Wednesday, November 2, 2011

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Bookshelf: Homemade Soda

Around the time I started brewing my own stouts, ales, lagers, and "wee heavies," my father mentioned his fond memories of making root beer as a kid before World War II. During a subsequent school break, I scrounged up a few cases of empty bottles and pulled together ingredients to make an extract batch good old-fashioned American root beer with him. It was my first batch of home-brewed soda and the project taught me some early lessons in how not to work with yeast.

When the bottles began exploding in my parents’ dining room, my mother — then a schoolteacher — mistook the sounds of shattering glass for a drive-by shooting. Her students, she thought, had finally found her.

Mom was rattled, but unharmed. Over the years, I’ve collaborated on a number of undertakings with my father, from baking onion rye bread to laying bricks and building a deck, but that stab at root beer was our last joint beverage project.

The promise of homemade sodas occasionally came back to pluck at the edges of my imagination over the next few years and I ended up acquiring a decent collection of materials about the history and how-to of soda making. One of my favorites is Homemade Soda, a new-ish recipe collection by serial author Andrew Schloss. Not only does he have multiple root beer recipes, he gives various ways to prepare and then carbonate syrup bases; mixing with seltzer, carbonating with a siphon, or even — if you want to try your hand at it — brewing and lightly fermenting.

Schloss includes recipes for honey cardamom fizzy water, blazing inferno chile water, caramel seltzer, black lemonade, maraschino ginger ale, the “original” Orange Crush, homemade tonics, sarsaparilla, birch beer, spruce beer, various cream sodas, chai fizz, sparkling lemongrass lemonade, and an entire chapter devoted to shrubs, switchels, and other vinegar drinks.

The cocktail applications — both for the base syrups and the carbonated final product — hold a lot of promise. Regardless of whether you get all boozy with this or intend to use it as inspiration for treats for the kids, the historical asides, directions on equipment and processes, and light tone make Homemade Soda an easy and enjoyable read.

Goes well with:
  • Fix the Pumps, Darcy O’Neil’s compendium of old soda fountain syrups and tinctures recipes. 
Andrew Schloss (2011)
Homemade Soda: 200 Recipes for Making & Using Fruit Sodas & Fizzy Juices; Sparkling Waters; Root Beers & Cola Brews; Herbal & Healing Waters; Sparkling Teas and Coffees; Shrubs and Switchels; Cream Sodas and Floats; and Other Carbonated Concoctions
336 pages (paperback)
Storey Publishing
ISBN: 1603427961


John said...

Great share! Thanks!

Matthew Rowley said...

You bet, John ~ We've been doing a lot of carbonation over the past few years. This book and Darcy O'Neil's (link above) have been helpful more recently in pointing us to some rewarding results.

homemade soda said...

Hi Mike, its been great to read this article. I bet one of these days, you'll end up with a great tasting mix of soda. Keep it up man!