Creating great soda is easy and fun. You can create flavors from herbs, roots, fruits, even nuts, by adding sugar and water. We have recipe books filled with various concoctions for making soda from scratch. Root beer for instance is made with sassafras root and a blend of spices like licorice and mint. Boil that with water and a variety of cane sugar, molasses, and brown sugar and you have root beer. The fun is in taking a base recipe and changing the flavors to your own liking. Soda making is different from beer and wine in that you can taste the product as it is assembled. You aren't waiting for fermentation to change your batch.
Sodas can be made using scratch recipes or by using extracts. Below is an extract recipe using the kits we carry in the store. If you want to make it from scratch we can help you with ingredients and recipes too.
The challenge for sodas is getting the carbonation right. Your two most common choices are bottling using natural carbonation or kegging with forced carbonation.
- 3 Gal. Stock Pot
- Mixing Spoon
- 5 Gal Bottling Bucket w/spigot
- 48 12 oz Bottles
- Bottle Capper
- Crown Caps
Making Extract Sodas
The soda extracts we carry at the store are flavor concentrates similar to the vanilla extract you buy at the supermarket. The extracts make 4 to 5 gallons or 2 cases of soda. A recipe comes with the extract but I'm going to change that some.
Add 1 gallon of water to a 3 gallon stock pot. Add the extract and 8 cups of cane sugar. Bring to a boil for 15 minutes. Boiling helps to get rid of preservatives in the extract that may hurt our carbonation later. Pour the boiling mixture into the 6 gal bottling bucket. Add enough cold water to make the 4 or 5 gallons.
Note: At this point you can taste your mixture. Now is a good time to make changes for your tastes. It you want it sweeter, add more sugar. Or dilute with water if it is too strong. Experiment with other flavors like molasses, brown sugar, honey, vanilla, spruce essence, or licorice.
Bottling your Soda:
Prepare a 5 gram packet of champagne yeast by adding it to a cup of warm water(80ºF), let it sit for 15 mins. When your soda mixture has cooled to room temperature (when you can't feel warmth from the side of the bucket), stir in the yeast mixture.
Note: The yeast is added for one purpose, to carbonate. Yeast added to the soda mixture will multiply and eat the sugars creating carbon dioxide and alcohol (but just trace amounts).
Once the yeast is fully mixed, you are ready to bottle. Fill your clean bottles from the spigot leaving one inch of air space. Crimp the crown caps on the bottles with the capper. Let the bottles sit for 4 days at room temperature. The yeast will only work at warm temperatures (65° to 80°).
After 3 days, test one of the bottles for proper carbonation. If it fizzes and gas bubbles rise, it's ready. If not, check your temperatures and let it sit longer.
When the soda is carbonated it must be moved into cold storage. If the soda stays warm the bottles will over carbonate and explode (this is not good).
Note: You can also use plastic bottles with a twist cap to bottle. They are a convenient way to test for carbonation. When you bottle, the plastic is soft, after carbonation the plastic is hard. And what's really nice, if you over carbonate in plastic, they won't explode
Kegging your Soda:
Kegging is soda nirvana. By using a 5 gallon stainless steel keg you can eliminate the boiling steps then, mix, test, experiment, carbonate, and dispense all in the same container. Kegs allow you to force carbonate, so you don't add yeast or control temperatures. Instead, you attach a gas line from a C02 bottle and regulator adjusted to force C02 into solution. Your soda is ready in a couple of days. See the section on "Keg Systems" to get more detail.