How to Make Soda and Hard Soda
Making soda is easy and simple, but as with everything brewing, you can make it as easy or as complex as you wish. The basic recipe for 4 gallons of any soda is as follows:
1 bottle of concentrated soda extract
8 cups of sugar
4 gallons of warm water
That’s it! Pretty simple right? Well we still need to carbonate. If you already have a kegging system then great! Keg that puppy up just like you would a beer. If you don’t have a kegging setup then it is time to collect, clean, and sanitize 40 bottles. A lot of people use plastic bottles to help assess when carbonation is complete. Glass will work too and is my personal preference. Using a bottling bucket, add yeast (we recommend Champagne yeast) into your uncarbonated soda and stir well. Bottle into sanitized bottles and cap the top. Let the bottles sit at room temperature for 3 to 4 days. DO NOT allow bottles to stay out for much longer than this. Your bottle could overcarbonate and burst. While this generally won’t hurt anything it will make you defecate your pajamas at 4 in the morning and is a real pain to clean up. With that said, it doesn’t hurt to pop one in the freezer quickly to get it cold and give it a try to see how carbonated it is. After you are satisfied with the carbonation (3-4 days) stick all the bottles in the refrigerator and let them sit. In general giving them two weeks to age out really helps. With this recipe you can make root beer, orange soda, ginger ale, sarsaparilla, birch root beer, cream soda, and so much more.
Hard soda is almost exactly the same as above, however instead of bottling right away put the uncarbonated soda into a fermenter. At this point you need to choose what to ferment with. Any sugar or malt you add will increase the ABV (alcohol by volume). Add your fermentables and put the soon to be hard soda in a fermenter. Take note that this fermenter will smell and even taste like soda for a while, so its best to have a dedicated soda bucket. After two weeks of fermentation its time to bottle. You will need to add around 8 cups of sugar to sweeten the soda because the sugar you added before is now alcohol (thanks yeast!). At this point bottle or keg like above. Again make sure to refrigerate as soon as carbonation is complete (usually 3-4 days).
My Favorite Recipe
Over the past year I have experimented with root beer extensively. I finally stumbled upon my favorite recipe.
Ingredients: 2oz old fashioned homebrew birch root beer extract, 2 oz Indian Sarsaparilla, 1 vanilla bean, a pinch of dried wintergreen leaves, 8 oz maltodextrin or 1lb lactose, 5lbs corn sugar (fermentables). 6 cups table sugar (to sweeten), 1118 champagne yeast.
1: Add half bottle of birch root beer extract to 2.5 gallons of water in a pot. Add 2 oz of sarsaparilla and a pinch of wintergreen (a little wintergreen goes a long way) and boil for 10 minutes.
2: Turn off heat and add 5 lbs corn sugar. Stir vigorously.
3: Cool down your pot of water to 70-80 degrees F in an ice bath either in the sink or bathtub.
4: Poor the root beer into a sanitized bucket and pitch Champagne yeast into the mixture. (Feel free to experiment with different yeasts.)
5: Add lid and insert an airlock that has been filled with sanitizer.
6: After one week of fermentation add the vanilla bean and maltodextrin (to add body). If you like a more creamy root beer I suggest adding a pound of lactose.
7: Continue to ferment for an additional week.
7: Right before you bottle or keg add the 6 cups of table sugar and stir well. Give the soda a taste. Feel free to add more root beer extract, sugar, or anything else your heart desires to make it taste right.
8: After desired flavor is achieved bottle or keg.
8: Two weeks later serve with ice cream!
If you have any questions or want us to put together a soda kit for you give us a call or email us. We are always here to help.
Home Brew Expert