Thursday, June 12, 2008

Blackstrap Root Beer

I play drums and percussion for the Tim Lowly Ensemble, a group of very fine musicians backing up a true artist of the brush and of musical soundscapes. Tim has been writing songs for more than 25 years, and just put out an album that is quite impressive. Rehearsal evenings are fun because we're all crammed in his tiny dining room (piano, 2 violins, two guitars, bass, drums, 7 humans, chairs and a dining room table), running through songs and it's generally quite relaxing. Sometimes I bring some homebrewed beer (bottles or keg on occasion), and everyone but Tim gets to taste all the malty and hoppy goodness. He doesn't drink alcoholic beverages.

Well last night, I surprised Tim with one of his favorite beverages of all time. ROOT BEER! A beer I can brew that he will drink! That he will love! That he will begin to crave! I tricked him into thinking it was the best beer I ever made. And Matt said that if he ever were to sip a beer, this is the only one...the best. I handed him a full portion, and he said right away that it was too much! But upon the first whiff of full sarsaparilla essence, he was on to us. He was happy, and it was perfect. He liked it very much and would put it on the same shelf as any other root beer he's had.

My brother Charles (Seattle), used to brew beer, but has given that up for the most part. Now he brews an occasional root beer or ginger ale. I consulted him first before brewing this one because he knows a lot about it. In the end though, he sounded just a little bit envious of my kegging setup. I was explaining that all I had to do is brew, pour it in the keg, and force carbonate. And if it comes out too sweet, or needing more malto dextrin or whatever, I could simply fix it and turn back on the CO2 pressure.

Blackstrap Root Beer
Brewed 6/3/08
3 gallons

3.0 cup Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar
3.5 cup Organic Turbinado & Brown Sugar
1.0 cup Organic Blackstrap Molassas
5.0 Tbs Malto Dextrin

1.0 Cinnamon Stick
.25 oz Licorice Root
.25 tsp Grains of Paradise (crushed)

3 oz Root Beer Extract

Spices boiled in 2 gallons water for 45 minutes. Turn off heat. Add sugars. Chill in cold water bath in sink. Stir in extract while still hot. Chill a little more. Add to 3 gallon keg. Top off with chilled bottled/distilled water. Force carbonate. I couldn't have done it without the help of my excited little helper!

Tasting Notes

For my first root beer, I am thoroughly impressed. It pours a very dark brown and almost opaque brew. A dense tan/light-brown head forms and sticks around for a long time around the glass edge. A very rich and creamy mouthfeel is noticed with the first sip. It is fairly sweet but there are is a 3 dimensional flavor to it. First, a carbonation backed licorice spice is carried by the full bodied texture. Then the sarsaparilla flavor comes in strong. And this is followed by a wonderful molassas taste in the finish, which also adds to the creaminess. A thoroughly enjoyable, rich tasting root beer, that was so easy to make. I think I'm hooked! Plus, who needs Witbeers and IPA's when a home-made root beer float never tasted better in the summer time? Wow, I can't believe I just said that!

Because the flavors are on the rich side, I didn't notice much cinnamon or grains of paradise. Tim also said it could use a little less suger an a touch more spice. Was going to add more cinnamon in the boil, but the jar of sticks mysteriously vanished...oh well.

For a lighter version, yet still quite rich,
sweet and flavorful with a nice level of
cinnamon spice, check out Blackstrap Root Beer 2.
Tim says it could even be lighter,
but tasting it against commercial examples,
I very much prefer this one.


Unknown said...

This sounds great, but I was wondering if you've found a recipe for hard root beer? I haven't been able to locate one, which I've been looking for since trying the version in the Sam Adams Brewer Patriot Collection, which came out about two years ago.

Unknown said...

I can testify that this root beer is quite yummy. It's not just Tim who can finally drink something Ted's brewed!

I'm just waiting for the framboise now.

Ted Danyluk said...

Kyle, I really can't help ya there. I've never even heard of hard root beer. I suppose you'd want to ferment it to a point where there is some alcohol in it, without too much cider flavors coming through.

My first thought is to make a lightly hopped malt base, ferment it, and then blend it with a root beer recipe. Then bottle like you'd normally bottle root beer. The hops in the wort for the beer part is there to prevent it from tasting sour, but not enough to make it bitter.

Sarah-Ji, I'll be brewing more. But you'll have to wait a good while before that framboise. Maybe a spicy hot ginger beer in the meantime.

The Bearded Brewer said...

Thanks for the recipe. I've toyed with the idea of brewing a rootbeer, especially when my wife was pregnant, but never made the plunge. It'd be nice to brew a small rootbeer for the non beer drinkers I have over. I'll have to try out your recipe. Thanks!

Adam said...

Yeah, thanks for the recipe. I just bought some concentrate from Northern Brewer. Now I can compare that to your recipe.

Just in time for the 4th of July family reunion ;-)

Erik Huntoon said...

I actually was wondering the same thing as Kyle as I had that Patriot pack from Sam Adam's a couple years back and was somewhat enchanted with the Rootbeer. As I recall, one of the beers in the pack (There were 4), had spearmint added to it, and I think it was the rootbeer. I will have to look as I saved bottle labels around that time frame and I may actually have the ones from those that gave some hints to the ingredients in there.

Anyway, that rootbeer sounds good.. may have to brew some up as my 4 year old and my wife both love root beer.

Jason said...

Ted, do you need to use a different pressure for soda vs. beer? I would assume not, but just wanted to check.


Anonymous said...

more root beer for tim says anonymous

Ted Danyluk said...

This was a very rich and creamy root beer, perfect for a jolt of temporary energy and pouring as an ice cream float.

The CO2 pressure is adjusted as you like it. Some beers are served almost flat, and other very carbonated. Some craft root beers are served quite flat and others well carbonated. It's all about preference. When kegging, you have complete control, even after potentially over carbonating.

Tim, I was just thinking about my next recipe. I will definitely take into consideration your recommendation. More spice and less sugar. The molassas is giving this one a super sweet edge, so I'll cut that in half, and perhaps a little of the other sugars to lighten it up. Soon, my friend, soon there shall be more root beer flowing.