October is here: the leaves are falling and temps are finally dropping. Treat yourself to a tiny escape with this hybrid-extract-infused homemade root beer that’ll appeal to your inner child, but also please your adult palette.
Personal Chef Phillip Walters (who taught us how to host an elevated dinner party) designed this recipe with nostalgia in mind: “Root beer is one of those pleasures which allow me to reminisce about my childhood, eating footlongs and drinking DADs Root Beer with my father. And, in my teenage years, drinking root beer was synonymous with weed and late night burgers, which became a quasi-ritualistic weekend night cap.
I have very fond food memories related to my younger years and my marijuana habits, so when I considered a carbonated beverage, I immediately gravitated to root beer, a drink that I have warm, and cloudy memories of.”
You too? Let them bubble up to the surface again and make this DIY root beer, which is totally suitable for all ages – you can make it with, or without the infused extract. Take note: This recipe uses dried sarsaparilla bark and dried balsam to give it an earthy, authentic flavour – so if you’ve never even heard of sarsaparilla, here’s a tip: go to Forbes Fine Foods. You won’t regret it, especially if you want to take your edibles game to the next level.
“Whenever I need foraged odds and ends, I take a trip to Forbes Fine Foods,” says Phillip. “They are extremely knowledgeable, passionate, and dedicated to sourcing and foraging the highest quality bounty from Ontario’s forests. From wild mushrooms, to saps, barks, and needles, Forbes always carries some very unique and extremely beautiful product. On this trip, I managed to pick up sarsaparilla root, dried anise hyssop, dried balsam, and birch syrup.”
Get those senses awake af for fall with this spicy drink.
Homemade Root Beer (non-alcoholic, hybrid extract)
2 x 20 cm pieces dried sarsaparilla bark
3 T dried anise hyssop
5 sprigs dried balsam
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 (1”) piece fresh ginger, unpeeled and thinly sliced
1 vanilla bean, split
200 ml molasses
30 ml birch syrup
1/2 C brown sugar
1/8 tsp. active dry yeast
In a non-reactive pot, place all ingredients, reserving the sugars and yeast. Add 1 litre of water and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, remove from heat and cover. Allow to steep until water cools to approximately 60 celsius.
In the meantime, combine remaining ingredients and stir to a thick paste. Once the steeping process is complete, strain infused mixture through cheesecloth to discard the solids. Combine infused water and sugars and stir vigorously to dissolve the mixture. Add 750 ml of cool water.
Place root beer in sterilized containers and allow fermenting for 24-36 hours. Refrigerate.
Before drinking, it is always advised to taste. The reason is, some people may want to cut the root beer with a splash of soda water for extra carbonation. Once you have achieved the desired intensity, add your extract and enjoy!