A&W Root Beer Recipe
The A&W Restaurants brand began with its famous root beer. Before these restaurants sold hot American fare, they had root beer stands. Even after the chain took off, this was still the main focus.
These days you can buy this root beer in most grocery stores and it’s one of the most popular soft drinks in the country. It’s also one that is exported to many countries around the world. But it’s very much considered traditional American drink.
And one of the best things about this drink is that it’s very easy to make yourself. It won’t take long, it won’t cost much and if this is your favorite tipple, you’ll enjoy the process.
The recipe can be found at the bottom of this page. But first, for anyone new to this drink, let’s get the basics out of the way.
What is Root Beer?
Root beer is a sweet, carbonated drink made using sassafras or sarsaparilla as the dominant flavor. It can be made with alcohol or without (due to a fermentation process) and it can be made with caffeine and without.
In 1960 sassafras was banned by the FDA and is no longer used in commercial root beer sold in the United States. Instead, extracts and flavorings, as well as sarsaparilla, are used in its place. So, the drink you enjoy today is not quite the same as the drink that your parents or grandparents enjoyed. However, there isn’t a great deal of difference as far as the taste goes.
Sassafras doesn’t differ too much from sarsaparilla in taste. However, this was the main ingredient in root beer for many years. This drink, or rather a drink like it, was enjoyed by Native Americans as far back as the 16th century. They drank it because they believed it to have medicinal properties.
Root beer as we know it today began to be produced towards the latter end of the 19th century. At the time, it was restricted to pharmacies, which is where many other popular soft drinks were also bron. However, it really took off during the 1920s, when A&W launched their first restaurant.
Root Beer Recipe
Making root beer is one thing. But making root beer that tastes like A&W‘s famous drink is another. Luckily, the process and the ingredients are fairly easy to replicate. You just need a few simple ingredients and a few moments to prepare them. So, let’s get started.
- 5 quarts of water
- 1 1/2 cup of dried sarsaparilla root (can be bought from many health food stores)
- 3 cups of sugar
- 1/4 tsp ale yeast
- 2 vanilla pods (scrape out the beans).
1. Combine water and sugar with the sarsaparilla and the vanilla.
2. Bring the mixture to boil, simmer for 10 minutes, and let it steep for a few hours.
3. Line a strainer with cheesecloth, place over a bowl and pour the mixture in.
4. Wait for it to cool down and there you have it, your own root beer.
We promised that this would only take a few minutes and you may have noticed that you need to leave that mixture to steep for a little longer than that. There is a quicker way to do this though, just follow the instructions below:
1. Add 1 1/3 cup of sugar for every 1 cup of hot water. If you want to make a big batch, just use this ratio to scale up. If you want a quick drink, you can scale down as well.
2. Stir to dissolve. Add 1 cup of corn syrup and 1 teaspoon of root beer concentrate.
3. Let the mixture chill. The result product will give you a thick syrup.
4. Add 1/4 cup of the syrup for every 1 cup of cold club soda (carbonated water).