Root Beer and Sarsaparilla: These beverages are widely known as soft drinks, but these drinks discussed here are not the carbonated drinks you buy ready-bottled at the grocery store. They're naturally fermented brews carbonated by the action of yeast and sugar or other fizz-making ingredients, like cream of tartar. They carry a small amount of alcohol, typically less than one-half of one percent, and may be brewed legally without purchase of a license.
Much of the equipment utilized for making these drinks you may already have in your kitchen, particularly if you make your own jams and jellies and have five-gallon kettlesfor the purpose. Indispensable items for carbonated beverages are the bottles designed specifically for carbonated beverages, bottle filler, bottle capper and crown bottle caps.
Caution: Bottle carbonated brews only in new bottles bought for the purpose. Throw-away bottles that have held carbonated beverages from the store might not be strong enough to withstand the gas pressure that develops in some homemade brews and could burst.
Equipment that you can't find locally can usually be purchased from firms that sell brewing supplies.
Before making your own brew, sterilize the equipment to be used, the containers, the tubes, and the bottles—even if they're brand new. The easiest way to sterilize is to wash everything well using a chlorinated-detergent solution. If the local hardware shops don't carry chlorine detergent suited for this purpose, buy from a brewing-supply house. Mix two ounces of the detergent with one gallon of warm water, and wash everything in this solution. Make sure to rinse away all traces of the chlorine after the detergent has been used. Any solution left in the bottles or on the equipment could affect brews that include yeast and may spoil the flavor of others.