Home Brewed Craft Soda

No Alcohol? No Problem!

Contrary to popular belief, it’s okay to drink beverages other than beer, and it’s also okay for them to be alcohol-less.  One of the biggest gripes I have about going to bars and breweries is being the designated driver.  There comes a point where it’s your turn to be the guy cabbing everyone around from brewery to brewery.  Hey, someone has to do it, for responsible adults’ sake.  When the only thing to drink if you aren’t drinking is water, it can be a bit of a bummer.  I love water, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not as fun as beer, and it just doesn’t have the same allure to it when you are hanging around a group that is not drinking water.

So what’s the solution?  Well as it turns out it’s 1 part sugar, 1 part flavoring, 20 parts water, and a dash of lime juice.   I’m talking about craft brewed soda here, and although soda is something I rarely drink, that may change if I have a custom craft made option available.  I decided to experiment with this idea in preparation for a home brewed soda competition in honor or Bam Fest 2012where several lucky winners will have their custom soda concoctions served at the Festival.  Neat!  As it turns out, making soda is fairly similar to making beer, but with one huge difference, TIME.  The time it takes to brew a beer, carry through fermentation, condition, and/or age, can be a month on the short end.  A soda can be brewed and served in under 24 hours!  Wow!

My inspiration for this Soda comes from my trip to Thailand last year.  It’s an incredibly beautiful country full of exotic locals, history, and culinary delicacies.  Their spices, a combination of Indian and Chinese, run the gamut from the hottest pepper to the sweetest candies.  One of my favorite Thai offerings, is a dessert, or rather a drink. Thai Iced Tea.  I wanted to see how I could bring this wonderful drink into soda form.  The concept carries over well as Thai Iced Tea is incredibly sweet.  The tea itself is a mix of spices like cinnamon, anise, sometimes barely, vanilla, and Indian black tea.  After it’s brewed it’s most commonly added to sweetened condensed milk and then served over ice.  When you get it in a restaurant you have a layered effect, that is, until you mix it and drink it.  For this soda, I removed the dairy component, for obvious reasons, but needed to introduce a flavorful sugar for both body and complexity.  Palm Sugar was my choice as this is a common ingredient in Thai cooking.  Sodas also have a common addition of citric acid to cut the sweetness, so I used lime juice.  Depending on your personal taste, the citric acid can be increased or decreased to control the apparent sweetness. I’ll be using measurements for a 5 gallon batch, as this is the most common yield for today’s home brewer.


KETSARA – Thai Tea Soda  *(This recipe can be halved or quartered)

  • 5 Gallons Filtered or Reverse Osmosis Water
  • 16 oz Organic Cane Sugar
  • 16 oz Palm Sugar
  • 160 grams of Loose Leaf Thai Tea
  • 4 tsp Lemon or Lime Juice
  1.  Begin to heat your water
  2.  Add Cane and Palm Sugar and stir to dissolve
  3.  Boil your water for a total of 15 minutes
  4.  Add your tea and steep for 5 minutes
  5.  Remove tea bags and be sure to squeeze them so you don’t lose the liquid
  6.  Add Lemon or Lime Juice
  7.  Cool as you would beer, with an ice bath or wort chiller as quickly as possible  *Use a food grade sanitizer to clean all equipment that will come into contact with the soda.  You are creating a nutrient rich sugar bath that bacteria as well as wild yeast will want to eat/infect.
  8.  When beer is room temperature (60-70 F) rack to keg and force carbonate.
  9.  Put the keg on its side, gas side up, and turn PSI to 40-45.
  10.  Rock the keg back and forth for 2 minutes and store in your refrigerator.
  11.  Depending on your carbonation preference, you may want to repeat step 10 once or twice more, as the keg cools, and rock the keg under 40 PSI for 1 minute.
  12.  Wait 12-24 hours.
  13.  Bleed excess CO2 before serving.


There you have it.  A Thai Tea Soda, and damn it’s good.  Soda = Instant Gratification.

On a side note, this soda won 1st place at our club home brewed soda competition. It will be appearing at both the closing ceremony of LA Beer Week at Union Station on 9/30/2012 and at BAM Fest 2012 in Santa Monica on 10/6/2012.  Come down and try some and let us know what you think.

Non-Alcoholic Cheers!

About Kristofor Barnes

Kip is the founder of Bierkast and co-founder of Los Angeles Ale Works. Picking up home brewing after college, he has since become an accomplished award winning home brewer, LA Beer Blogger, and author of the Beer Lover's Guide to Southern California. Kip is a graduate of the University of Southern California's School of Cinema Television. He lives in Inglewood, CA with his sciency wife Katie. Follow him @bierkast or #FollowTheLAAW @laaleworks

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1 Comment

  1. I’m reaching out to craft soda makers to see if you would be interested in participating in our second annual Buellton Brew Fest on May 11th. Mainly a craft beer event, we are looking for a fun component for our designated drivers to partake in. Buellton is just 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara. If you’re interested, please give us a call. We sold out last year at 1000 people and we’re looking to get 1500 this year.

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