Progress Report

Progress Report
Recipe Number: 1.0
Batch Number: 1
Stage: Carbonation
Elapsed Time: 45 hours

Well, the first batch has to be somewhat disappointing. I opened up Bottle #1 and there was no carbonation what-so-ever. The color has continued to mellow towards amber and the floating sediment has arranged itself at 2 particular levels of the solution which might say something about the specific gravity of the solution at those points. Dunno though. The flavor was fairly good but not quite like a typical off the shelf root beer though there were very distinct similarities.

Anyway, it is possible that this is a result of a leaky bottle or bad/inactive yeast so I’m going to wait till tomorrow night and open the next one to give more time for some carbonation as well as let it mellow just a bit more. If that bottle is also completely flat I’ll have to decide whether to open the rest of the batch or to give it another day.

Progress Report

Progress Report
Recipie Number: 1.0
Batch Number: 1
Stage: Carbonation
Elapsed Time: 35 hours

After looking up that tidbit about the foam rings, I went down to check the bottles again to see how things are going. The good news is that the foam rings are gone! In it’s place is a very slight ring of what is obviously sassafras sediment. Also, the color is becoming a little more amber than orange and is much less cloudy with some obvious, but few, flecks of sassafras floating around in it. The bottom appears to have developed quite a layer of sediments which look to be mostly yeast and sassafras. Thank goodness for bottle brushes. I think that I’m going to open the first bottle at 8pm (the 45 hour mark) to check carbonation so I have plenty of time to taste and post. I’ve got my big A&W mug in the freezer already so it should be ready for the inaugural tasting. I might have to invest in some more good glass mugs if this goes well.

No tag for this post.

Hmmm….

[From “Homemade Rootbeer, Soda, and Pop” by Stephen Cresswell (ISBN: 1580170528) page 97]:

“Those who are experienced in making homebrewed beers know that one telltale sign of an infected batch is a ring around the neck of the bottle. While such a ring may also mean your soft drink batch has been spoiled by bacteria or other unwanted nasties, you should recognize that with soft drinks such rings can also be caused by bits of root floating to the top of the bottle, or by floating bits of citrus pulp. Thus, taste will be a better indicator of a bad batch than any ring round the neck of the bottle. Whatever caused the ring, though, be sure to clean the bottle with a bottle brush and then soak in a solution of water and chlorine bleach before brewing again.”

So, those rings could very well be sassafras, especially given how fine some of the bark that I added was. We’ll just have to wait until to tonight to see when I open the first bottle to check carbonation. I’ll keep my fingers crossed just in case though.

Progress Report

Progress Report
Recipie Number: 1.0
Batch Number: 1
Stage: Carbonation
Elapsed Time: 10 hours

Checked the bottles in the box and things appear to be going very well. The color of the liquid is an orange/amber and is fairly cloudy with slightly pronounced particulate in the solution. There is a partial ring of foam at the top of the solution, and I’m hoping that’s not too bad a sign. From what I remember that is a fairly common symptom, but I don’t remember of what. I suppose we’ll just have to find out. I’m going to leave them in the kitchen through to the end of the carbonation stage as the basement is actually colder than it was last night. Betsy had suggested putting them near the boiler or the furnace, except that Abby’s furnace is set pretty low since she’s out of town and our boiler was cool to the touch so I don’t think those ideas will help overly much. I imagine if we did get a dorm fridge down there, putting the carbonating bottles near that would take care of the heat issue, and in the summer it does get closer to 70F so it will probably be quite good conditions.

No tag for this post.

Batch Report:

Batch Report:
Recipie Number: 1.0
Batch Number: 1
# of bottles: 8 (16oz clear EZ-Cap)

Recipie 1.0:
(From “Homemade Rootbeer, Soda, and Pop” by Stephen Cresswell (ISBN: 1580170528) page 32)

  • 0.25oz Dried Sassafras Root Bark
  • 4qts filtered water
  • 2cups Granulated Refined Sugar (Unknown brand, it’s what I’ve had on hand)
  • 0.125tsp Red Star Champagne Yeast

Equipment:

  • 1- 5in plastic Funnel
  • 1- large Stainless Steel Spoon
  • 1- 4 gallon Stainless Steel Cookpot
  • 1- 3in Tea Ball
  • 1- 3 gallon Glass Carboy
  • 1- Rubber Stopper
  • 1- 1 quart Pyrex Measuring Cup
  • 1- 1 pint Pyrex Measuring Cup
  • 8- 16oz EZ-Cap Clear Bottles
  • 1- Digitial Timer/Thermometer
  • 1- Thermal probe for Timer/Thermometer
  • 1- white Rubbermaid dishtub
  • 1- Jet bottle washer
  • 1- long Bottle Brush
  • 1- bottle Clorox Unscented Bleach

Procedure:

I started by filling the cookpot 3/4 full with warm water and added 2oz of bleach to the water and then added all of the equipment except for the bottle washer, bottle brush, bottles, and carboy (and the timer too, but that’s because it probably wouldn’t work if we did). After all the tools were in, filled the water right up to the top. I let them soak for ~40min.

While those soaked I mounted the bottle washer in the washtub in the basement and rinsed out all the bottles and the carboy, and gave them each a swish with the bottle brush. I filled the carboy with warm water with about 1in head room and added 1oz bleach to the water and let it sit.

After rinsing the cookpot and it’s contents very thoroughly and setting the tools in the dish drainer, placed the cook pot on the large burner of the stove and added the Sassafras. After adding 2 quarts of filtered water, and the sugar, set the burner to 4. After stirring the mixture a little bit, covered the cookpot and let it warm and simmer for 25min. Realized that I forgot to put the Sassafras into the tea ball before I added it. Smacked forehead firmly.

I put the dishtub in the sink and filled it 1/2 way with warm water and 1oz bleach. After filling each bottle with warm water and placing them in the dishtub, filled the dishtub to the top with warm water.

When the timer for the cookpot was up, stirred it up a bit and took a taste. Quite sweet with a definite flavor of the sassafras, though somewhat weakly. Recovered the cookpot and moved it onto the left burner and turned off the stove. Let sit for another 25min.

Went down and emptied the bleach water out of the carboy and rinsed it very thoroughly. Put the stopper in immediately after rinsing and took it back upstairs with me.

While getting ready for the next step I noticed that the funnel I had was not going to work very well for pouring from the very wide mouth of the cookpot into the very small mouth of the carboy. Decided that we would dip with the 1qt measuring cup and pour into the funnel with the open tea ball used as a particle filter.

Emptied and rinsed the bottles very thoroughly and let them stand dry in the drainer.

Uncovered the cookpot and took another taste. The sassafras was flavoring much more strongly now, and it was still way sweet. We transferred the contents into the carboy as we had decided and added 1.5 quarts of cold filtered water. Took a temp reading: 106F – Too warm still. Added 2 Cups of refrigerated filtered water and took another temp reading: 101F. Stoppered the carboy and put it in the back hallway (where the air temp is ~50F) for 10min.

Added .25 cup warm water to the 1 pint measuring cup and put the yeast in. Swirled it up nicely and then let it rest.

Brought the carboy back in and the temp was now at 82F. Added the yeast and stoppered it again. Agitated the carboy thoroughly and then let it rest for 15min to let the yeast get working.

Filled each bottle to just over the bottom of the neck and closed each one and put them into the box they came in, just to be a bit safer. Hopefully if one of them goes grenade, the cardboard will at least slow the projectiles down somewhat. When I had been working in the basement, I had been noticing that the air temp was probably closer to 55F than it was to 65F and so we decided to leave the box in the kitchen overnight and then decide what to do with it in the morning.

Time of completion: 11:15PM CDT

Comments: Well, the funnel and filter screw up worked out okay in the end, but I am a bit worried about contamination from that step. I think I may see about investing in one of the siphoning systems to do the transfer from the cookpot to carboy, and carboy to bottle. Other possibilities are to find some sort of metal lip that an be attached to the cookpot to bring it down in girth a bit, as well as a larger funnel with a filter.

We actually ended up with a fair bit of liquid still left in the bottom of the carboy so I poured some and tasted it. It’s still a bit sweet, but I imagine the yeast will have something to say about that in the long run.

Other things to think about: an indoor thermometer for the area in the basement would be good so that I know exactly the temp so that I can have a bit more data about carbonation length/air temp relationships. I’m planning on checking carbonation at about 44 hours time to see how it’s turning out. I’m thinking that as cool as the house is in general, we’re going to need to go the full 72 at least to get the right level of carbonation, but we’ll see how it works out.

Shopping List from 12/27/2002:

Shopping List from 12/27/2002:
from Midwest Homebrewing and Winemaking Supplies

  • 1 large Tea/Herb Ball ($4.25) [Catalog #6301]
  • 2 rubber stoppers for the Carboy (@$0.99 ea = $1.98) [Unlisted in catalog]

Total: $6.23

Comments: There’s always something to be said about convenience. Midwest is right on my way home from work and it just makes it easy to stop there for supplies that I know they have. 2 Stoppers are better than one since I think we all know how likely it is that I’ll loose one of them in the next month or so.

How to possibly reduce the incidence of catastroph…

How to possibly reduce the incidence of catastrophic carbonation: Adjust the recipie to include a set amount of consumable sugar for the yeast to activate, then sweeten with left-handed sugars (usually known as sucralose).

This would essentially make it a “diet” soda, but it should not taste any different than if you had used an equal amount of granulated sugar (beet or cane). Splenda is the currently marketed version of this, though I’m sure there are other suppliers. I didn’t know this previously, but granulated Splenda also contains MultoDextrose, so it might even improve the body of the soda in some ways.