Roots, Berries, Bark & Flowers: An Old-fashioned Recipe for Root Beer

Roots, Berries, Bark & Flowers: An Old-fashioned Recipe for Root Beer

Seasoned with sassafras, winter green, sarsaparilla and eight other herbs and spices, amassing the ingredients for this classic homemade root beer recipe can prove challenging. I recommend purchasing from Mountain Rose Herbs which stocks even the most obscure wild-crafted and organic herbs and spices.


  • 1/4 cup sassafras root bark 
  • 1/4 cup winter green leaf 
  • 2 tablespoons sarsaparilla root 
  • 1 tablespoon licorice root 
  • 1 tablespoon ginger root 
  • 1 tablespoon dandelion root 
  • 1 tablespoon hops flowers 
  • 1 tablespoon birch bark 
  • 1 tablespoon wild cherry tree bark 
  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries 
  • 1 cinnamon stick 
  • 1 cup unrefined cane sugar 
  • 1/2 cup ginger bug (get the tutorial), fresh whey or 1 packet kefir starter culture (available here)


  1. Bring two and one-half quarts filtered water to a boil and stir in sassafras, sarsaparilla, wintergreen, licorice, ginger, hops, juniper, birch and wild cherry bark. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and simmer the roots, berries, barks, leaves and flowers for twenty minutes. 
  2. After twenty minutes, turn off the heat and strain the infusion through a fine-mesh sieve or a colander lined with cheesecloth into a pitcher. Stir unrefined cane sugar into the hot infusion until it dissolves and allow it to cool until it reaches blood temperature. Once the sweetened infusion has cooled to blood temperature, stir in the ginger bug or fresh whey and pour into individual bottles (preferably flip-top bottles which are easy enough to find online, leaving at least one inch head space in each bottle. 
  3. Allow the root beer to ferment for three to four days at room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator for an additional two days to age. When you’re ready to serve the root beer, be careful as it, like any other fermented beverage, is under pressure due to the accumulation of carbon-dioxide, a byproduct of fermentation. Open it over a sink and note that homemade sodas, like this one, have been known to explode under pressure. Serve over ice

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March 2014
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