Until zp told me about the root beer episode in Belles on their Toes (a sequel to the the better-known, Cheaper by the Dozen) my biggest worry about making root beer at home was fear that sassafrass root bark might be both essential to the root beer taste, and toxic or carcinogenic. Now I know that bottling a soft drink at home can have other, more immediate and physical dangers. Of course, it can also serve scare off priggish, nosy (or "nebby" as we say here in western PA) relations, should you happen to have any, as in:
"...there was a booming, house-shaking roar in the basement, followed by a metallic ping, as something hit the basement ceiling, directly below us.
Cousin Leora jumped out of her chair in terror, and even Mother dropped her fork.
'Earthquake,' croaked Leora, who had been through the San Francisco one. And then much louder, 'Earthquake!'
There were four more window rattling roars, each followed by a ping, and then we heard something flowing and dripping, down below us.
'Listen at that,' said Tom, 'It ain't no earthquake, it ain't nothing to get excitit about.'
'What in the world is it then?' Mother demanded sharply.
'It ain't nothing but the childrens' beer,' he assured her.
"Mercy Maude' sighed Mother, 'It gave me a start.'
'The children's what?' shrieked Cousin Leora."
Explaining to their the bossy Leora that the children were only making root beer did not appease her. Especially since it turned out that Tom, the family all around handyperson, had added some prunes to a few bottles, making his "root beer" a little more interesting/intoxicating.
In addition to alerting me to explosion hazards, the story got me thinking that I was going to need a bottle capper, if I hoped to keep the caps on bottles of home carbonated goodies. I picked up a nearly new, used model on ebay for a few bucks, ordered some fresh caps and ale yeast from a beer brewing company, and started saving glass beer and pop bottles.I think the bottle capper's pretty cool; it feels very sturdy, and looks like a little red plastic monster-creature with big jaws. I'm looking forward to trying it out. Guess I could try using it to recap half empty bottles of beer or soda with new caps, and keep them fizzy?
I'm still waiting for the regional assortment of root beers I ordered from the Soda King. Once I've got those, we'll have a little root beer tasting, pick up my herbs and start brewing. Feels a bit witchy. Maybe I should find me a cauldron? Stay tuned.