A Root Beer Note

Many years ago when I was in high school, my dad decided to make root beer. I’m not sure why but suspect the Amish in nearby Lancaster, Pennsylvania may have held a bit of inspiration for him. Maybe he thought he could perfect their imperfect recipe. To me, Amish root beer truly tasted like roots and I preferred the crisp, bubbly flavor of A&W root beer in a can.

Dad made his root beer and lined old fashioned brown glass bottles with the plunger tops along a section of the kitchen counter. The bottles were to remain on the counter for an undetermined amount of time in order to magically turn into soda.

Typically, my sister and I were the first members of the household to arrive home in the afternoons. Our job was to walk the dog and, at the very least, clean up whatever mess he may have made during the course of the day. Liz and I were very good about pretending not to see any mess that Drummer had created in our absence and avoided the area until after our mother arrived home. Locked in our rooms, diligently concentrating on our homework, we could hear her sarcastic comments regarding our temporary blindness as she cleaned up his gifts.

I don’t believe Drummer was a counter surfer like my dog Chase. He was a timid dog, easily startled by any loud noise. One afternoon, Liz and I returned home to find broken bits of bottle mixed with a brownish yeasty smelling liquid on the parquet floor. We eyed Drummer, who was quivering in a corner, as the most likely suspect and cleaned up the mess before my father could view the damage to his precious root beer collection. The next afternoon, we came home to the same scene. This repeated over the next few days and we couldn’t understand the dog’s fascination with root beer and realized the rapidly depleting collection of bottles would be difficult to hide from Dad if it continued. Finally, one afternoon, while watching TV, Liz and I heard several bottles explode in the kitchen. The remaining bottles had rapidly bubbling liquid that seemed angry and alive. We quickly uncapped all the bottles in order to spare the neurotic and whimpering family pet additional stress.

To our relief, Dad did not attempt to recreate or fine-tune his root beer adventure and eventually moved on to an assortment of various hobbies through the years: model ship building, soap making, needlepoint, non-exploding Amish 3-bean salad, bread making and wood working. I am pleased to report that none of his current hobbies terrorize his dog or mine.

1 comment:

Dad said...

It wasn't the Amish. I always liked root beer since I was a kid. I remembered the A&W at the drive-in, and that what I was I was trying to re-create. The bottles were from depleted Grolsch beer (I think it was Belgian or Dutch), and the starter was A&W root beer concentrate syrup from the supermarket.