Gizmodo has an interesting little tidbit about Programmable Soda Bottles. Really neat idea, but I bet the flavors are going to be horrible.
On the drive in to work this morning I had been musing a bit about the relative success of the carbonation of the batch of African Skies versus the batch of root beer, and it occured to me that I had once heard that honey had some antiseptic properties. So I finally got a few minutes free at work and started to do some net research, and there it was: Honey as a topical antibacterial agent for treatment of infected wounds, among other references.
Of course the African Skies carbonated less/more slowly than the root beer once the temperature was in the right range! The honey was killing off some of the yeast. The question then becomes, do I increase the yeast or decrease the concentration of honey in a batch of soda that uses honey as a sweetener? Are there yeasts that are going to be better or worse for carbonating in solution with honey? Hopefully more answers will be relatively easy to get through research and experimentation. For example, I would imagine that the yeasts used to produce mead, (if, in fact, yeast is used, which I’m not sure about) would be much more resistant to the antiseptic effects of honey, but then there is the question about whether they would produce the correct carbonation or not.
I’ve had the chance to taste 2 of the chilled African Skies bottles, and it is good. The yeast is still a bit forward, but giving it a day or two to settle out should make a big difference. It still isn’t quite as carbonated as I would like, but it is definitely good enough, and the significant reduction in sweetness shows just how much. It is however still pretty sweet, but not too much, and the honey flavors are nicely subtle. Good stuff, I’m looking forward for the settling to see how it comes out.
It’s a good thing I bought that digital camera the other week, so now there’s even photographic evidence of the mess this morning.
Before I got into the shower this morning I figured that I would dispose of the 2 batches of soda that were still remaining in the cases that had failed to carbonate. I checked them 3 times last week, most recently on Friday morning, and they had been the same carbonation level the whole time.
The African Skies is just about perfect. Possibly still a touch undercarbonated, but the flavor is about right, and what remains of the yeast flavor should dull quickly after a day or two in the fridge.
The root beer on the other hand… Well, I’ll be posting pictures later today, but suffice it to say that I just spent the last 40 minutes carefully opening bottles from behind a makeshift blast shield and then cleaning up the entire kitchen. The first bottle I opened left significant spatter behind the refridgerator.
How did it all go from flat to gusher in 4 days? Well, I think it might have been the weather. Starting on Thursday night things started to warm up significantly here in the Twin Cities. Every day since then it’s been in the mid to high 30’s and I think that made _all_ the difference in the ambient temp in the house.
Obviously I need to rethink my placement for carbonation in cold weather, but I suppose that’s the good news. And besides, I still have most of the batch of African Skies to drink now!
I opened a bottle of the African Skies after 55 hours of carbonating and 2 hours chilling, and it was not a good thing. It wasn’t quite a bad thing either, but definitely not a good sign so far. There was barely any pressure release when opened, and the liquid was essentially flat. Very strong yeast smell and taste. Nothing really off that I could pinpoint, but not good so far.
I think I might have to do something about the temp where the cases are carbonating. I have them under a blanket near, but not next to, a radiator and my thermometers I use to monitor things are showing a constant 65F. I might need to tweak it up a few degrees, maybe move them closer to the radiator and let them go another day or 2. Hopefully the bottle of root beer I pulled at the same time this morning turns out better.
Sometimes when it rains it pours, and right now I’ve got the bug to write.
I just added a fairly large page collecting some of my opinions about soda brewing and look to be likely to post at last once more today.
For the first time in far too long I put down a couple of batches of soda on Friday night. Kind of late in the season by some estimates, and it was certainly late enough at night (didn’t get started till 11pm) but I’m pretty happy with it all so far and can’t wait to chill the bottles tomorrow.
Batch #1 is pretty simple:
- Gnome Root Beer Extract
- 2lbs C&H Washed Raw pure cane sugar
- 1 lb Billington’s Light Muscovado Sugar
- 2.5 gallons purified drinking water
- 1/4 tsp Nottingham Ale yeast
Those of you who know the standard recipie are probably noting the extra 1/5lb of sugar for that much water, and I’m a bit concerned as well but didn’t think about it until it was too late. Why didn’t I put in the extra 1/2 gallon of water? It was 12:15am and I wasn’t thinking too clearly and still under the mistaken impression that I was going to get a third batch done also with 2.5 gallons. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. :-) However several people have mentioned previously that they really like my root beers with extra carbonation and when they are sweeter that it would be better more carbonated. So they’ll get sweet and carbonated this time since I’m going to let them run for an entire 72+ hours before I chill. Hopefully they aren’t sugar bombs by that point, but we’ll see.
I am much more excited about the other batch:
- 1oz TeaSource African Skies tisane
- 2lbs C&H Washed Raw pure cane sugar
- 1lb locally produced pure honey
- 3 gallons purified drinking water
- 1/4 tsp Lavlin EC-1118 Champagne yeast
The flavor of the wort for this batch was absolutely stunning! I had high hopes for the addition of the honey and if that wort was any inidication this may be my best batch of soda yet. What I was particularly delighted about is that the African Skies tisane has such rounded sweet tones from the inclusion of the honeybush but they never quite seem to be completed, even by the washed raw cane sugar, but adding the honey gilded those tones so completely that it’s a bit difficult to describe. My only real worry is that since it is very good locally produced honey that there may be some wild yeasts that might take root and spoil the batch. I’ve got my fingers crossed though.
Something I did find when putting together this post is that Tea Source does not appear to be listing African Skies in their online catalog anymore! If so, it’s too bad, but I have plenty left over yet for making some more and it will give me a good reason to branch out and trying something else sooner rather than later. I did see a couple of items that looked particulary promising that might go into a batch. In particular Lavenderberry and Gingerbread Orange sound like intriguing options.
One more quick note, for those of us who had not been able to find it previously, it appears that Cost Plus World Market is now carrying GUS, at least in their Twin Cities locations. Their soda selection consistently surprises me, and finally being able to try these is quite a treat. So far the Dry Meyer Lemon and the Dry Cranberry Lime are both quite nice.
Back in January I was playing around with the updated Google Groups and had created a group just to see what the management options were like. Well, one thing led to another and I never got back to playing with it for whatever reason.
Fast forward almost 3 months and there are actually people subscribed to the group! Who’d of thunk it, eh? :-)
Anyway, if you want to participate in the very beginning of what I hope can be come yet another resource for soda brewers on the net, please take a look at Google Groups Soda-Brewing
This post is actually something that I just sent out to a mailing list (more on that later) that I thought I should probably put here for future reference. If anyone does have solid numbers to share as far as alcohol content in soda, I would love to see them!
While I don’t have any hard numbers to share for an answer, I’ve
always been told that the actual alcohol content from naturally
carbonated sodas is very, very small. A fairly simple way to look at
it is that when you brew beer, you let the fermentation run for weeks.
With soda you let the fermentation run for days and then slow or stop
the fermentation to keep your bottles from exploding.
I usually let me batches of soda run for about 3 days (60 hours
actually) at between 65F and 70F to get the carbonation level that I
like. After refrigeration (I have a separate bar fridge that I use
that is set to 45F) fermentation does continue, but at only a small
fraction of the pace.
Fairly normal beer brewing instructions say to run your first
fermentation cycle for 3 to 7 days and then to do secondary
fermentation (for carbonation) for 2-4 weeks, all at 65F to 75F. Even
if fermentation is a fairly constant process (which it isn’t quite)
the comparison between 3 days to 28 days of fermentation should tell
you a LOT about the comparative alcohol content of your soda.
A quick google search turned up a really good article on how to
calculate the alcohol content yourself:
The article in particular is talking about beer but the actual
measurements are certainly valid for soda. You do have to take some
measurements at the beginning of a batch in order to make the
calculations work, but that’s just a good excuse to get another one
going isn’t it?
Maybe I’ll get around to doing a real test with various sugars to get
some real numbers for the next time somebody asks.