Make your own Soda At Home.

DH and I have been on a DIY kick for a number of years. We grew our own chickens for meat and eggs, grew most of our own vegetables, brewed our own beer and wine. All of these adventures were quite successful, after a fashion. Yes, we had wine turn to vinegar, but then that is still useful, so I consider that successful. We also had a beer keg explode all over our living room rug; that was less wonderful overall, but most of the beer that he has made has been tasty and well received by our family and friends.

When I was young, I remember my parents making homemade soda pop. They would mix the root beer and put it in glass jars and store the jars under their bed. They would not allow us to get anywhere near the rootbeer jars until it was poured into glasses, but I don’t remember many jars actually making it out of the bedroom. I do remember my mother renting a carpet cleaner and vowing never to let my father follow through with his hare-brained schemes again.

Of course, when I decided to make homemade rootbeer, I didn’t tell DH those stories. We bought the Old Fashioned Root Beer Extract in the cute little brown and yellow bottles that I remembered from my youth. We used baker’s yeast, as that was what we had on hand and fermented it just as the directions suggested. Now, the directions do say that there is a minute amount of alcohol in the root beer when you make it that way. However, I don’t consider 5% to be minute. We ended up with alcoholic rootbeer, which was quite popular with the adults at the party we had, but not appreciated by the parents who had small children.

We decided the next time to actually pay for special yeast and went to the local home brew store (LHBS), where we bought champagne yeast. This worked better, with only a small amount of alcohol in the rootbeer and the appropriate amount of fizz. However, I did not drink the rootbeer quickly enough, and after a week, the rootbeer had developed a decided aftertaste which was not pleasant. In fact, you could say it was not unlike the taste of library glue.

The more amusing part of the story is what happens when you forget about your glue flavored rootbeer and leave the closed 2 liter sitting on the counter in the kitchen. One night, several weeks later, DH and I were sitting in the living room watching tv. We heard what sounded like a shot coming from the kitchen. We ran back there to find that the plastic two liter had exploded, spraying rootbeer all over the ceiling, cabinets, countertops and floor. After I got done laughing, I had to promise DH that we would not do that again and would find a better way.

However, by this time I had discovered that you could buy all sorts of wonderful syrups for soda at your LHBS and I didn’t want to go back to buying soda from the store. If your LHBS doesn’t do soda, or isn’t exactly “local”, you can buy wonderful syrups online at Northern Brewer or Prairie Moon Beverages . I was dying to try homemade Sprecher rootbeer, as that is one of my very favorite rootbeers and it is “spendy.” Unfortunately, as I discovered, you can’t make Sprecher rootbeer with the low-tech yeast carbonation system. Apparently, there is some sort of preservative in the syrup which prevents the yeast from multiplying and doing their job.

My dreams of good and cheap homemade soda were put on the back burner for a time. I thought about breaking out the champagne yeast now and again, but I still hadn’t gotten the library paste taste out of my taste buds. This weekend, however, DH and I were walking through the outlet mall, killing time. We wandered into the kitchen outlet store, wondering if they had some sort of new and exciting gadget when our eyes lit upon the SodaStream device. What a neat little device! Carbonates your water and you can make your own soda at will! No need for that nasty yeast aftertaste, no worries about exploding bottles, no unruly pile of plastic bottles to return or recycle.

We had of course heard of homebrewers who would carbonate with CO2 tanks. They would carbonate both beer and soda, but I was turned off by the huge CO2 canisters and the need for regulators. Sure, it might be cheaper than the SodaStream device, but it can’t beat the SodaStream for ease, functionality and countertop beauty. Check out the Penguin if you don’t believe me.

We settled on the cheapest of the devices and bought some of their propietary syrups. They were pretty good, so now I am just awaiting the opportunity at home to make some delicious homemade Sprecher rootbeer!

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