Did Spock Like Ale?

Brewery in Canada releases a line of Star Trek-themed ales

In Star Trek, the Vulcan have their own planet, so it only seems fair to give them their own beer, too. Just in time to celebrate and publicize the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, Alberta-based distillery DeLancey Direct Incorporated released a new bottle of Irish Red Ale conveniently named Vulcan Ale.

The ale, which has an alcohol volume of 5.4 percent, is said to be the first of a series of ales to be released in collaboration with the movie premiere, and it has already picked up excitement from Star Trek fans all over the world. Fans are posting on the Facebook page made for the ale, asking when it will be released in other countries, and some are even asking Canadian citizens to ship it to them.

In theme with Star Trek, Dr. Richard Weger, a veterinarian, long time Star Trek fan, and one of the creators of the ale, said that the taste will “explore a new universe.”

The beer is currently only being sold in bottles, but Delancey Direct Incorporated and Dr. Weger expect that it will be made into cans in the future, for greener purposes. As of Monday, Vulcan Ale has only been released in Alberta and some areas of British Columbia, but will expand to being sold in beer and liquor stores throughout Canada by early next year.

Recipe for Small Beer

In the late 1750s, George Washington inscribed a recipe &ldquoTo make Small Beer&rdquo in the notebook he carried as colonel of the Virginia militia during the French and Indian War. The manuscript, now in the New York Public Library's collections, suggests that Washington wrote down the recipe around 1757, when he was 25 years old and stationed at Fort Loudon in central Pennsylvania. 1

&ldquoSmall beer,&rdquo as opposed to typical beer, is notable for its low alcohol content. The recipe&rsquos inclusion in Washington&rsquos wartime notebook suggests that it was consumed as a regular beverage - and even perhaps an occasional substitute for water - among troops. At Mount Vernon, beer was a favorite, but the Washington family rarely would have consumed small beer or served it to guests. Instead, it was given to paid servants, enslaved people, and children, while its finer, more alcoholic counterpart was reserved for those who could afford it.

The recipe is succinct, requires very few ingredients, and has a remarkably short preparation time of little more than a day (three hours of boiling bran hops, time to stand, then twenty-four hours to &ldquoWork in the Cooler&rdquo). It also takes into account the environmental factors of making the beer outside of a brewery, and details specifically that &ldquoif the Weather is very Cold cover it [the beer] over with a Blanket.&rdquo 3 The recipe also calls for three gallons of molasses in the thirty-gallon brew, making the beer unusually sweet. The amount of molasses called for in the recipe was likely to mask the unsavory taste of the basic and hastily made brew.

Washington took up alcohol production as an official business in the last years of his life. There is no evidence, however, that he considered brewing beer for commercial purposes. Rather, in 1797, Washington started a whiskey distillery at Mount Vernon thanks to convincing from his plantation manager, James Anderson, who claimed that it would make good use of Washington&rsquos extant grain plantation and produce considerable profit. Indeed, with Anderson&rsquos expertise, Washington&rsquos whiskey production reached an annual rate of 11,000 gallons by 1799. Today, the distillery at Mount Vernon has been reconstructed and is once again producing small quantities of whiskey for sale to the public.

Meanwhile, since its recent rediscovery, Washington&rsquos small beer recipe has been recreated by multiple historical beer connoisseurs. In 2011, the New York Public Library and Brooklyn-based Coney Island Brewing Company partnered to brew a porter similar to the recipe, but amended slightly to appeal to a contemporary drinker&rsquos palate. 4

To make Small Beer
Take a large Siffer full of Bran
Hops to your taste - Boil these
3 hours. Then strain out 30 Gall[ons]
into a Cooler[.] put in 3 Gall[ons]
molasses while the Beer is
scalding hot or rather draw the
molasses into the Cooler & strain
the Beer on it while boiling Hot[.]
let this stand till it is little more
than Blood warm then put in
a quart of Ye[a]st[.] if the Weather is
very Cold cover it over with a Blank[et]
& let it Work in the Cooler 24 hours
then put it into the Cask - leave
the Bung open till it is almost done
working - Bottle it that day week
it was Brewed[.]

Jay Fondin
The George Washington University

Revised and updated with recipe transcription by Jim Ambuske, 2 April 2020

1. George Washington notebook as a Virginia colonel (1757), The New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archives Division, MssCol 23122, http://archives.nypl.org/mss/23122, accessed April 2, 2020 Washington, Memoranda, 7 June 1757, Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-04-02-0108.

3. George Washington notebook as a Virginia colonel (1757).

4. &ldquoThe New York Public Library And Coney Island Brewing Company Partner to Brew George Washington&rsquos Personal Beer Recipe,&rdquo New York Public Library, 2011, https://www.nypl.org/press/press-release/2011/05/04/new-york-public-library-and-coney-island-brewing-company-partner-brew, accessed April 5, 2015.


DeWitt, Dave. The Founding Foodies: How Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin Revolutionized American Cuisine. Naperville: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2010.

Pogue, Dennis J. Founding Spirits: George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry. London: Harbour Books, 2011.

Was Water Unsafe?

Until recently, I, like many others, believed that medieval people primarily drank a lot of ale (as well as cider and mead) because water was deemed unsafe. However, it seems this is a myth!

Many acknowledged scholars of medieval history have stated that drinking water in medieval Europe was commonplace. The same scholars have made no reference to water being regarded as unsafe in medieval times.

Water was actually available to drink in different, safe forms such as rivers, streams, rain water and melted snow. People often knew where there was a fresh, running underground stream and dug a well to access it. Many wells also served as a water source for medieval gardens and animals. Local fresh running streams that came down from the hills were used every day by local people. Water from rivers and streams was often used to dilute wine.

Of course, there were instances where water was polluted just as it can be today. For example, in urban areas or stagnant ponds. In such cases medieval people just avoided it. This is where ale, cider or mead come into context.

Medieval people believed that if water was clear, odourless and cold, then it was safe to drink. So it seems that the tendency to drink ale came from people simply preferring it to water! Here is a blog post which gives an insight into the subject of water in medieval times.

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Saurian Brandy usually comes in a sleek glass bottle with a long, curved neck. The Saurians themselves are a race of bipedal lizards that, alas, rarely made appearances onscreen.

The Cardassian liquor of choice, Kanar, is an inky black substance that, by all accounts, is an acquired taste for those from outside Cardassia.

Quark stocked the stuff at all times, never quite sure when a thirsty Spoonhead might stop by. When the Dominion War heated up, the conflicted Damar found himself developing a real dependence on it. The good guys used this to their advantage in &ldquoBehind the Lines,&rdquo getting him drunk to glean information. This led to one of the goofiest gags in all of Trek, when a completely sloshed Quark barged into Kira's quarters in and announced &ldquoI just shared a bottle of Kanar with Damar. That rhymes!&rdquo

Trust me, Shimerman can make that line work.

Let's ride a red matter-induced black hole to a different reality. It's a place where the Enterprise is built on Earth (I know, I know) and where Kirk hits on Uhura in a bar.

When we follow Zoe Saldana as she bounds into the Riverside Shipyard Bar (and who wouldn't follow her?) she takes the bartender's advice and tries the Slusho Mix in addition to Klavnian fire tea, Budweiser Classic and a Cardassian Sunrise.

This faux-Japanese icy beverage is, of course, a tie-in to the broader J.J. Abrams mythology of Alias, Cloverfield and Super 8. which you either think is kinda cool or forces you into an uncontrollable rage.

Okay, this has been a lot of alcohol so far. It is important to pace yourself when you are boozing. It is good to mix in some pure H20, lest you actually dehydrate yourself.

And not just any water, but Altair Water! Sure, the environmental impact of such a far-away import may be something fierce &ndash Altair is 16.7 light years from Earth &ndash but there's got to be something special in this stuff. I mean, even Spock drinks it.

In fact, Spock likes it so much the lifeforce of his Katra urges McCoy to order it for him in The Search for Spock. Something as healthy as Altair Water isn't Bones' usual poison, but the Vulcan-led doctor is quick to bark back that &ldquoto expect one to order poison in a bar is not logical!&rdquo

The wife could never get into DS9 because she got creeped out by the Ferengi. We'd argue with her, &ldquothey're funny! And well-rounded so as not to simply be objects of ridicule! Give 'em a chance!&rdquo Then she'd see Quark's teeth and charge out of the room shouting &ldquothey're so gross! I can't look at them!&rdquo

We knew enough to leave it alone, lest we ever wish for another session of oo-mox.

We bring this all up because, yes, OF COURSE Ferengi drink something as disgusting as Snail Juice. (And Rom liked his with extra shells.)

Raktajino is played off as simple &ldquoKlingon coffee,&rdquo but we find it hard to believe that anything Klingon doesn't come with an extra kick. The way the senior staff on Deep Space Nine all drank the stuff, you can certainly say that it has some addictive properties.

Those with sharp memories will recall that there's something in Raktajino that is intoxicating to Talarians (see season five's &ldquoA Simple Investigation.&rdquo) So who knows how it would affect an early 21st century Terran?

We get the impression that Aldeberan Whiskey is the kind of drink that only gets pulled out for special occasions. Guinan had a bottle that was a gift from Captain Picard and Quark maintained a private stock.

It was Aldeberan Whiskey that Data poured for Scotty when he found himself alive one generation later in the fan favorite episode &ldquoRelics.&rdquo And if it is good enough for the old Aberdeen pub-crawler, it is good enough for us.

It is warm. It comes in a barrel. And if you are Worf, you like it very young and very sweet.

There is no finer beverage to quaff than bloodwine when you are singing songs of glory.

May we all one day know the honor of dying in battle so we may drink with Kahless in Sto-vo-kor from a source as boundless as the River Skral! Q'aplaH!

Romulan Ale is the most difficult beverage to get your hands on in the Federation. And perhaps we should be grateful &ndash this clear blue brew really packs a punch. Even a mighty warrior like Worf can be felled by a Romulan Ale hangover if Nemesis is to be believed. (Though maybe he was also feeling the effects of the B-4 subplot.)

Most notably, Bones gave Kirk a bottle (of the 2283 vintage) when the captain was sulking in San Francisco on his birthday in The Wrath of Khan. Then he started yelling at him and cursing and accusing him of turning into an antique. Yeah, Bones can really be a pain in the ass friend some times.

After New Year's Eve comes New Year's Day. It's cold, it's bright and you are going to need something to brace you. Tea, Earl Grey (Hot) is the gentlemanly drink that will make it so.

Did we leave out your poison? Logical or not, let us know in the comments! And have a safe, happy New Year!!

A & W Root Beer

In 1919, when Roy Allen and Frank Wright started selling their new root beer beverage to a thirsty America, national Prohibition was taking its grip on the country. Their timing couldn't have been better. No longer able to legally drink real beer, thirsty patriots had to settle for this sweet, foamy concoction derived from roots, herbs, and berries. Roy and Frank had thirteen years of Prohibition to make their mark and their fortune from this refreshing drink. By 1933, when Prohibition came to a screeching halt, Roy and Frank had 171 stands in various shapes and sizes, each with the familiar A&W logo on them, all across the country. These drive-up stands with their tray boys and tray girls bringing cold drinks out to the cars were an inspiration for many other roadside stands and diners, and the prelude to the popular fast food drive-thrus of today. You can still get a foamy mug of A&W root beer at outlets across the country, or just enjoy some from a 12-ounce can.

But if it's some home cloning you'd like to get into, check out this improved version of A&W Root Beer that was first printed in More Top Secret Recipes. The beauty is you won't have to worry about collecting roots, herbs, and berries like the pros do. Instead you just need to get some root beer extract, manufactured by McCormick, that you'll find near the vanilla in your local supermarket. Make up some root beer syrup, let it cool off in the fridge, and you can whip up 10 servings by combining the syrup with soda water whenever you're ready to drink.

This recipe is available in

Get This

  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup very hot water
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick root beer concentrate
  • 10 cups cold soda water

1. Dissolve the sugar in the hot water in a small pitcher.

2. Add the corn syrup and root beer concentrate and stir well. Cover and chill syrup until cold.

3. When the syrup is cold, pour 1/4 cup syrup into 1 cup of cold soda water. Sitr gently, add ice, and serve.


Coke had been first used for dry roasting malt in 1642, but it wasn't until around 1703 that the term "pale ale" was first applied to beers made from such malt. By 1784, advertisements appeared in the Calcutta Gazette for "light and excellent" pale ale.

By 1830, the expressions bitter and pale ale were synonymous. Breweries tended to designate beers as "pale ales", though customers would commonly refer to the same beers as "bitters". It is thought that customers used the term bitter to differentiate these pale ales from other less noticeably hopped beers such as porters and milds.

By the mid to late 20th century, while brewers were still labeling bottled beers as pale ales, they had begun identifying cask beers as bitters, except those from Burton on Trent, which tend to be referred to as "pale ales".

Different brewing practices and hop levels have resulted in a range of taste and strength within the pale ale family. [6]

Amber ale Edit

Amber ale is an emerging term used in Australia, France and North America for pale ales brewed with a proportion of amber malt and sometimes crystal malt to produce an amber colour generally ranging from light copper to light brown. [7] [8] A small amount of crystal or other coloured malt is added to the basic pale ale base to produce a slightly darker colour, as in some Irish and British pale ales. [9] In France the term "ambrée" is used to signify a beer, either cold or warm fermented, which is amber in colour the beer, as in Pelforth Ambrée and Fischer Amber, may be a Vienna lager, or it may be a Bière de Garde as in Jenlain Ambrée. [10] In North America, American-variety hops are used in varying degrees of bitterness, although very few examples are particularly hoppy. [11] Diacetyl is barely perceived or absent in an amber ale. [12]

American pale ale Edit

American pale ale (APA) was developed around 1980. [13] The brewery thought to be the first to successfully use significant quantities of American hops in the style of APA and use the name "pale ale", was the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, [14] which brewed the first experimental batch of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in November 1980, [15] distributing the finished version in March 1981. [16] Anchor Liberty Ale, a 6% abv ale originally brewed by the Anchor Brewing Company as a special in 1975 to commemorate Paul Revere's midnight ride in 1775, which marked the start of the American War of Independence, was seen by Michael Jackson, a writer on beverages, as the first modern American ale. [17] Fritz Maytag, the owner of Anchor, visited British breweries in London, Yorkshire and Burton upon Trent, picking up information about robust pale ales, which he applied when he made his American version, using just malt rather than the malt and sugar combination common in brewing at that time, and making prominent use of the American hop, Cascade. [17] The beer was popular, and became a regular in 1983. [17] Other pioneers of a hoppy American pale ale are Jack McAuliffe of the New Albion Brewing Company and Bert Grant of Yakima Brewing. [18] [19]

American pale ales are generally around 5% abv, with significant quantities of American hops, typically Cascade. [20] Although American brewed beers tend to use a cleaner yeast, and American two row malt, [21] [ self-published source? ] it is particularly the American hops that distinguish an APA from a British or European pale ale. [22] The style is close to the American India pale ale (IPA), and boundaries blur, [23] though IPAs are stronger and more assertively hopped. [24] [ self-published source? ] The style is also close to Amber ale, though these are darker and maltier due to the use of crystal malts. [25]

Australian pale ale Edit

Australian pale ale has a low to medium-low with a dry finish. [26] [27] [28]

Bière de Garde Edit

Bière de Garde, or "keeping beer", is a pale ale traditionally brewed in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France. These beers were usually brewed by farmhouses in the winter and spring, to avoid unpredictable problems with the yeast during the summertime.

The origin of the name lies in the tradition that it was matured or cellared for a period of time once bottled (most were sealed with a cork), to be consumed later in the year, akin to a Saison.

There are a number of beers named "Bière de Garde" in France, some of the better known brands include: Brasserie de Saint-Sylvestre, Trois Monts (8.5% abv) Brasseurs Duyck, Jenlain (6.5% abv) and Brasserie La Choulette, Ambrée (7.5% abv).

Blonde Edit

Blonde ales are very pale in colour. The term "blonde" for pale beers is common in Europe and South America – particularly in France, Italy, Belgium, the UK, and Brazil – though the beers may not have much in common, other than colour. Blondes tend to be clear, crisp, and dry, with low-to-medium bitterness and aroma from hops, and some sweetness from malt. Fruitiness from esters may be perceived. A lighter body from higher carbonation may be noticed. In the United Kingdom, golden or summer ales were developed in the late 20th century by breweries to compete with the pale lager market. A typical golden ale has an appearance and profile similar to that of a pale lager. Malt character is subdued and the hop profile ranges from spicy to citrus common hops include Styrian Golding and Cascade. Alcohol is in the 4% to 5% abv range. The UK style is attributed to John Gilbert, owner of Hop Back Brewery, who developed "Summer Lightning" in 1989, which won several awards and inspired numerous imitators. [29] Belgian blondes are often made with pilsner malt. [30] Some beer writers regard blonde and golden ales as distinct styles, while others do not. Duvel is a typical Belgian blonde ale, and one of the most popular bottled beers in the country [31] as well as being well known internationally. [32]

Burton pale ale Edit

Later in the second half of the nineteenth century, the recipe for pale ale was put into use by the Burton upon Trent brewers, notably Bass ales from Burton were considered of a particularly high quality due to synergy between the malt and hops in use and local water chemistry, especially the presence of gypsum. Burton retained absolute dominance in pale ale brewing [33] until a chemist, C. W. Vincent, discovered the process of Burtonization to reproduce the chemical composition of the water from Burton-upon-Trent, thus giving any brewery the capability to brew pale ale.

English bitter Edit

The expression English bitter first appeared in the early 19th century as part of the development and spread of pale ale. [34] Breweries tended to designate beers as "pale ales", though customers would commonly refer to the same beers as "bitters". It is thought that customers used the term bitter to differentiate these pale ales from other less noticeably hopped beers. Drinkers tend to loosely group modern bitters into "session" or "ordinary" bitters (up to 4.1% abv), "best" or "special" bitters (between 4.2% and 4.7% abv) and "strong" bitters (4.8% abv and over).

India pale ale (IPA) Edit

India pale ale (IPA) is a style of pale ale developed in England for export to India. The first known use of the expression "India pale ale" is in an advertisement in the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser on 27 August 1829. [35]

Worthington White Shield, originating in Burton-upon-Trent, is a beer considered to be part of the development of India pale ale.

The colour of an IPA can vary from a light gold to a reddish amber.

Irish red ale Edit

Irish red ale, red ale, or Irish ale (Irish: leann dearg [36] ) is a name used by brewers in Ireland Smithwick's is a typical example of a commercial Irish red ale. There are many other examples being produced by Ireland's expanding craft beer industry. O'Hara's, 8 Degrees and Franciscan Well all brew examples of Irish red ale.

There is some dispute as to whether Irish red ale is a genuine style or the same as English keg bitter. [37]

In the United States, the name can describe a darker amber ale or a "red" beer that is a lager with caramel colouring.

Scotch ale Edit

"Scotch ale" was first used as a designation for strong ales exported from Edinburgh in the 18th century. [38] The term has become popular in the US, where strong ales which may be available in Scotland under a different name are sold in America as "Scotch ales", for example, Caledonian's Edinburgh Strong Ale or Edinburgh Tattoo, is sold in the US as "Edinburgh Scotch Ale". [39] As with other examples of strong ales, such as Barley wine, these beers tend toward sweetness from residual sugars, malty notes, and a full body. [40] Examples from the Caledonian brewery have toffee notes from the caramelizing of the malt from the direct-fired copper. [41] This caramelizing of Caledonian's beers is popular in America and has led many American brewers to produce strong toffee sweet beers which they label as "Scotch ales". [42] Scotch ales are an accepted style in Belgium: Gordon's Highland Scotch Ale, with its thistle-shaped glass is a well-known example, produced by the British-connected John Martin Brewery.

"Scotch ale" or "whisky ale" is a designation used by brewers in France for peat-smoked malt flavoured beers. [43] This style is distinct from the Scotch ales, having a translucent amber, rather than opaque brown, appearance, and a smoky rather than sweet taste. Even though the malt used by brewers in Scotland is not generally or traditionally dried by peat burning, some Scottish whisky distilleries have used low nitrogen barley dried by peat burning. The distinctive flavour of these smoked malts is reminiscent of whisky, and some peat smoke flavour is added during malting by an additional process. [44] The most popular French example is Fischer's Adelscott. [45] The brewer Douglas Ross of the Bridge of Allan brewery made the first Scottish whisky ale for the Tullibardine Distillery in 2006 [46] the beer is made with unpeated malt and aged in whisky barrels that had not contained a peated malt whisky so has a vanilla and nutty profile. [47]

While the full range of ales are produced, and consumed, in Scotland, the classic names used within Scotland for beer of the type described abroad as "Scotch ale", are "light", "heavy", and "export", also referred to in "shilling categories" as "60/-", "70/-" and "80/-" respectively, dating back to a 19th-century method of invoicing beers according to their strengths. [48] The "/-" was the symbol used for "shillings exactly", that is, shillings and zero pence, in the pre-decimal £sd British currency, so the names are read as "60 (or 70 or 80) shilling (or bob) ale". (Although it was normal to express values over £1 in terms of pounds, shillings and pence, which would give, in this example, £3, £3-10-0 (spoken as "three pound ten"), or £4, the use of values in shillings and pence only was somewhat more common than saying 300p, 350p and 400p in decimal £p currency.)

Scotch ale is sometimes conflated with the term "wee heavy", as both are used to describe a strong beer. [49] Examples of beers brewed in the US under the name "wee heavy" tend to be 7% abv and higher, while Scottish-brewed examples, such as Belhaven's Wee Heavy, are between 5.5% and 6.5% abv. McEwan's Scotch Ale is also 8% abv. [50]

In North East England, "best Scotch" refers to a beer similar to mild ale but with a drier, more burnt palate. [51]

Strong pale ale Edit

Strong pale ales are ales made predominantly with pale malts and have an alcohol strength that may start around 5%, though typically start at 7 or 8% by volume and may go up to 12%, though brewers have been pushing the alcohol strength higher. In 1994, the Hair of the Dog Brewing Company produced a strong pale ale with an alcohol by volume of 29%. In 2010, Brewdog released "Sink the Bismarck!", a 41% abv pale ale, [52] which is stronger than typical distilled spirits (40% abv).


The simple sugar base of your ginger ale is virtually 100% fermentable. After fermentation you will have a very dry ginger ale with an FG in the 0.996-0.999 range and a flavor reminiscent of champagne, so you will probably want to backsweeten the brew. If you&rsquore bottling, any sugar you add will ferment and cause bottle bombs, so you&rsquore limited to artificial sweeteners. The recipe below calls for granulated (baking) Splenda, which measures out like sugar and produces a good ginger ale that any brewer can make. If you keg, however, the best way to backsweeten would be to use potassium sorbate to stabilize the ginger ale after fermentation is complete (potassium sorbate will not halt a fermentation in progress) and add sugar at kegging time. Whatever sweetener you use, it should be dissolved in water first so it will mix evenly.

Getting to the Root of Homebrewed Root Beer

I don&rsquot have to tell you about the stunningly wide variety of beers you can create at home. You&rsquore here on Homebrew Supply, after all. You already know. But what about root beer? It has &ldquobeer&rdquo in its name, but we don&rsquot often think about it in homebrewing discussions. After all, most of us don&rsquot think about it as &ldquobeer&rdquo at all, since it&rsquos most widely consumed as a non-alcoholic soda beverage.

A Bit of History on Root Beer

Featured Product

Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop

Ever have the desire to make your own handcrafted sodas? This book will guide you through the process of making your own homemade sodas, and even has some recipes for you to try your hand at!

The thing is, historically, root beer was an alcoholic beverage, albeit one with a very low alcohol content. Native Americans brewed Sassafras root-derived drinks centuries before the Europeans arrived, but they were probably closer to a tea than a beer. By the 16th and 17th centuries they began to incorporate European brewing techniques into their own, inching us closer to the beverage we have today. Soon, European settlers picked up on the idea. By at least the 1840s, a form of root beer close to what we know today began to appear in American confectionery stores, often as a syrup to be diluted into a drink at home. As best as we can tell, when brewed root beer began as somewhat analogous to so-called &ldquosmall beer,&rdquo beer brewed to extremely low alcohol content and consumed as an everyday beverage. The details would have varied, but historically it&rsquos believed that most small beers were about 2.5% ABV. Early root beers would have been about the same. In 1875, Charles Elmer Hires developed and sold the first commercially successful brand of root beer (and in this writer&rsquos opinion, Hires is still one of the best mainstream root beers on the market). It was initially called &ldquoroot tea,&rdquo but in an effort to market the drink to gritty blue collar mine workers, he began calling it &ldquoroot beer&rdquo instead. The temperance movement was on the upswing at this time and Prohibition was just a few decades away, so non-alcoholic versions of root beer became the go-to version of the drink for millions. That&rsquos the form of root beer that became popular. It still is today.

Root Beer Today

These days, root beer remains a popular soft drink &ndash and thanks to the recent (passing) success of drinks like Not Your Father&rsquos Root Beer and Coney Island hard root beer, alcoholic versions are back in fashion, too. That means homebrewers are interested in how to make their own. With that in mind, let&rsquos explore a few methods to make root beer at home, both with and without alcohol. As with brewing beer, you can choose between extract and all-grain (though in this case &ldquoall-spice&rdquo is probably more accurate). Here are a few ways to go about it:

First Thing's First

All root beer needs a sweetener. Basically, this is your malt bill, except you most likely won&rsquot be using malts. In many cases, you can use something as simple as table sugar. Other options include corn syrup, beet sugar, brown sugar, molasses, and even maple syrup or honey &ndash and yes, you can even use light malt extract if you want. Your general rule of thumb will be to use 1 pound of sugar per gallon of root beer. Dial that slightly down if you want something less sweet than a commercial root beer. For the ideal soda, use pure cane sugar. Also remember that different types of sugar measure out a little different. Here are some general rules of thumb to keep in mind (numbers are approximate):

Rough Weight to Volume Conversions

Type of Sugar
1 Pound Equals

The other key will be your spicing. It all starts with sassafras and wintergreen. Other spicing options will impart different characteristics to your root beer. Some common options are listed below in the recipes section.

Homemade Root Beer Recipes

ATTENTION KEGGERS: You CAN force carb your root beer! In that case, skip the yeast Altogether. Non-Alcoholic Version 1: These ingredients are based on a standard 5-gallon homebrew batch, however, one word of caution: 5 gallons of root beer is a lot. Consider cutting all amounts in half and brewing 2.5 gallons instead. Note that this recipe is designed to be a little less sweet than commercial root beers. Dial it up to 4 pounds of sugar, plus the molasses, to get closer to commercial sweetness.

Non-Alcoholic Root Beer #1

What You'll Need
Optional Add-ins
  • 3 cups Sassafras Root Bark
  • 3 teaspoons wintergreen leaf
  • 3 pounds sugar (unrefined organic cane sugar or brown sugar preferred)
  • 2 cups molasses
  • 2 ounces vanilla extract (adjust to 1 ounce if desired)
  • 5 gallons water (if bottle carbonating)
  • 4-6 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 teaspoons licorice root
  • 0.5 teaspoon of coriander and allspice
  • 0.5 teaspoon nutmeg

Add your Sassafras Root, wintergreen, vanilla extract, and optional herbs to five gallons of water. Using a cheesecloth or herb sack is recommended.

  1. Bring to a boil.
  2. When boil is reached, reduce heat and add sugar and molasses. Stir thoroughly.
  3. Allow mixture to simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Cut heat and allow to cool, or cool as you would a wort.
  5. Pitch yeast, stir gently, then immediately bottle, leaving about two inches of head space at the top of each bottle.
  6. Store bottles at room temperature, ideally around 75 degrees or so. If bottling into glass (which I recommend you avoid), check after two days for carbonation, then check every six hours until your desired carbonation is reached. Once reached, immediately refrigerate (colder temperatures preferred). If bottling into plastic, after 48 hours squeeze bottles to check carbonation. Repeat every 12 hours. When the bottles are firm with little to no give, they have reached proper carbonation. Refrigerate immediately.

Important: Remember to store carbonated bottles immediately in cool temperatures to minimize further fermentation and avoid potential bottle bombs. Plastic soda bottles are highly recommended for this reason. Avoid glass if at all possible. Some older recipes suggest using champagne yeast. This is no longer recommended. Champagne yeast can continue working at lower temperatures and puts you at increased risk for exploding bottles. Avoid baking yeast as well, despite some recipes calling for it. It imparts a yeasty flavor and is slower to work. Use a neutral dry ale yeast instead. Your root beer should be drinkable for about five weeks. Non-Alcoholic Version 2- Extract: Extract soda brewing is easy &ndash even easier than extract brewing in beer. You can easily brew this with a small child. I&rsquove done it! And remember, the below is based around a standard 5-gallon batch. In truth, however, you&rsquore better off doing half that amount.

Non-Alcoholic Root Beer #2

What You'll Need
Optional Add-ins
  • Root Beer Extract
  • 5 Pounds Sugar
  • 5 Gallons Water
  • Optional: Replace some of the sugar with molasses or honey

Follow the instructions from version 1, replacing the spice boiling with the root beer extract and enjoy. That&rsquos pretty much it. Some versions will call for no boiling, only high heat (around 170 degrees). I&rsquove done both methods and found no appreciable differences, but prefer to bring it to a brief boil for safety/sanitation reasons.

Making Hard Root Beer

Since the debut of Not Your Father&rsquos Root Beer a couple of years ago, homebrewers everywhere have been scrambling to make their own alcohol-infused root beers. This is a tricky topic, with just about every method under the sun attempted by homebrewers. No one method is correct, and in both my hands-on experience and in doing further research, no one seems to have the one true method that everyone agrees on. In other words, there are a sea of options available to you, if you&rsquore willing to experiment. The method that seems to get the most success and is easiest to incorporate into your brewing routine is as follows: Start with a simple dark ale recipe. Keep it simple and ensure it has low bitterness, no more than 15 IBU. As little as 1oz of bittering hops will suffice. A basic amber ale kit will do in a pinch, perhaps with a small amount of black or chocolate malt (about ¼ to ½ a pound) for color and flavor. NOTE: For hard root beer, extract beer recipes yield better results than all grain because of the lower attenuation. Add spices at flameout OR, if using a root beer extract, add extract at bottling. At bottling add ½ pound of lactose to sweeten. Adjust upwards to taste if desired, up to 1 pound. Condition, drink, and enjoy. A note on sweetening: Some homebrewers have reported success backsweetening with Stevia, Truvia, or Splenda, none of which ferments. Be aware that it is VERY easy to over-sweeten with products like these. Be wary of liquid extract versions, too, which are HIGHLY potent in their sweetness. Also be aware that the taste of Stevia gets mixed reactions. Some people believe it sweetens just fine. Others are highly put off by the taste. All that said, these products have been used successfully to backsweeten ciders and other fermented beverages. Recommendations on how much to use vary from several teaspoons for a full batch to up to a ½ cup. Another method that has gotten success for some brewers is a hybrid between starting with a standard ale kit and the pure root beer brewing outlined above. Here is a sample recipe:

Hard Root Beer #2

What You'll Need
Optional Add-ins
  • 5 lbs Light DME
  • 20 oz sugar
  • 1 lb lactose
  • Optional: Adjust and add spices to your personal preference

Brew this as you would any other batch of beer.

Closing Remarks on DIY Root Beer

The trend towards hard sodas has stabilized but shows no sign of receding &ndash and no wonder. These tasty drinks offer a great alternative to beer. You can make amazing floats with them, too! And going without the alcohol can be a lot of fun for homebrewers as well. Ginger beers, cream sodas and more are all relatively easy to make at home and are a fantastic way to introduce younger family members to the fun of homebrewing. Happy brewing! For more fantastic root beer recipes, try browsing our soda making forum for ideas.

Romulan Ale: "It's a FAAAAAAAKE!"

Who hasn't wished to take an illegal swig -- sip -- taste of this sweet no, er. salty? Beverage.

What does it taste like, how do we know, and what does it mean for Star Trek?

1: The Problem

Star trek is riddled with unanswerable conundrums, and this is one of them. I thought of this issue whilst in the midst of my Christmas shopping. I am creating a Romulan Ale decanter for my parents, but I wanted to fill it with something that resembled the mysterious blue beverage at the time of giving.

I scoured the internet, tried a dozen personalized cocktails, and created my own Frankentine beverages at home to no avail.

I couldn't figure out a decent mixture that satisfied my tastebuds and was blue.

No one in the Federation knows what it tastes like either.

Human beings can't even agree what tastes good, so why would two different species?

The way taste buds work is explained simply here. The TLDR is "tiny, fifty celled buds stick off our tongue and bind protein structures which send signals to our brain".

We need proteins to create organic life as we know it. Since Romulans are physically similar enough to create hybrids, we can assume their proteins are relatively similar. Unfortunately, that does not mean their taste buds are at all similar.

Even among humans, a factor as simple as taste bud density can vary by as much as 50% Another speices of organic, protein structured, carbon based life, might have a completely different set of tastebuds, if they have the cell structures at all.

So how can tastes translate?

2: The Ubiquity of Taste

Summary: people may not know exactly what alien foods taste like to their creators, but they do taste them to a precise degree.

In the Star Trek Universe, we see that taste is not universal, but it is apparently translateable.

Quark says that root beer is, "happy" and "cloying".

Granted, these aren't "tastes", in the traditional sense, but root beer is definitely both happy and cloying. Garak believes rootbeer is "vile" this is a statement many humans might disagree with.

He seems to be able to "taste" the rootbeer, which means his receptors can detect something in the drink. Something in the saccharides or preservatives is triggering a reaction.

So does taste not cross species at all?

No. Taste definitely translates in some regard.

Klingon Blood Wine and Gagh, both are valued comodities in the mouth of an adventurous member of the Federation. Jadzia Dax, a trill, is known to love both Gagh and Blood Wine, but Ezri Dax despises both. Worf describes his bloodwine of taste as "very young and very sweet" (DS9: "Change of Heart). We do not know exactly what "young" means as far as bloodwine goes, but 2309 is considered the best year by General Martok. The beverage is then aged approximately 60 years for good fermentation. Since Klingons live up to 300 years and Worf often drinks from Martok's stock, we can assume that is a young year.

So in summary, Jadzia and Worf both like bloodwine despite being different species. The concept of "sweetness", though unidentified, may translate. Sugar, a basic building block for cellular-based life, may be common. This is important.

This demonstrates that personal taste is strong enough within an alien species to differentiate like and dislike between foods or beverages. That taste difference is strong enough to cross the boundary between species. Consider the following statement.

A (Worf) and B (Jadzia) both like X.

B and C (Ezri) do not both like X.

B and C are both the same species.

A and B are different speices.

Therefore: Different species can like the same foods even though individuals within that species don't.

So the taste must be consistent in some regard and it may have to do with sugars.

Back to the question of the ale.

4. The Taste

This means he actually drinks it to a large degree. He probably likes it.

Therefore: Worf drank a metric hellofalotof Romulan Ale to get drunk on it.

Romulans like Romulan Ale.

Klingons like Romulan Ale.

As I said in the begining. We can't know. but we can GUESS!.

IN CONCLUSION: I posit the following.

Worf likes his bloodwine sweet. (Per his quote)

"Aliens" (Including us) can detect sweetness. (Per biology, Quark, Garrak, and Worf)

Romulan Ale is enjoyed by multiple speices. (Per Worf, Star Trek VI, Humans, and Jadzia)

Humans particularly like sweet things.

We have never seen a human turn down Romulan Ale.

Therefore: Even if Romulans don't think Romulan Ale tastes sweet, to humans it does.

We may not know if it is like Wine, Caracao, Honey Whisky, or Amarone, but we can assume, from the information present, that Romulan Ale is sweet.

Close the Channel

When I started poking around for info for this post, I thought it would be a quick one. But, crap, I've pretty much spent all day tooling around various Star Trek sites, with Memory Alpha being a huge help and awesome resource. I think I now know more about Star Trek food than anyone should. Tomorrow night, though, I think I'll skip the osol twists and get a big bucket of popcorn--it's a Terran snack made from dried corn kernels that are heated until they burst, commonly eaten slathered with butter at movie theaters during the 20th and 21st centuries.


10:41 a.m., 5/8/2009: Jason Kottke linked to this today, saying, "Oddly, my only complaint is that (somehow) his piece isn't long enough. Adam, you didn't even get in to 'Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.'"

I know, Jason. I would have loved to have included Picard's iconic food-replicator order, but I had to limit the scope of this post somewhat or I could have spent weeks in the food quadrant of the Trekiverse. I figured focusing on the aliens encountered in the Trek reboot was a fine way to do that.

As it is, I'm relying heavily on Memory Alpha. Going any deeper into ST food, I'd just basically be aping what they've done on their awesomely extensive database of food and drink across the entire franchise.

Watch the video: Zachary Quinto reading in Spocks voice. (November 2021).