You may not know this, but I’ve dabbled quite a bit with home root beer brewing. I mean, you should know it, in as much as I’ve blogged my adventures of it. To summarize though, the biggest issue with making Seal of Approval quality brew was getting good carbonation. I had tried three main methods; Yeast, dry ice, and just using carbonated water. All had their drawbacks. Yeast you have to be careful with so it doesn’t over carbonated, explode, or generally make the root beer taste yeasty. Even in the best case scenarios, it makes the root beer taste a little yeasty. Dry ice is really cool for parties, but it’s hard to get a good carbonation from it. Trying to pressurize with dry ice also results is explosions. The best I could find was using carbonated water. This works decent, though the carbonation just isn’t quite there. But it had been my go to for awhile, and I had two nice 1.5 gallon ice tea dispensers that I’d use for root beer parties. But I’d always wished for a keg. The problem was, kegs are really expensive and a real pain to use in a home kitchen setting. Then one fateful day, a coworker told me about the GrowlerWerks uKeg.
The uKeg is a pressurized growler that’s intended to make people’s beer taste tap fresh for up to two weeks. It’s essentially a mini-keg system that’s easy to use, clean, transport, and finally let me get the perfect root beer I’d been searching for. Let me walk you through how it works. It has a pressure regulating cap that is charged with a standard food grade 16g CO2 cartridge. After filling the uKeg with liquid, you adjust the regulator until you get the desired pressure, displayed on a convenient gauge, and then you’re set. There’s a goose-neck tap to dispense your bubbly brew in the most satisfying way possible. Additionally, it’s vacuum insulated so you can keep it cold for nearly 8 hours outside of the fridge (I have verified this). And it’s small enough that it easily fits inside most fridge door milk shelves.
I immediately knew that this was at last the product I was searching for. While the instructions don’t really address homemade root beer, after extensive research I can share how this is easily done. There are really two ways to try and carbonate your root beer in the uKeg, full forced carbonation or starting with carbonated water and letting the uKeg finish it. I recommend the latter, as getting a good root beer fizz takes about 2 weeks and three CO2 canisters, whereas starting with carbonated water takes only 1 CO2 cartridge and 3 liters of carbonated water. You could even do 2 liters of carbonated water and 1 liter of regular water as long as you let it sit as least three days before serving. I’ve developed a nice base recipe that you can use to get started.
The basic idea is to make your own root beer syrup and then gently pour the syrup and the carbonated water into the uKeg after charging the cap. After it’s sealed set the pressure to 15 psi then swish the uKeg around to stir the mixture. Shaking is bad as it can get root beer into the regulator values and mess them up. Then just let it settle for awhile and you’re good to go. I recommend making it at least a day before you want to serve so it can fully settle. I also recommend making the syrup and chilling it and the carbonated water the night before, as the colder the ingredients when you mix them, the less CO2 will be lost.
So if you love making homemade root beer, you need to buy a uKeg. If you know someone who loves making root beer, it’s the perfect Christmas gift and just the right time to order for the holidays. Feel free to ask me any questions about additional root beer making tips and happy root beer brewing. I’ve been hosting root beer parties at home and at work this past year and it’s been a real hit. I’ll post new recipes from different extract brands from time to time.
Eric’s uKeg Root Beer Recipe
- 1 1/2 Cups White Sugar
- 3/4 Cups Honey
- 1 1/2 Cups Water
- 3 Tsp McCormick Root Beer Concentrate
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/8 Tsp Cinnamon
- 1/8 Tsp Ginger
- Mix sugar and honey in a pot with water
- Bring to a boil
- Add root beer concentrate, vanilla, and spices
- Simmer for 15 minutes
- Mix with 3 liters of chilled seltzer water in a uKeg
- Let sit for at least 12 hours to settle