Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Recipe: Homemade Virgil's Root Beer Clone From Scratch

I'm going to start off by saying this-I'm quite aware that Virgil's lists the spices they use to flavor the root beer on the packaging, however, they do not list amounts. I decided to give it a try, excluding those spices I find either undesirable(cloves), or those things which I did not have in my ingredients vault(birch of any kind).
I combined all of the below together, and came up with a very close approximation of a tasty bottle of Virgil's.

1 tbsp. Licorice Root
4 crushed Star Anise Pods
1 Cinnamon stick(approx. 4 inches)
1 Vanilla Bean(approx. 6 inches)
1tbsp. dried Wintergreen Leaves
1/4 tsp. ground Nutmeg
5 pieces of whole Allspice
2 cups of Cane Sugar
2 tbsp. Blackstrap Molasses
1/8 tsp. yeast
4.5 qts. of Water

Start off filling your stockpot with 4.5 quarts of water, place all ingredients(minus sugar + yeast) into pot, turn to med-hi heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer with the lid on for approximately 20-30 minutes. Stir in your 2 cups of sugar and molasses, place in ice-water bath to allow to cool.
When the mixture gets down to about 95 degrees Fahrenheit, scoop a little bit into a coffee cup and add yeast to the coffee cup. After allowing yeast to culture for about 5 minutes, dump contents of coffee cup back into pot and stir in well. Bottle and wait 3-4 days(dependent on temperature), then move bottles to the fridge. You'll have a nice, homemade version of Virgil's Root Beer waiting for you. I'd say your best flavor comes about 3 days after placing it in the fridge. The amount of molasses can be modified to taste.
Try it for yourself and let me know in the comments how much/little you think it tastes like Virgil's.


  1. Have you had a chance to try this recipe yet?

    1. I would say to get the star anise pods if you can. You can sub in the star anise seed, but you'd have to experiment with different amounts to get the proper amount of flavor-the pods are much more pungent, and as such require a smaller amount than the anise seed.

  2. I have. It turned out pretty good-very close to Virgil's. It was a little heavy on the molasses flavor, but you can modify to taste. That's the best part of making it at home for yourself-you can make it to your exact taste preferences. 1-1.5 tbsp. of molasses might be a little closer to an accurate amount.

  3. Excellent!!!!
    Thanks for the recipe. I just downed 2 bottles of this. I did not have allspice, licorice root, or vanilla bean. Substitute for a little more anise, and bourbon vanilla extract, and it worked well. Thanks for you blog. Keep it up!!

    1. Thanks for the kind words and the recent "like" Facebook.
      I've been slacking on making any new brew lately...must find time!

  4. Thanks for this Recipe. I just made it and put it into a keg. I set the psi to 20 and shook the keg a few times and gave it a try. Great flavor, but a bit weaker than Virgils. Not sure if it is less sweet or the spices could be stronger. Flavors may change with time? This is a great starting point and I'm going to do some experimenting and will report any findings. Thanks!

  5. Ricky what kind of yeast do you use?

    1. For this I would recommend an ale yeast. I don't remember the specific brand, but it will help give it a more robust flavor. Champagne yeasts are good for lighter/fruitier soda(like lemon/lime and cream sodas.). I really need to get motivated to make some new brew, especially with the warm weather o help the process along...

  6. If I wanted to make this as a concentrated syrup to use in a Sodastream, what do you recommend I do? Cut out a lot of the initial water?

  7. yup and try to boil it down

    1. I did two batches. The first one was spilled by my friend's wife... On the second one here is what I did:

      Used 2 qrts of water, omitted the vanilla bean seconf time around,1 cup of sugar, and doubled all the other ingredients.

      I then boiled the mixture down to a third of what it was. Was pretty well concentrated at that point- could have used more.

      I added 2 tsbp of vodka to the syrup to help keep it longer.