginger bug or other culture and stir well.
Transfer to grolsch style bottles or jars with tight fitting lids and allow to ferment for several days at room temperature.
Check after two days for carbonation and when desired carbonation is reached, transfer to refrigerator and store until use.
If desired, the following can be added to the original boil but they are not needed:
-1 tablespoon licorice root
-1 tablespoon grated ginger root
-1 tablespoon hops flowers
-1 teaspoon of anise or fennel
I was thinking of using this recipe - swapping out (or adding to) the molasses with malt and using a little hops. Then adding a champagne yeast.
So yes, I was at the fest and had the Root Beer. I can actually get it on tap at several restaurants/bars around my home, it is delicious but I am suspect of the recipe and ingredients as I know some people that are familiar with the brewer. He does actually have a third party produce his flavoring extract for him and the final product is cut with Homemade Root Beer but the alcohol base is a mystery............I have a theory and have heard rumors but, well, who knows...........
So here is the recipe I brewed:
BeerSmith 2 Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: Dad's Hard Root Beer
Brewer: Commune Brewing Company
Style: American Pale Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0) For flavoring: Added 35 ml sasparilla extract for root beer flavor
Sweetening: Added 1550 grams table sugar to back sweeten
Initial tasting was quite boozy and needs time to mellow and condition dated 8/11/2013
Boil Size: 5.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 2.25 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 3.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 2.75 gal
Estimated OG: 1.090 SG
Estimated Color: 27.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 32.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 88.9 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
6 lbs 6.4 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 75.0 %
4.1 oz De-Bittered Black Malt (Dingemans) (550. Grain 2 3.0 %
2.7 oz Carafa I (337.0 SRM) Grain 3 2.0 %
2.7 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 4 2.0 %
1 lbs 4.5 oz Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 SRM) Sugar 5 15.0 %
4.1 oz Milk Sugar (Lactose) (0.0 SRM) Sugar 6 3.0 %
0.86 oz Cluster [7.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 32.5 IBUs
0.15 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 8 -
0.24 tbsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10.0 mins) Other 9 -
1.0 pkg American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) [124.21 Yeast 10 -
Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 8 lbs 8.6 oz
Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In Add 2.44 gal of water at 162.5 F 152.0 F 60 min
Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (1.03gal, 2.63gal) of 168.0 F water
Once fermentation is complete and beer has cleared, sample and add Root beer/sarsaparilla Extract to taste. If sweetening is needed add more sugar syrup to taste.
Brewing notes: over sparged to 6 gallons, re-calaculate recipe for proper batch size for post boil to be 3.25 gallons Lactose and sugar added at 30 minutes
Sucrose used instead of dextrose at 95% value?
35 ml Sarsparilla Extract
1550 grams Table Sugar to sweeten
The ABV of the base beer did come to 10% which is what I was shooting for. after sampling several small pre-measured pours we arrived at the 35 ml of Sarsparilla extract (Rainbow Flavors) and the 1550 grams of sugar for the final 3 gallon batch, added to the keg. Force carbonated and being served at 30 psi.
Initially there was quite a bite to the taste that we really could not put our fingers on. After 3 weeks in the keg it tastes really good but still has a late something that we are having a hard time deciphering. I believe it is the extract as I am told that straight Sarsaparilla extract can do that. I shipped two bottles off to the pro brewer that helped me with the recipe and also a BJCP judge I know to sample. I am hoping for some critical feedback and some advice as to what I might want to alter for the next batch soon to be brewed again.
My initial thoughts on the second batch will be to go with Root Beer extract. I also plan on adding the same 1550 grams of sugar but as a simple syrup instead of just the sugar. It was difficult to dissolve that much sugar into cold beer:) I am also thinking that the hops will be completely eliminated from the recipe as its possible the hops are creating the taste and not complimenting the extract. I'm curious to hear what the pros have to say before I brew it again.
There you have it! If anyone gives this a whirl I would love to hear your thoughts or if you choose to do something else as well-Cheers!