We've done ginger beer a few times, using lemons and fresh ginger. It's wonderful and not very complicated at all. I think you can use large plastic soda bottles to bottle it, but for us half the fun is filling and capping all those non-twist-off Corona beer bottles we've been hoarding for years. They've held lagers and ales and most recently batches of ginger beer. Thanks to my friend Rosalie for turning us onto ginger beer!
Today we tried root beer. Traditionally sarsaparilla root was used to make it, but for most of the last century "root beer" has been made from natural and artificial flavours. While we have wild sarsaparilla (sometimes used as a substitute for the Central American variety) growing on our property the kids really just wanted something fun that was similar to, though less sweet than, commercial root beer.
So we started at the beer & wine supply store. We found a bottle of root beer Royal Old Fashioned Soda Extract and basically just used the recipe on the back. We mixed 8.5 Litres of water with 1 kg of sugar. Then we dissolved 1 tsp. of beer yeast in 250 ml of lukewarm water, then pitched that in. Washed and filled the bottles, then capped them. To allow the yeast to develop these bottles stay undisturbed at room temperature for 10 days, and then go to a cool dark location (the shop) until we're ready to drink them.
This root beer will be slightly fizzy, more like beer than soda. If we want more of a fizz, we can use sparkling wine yeast.
Taste test in a couple of weeks!