By Cara Bertozzi
There are few better ways to transport back in time to the summers of your childhood than to pour yourself a cold glass of sweet, caramel-like root beer with a slightly spicy finish. Simply add two scoops of creamy vanilla bean ice cream, and you have the perfect foamy dessert.
Leanne Willard, the director of the Bayview School of Cooking (BSC) in Olympia, was exploring Puyallup for new ideas for her summer events program when she walked into the world’s largest Root Beer Store (RBS).
Willard was instantly mesmerized by their collection of more than 100 types of small-batch craft root beers, gourmet root beer varieties such as ginger beer and bark beer, and old-fashioned sodas of every shape and color, as well as fizzy candies. The store also carries extracts and brewing equipment, and thus, the idea was born to have a root beer brewing demonstration at Bayview. The goal is to showcase the art of brewing your own delicious soda and empower people to experiment with blending root beers and find their own preferences.
As an added bonus, it is also a great opportunity to share both savory and sweet recipes that incorporate the unique flavors of sassafras and other roots and herbs imbued in this sweet beverage.
Tracy Lauricella, a passionate aficionado of home-brewed root beer, was game for the task of teaching a Make Your Own Root Beer class, which has been scheduled for Wednesday, August 27 at the BSC. Tracy is not an employee but is rather an ardent root beer fan. He developed a taste for gourmet varieties by systematically working his way through the RBS selections and engaging their knowledgeable employees on the finer points of flavor combinations. Through extensive experimenting, he developed his current recipe, Anvil, which is so-named for his other hobby, blacksmithing.
Attendees can expect that the majority of class time will be spent discussing step-by-step instructions and tips for home brewing, but participants will also be able to sample and receive recipes for Root Beer Pulled Pork Sliders, Root Beer Baked Beans, Root Beer Cupcakes, Root Beer Fudge, and Root Beer Floats (with or without Bailey’s Irish Cream), which will be provided by the BSC.
Tracy will cover safety aspects of brewing regarding both the cooking method and sanitation. Next, he will elaborate on the many creation methods of home root beer brewing, ranging from simpler recipes that make use of extracts and pre-made mixes to more complicated techniques using dried herbs and fresh ingredients. Natural yeast carbonation versus forced carbonation will also be discussed, and creative methods for refrigeration and storage, from kegerators to bottling techniques, will be critiqued. Who knew there were so many angles to consider before brewing your first tasty batch of homemade root beer?
There is no better way to fully appreciate a favorite food than to put a little of your own sweat into making it yourself, and root beer is a treat the whole family can enjoy. The class promises to be educational and fun, and Tracy has promised to bring along a keg of Anvil to share.
Don’t be surprised if you are inspired to make a trip north to admire the RBS collections. In addition to more types of soda than you ever imagined existed, the store provides plenty of fodder for themed parties, a Pinterest cap art page, extracts, and brewing equipment and a root beer-of-the-month club and collectors’ items for more serious root beer fans.
Come enjoy this unique Bayview School of Cooking class offering in Olympia, or check out one of their many other upcoming cooking classes, which range from cultural cuisine explorations to educational classes for kids to tips for successfully hosting a PNW dinner party. For more information on the BSC class schedule, click here.