Homemade Root Beer: Part One


| 7/5/2016 4:04:00 PM


Tags: home made drinks, small beer, Renee Benoit, California,

Renee-Lucie BenoitI don't know about you but one of my greatest pleasures growing up in a hot and humid mid-western town was going to the A & W Root Beer stand on a summer night. Everybody was there and the carhops came out to your car and the huge mugs were frosty and the liquid inside them sublime.

My grandmother wouldn't drink it, though. "It's beer," she said. She was a teetotaler.

"But Grandma," we said, "it's not beer. It's just a word."

Never mind. She was stubborn and she was adamant. We didn't know any better but back in the day and probably her day root beer was actually beer and a little bit alcoholic. It was known as "small" beer. Very little alcohol but alcoholic none the less. So Grandma was not far off.

I did a little research and found that in the days when water was so filthy as to be toxic some people started wondering why the rich were so healthy compared to the poor. It turns out that rich people never drank water but always wine or beer. Water was all poor people had to drink for the most part. So a movement began in Belgium to create a cheap beer that poor people could afford and had a low alcohol drink so children could drink. This as known as "small beer".

Small beer is less than 2% alcohol. The alcohol in it acts as a preservative and germ killer. Boiling to blend the flavors further kills bacteria and germs. It is then cooled and fermented with yeast. The yeast is what creates the alcohol and the bubbles.




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