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How To - Easily Brew Your Own Craft Soda (with pictures!)

PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 17:44
by robwalker
What is Craft Soda and why should I brew it?

Craft Soda, at least the way I make it, is a very low alcohol fermented beverage with almost unlimited flavouring options. The basic idea is to infuse and blend your chosen flavours overnight, then bottle it with yeast the next day - the yeast will eat the sugar and create co2 and alcohol, making your brew fizzy. Once the bottles firm up tough, pop them in the fridge and fermentation will cease, and it's ready to drink.

There are many great benefits to brewing your own Soda. As well as using natural, healthy ingredients and leaving the chemicals out of your brew, it's also a great way to enjoy your own beverages with almost no alcohol – it's full of creative options and you can tailor the sweetness and flavour intensity to your own palate - it's very quick and easy to make, and ready in 48 hours. Finally, it's very economic – you can make products that are superior to supermarket sodas for a fraction of the cost.

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Brewing a Simple Soda – Cloudy Lemonade

Equipment Required

2.5L+ vessel which can withstand boiling water. Bowls, large pans and stockpots, buckets etc are all great
Sanitizer
Funnel
Muslin/nylon to act as a filter
8-9 500ml PET/Plastic Bottles

Ingredients

5 Lemons
200g Unrefined Golden Caster Sugar
Wine or Ale Yeast

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Method

Cut the lemons in half and juice them into the bucket, then drop in the rinds. Use 1-2 rinds for a sweeter lemonade and all 5 rinds for a more bitter lemon flavour. Add the sugar. Pour 2L boiling water over the whole thing and the surfaces of the vessel to sanitize, and dissolve the sugar thoroughly. Sanitizing is only necessary if you're using a cold water infusion of any sorts because boiling water will keep things sanitary – if you have a lid, pop it on and give it a careful shake to sanitize all surfaces.

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Cover and leave to infuse for 24 hours.

The next day, you should have a nice extract going with a strong flavour. Make this mixture up to 1 Gallon or 4.5L with cold water;

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Sanitize your bottles, funnel and muslin filter. Stir your brew thoroughly using a sanitized spoon and ensure the sugar is dissolved - pour the brew through the filter and funnel into another vessel and you should have a nice pulp-free liquid;

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You can do this a bit at a time or all at once into a larger vessel.

Pour the brew into your bottles, leaving about ¼ - ½ inch of headspace for the pressure, or if using beer bottles, the bottle neck.

When your bottles are full, add a few grains of yeast – a tiny teaspoon tip - to each bottle. Give them a shake and leave the sealed bottles in a warm place until they firm up – when they're ready, they should be tough and not squeezey, but you want to check them every 6 hours or so. Fermentation will take anywhere from 6 to 48 hours to get going.

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Boosh! The hard part's done and you can almost relax. When bottles are firm, stick them in the fridge upright – this stops the fermentation, leaving the brew sweet and carbonated. I select individual bottles when they are firm enough and gradually move the whole batch over.

Leave in the fridge for at least 24 hours to settle and carbonate, and drink cool pouring the drink away from the bulk of the sediment, or shake slightly if you like it cloudy. The bottles will clear a little and absorb more carbonation after a week, if you're patient enough.

Remember you can vary everything as you like, including the sugar quantity for a sweeter or drier soda, and the world is your oyster! Most brews use some sort of acid for depth of flavour, which is readily available from a natural source in Lemons, or by using Citric Acid.

Ingredient Ideas

Sugars (White/Brown, Honey, Molasses, Maple Syrup, Carob Syrup)
Extracts and Essences (Vanilla, Rum, Fruits, Nuts)
Fruit Juices, Whole Fruits and Purees/Concentrates
Herbs and Spices (Ginger, Thyme, Chilli, Black Pepper, Cardamom, Hops!)
Teabags (Original Iced Tea, Camomile, Peppermint)
Vegetables (Cucumber, Beetroot, Carrot)

The list goes on, and nothing is off limits!

A Few Tried and Tested Recipes

Hot Ginger Beer

Juice and Rind of 3 Lemons
6tbsp Fresh Grated Ginger (A thumb sized piece.)
200g Sugar.

Juniper Gin-Style Soda

3tbsp Juniper berries
1tbsp Coriander Seeds
1 Cinnamon Stick
Juice and Rind of 2 Lemons
2 Cloves
2 Cardamom pods
1 Bay leaf
200g sugar

Any questions, ask away! Cheers!

Re: How To - Easily Brew Your Own Craft Soda (with pictures!

PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 19:25
by Pjam
Can you remind me again in the summer. The recipes look very nice for a thirst quencher ....... Mind you, your soda would be a good alternative to the truly horrible things on the supermarket shelves.

Re: How To - Easily Brew Your Own Craft Soda (with pictures!

PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 19:41
by robwalker
Yeah man, I think a Mojito style would work really well! The supermarket pap replacement is probably the main reason I brew it...

Re: How To - Easily Brew Your Own Craft Soda (with pictures!

PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 20:21
by JimmyB
Looks great Rob!

It's pretty much the method I use to make my alcohol free* elderflower champagne in the summer.

*as above it has a tiny bit of alcohol in it.

Re: How To - Easily Brew Your Own Craft Soda (with pictures!

PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:02
by Monte Cristo
This looks great Rob right up the fragrant lady SWMBOs street i will have a go at some of these, I don't suppose you have a pic of how much is a few grains of yeast? :hat:

Re: How To - Easily Brew Your Own Craft Soda (with pictures!

PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 16:19
by robwalker
Umm, think 1/8th of a teaspoon tops...just needs a little in there to get going because it multiplies.

This lemonade recipe came out like bitter lemon, so reduce the skins to 2 from 5 maybe unless you like it mega bitter like me!

Re: How To - Easily Brew Your Own Craft Soda (with pictures!

PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:24
by Springer
Good one Rob, like it :thumb: good write up. Will have a go at this as a non alcohol option, can't wait until summer time. :)
Thanks for info and idea ...........................do I remember pasturising was another good one of yours, that worked well on my cider :D
S

Re: How To - Easily Brew Your Own Craft Soda (with pictures!

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 10:05
by spectre
I've brewed hard lemonade a few times now, it's pretty nice. I use a kilo of sugar for 19L and about 12 lemons. Sometimes I do half lemons half limes and I always put all the rind in and I make a few slices into the rinds too just to get the most flavour out of them as possible but that's probably not really necessary. I put the lemons in a mash bag into a big stockpot that's on the kitchen hob (my mash tun) then I throw in a kettle full of boiling water, give it a stir, then another kettle of boiling water, take the lemons out and dump in the sugar. Then I top up with cold water, using more boiling water to adjust it to about 18C then add yeast.

A big chunk of ginger is always nice. I use about the biggest single piece you'd find at the market. I usually 'dry hop' it in the keg after slicing it up fine and pouring boiling water on it, leaving it for half hour or so then I dump the infused water in the keg and put the gratings in a hop bag and that goes in the keg. It can take a while, maybe a week or two for the ginger to really infuse for me but it makes it much nicer.

Make sure to only use unwaxed lemons / limes too - you don't really wanna be eating wax :D

Re: How To - Easily Brew Your Own Craft Soda (with pictures!

PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 13:35
by rlemkin
I'm quite excited to play about with this. Although I think I'll probably wait until I have corny kegs set up for force carbing. Out of interest have you found any books or websites useful for getting started or as inspiration?

Re: How To - Easily Brew Your Own Craft Soda (with pictures!

PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 13:53
by robwalker
very few to the be honest rlemkin, Pinterest seems best for stuff like this. Force carbing would be much better I reckon.

Re: How To - Easily Brew Your Own Craft Soda (with pictures!

PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 15:19
by krazypara3165
Brilliant! Think I'll get a keg of cloudy lemonade for my birthday home brew party in march :)

Re: How To - Easily Brew Your Own Craft Soda (with pictures!

PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 15:22
by robwalker
maybe add some stabilizer to stop it fermenting?