View Full Version : Sodas (root beer, ginger ale, etc.)

02-23-2006, 10:39 AM
Does anyone here make any sodas other than root beer? I was thinking of adding a lemon beer and ginger ale to the menu for kids. Is it worth the time? Popular? Do you make it at serving strength or use it with your soda dispenser as post-mix?

Any advice on this topic would be appreciated.

Mike Schreindorfer
02-23-2006, 02:16 PM
I really don't know how many kids would enjoy lemon beer, but you know your market better than the rest of us!

I have made rootbeer and cream soda in the past and dispensed with corny kegs using a concentrated mix that was blended at the tap. If you're doing rootbeer, save yourself a big headache and have a separate, dedicated, rootbeer line and dispenser. It can and will foul your other beverage flavours, resulting in costly mixing head/line replacement. I've been there and done that and did some very fast and crafty talking to get 5 "guns" replaced for free. I understand that there are now lines available that are wrapped to guard against flavour contamination, but I'm not aware if that technology has followed suit through the dispensing guns. That's where I had my problems.

My Coke Tech at the time did a fantastic job on my stand-alone rootbeer tap and the bartenders loved it as well. The cost of the installation versus the profit brought in by rootbeer sales was sweet, to say the least. I was the guinea pig for our small chain of 5 brewpubs, as my location was the first. The others were setup or retro-fitted for isolated rootbeer stations before they experienced problems.

Good Luck!


02-23-2006, 06:31 PM
Thanks for the tip.

So maybe not lemon beer. I was going to whip some up this weekend, but the web search I just did doesn't sound promising. Maybe I'll try it anyway.

Root beer seems like a popular beverage to make, but does anyone make ginger ale or beer? Are there any issues involved there?

02-23-2006, 07:54 PM
Ginger beers? Heck ya! I made them as a homebrewer, and in my soon-to-happen brewpub gig, I'm planning on giving a crack at one as a seasonal at some point. Ginger can easily overwhelm an ale, and make it not so tasty, better to err on the side of caution; my dream is to make the alcoholic equivalent of Reed's Extra Ginger Ale.
There's numerous homebrew scale recipes for Ginger Beers/Ales; I'd suggest if you can, do a small batch to play with the flavors, then scale it up. Remember that sometimes a linear scale-up will not get you what you want, just ask me about my cranberry porter :P

Rob "Ask me about my brewing tattoo" Zamites

02-23-2006, 08:47 PM
Thanks Rob, but I meant the non-alcoholic variety. I've had some success with small batches, but as you point out, scaling is an issue. I added belgian wit style seasoning. I only got half a glass. The rest was gone before I knew it.

02-24-2006, 04:02 AM
Oh. Hmmmm...never thought about making ginger ale, Northwest Extract (http://www.nwextract.com/flavors.html) has a ginger ale flavoring -- perhaps that, with sugar, some citric acid and sodium benzoate would get you what you want?

02-24-2006, 06:40 AM
the local brewpub owners told me they get their soda extracts from sprecher in wisconsin. might be worth looking into.

i see carbonation as the real challenge with force-carbonated sodas. force-carbonating a soda seems to take quite a while longer than a beer due to the sugar content. a flat cherry cream soda is pretty much like drinking cough syrup.

good luck.

Bryan Pearson
02-24-2006, 08:05 AM
We have been making two sodas at our pub for years and have found it to be very popular and profitable. We keep Birch Rootbeer and Cranberry Ginger Ale online all the time and have tried other flavors for special occasions. All of our handcrafted sodas are pre-mixed, I've just been too lazy to set up our system for post-mix (which would mean much less prep work).

We do have Pepsi sodas available as well. However, we sell more Cranberry Ginger Ale than all of the Pepsi products combined and the Birch Rootbeer sells better than the Ginger Ale.

We make about 40 gallons combined per week and leave it in a cooler, then on a daily basis we charge each cannister with 40 psi CO2. After a few days they are fully carbonated.

Northwestern Extracts has been a good supplier of flavorings. Rainbow flavors also makes a good product (although the Rainbow company has been difficult to work with).

Bryan Pearson
Church Brew Works
Pittsburgh, PA

02-24-2006, 12:20 PM
Sweet. Thanks for the help. Cranberry Gingerale sounds great. Might have to whip up a batch of that this weekend.

Anybody make ginger ale from fresh ginger? Or is that just too much of a pain in the ass?

02-25-2006, 06:18 AM
Pain in the ass.

02-25-2006, 07:38 AM
I made that soda with fresh ginger once, it was a pain in the ass. Grating all that ginger, concerns about infection, tough to control the flavor level......See what Northwest Extract of Mane California has to offer.
I also once made a lemon-lime soda (Sprite-ish, 7-up-ish) with real lemons and real limes! THAT was a pain in the arse!!!

02-25-2006, 08:46 AM
Yeah, that's what I meant by lemon beer. But I see the real thing is different. I thought I'd just throw the ginger in a blender with some campden tablets then go to town, but you make a good point about controlling the intensity of flavor.

Thank for the help.

02-25-2006, 09:45 AM
We make sodas using fresh squeezed lemons, limes and sometimes grapefruit....and we use "ginger juice" made by The Ginger People in our lemon soda. We also carbonate by the batch using grundy tanks with chill pills in them.....takes a couple of days to finish carbonation.