Friday, September 13, 2013

Homemade Craft Soda from the Tap

I currently have quite a few friends that are pregnant or breast feeding (like my wife). I felt bad that they can no longer fill their glass from my keezer. My solution was to put some water in a keg to make soda water. Then I made soda syrups or concentrates.

This whole process was a lot easier than I thought. The carbonated water is pretty basic, just add filtered water to a keg. I was worried that the carbonation wouldn't be high enough for a soda. My keezer settings are on the high side around 2.75 CO2 volumes (fridge at 40 F, Pressure 15 psi)  because of the styles I normally have on tap. And I actually like this level as it not spritzy on your nose, but is still obviously carbonated. If you have a fancy setup then by all means crank up the pressure.

My idea to use syrups to flavor my soda was 3 fold:
1. I am still experimenting with flavor profiles and didn't want to commit to 5 gals of anything
2. With syrups it is much easier to adjust your sweetness or flavor level. I tend to prefer less sweetness than my wife
3. More variety

The syrups are also pretty easy to make. I started by just looking for soda recipes online - I just don't add the water to the recipe. Here are a few to get you started:

Basil Lemonade w Jalapeno (Original Recipe)
2 parts simple syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part water) - heated to dissolve the sugar with 1 cup of basil leaves and allow to seep with the lid on for 30 minutes
1 part lemon juice
1/2 - 1 jalepeno or any pepper of your choice

Mix everything together and allow to cool in the fridge. Stored mine in mason jars in the keezer.

Improvements: I plan to make extra thick syrup (2 cups sugar to 1 cup water) and therefore you would only need 1 part syrup to juice. This just allows you to make more soda with less syrup.

Honey Cream Soda
Honey Simple Syrup (1 part honey to 1 part water) - just heat enough to mix without driving off flavor
2 vanilla beans - I bought the variety pack (it's cheap) and Tahitian taste the best so far - more fruity and less extract tasting. I shopped around and Vanilla Products USA had the best selection and deals.

Split the beans and scrap the goodness and put everything into the heated syrup and allow to cool in the fridge.

Improvements: The honey was a bit over the top, so next time I might substitute half the honey for turbinado sugar.

Ginger Ale (Original Recipe -yeast)
2 cups Simple Syrup
1.5 oz Ginger - Minced or Grated - I used my hand held microplane (like this)
2 Tbls Lemon juice

Take ginger and let it steep for 60 minutes in heated simple syrup. Then pour strainer and cool in fridge

Improvements - This was very nice, but I might add some citrus zest while making the simple syrup.

So all you do is add your syrup to your glass. The amount completely depends on your tastes, but I found that around 4 oz for a 12 oz serving was about right. Then go over to your tap and add your carbonated water. Throw in some ice cubes and stir it up with a straw and enjoy.

Another option which is super easy - is to buy fruit syrups at the store. Our ethnic food stores carry a huge selection. Sour Cherry being one of my favorites - works well in Berliner Weisse, too.

As a sidenote - these also make some great bases for cocktails - just add your spirit of choice.

I'll try to post any new flavor combinations I create (even the bad ones). Please share your experiences also.


  1. Good post. What's interesting to me is that I have more than one friend who has asked me for beer recommendations while breast feeding because their doctor advised them to drink beer.

    1. Cool Doctor. I have heard that before.

      My wife does still enjoy a drink every once in a while. Our doctor told my wife to she needs to wait an hour after each drink before breast feeding.

      I mostly made the soda for our pregnant friends and also so their husband can drink with me and not feel guilty.

      I'm also likely the instant feedback for soda and working on flavor combinations.

  2. You should try my favorite, a litte LME boiled with a hopshot, then add more lme/dme to thicken it into a syrup, IPA malt soda!

    1. Thanks Ryan, A fellow member of QUAFF did something similar last year for his pregnant wife who is a big IPA fan. I'll have to play around with it a bit.

      I bet you could make most styles into a soda, at least ones that don't have much flavor from fermentation. Just steep some specialty grains and add some extract. Stout soda?

  3. Thanks for the write up. I was actually thinking about doing this in the future for friends that either don't drink or can't drink.

  4. This is really cool. I've tried making Pelagrino by adjusting the minerals in my tap water but fell short with the syrups. I'm inspired to try the Basil Lemonade with Jalape├▒o.

    1. Yeah if you already have the setup, this works pretty well. I should have mentioned you can do this with your beer as well, just use an extract or liqueur instead of the syrup depending on the sweetest you like.

      I have a brown ale on tap right now that is great for flavoring, I've added hot pepper extract, gingerbread liqueur, chocolate liqueur ...


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