Root Beer

When we moved to Ohio, I became re-acquainted with the different varieties of root beer.  I’d forgotten.  Really.

Every brand has a different taste and the foaminess is different—There seems to be a larger variety here in Ohio than I remember ever being available in California.

I have a couple of favorites here, including “FrosTop” and “Boylan”.  There are others. 

Root beer has it, um, roots, in Colonial America as a small beer, sometimes with some alcoholic content, sometimes not, and there’s really no single recipe for it.

Wikipedia has an interesting article on root beer at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root_beer.  In general, I don’t much trust Wikipedia.  My view on that endeavor is that monkeys might as well have written it, but that’s a story for another day.  Credit where credit is due and all that—their missive on root beer is frosty indeed.  Another sassafras induced article on root beer is located at http://inventors.about.com/od/rstartinventions/a/root_beer.htm, and is worth the time to take a peek.

And, as I may have said before—I told you that so I could tell you this:

As a young teen-ager (read that as “not yet having a license to drive”) in rural Northern California, I had a friend who lived about a mile away.  We hung out together at school and at home, and one summer, he got the idea that we should brew some root beer.  I don’t recall the entire process, but we did boil huge pots of brew on his Mother’s stove-top.  His Dad had a hand-operated bottle-capper in one of his sheds, and we had some bottle and caps, so everything was set.

I don’t actually recall the ingredients or the process—what I remember is that it was great fun—especially bottling the brew.  When the bottles were all used up, we still had a bunch of root beer brew left, so, utilizing the keen intuitive minds that had been bestowed upon us by our parents, we put the balance of the brew in gallon jugs and screwed lids thereon.  The bottles of brew were then to be placed in a cool, dark place, as was required, where they were to remain for a couple of weeks, I think, until the contents turned into root beer.

Since we had no really cool, dark place, we emptied my friend’s dresser and put the bottles in it, closed the drawers, and called it a good day.  What we hadn’t counted on was the pressure that the fermenting process generates.  Nor the mess that an exploding gallon jug full of partially fermented root beer might make.  Nor the noise.  WE WERE KIDS, FOR CHRISTSAKE!!

My friend’s parents were understanding sorts, and for that I will be forever grateful.  On a different occasion, this same friend and I concocted home made doughnuts in the very same kitchen, but…..that’s also a story for another day.


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