Emma and I have been discussing making soda for Oktoberfest, but we’re not sure how it will turn out. We’ve decided to do a test batch for this Labor Day weekend. We would keep it longer than this weekend, but we don’t have the fridge space. We’ll have to keep the soda on ice.
As with beer there are a variety of ways to go about making soda, but the basics seem to be 1) make a syrup from sugar and water, 2) add flavoring, and 3) carbonate.
Flavor- I want to do a grapefruit soda for Oktoberfest to mix with beer and make Radlers, but we thought for the test to do something traditional. We settled on Black Cherry, but when I went to the brew store, there was no Black Cherry, only Cherry, so that’s what I got.
Sugar- The flavor is for 4 gallons and calls for 8 cups of sugar. A 5 gallon recipe found online calls for 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of honey, less than half the amount of total sugar. We’ll ere on the side of sweet and put in lots of sugar. We’ll also add honey because that supposedly helps the body of the soda.
Carbonate- Almost all directions for carbonation are for yeast, but we have kegging equipment, so no worries.
- Rest 5 gallons of water over night to de-chlorinate
- Boil water, add 8 cups of sugar and 2 cups of honey
- Add cooling coil, boil 15 minutes
- Turn off heat, add lemon juice, stir with sanitized spoon
- Cool syrup, funnel contents into keg
- Add cherry flavor, carbonate, chill and serve
Target gravity = 1.042-1.048
It took forever to reach a boil on the stove. Next time we need to boil outside on the propane burner. We never reached a hard boil, but when it finally got a few bubbles, Emma added the sugar and I put in the honey. I debated on the volume we needed. We started with about 5 gallons and let that boil down. The cherry syrup is good for 4 gallons, so I wanted to get closer to that number, which meant we let it boil for much of the night, too long really. We ended up between 4 and 5 gallons, shut off the heat, and I added the juice of 3 small lemons and a pinch of cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate), to help invert the sugar.
We used the small copper cooling coil to bring the heat down quicker, and then used a funnel to pour it into the keg. Emma added the cherry syrup and it smelled good. I did the best I could to carbonate it.
Gravity = 1.055
The sample prior to the cherry flavoring was good, but the honey flavor was strong. Nana suggested that it was like a honey bun soda, which sparked several ideas. We all liked it, but Emma isn’t thrilled with honey flavor. We served the soda on ice and everyone thought it was good, but again Emma felt the honey flavor was too predominant. Next time we’ll just use 4 lbs of cane sugar and no honey, but all the adults really liked the honey sweetness.
Cherry soda would probably be dynamite as a Radler with the Kirche Weizen, so now I’m rethinking the grapefruit thing.