Friday, May 28, 2021

Large Batch of Homemade Root Beer

Earlier today, I helped at my sons' school for "Pioneer Day." The kids dress up like pioneers and do all kinds of fun things related to that: play pioneer games, pretend to learn in a 1-room schoolhouse, etc. I helped out (with a few other parents and grandparents) by making homemade root beer next to school for the 4th, 5th, and 8th graders to try. Here was our process:

Dry Ice Nuggets
I picked up 10 lbs of "dry ice nuggets" from a local beverage place for $15 (including tax).

Hires Big H Root Beer Extract
Two problems: "the big H" is slang for heroin, and "picnics" is spelled wrong. 

Hires Big H Root Beer Extract
One bottle is good for 3 gallons. We made 10 gallons with 3 bottles.

Also, notice I'm wearing gloves in those last 2 photos. The dry ice was very cold (obviously), and even carrying that small 10 lb bundle wrapped in butcher paper for 30 seconds out to my car made my hands painfully cold. Don't mess around with that stuff!

We poured a little dry ice (SLOWLY as to not clump) into the water, sugar, and extract mixture 3 different times to show different classes the "exciting" part. It steams up like witches brew! We just had to stir for 30 minutes straight after that to keep the dry ice nuggets broken up, and to let them dissolve. (The nuggets looked like the size of those styrofoam packing peanuts that look like Cheetos Puffs.)

Adding dry ice to root beer
After adding about 2 lbs of dry ice to our mixture.

Adding dry ice to root beer
Now about 6-8 lbs of our 10 lbs had been added. LOTS OF FOAM!

Adding dry ice to root beer
The rest of the dry ice had been added, and things started to simmer down.
But notice we had some overflow - not too much, but just enough to be dramatic.  :)

Adding dry ice to root beer

Finishing the homemade root beer
Notice how low the root beer is - ALL THAT SPACE was
foam and dry ice "steam" in those photos above!

Finishing the homemade root beer
The principal came out to observe. (Also, we moved into the sun to help
warm it a little as we still had a few big chunks of icy root beer to break up.)

Serving homemade root beer!
Our first class of kids! It went over REALLY well.

Serving homemade root beer!
Serving lots of root beer.

Serving homemade root beer!
Waiting for the next class to arrive.

Extra root beer
We saved the water jugs and filled them up with extra at the end.

We went around and topped off cups if kids wanted seconds, and we still had nearly 4 gallons left over. Everyone loved it, and it was quite a show with the dry ice. It was pretty flat as we made so much that we had to stir and stir to get the frozen chunks dealt with. 

And now that I know where to get dry ice locally, I might have to do this on a smaller scale at home sometime! I think stirring it a LOT less and then just fishing out any left over chunks would lead to better carbonation. But there still needs to be plenty of stirring to get the dry ice mixed up, so it's a fine line.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

1919 Classic American Root Beer

I opened this on this warm weekend: 

1919 Classic American Root Beer

Brand:  1919 Classic American Root Beer .

Origin: New Ulm and Sleepy Eye, MN.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: First of all, I forgot that I just reviewed this within the last 6 months. I remembered realizing that I hadn't reviewed this (even though I'd seen it everywhere), but then I forgot that I actually DID sit down to review it. Oh well. I remember that I enjoyed it, so there's no problem in sharing this big can with my boys again.

This was very creamy and smooth. It was pretty good, but the flavor was a LITTLE weak. As I look back to my first review of this, that weakness was my only complaint. Last time I gave it an 8.5, but I'm not thinking that high this time. It's still quite good, but not amazing. I'll go a bit lower...

Score: 7.5 out of 10.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Zevia Strawberry Soda

Well, I didn't MEAN to do 2 strawberry reviews back-to-back, but I just happened to be at Whole Foods a few days ago, and this soda caught my eye:

Zevia Strawberry Soda

Brand: Zevia Strawberry Soda.

Origin: Los Angeles, CA.

Purchase Place: Whole Foods, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Stevia Leaf Extract.

Review: I've generally not cared for Zevia sodas as they all seem a little weak, but this was WAY better than last week's strawberry soda. It still has a similar complaint to other Zevia sodas in that it tastes SLIGHTLY "sharp," but it's not bad here - it's not overpowering. This is decently sweet for a Zevia soda. The strawberry flavor is nice and almost "fresh" (well... as "fresh" as strawberry "flavor" can be). This was nice on a warm afternoon - refreshing and tasty! And therefore it gets my highest Zevia score to date...

Score: 7 out of 10.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Yacht Club Strawberry Soda

I opened this earlier today: 

Yacht Club Strawberry Soda

Brand: Yacht Club Strawberry Soda.

Origin: Centredale, RI.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Pure Cane Sugar.

Review: The best thing I can say about this is that it's got an "adult" flavor as it's not too sweet. However, it needs MORE sweetness. It's a really subtle sweetness and strawberry flavor. It needs more of a punch. Speaking of "punch," it tastes like a poorly-made bowl of punch put out a some mid-90s high school graduation. Not great.

Score: 3.5 out of 10.


Thursday, May 6, 2021

Schooners Sarsaparilla

I opened this tonight: 

Schooners Sarsaparilla

Brand: Schooners Sarsaparilla

Origin: Mystic, CT.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This had a pretty root-beer-like flavor, and was heavy on the anise. It's a BIT too much anise for me, but it was decent. The flavor was deep, but just not totally for me. I can't really verbalize what I didn't care about it, but it wasn't bad! I'm glad they were TRYING something and not just being generic.

Score: 6 out of 10.