I have already noted this question about making root beer, but I wanted to explore further, so I hope you'll indulge me.
I want to make a home made root beer that is similar in taste to the A&W brand. Obviously, I want to make something different, or I could just buy A&W... but that's my starting point. If I can approximate that, then I can experiment from there.
There are some points that I am stuck on:
Most online recipes suggest either using "root beer extract", or "sasparilla", or "sassafrass extract". I understand sasparilla and sassafras are different roots, but is "root beer extract" another way description for either of the roots, or is it a catch all term for pre-mixed root beer flavouring?
Is there a noticeable flavour difference between sassafras and sasparilla? Should I really try and hunt down sassafras without the carcinogenic ingredient, or is it not worth the effort?
Where can I find a reliable supplier of the key ingredients that ships internationally? A lot of suppliers have either unclear web sites or their stock seems to come and go. Recommendations would be really welcome!
What I like about A&W over, say, Barq's, is that it seems thicker. The foam holds longer and the mouth feel is creamier. What would be the ingredient or method that would steer a root beer brew towards being thicker?
Thanks for any tips!