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My Blog

Root Beer....a REAL POP!

Good morning to everyone.  I am ready to start another wonderful day.  I am excited because I get to spend it with a very dear person.  Did you ever notice how wonderful a day can be when you spend it with someone you care about, is upbeat and shares all our same interests.  It doesn't matter what you do...it's just that you get to do it together?  Well, that's the kind of day I am going to have...and I am so grateful to God for it!
Well todays topic takes me back in time a bit.  I grew up in a small neighborhood of Chicago with my grandparents.  Now my mom lived with us and I always say I grew up with my grandparents because my mom worked...all the time!! And my Grandparents were really the ones that raised me.  Well, every single summer, grandmother did something special.  Back then, drinking soda was not really something you did very often.  You might get a bottle of coke if you were traveling in the car and stopped at a gas station.   You could go to the drug store and get a phosphate or a pop at the soda fountain.  But generally, we did not have soda as a drink of choice at home.  At home, it was usually common to have juice, water or a soda fountain syrup type drink that was made with soda fountain syrup and water.  My mother worked at Woolworth's and used to bring home a gallon of Fruit punch syrup that my Grandma used to make and keep in a pitcher on the end of the kitchen counter.  The only other alternative was milk.  And that was always our choice with cookies. 
Now once a year Grandma would make homemade root beer.  Now, If you have never had real homemade root beer...you have no idea what you are missing.  Nothing you can buy today can compare to how good a bottle of it is.  Now the preparations to making root beer are not very difficult.  There are not a lot of ingredients needed to make it.  There are various ways, one being that you can make it in a gallon jug and within 24 hours it is good to go, but not quite as good as the longer process. Then there is the way to make it and bottle it.  That was what Grandma used to do.  she had these brown bottles that had corks that fit into it.  She would make the root beer and then using a funnel would fill and cork up the bottles. Grandpa would use a mallet and hammer in the corks good and tight.  She would use this great big piece of board and we would line the bottles on the board and she would slide it under the bed.  She always explained that they needed to be in the dark.  Then we would have to wait 1 week before we could enjoy it.  I tell you, sometimes it seemed like the week would never come to its end knowing that it was just sitting there. 
Well, year after year, all went well and we would enjoy that delicious treat.  Only one year, we were sitting in the kitchen and having breakfast at the kitchen table.  It was a really hot day, and of course we had no air conditioning, when all of a sudden there came this sound of gun shots...pow.pow.pow.  It startled the daylights out of all of us and it sounded like it was really close.  Grandpa went racing to the front window with Grandma and told me to get down on the floor and under the table and stay there.  I was so frightened,  I had no idea what was happening.  They came back and told me to come out and then another pow!  Grandma looked at Grandpa...it was one of those "oh no" types of looks.  They had seen nothing outside....Grandma started to then walk to the bedroom where the root beer was fermenting, only to find it was the root beers that had exploded and popped their corks.  It was so long and continuous it sound just like a Western movie was taking place around us.  Grandma just started yelling when she saw the sticky mess that was now under the bed.
Grandpa and I lifted up the mattresses only to find all but one bottle had popped open.  35 bottles were  all two thirds empty now and oozing all over the floor.  There was root bear spray all over the box spring.  Grandpa carried it out into the back yard and then carefully hosed it down.  and left it in the sun to dry.  I helped Grandma clean up all that root beer on the floor.  I hate to say it, but all I kept thinking the entire time was who was going to get to drink the last bottle of root beer.  Once we wiped the mess up and began washing the floor down with some fels naphta soap and water...Grandma started laughing.  She was laughing so hard it made me start to laugh as well.  By the time Grandpa came back into the house and to the bedroom, Grandma and I were in total hysterics and poor Grandpa thought we had lost it.  Then within a few minutes Grandpa was laughing too. 
Well, needless to say, Grandma had decided that you can't make root beer when  it is too hot outdoors and would now pay closer attention to the weather...although later in life, I questioned why she just didn't put the bottles in the basement.  It was cool and dark down there.  But sometimes the simplest solutions escape us.  When the day came that the only bottle of root beer could be opened.  We three sat at the kitchen tale with little shot glasses and shared that delightful foamy drink. 
After I grew up and got married Grandma had gotten too old to make the root beer any more. 
I had really forgotten about it until I was in this Amish town in Indiana.  In one of the Restaurants they advertised Homemade Root Beer.  They served it in cold frosted mugs.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Yummm....that was good.  Brought back those memories of Grandma and the Wild West Show under the bed.  I decided that now that I had grandchildren. I should try my hand at it.  I had found all these old brown bottles that were beer bottles that had these corks that had a metal spring that clamped them down.  I landed up with a few dozen, so I bought the root beer extract in the Amish store, and made us some root beer.  The Grandkids loved it.  When we were going to have it...I would have them make some homemade ice cream in a bag so that we could make a root beer float as well.   I was never able to give them a Wild west show making Root beer, but hopefully, I gave them something to remember and hopefully share with their children and grandchildren.   

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