I just tried my first batch of root beer. I used a recipe from Wellness Mama. I don't drink but I think it tasted alcoholic and gingery at best. I let the ginger bug ferment for 2 weeks (I waited an extra week looking for bottles), making sure to feed it sugar, ginger and stir daily.

I followed all the steps with all the ingredients. It was carbonated (big pop when opened) but somewhat clear. Like I said it was alcoholic tasting and gingery, fairly sharp. I'm not sure where I went wrong. I plan to make another batch tomorrow if I can isolate the issue. I am hoping since I used more than half my ginger bug and refilled it, the new stuff won't be so potent. Should I add more of a particular ingredient to ensure a root beer flavor? Like should I add more sassafras?

I'd really love to get a good drink out of this, I've invested a bit into it and it would be a shame to quit.

Thanks so much for any input. I can take a picture of the drink if that would help or answer any additional questions.


  • pcaston2, it would be good if you could say what was wrong with the result. I would count a carbonated, clear, alcoholic, gingery beer as "a good drink". How did this differ from what you expected? Was it too alcoholic or gingery? Nov 14, 2016 at 0:38

1 Answer 1


That recipe has a potential ABV of about 5.5% if allowed to completely ferment. It's carelessly labeled non-alcoholic.

Depending on what yeast you actually have in your ginger bug this could ferment very quickly. In a matter of hours. Some strains will even continue in cold conditions. It may take a few tries at a bug before you get one that works well.

This recipe is a little missleading allowing it to ferment several days. This will only produce a non-alcoholic beer if the strain is very weak or has very low ABV tolerance. I would completely remove the sugar from the recipe or skip this step.

You can try to use much less of the bug to inoculate the root beer and check every few hours for carbonation then attempt to stop fermentation with refridgeration.

When using a scoby it's really not an exact science because you really don't know what strains of yeast and bacteria you're working with. Thier behaviors can be all over the board.

  • Thanks again for helping me out. I plan to do another batch, and I'm not sure whether I should restart my ginger bug or to keep using it... Or if I should strain out the liquid and toss the fermented ginger back in, or will that just lead to the same situation? I was under the impression you could just keep feeding it in small amounts and the consumption would match the intake and it would just keep on carbonating. But it appears that I would need to use the bug shortly after it begins carbonating, and then refill and rest it till I need it again?
    – pcaston2
    Sep 14, 2016 at 13:14
  • @pcaston2 I think you have a yeast "strong" yeast in the bug. There's a lot of sugar in that recipe, I would omit the sugar and rely on the molasses for fermentation. Then add only 1.5 table spoons of sugar to the batch when bottling. Or try for a scoby that has a low abv tolerance, or get one that is known to work for this recipe. Sep 14, 2016 at 13:34

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