Have you ever had small batch brewed craft soda? No? Well it might just changed the way you think about your favorite soft drink.
Craft soda is incredibly tasty and is actually not that hard to make. Let me start by saying that I’m not a soda drinker. When I’m not drinking beer, I prefer water or iced tea over soda. You can also find me brewing and drinking kombucha. The fact of the matter is that macro soda is a lot like macro beer. It’s pumped out of a factory with little care or thought, turning something that could be unique and tasty into something that everyone just accepts as a staple of the modern American diet. Let’s change that.
As I said before, I don’t care much for soda, and that’s mainly because it’s too sweet and or pumped with artificial dyes, flavorings, and chemicals. Craft brewed soda, much like craft beer is a blank canvas for brewers to work with. John and I have been experimenting with various craft soda recipes lately in preparation for the brewery’s eventual launch. We want to have beverages for everyone available, and that includes the designated drivers. Nothing quite hits the spot like a glass of water, but when you are in the bar with your friends and they are all drinking while you stay sober to take their drunk butts home, it would be great to have another option.
Soda played a very important role in US history.
When beer was outlawed during prohibition, many breweries survived by making soda. It’s not coincidental that in 1919 The American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages was formed to take advantage of all those bottling lines that were now useless. Today we have, just like in beer, the giant soft drink companies that survived with a smattering of smaller batch soda companies. You can still find a few retro places in LA like the Fair Oak Pharmacy and Soda Fountain in South Pasadena and somewhat larger chains like Rocket Fizz along with bigger brands like Jones and Izzy’s, but that’s about it. There should be more. Soda has a quick turn around time, and the equipment needed to brew, save any type of pasteurization equipment, is identical to brewing equipment. That being said, it’s our plan to have some soda options available when we open. So without further ado….
We present to you Ketsara Soda and Chimney Sweeper, our prototype soda offerings for Los Angeles Ale Works.
Ketsara Soda takes its name from an incredible tour guide we had during our trip to Thailand a couple years ago. It’s flavored with the traditional the red tea powder that they use to make their famous Thai Iced Tea. Thai tea is very similar to chai, but with slightly different spices. The one draw back to the traditional tea mix is the addition of a food coloring. Thai tea is a vibrant orange color, which most likely came from saffron, but because this spice is so expensive, they use a food dye in commercial mixes. We are currently working with a tea provider who creates their own Thai tea blend which would allow us to omit the chemical. Until then, you’ll be drinking the same stuff you drink when you have it at your favorite Thai restaurant. Because soda is so simple we splurge on the sugar, using exotic organic sugars when possible. Ketsara uses both unbleached organic cane sugar as well as palm sugar. Palm sugar is a common culinary ingredient in Thai cooking. In the soda it adds body and a gives it a very nice mouthfeel.
Our second soda takes its name from an annual home brewed beer recipe called Chimney Sweeper. Each recipe is different, but spicing is usually of the holiday variety. This year’s variety of Chimney Sweeper (2012) is a craft soda, and it’s spiced with Cardamon, Anise, Juniper Berries, Allspice, Cassia Buds, Peppermint, Dried Cherries, Vanilla, Molasses, Palm Sugar, and Turbinado. It’s incredibly festive and would even be a great addition to a special holiday cocktail. Think festive cream soda. It’s sweet, but not cloying, and the spices are very well balanced. Perfect for the Holiday.
So there you go! Craft Sodas and Craft Beer living together in harmony. We can’t wait to share these with you! Fizzy Cheers!