The Horrors of Pittsburgh Root Beer
by Regis Boff
Most twenty-year-olds know nothing about Root Beer. To some of us, this is sad, but we are old and soon will die.
My family was pretty poor, but because my parents went through the Depression, they thought they were rich just wisely cheap.
I wanted for only two things growing up. Soda pop and to see up girls dresses. These were both tough to come by.
My dad would not spring for the two-cent per gallon luxury of fizzy cola, and because I was a Methodist, staring into the darkest territory of a woman was rewarded with going blind.
During the Prohibition years, I am fairly certain my grandfather honed his brewing skill on White Lighting, bequeathing my dad a knowledge of making carbonated root beer.
He never shared his formula and, like with much of his affection, carried it into his grave.
It was a dark science of yeast, root beer extract, huge metal garbage cans, fire, and turn-of-the-century quart bottles.
He would let it ferment in the basement and would not buy any soda until it was gone.
The explosive corks would humiliate any champagne. More than one of our dogs had only one eye and would not enter our cellar out of fear.
My mother and I would pour it, behind his back, into our lawn at night. Like dog’s pee it killed everything it came in contact with.