Traditional root beers are made from allspice, birch bark, coriander, juniper, ginger, wintergreen, hops, burdock root, dandelion root, spikenard, pipsissewa, guaiacum chips, sarsaparilla, spicewood, wild cherry bark, yellow dock, prickly ash bark, sassafras root, vanilla beans, dog grass, molasses and licorice. Wormwood is also favored by many Indian cocktail mixes. However, one can make a lovely Indian root beer without having to import some exotic food ingredients.

Today we will be talking about 3 lovely aromatic roots that are easily available in Indian stores and kitchen.

Khus, Tulsi and Nannari are also available in essence or syrup form but I prefer the fresh/dried roots instead of synthetic extracts. India is a land of spice and our beverage should also reflect our unique and diverse flora and fauna to be really appreciated. Please be careful that certain herbal roots (especially Ayahuasca) are hallucinogenic and its use outside medicine is regulated. So an ayurvedic reference book will come in handy to select the right root with right medicinal properties.

When using roots, be aware that the quantity and quality of essential oils depends on the age of the plant, the harvest season and the drying method. So its always good to make some tea with the ingredients before adding them to your batch. Another alternative is to make a tincture by soaking the root in white distilled spirit for an hour before sampling it for flavor notes.

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21 years of experience in Home Brewing and author of Arishtam (India's first homebrew Guide Book).

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