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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2004 * Archive through July 12, 2004 * Why doesn't root beer ferment alcohol... < Previous Next >

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Stephen Manchester
New Member
Username: Smanches

Post Number: 3
Registered: 06-2004
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 01:19 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've been searching both these forums and the rest of the web but can't seem to find out why root beer (or any other soda) does not ferment alcohol. Can anyone explain this to me?

I can't blieve it's the yeast since so many recipes call for champagne yeast. I can't figure out what it could be. Sugars maybe?
 

Jared Cook
Intermediate Member
Username: Jared

Post Number: 310
Registered: 09-2002
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 01:37 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

No, it's because it's refrigerated after it's bottle conditioned. Leave it out longer and you'll have a case of grenades.
 

Stephen Manchester
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Username: Smanches

Post Number: 4
Registered: 06-2004
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 01:44 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

In other words, if I was to treat a root beer the same as a regular ale (in primary for a week, then secondary for a couple more, etc.) it would have the appropriate amount of alcohol in it?

Very interesting.

(Message edited by smanches on June 29, 2004)
 

Dan Listermann
Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 205
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 01:55 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Soda carbonates in a different way compared to beer. In beer the carbonation is controled by the amount of sugar you prime it with. In soda, the carbonation level is controled by the amount of yeast you give it. It does not ferment out all the way because the sucrose (table sugar) used to make soda has no nutrients in it would normally allow the yeast to reproduce effectivly. The yeast you give it, is about all it gets and they live their little lives out carbonating the soda and die. Soda should not need to be refigerated. I have had root beer bottles stored in my basement for years without overcarbonating.

FWIW EC-1118 seems to give less bread flavor than Red Star Champaign yeast.
 

Jared Cook
Intermediate Member
Username: Jared

Post Number: 311
Registered: 09-2002
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 01:57 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Most rootbeer recipes are mostly sugar. You'd have some high octane crap on your hands. Ask Fredrik about his sugar brew.

That said, there was a recipe in BYO a few years ago that was a two row based recipe that was basically a sassafrass (I think) flavored pale ale. That might be OK.
 

Stephen Manchester
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Username: Smanches

Post Number: 5
Registered: 06-2004
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 01:58 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

So then it's about the ratio of sugars to yeast in the mix?

I think I need to learn more about yeast. brb
 

Fredrik
Advanced Member
Username: Fredrik

Post Number: 1358
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 05:59 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I am not a root beer fan, but from what I understand, like Dan said, making rootbeer seems to be like a calculated "stuck ferment" by using a low pitching rate together with a nitrogen deficient wort you ensure the fermentation stops before it depletes too much sugar. A normal beer wort typically contains twice the minimum nitrogen required. A beer fermentation typically ferments until it runs out of sugars if the pitching rate is high enough. I don't know exactly what is the first limiting factor in root beer, but I figure probably nitrogen starvation (or perhaps oxygen derived compound starvation due to low pitching rate). The yeast will get sugars externally but take all other nutritients from internal pools, as soon as they are quickly exhausted and fermentation comes to an end generating only a minimum amount of alcohol.

It would be interesting to know what is the typical pitching rate in million/ml/P used in root beer receipes? Does anyone know?

/Fredrik
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 102
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 11:10 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Wow, Fredrik, your post actually made good sense from a scientific perspective. My compliments.
 

Dan Listermann
Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 208
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 11:45 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The instructions say to use 1/2 to a full teaspoon of yeast for a 4 gallon batch.
 

Fredrik
Senior Member
Username: Fredrik

Post Number: 1359
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 02:28 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Bill.

That sounds like a fair amount of yeast still, so it seems the main limitation ought to be nitrogen. I don't know how many grams 1/2 tsp would be, but a guess would be around like 2g or less?? I browsed some root beer receipes and it seems 9-10% sucrose seems commonn, which means the pitching rate seems to be around 0.3 million/ml/P.

As a ballpark estimate, assuming the root beer ferments about enough to produce a 2 vol/vol carbonation, 85% viability of hydrated yeast, implies roughly that the yeast reproduces 1-2 budding cycles, as you pitch 0.5-1 tsp / 4 gallons and expect 2 vol/vol CO2, until the speculated nitrogen starvation. That it would live at least one budding cycle is expected as it would appear difficult for the yeast to rigidly secure the reproduction cycle unless it's internal pools could make it through at least one cycle.

So unless I made a typo this datapoint seem to indicate that the yeast can ferment without external nitrogen for maybe 1-2 generations at best? Hmmm maybe I should try and test this one in a sugar test. It would be easy enough to test.

/Fredrik
 

Tex Brewer
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Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 15
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 09:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have made rootbeer several times using champagne yeast. 1/2-1 tsp. is too much. More like 1/4 tsp for 5 gal. would be appropriate. I over-did it once and got bottle bombs.
 

don price
Intermediate Member
Username: Donzoid

Post Number: 370
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - 12:21 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Fredrik,

This sounds like an excellent experiment for you. Lots of yeast kinetics and it isn't real beer (possibly) getting ruined!

Back to the orginal issue...I never knew why rootbeer stopped fermenting. Good info!

Don
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 105
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - 11:51 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

As a practical matter, it's much safer to force carbonate soft drinks. Bottle bombs can cause serious injuries, even blindness.
 

Dan Listermann
Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 213
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - 12:57 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Also force carbonated soda tastes better. Still, in unpteen years of making soda in bottles ( I recommend 2 liter for a lot of reasons ), I have yet to have one blow or gyser for that matter. If anything, they are undercarbonated.
 

Fredrik
Senior Member
Username: Fredrik

Post Number: 1360
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - 01:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

In case someone missed my "midnight sandwich incident" last year, here is what can happen when using bad caps + overcarbonating :-) Quite impressive explosion. 2 litres of beer nailed into the kitchen ceeling in fractions of a second. I am glad I was catious enough to not handle it close to my body.



/Fredrik
 

John McElver
Junior Member
Username: Johnmc

Post Number: 100
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 01:10 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Fredrik,
Yeast can usually go 1-2 generations on internal nutrients, provided an energy/carbon source.
E. coli is about the same.

When one does experiments which limit the nutrients (complementation tests of auxotrophs), the yeast are generally "washed" in sterile water or buffer. This gets rid of any nutrient in the media. But they'll still grow about 1 doubling. I always call it "dead cat bounce".

John
 

Fredrik
Senior Member
Username: Fredrik

Post Number: 1363
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 02:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for the confirmation John! What you say seem to make really good sense.

/Fredrik
 

David S.
Junior Member
Username: Dsundberg

Post Number: 69
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Thursday, July 08, 2004 - 09:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I wonder what it would taste like if you put a little beer yeast in some Coke and let it ferment for a while?
 

Doug Pescatore
Advanced Member
Username: Doug_p

Post Number: 846
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, July 08, 2004 - 09:17 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Mich dark.....
 

Okierat
Junior Member
Username: Okierat

Post Number: 44
Registered: 05-2003
Posted on Thursday, July 08, 2004 - 09:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Some one in our club tried it with Pepsi. If I remember right he had trouble with it fermenting, but when finished it tasted, well like and experiment gone really bad.
 

Fredrik
Senior Member
Username: Fredrik

Post Number: 1380
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 07:07 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Pepsi and coke are fairly sour too maybe it depresses fermentation? I never tested but I read some dentist info some time ago that pH is around 2.5 - 3.0 in coca cola.

/Fredrik
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 134
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 01:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Fredrik's basically right. Commercial sodas have the pH adjusted (I believe it's closer to 3.5) with phosphoric acid. It's part of the sharp, acidic flavor profile. They also contain preservatives to retard fermentation by wild yeast.


(Message edited by BillPierce on July 09, 2004)
 

Jeff Sanders
New Member
Username: Jeff102

Post Number: 5
Registered: 08-2003
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 04:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Speaking of phosphoric acid, I bought some Malta Goya with it being one of the ingredients. Is the amount of phosphoric acid in Malta too much for use as a starter?

Jeff
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 138
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 04:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've never had any problem using Malta Goya for starter wort. I suspect the phosphoric acid is added to balance the sweetness (in the same way acid blend is used in sweet wines) and that the pH is still more than high enough not to impact fermentation. In general, yeast is inhibited by a pH of below 4.0. Malta is heavily pasteurized for storage stability, but this has no effect once the yeast is pitched.

(Message edited by BillPierce on July 09, 2004)
 

Jeff Sanders
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Username: Jeff102

Post Number: 6
Registered: 08-2003
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 04:50 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yeah, I don't know how people can drink that stuff. To me it's like drinking LME. Soooo sweet.

Jeff
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 139
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 04:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

For what it's worth, the reference information I found indicates that the pH of Coke and Pepsi is 3.4.