Hey again, CK. This is Brent, and today I'm making root beer. Yup, actual root beer soda. It's actually a lot easier than you might think. All you need are a 2-liter bottle that's been cleaned out. Nice and clean. Some sugar, some yeast, and some root beer extract. This is actually Zatarian's root beer extract. You can find this online for about $1.80 a bottle. You also need some water; I'm going to assume you have some of that laying around. So, here's how we do it.
Put the funnel on top there. And we're going to start by putting in 2 cups of sugar. Now, a cup is enough to cause the carbonation that you want, but it's not going to make very sweet root beer. It's going to be a very, almost bitter root beer. So, I'm just going with 2 cups here, you could probably go down to a cup and a half, but you can certainly do just this much. Pour that in.
For those of you that prefer cooking by weight, which is a very good way of cooking, using a scale, 1 cup of sugar is 200 grams, so you'll get much more exact doing it by weight on a scale, and you'll want to use 300 to 400 grams of sugar. Today I'm using, well, 2 cups, which would be 400 grams of sugar. And we'll let that go in. One of the nice things about the scale is that you can just pour everything in the funnel; even if the funnel isn't pouring everything out, and the weight will still be correct. Doesn't matter if it's up here pouring or not, it will all still register as the same value.
So I've got 2 cups of sugar in there now. Now I'm going to add a 1/4 teaspoon of yeast, right in there. Okay. Now we'll swirl all that around. I want that to be nice and completely incorporated, all the way in there. There we go. Put this [funnel] back on there. Now I'm going to add my root beer extract. One full tablespoon of root beer extract. Very easy. It smells like root beer. Wonderful. Pour that right in there.
Now, I'm just going to show you what that looks like. You can see, there's a bunch of root beer extract down there in the bottom that's kind of all gunky. That's good, actually. What I want to do now is pour enough water in there to fill this up about halfway, then I'll swirl it around to get it all nice and incorporated. So I'm just going to eyeball this, and actually I'm going to pour it into the tablespoon as well, so I'm clearing out every bit of that extract from the tablespoon. And that, pouring into the funnel. And pouring a bit more water. And again, I'm eyeballing this, pouring in about halfway full of water. That's good enough.
Now you'll notice, when you do this, there's still a bunch of sugar at the bottom that isn't incorporated yet. That's what this step is for. What I need to do now is grab my cap, which I forgot to get out. There. Grab my cap, and then we're going to mix this up nice and fully. It's going to require quite a bit of mixing it around. Don't worry; the carbonation hasn't started yet, or if so only a tiny, itty bitty bit of it, so you can slosh this around and it's not going to go crazy on you.
You want to get all of that stuff on the bottom all nice and taken care of, and incorporated and dissolved. So just keep on sloshing until all that stuff is out of there. Might take a little bit, but you ideally want to get every bit of that sugar out of there. See, that's nice and really brown on the bottom there. There we go.
Now I've got a pretty good, pretty intense root beer there. So I'm going to put that [funnel] back on, and fill it up. Now you want to fill it up to about as full as it is in a grocery store. You don't want it all the way filled to the top, because then the carbonation is going to create so much CO2 in there that it's going to threaten to burst the bottle. Which would be very icky and messy. So you pour it up to where there's about an inch of space at the top, roughly. Again, you can feel safe to eyeball this. There we go, that's good enough. And that's filled up pretty much to the top there.
Now this gets capped, and put in a comparatively cool, comparatively dark place, for three days or more. Basically, this is going to start to produce carbon dioxide, and start to carbonate, and as that happens, it needs somewhere where it can do that.
And you need to test the bottle after about three days; just squeeze the side. Just squeeze the side like this, and if the bottle is very firm—like right now, it's almost like an empty bottle; it just kinda squooshes—if it's nice and firm, then it's done carbonating; you can put it in the fridge. If you leave it out too long, it's going to keep carbonating, keep carbonating, keep carbonating, and it might burst. Bad thing.
So if you can—not if you can; definitely—check this after three days, and every day thereafter. The amount of time varies depending on all sorts of factors. But start checking the bottle; if it's nice and firm, put it in the fridge. And then, you've got root beer! You can uncap it and start drinking from it right [then].
Again, vary the amount of sugar to affect the sweetness. You should theoretically be able to do the same thing for other sweeteners [ed: I meant "flavors"]. Stuff like orange extract, which you can get from the store; you can make orange soda. You can even make ginger ale. So, play around, but that's...all you have to do!