Home brewed ginger ales and sarsaparillas have been a favorite of southern residents of the United States and some outlying islands for at least 100 years or more. Possibly a spinoff from beers and ales, brewed sodas have a mild alcohol quality to them that is just enough to make them pleasant but not enough to get you drunk.
The premise is the same for each recipe, with the difference being the flavorings added. To get started, assemble to utensils and ingredients. Caution: do not use glass bottles; only use plastic 2-liter soda-pop bottles. If a bottle bursts, plastic would be messy and glass will be deadly.
Basic Utensils Used to Make Brewed Soda
2-liter soda-pop bottles, one for each flavor, rinsed out well
Food grater with fine teeth
¼ teaspoon, 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon measures
Basic Ingredients Used to Make Brewed Soda
2-gallons purified, not tap, water
1-teaspoon bakers yeast (usually called Fleischmann’s, in the baking aisle, but champagne yeast tastes a 100 times better)
Basic Flavorings Used to Make Brewed Soda
Roughly 2 tables spoons grated ginger
Juice of one fresh squeezed lemon
Substitute dried cane juice, or brown sugar for white sugar
2-teaspoons vanilla extract
Sarsaparilla or Rootbeer:
2-teaspoons genuine root beer extract, never imitation the yeast needs the nutrients from the real thing.
Instructions for Making Brewed Soda
1. Add one cup of sugar, ¼ teaspoon yeast, and 2 cups water (in that order) to one of the bottles, using the funnel. Then, screw on the cap and shake the bottle until most of the sugar is dissolved and the yeast is fully dissolved.
2.Add the chosen ingredient flavorings to the bottle using the funnel. Use water to rinse out the measuring cups and funnels when done. Water will help the ginger flow through the funnel easier too, if using the ginger recipe.
3.Fill the remainder of the bottle with the water until there are two inches of air space left in the bottle. Cap the bottle and shake vigorously until all the sugar is completely dissolved.
4.Leave the bottle on the counter in a warm, dark location for 24 to 48 hours or until the bottle gets hard to the touch. If the bottle indents at all when its squeezed, its not ready yet. The bottle must be too hard to give to any amount of pressure. Resist the urge to open the bottles at all, as this will reduce the carbonation resulting in flat, yeasty soda. Do not shake the bottle at this point, as it could burst, spraying soda everywhere.
5.Refrigerate overnight or until ready to use. Drink the soda within hours of opening it or else it will go flat within a day. Do not shake the bottle at any point, and remember that the contents are under pressure. Open extremely slowly while it is in a sink to prevent a soda fountain effect.
Use real ingredients and extract, as fresh as possible, and avoid imitation flavors. The yeast prefers the nutrients found in the real extracts and ingredients and will produce more carbonation. Imitation vanilla or root beer extract will not work as well, and artificial sweeteners provide nothing for the yeast to turn into carbonation.
The action of the fungus known as baker’s yeast turns sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide, giving the sodas that special bubbly quality. There is a minute amount of alcohol, roughly o.4 percent give or take, depending on brew time.