Homemade Rustic Root Beer





Introduction: Homemade Rustic Root Beer

Soda; everyone loves it and Root Beer especially! It is a fan favourite. If you have ever had an old fashioned Root Beer from some high end store, you know two things. One: it usually tastes crazy good. Two: it is crazy expensive! Wallet burning, creamy bottles of gold. Alternatively you can make some! Really it is not that hard, I assure you. No really. As a bonus this stuff is healthy! It is healthy because it is "lactofermented". That's a fancy way of saying that there is a bacteria in it that adds the carbonation to it, but that bacteria is also great for your gut flora! so yay!!

Step 1: The "Ginger Bug"

What is a ginger bug? No, no not a beetle with red hair. It is the bacteria, or rather a culture of said bacteria.

You need

-Ginger root (fresh) 1/2 cup

-White sugar 1/2 cup (you have to use white because it is super refined thus easy for the bacteria to consume(don't worry it will consume all of it))

-Water 2 cups (Filtered if possible)

Chop or grate the ginger fine until you have 1/2 a cup. Put that in a jar along with your 1/2 cup of white sugar and 2 cups of water. Put it on your kitchen counter and that's it for now! But wait you are not yet done...you have to add 1 tbsp of sugar and 1 tbsp of ginger every day for 5 days. After these five days it will smell sweet and yeasty and will have bubbles on top especially when you stir it. If not however, give it 3 more days or until it looks like what I have described, but after that it must not have worked and you will have to start again. You should be fine though, I have never had a problem!

Step 2: The "Root Beer Syrup"

Next we make the good part! The root beer flavor!

What you need:

1/2 cup of Sassafras

1/4 cup of burdock root

4 cups of water

3 Tbsp of Molasses

1-2 drops of wintergreen oil

3-1/2 cups of cane sugar (or what you have)

Take your Sassafras, Burdock and water and bring it to a boil. Once it is boiling reduce heat and simmer for 15 min. Add the Molasses and simmer for 5 more minions. Add the Wintergreen, and now strain it to remove debris. put it back in the pot and add the sugar, simmer for 5 more manifolds. Now you have your syrup!!

Step 3: Brew to Make It Fizz!

you need:

water (the 4 of 1:4)

Now Take your syrup and for however much root beer you want put it in a bowl with a 1:4 ratio of syrup to water. Take that brine and add 1/2 a cup of our lovely ginger bug. The last thing to do is to put it in bottles. Leave it on your counter for 2-3 days, or until it is real fizzy. Keep in mind this cautionary tale: don't leave it for too long or it will make a biiiiig mess! The 1-2 days will be fine although you will still have to very carefully open the bottles. This is a video from some Kombucha that I made, I left it 5 weeks too long (oops) that is what happens!

But now you may relax! Sit down have a drink from your beautiful root beer!

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    Be sure that you (or the person you entrust to feed your bug while you are traveling for 6 weeks) don't tighten the lid on your ginger bug when in for long-term use.

    The pressure it can build can be quite impressive (and dangerous should it decide to explosively release while in your hand). In my case it merely popped in the fridge, creating a wonderfully scented mess.


    Congratulations on your First place finish.

    Wow, impressive. When we made root beer as kids it was root beer extract, yeast for carbonation, and crimped caps. We decided to make a large batch, once. Between the exploding bottles (made a biiiiig mess) and the rest turning to hard root beer (ghastly taste btw), we were banned from ever making a large batch again. Voted for it.

    2 replies

    My gosh that sounds like quite the story! I'm sure it wasn't as funny then? I've had quite a few people tell me to try and make hard root beer. The trouble would be in gauging your time properly to not get the "ghastly" taste! Thanks for reading!

    We all thought it was a grand adventure waiting for the next half-gallon bottle to go whooomp in the garage and the adults’ reaction to it. Our first clue that it was alcoholic was the comment “It smells like a brewery in here!” As to the taste, it was ghastly to a kid expecting soda pop. Using baker’s yeast is unlikely to have improved the flavor. Unless you have a burning desire to make hard root beer, my response would be that “Everclear goes with everything.”

    My bug died on day three - and I have a theory why.

    I bought a single, large piece of very fresh ginger from the local supermarket.

    On day 1 - the piece I used was "seamless" - a nice large chunk that came off the ginger with no folds or joints. I was able to peel it completely without issue.

    Almost the same on day two - and by the time I went to add day three I had a huge amount of fizz (you could easily hear it) and it smelled wonderful.

    But on day three the piece of ginger I used was a "knuckle" - sort of bent and folded and twisted. I was only able to peel it about 50%. But I grated it and in it went anyway.

    And the next day my bug was lifeless.

    My theory is this - all of our food is irradiated, and sprayed with various delights to ward off growth and mold. I have a feeling that by adding the unpeeled, craggy ginger pieces that I essentially poisoned by bug with whatever they spray the ginger with to prolong its shelf life at a bog-box grocer.

    I've no interest in proving this out via a peeled -vs- unpeeled test - but one of you might. My growing conditions are ideal (the sealed laundry room in a Florida home - generally about 78 degrees in there all the time) and I have maintained 3 sourdough cultures here without issue for well over a year (one from San Francisco, one for whole wheat from South Africa, and one that I "grew from scratch" using the atmospheric fallout from right here on the Gulf) so I honestly think it was killed in the manner stated.

    I may try again next week - I had a fresh ginger ale on a trip to Asheville, NC last week, and it really gave me the "bug" for some home brewed sodas....

    2 replies

    Interesting theory indeed! I've only used organic so unfortunately I can't help to prove it. Although, in the past I have had a bug do the same thing you described but I continued making soda, just to see. It actually came out perfectly fine! I'm not sure why (maybe climate). It may just have to be a gamble in this situation. Also make sure you don't have different ferments going at the same time, beside each other, as they can contaminate and kill each other, who knew!

    Thanks for reading and for the response!

    Well - I am happy to report that I gave it another go - and I will find out tomorrow if my brew is true! :)


    I get mine from a local health food store but most can be purchased on Amazon or other websites like it. Good luck!

    you say that the ratio is 1:4, but then you say to use a half cup of ginger bug. Would I use that much if I were making 5 gallons at a time? 20 gallons? What would the ratio be: water, syrup, ginger bug = 4:1:?

    Thanks alot,


    1 reply

    Sorry I didn't reply sooner, I have been away. The ratio would be 4:1:1/3

    Thank you!

    Homemade root beer is really so much better than commercial root beer. Thanks for sharing the tutorial.

    1 reply

    Thanks for checking it out man!

    Excellent! I've sworn off soda almost entirely, but I do still like a good root beer. Unfortunately, it's so hard to find one with real sugar (not high fructose corn syrup).

    1 reply

    Well here is a way to get it! Thanks!

    I have been looking, and now found, a great sounding root beer recipe! Thank you so much! I will definitely be trying this. ?

    1 reply

    Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy it!