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Alcohol In Home-Brewed Root Beers

La Wall has found in some recent investigations2 that many so-called root beers have a large percentage of alcohol. Such beverages as these should be classed under alcoholic drinks.


He says:

The conditions under which the beverage is made are very favorable for the development of appreciable amounts of alcohol. Yeast, sugar, water and a flavoring extract which usually contains some inorganic salts for the stimulation and nutrition of the yeast, are combined under conditions favorable to the rapid growth of the yeast, and the mixture is then bottled and the bottles are directed to be tightly closed.

When the pressure of carbon dioxid, evolved by the fermenting mixture, reaches a certain point, the fermentation automatically ceases. It may easily be seen that if the mixture is allowed to stand for a short time before bottling, or if the bottles are not entirely filled so that a comparatively large air space remains, fermentation may proceed for some time, and the alcohol content is correspondingly varied or increased.

I accordingly made some experiments to ascertain just how high the alcohol would go under the most favorable conditions, and also to see what the average alcohol content of a product made strictly according to directions would be. The following results were obtained:


After standing 2 days............. 0.25 percent alcohol.
After standing 3 days............. 0.32 percent alcohol.
After standing 4 days............. 0.35 percent alcohol.
After standing 5 days............. 0.53 percent alcohol.
After standing 6 days........................ 0.64 percent alcohol.
After standing 7 days....................... 0.81 percent alcohol.
After standing 9 days............. 1.29 percent alcohol.
After standing 10 days ....................... 1.36 percent alcohol.
After standing 11 days ....................... 1.52 percent alcohol.

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