Sunday, August 29, 2010

Harry Potter's Butterbeer Recipe (Old Fashioned Carbonation Method)

There are lots of butterbeer recipes on the internet, but this one is better than all of them, I promise! Here's why: While all of them taste like butterscotch, this is the only one that has a yeasty brewed flavor as well. I haven't tried adding hops yet (which would make it taste even more like beer), but that is probably worth trying. I've included it in the recipe as an optional ingredient. This recipe should make a soda that has a great rich yellow color and foams like beer. Optional ingredients are in parentheses.

Harry Potter's Butter Beer

4 qts. water
3/4 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
1 T vanilla, butter, and nut flavoring OR butterscotch flavoring
(dash nutmeg)
(1/2 oz. fresh grated ginger OR dash ginger powder)
(1 t. molasses)
(1/4 C apple cider vinegar)
(1/4 oz. mild hops pellets)
(1 t root beer extract)
1/8 t ale yeast or bread yeast

1. Heat 2 of the 4 quarts of water while adding the sugars, flavoring extracts, and optional ingredients (but not the yeast). Dissolve the sugars and let the other ingredients simmer for about 20 minutes.

2. Cover and let the mixture cool until you can comfortably hold your clean finger in it for more than a few seconds. Strain the grater ginger, hops, fresh grated nutmeg, etc. out of the liquid. If you didn't use any fresh herbs, you don't need to strain it.

3. Add the remaining water. By now the mixture should be at about room temperature. If it is warmer than 90° F, wait until it cools before adding the yeast.

4. Dissolve the yeast in a little water or some of the butterbeer mixture (about 1/4 cup) for a couple minutes. Pour the liquid into the rest of the mixture and stir or agitate.

5. Bottle the liquid in any sanitized plastic soda bottle with a resealable cap. You can use a two-liter bottle, or a single serving bottle as long as it previously contained soda and you can seal the cap tightly. Even better, use a sanitized bail-top beer bottle (such as Grolsch or Lorina) or any sanitized beer bottle if you have a capper. Leave 1 or two inches of air space at the top so that the yeast has some oxygen to consume while it carbonates your butterbeer. You neen enough bottles to equal about one gallon or 4 liters.

6. After capping the bottles, store them in a warmish place for 2-4 days, then refrigerate.


1. While the ingredients in parentheses are optional, you should try to use at least two or three of them. Otherwise your butterbeer will taste kind of boring and unsubstantial.

2. Plastic bottles are nice because they're easy to get and you don't need any expensive equipment. You can also squeeze plastic bottles to see if they are carbonating (if they become hard, then they are carbonating). Glass bottles are nice because they are classier and seem more "wizardy". They are also less likely to burst. If you have both, it is probably worth doing one plastic bottle as a "tester" bottle and the rest glass.

3. Speaking of bursting, don't leave your sodas out of the fridge for very long after they're carbonating, otherwise they can overcarbonate and/or explode. Storing them in the fridge slows the yeast growth almost to a standstill, but not completely. You should drink your butterbeer within one month in order to keep them from bursting in your fridge.

4. Open the butterbeer SLOWLY or over the sink, since it can be very foamy depending on which ingredients you used.

5. I haven't tried butterbeer as a "float", but I bet its very good.

6. If you can't find butterscotch flavoring or vanilla, butter, and nut flavoring, you can try using Hershey's butterscotch syrup (but omit some of the white sugar from the recipe) or you can try 1 t vanilla, 1 t butter flavoring, and 1 t almond flavoring.

7. If anyone uses hops, post a comment here and tell me how it turned out!

8. Some people prefer a sweeter soda than others. For me it depends on how much I'm drinking. If you're using 8 oz. or smaller bottles, make it sweeter. If you're using 12 oz. or larger, make it less sweet. If you make a large bottle of soda too sweet, most people will get sick of it by the end! That's why Pepsi beats Coke in a one-sip taste test, but people prefer to buy entire cans of Coke. The recipe is a good in-between amount of sweetness that will work for smaller or larger bottles.

9. While natural carbonation does produce some alcohol, the alcohol content for this soda should be less than 0.5%. I would compare it to O'Douls or Fentiman's botanical sodas, both of which can be purchased by minors. If it helps, I'm Mormon and I drink homebrew soda all the time and even bring it to church activities. Nobody seems to mind.


JH said...

I especially like the part about clean finger - because a dirty finger would not only contaminate the brew, but surely give inaccurate temperature feedback.

This recipe will surely be incorporated into some fall celebration - thanks for sharing!

T.R. said...

It's true; finger crud (and fingernail crud) will insulate your finger and ruin everything, including Christmas.

cate said...

I will never make this but I am thanking my lucky stars I have immediate, loving family that will make it for me! Yum. Can't wait for a try.