February 21, 2013

Come Taste 2/23 at Brewerie!

This Saturday, Feb. 23rd, Brewerie is hosting it's annual FeBREWary Brewers Cup Homebrew Festival.  I guess it used to be a competition, but they figured that's not really what homebrew was all about, so it's a come-one, come-all celebration of homebrew with attendees voting on their favorite for the People's choice awards.

Back in December I asked them if they had any room for homebrewed sodas and they said they would love to have me as their first ever non-alcoholic participant and they said they thought it would go over quite well.

So, if you want to taste some of my recipes, here's what I'll have on tap:

-Fist Bump Root Beer - Caramel malt with a touch of molasses blend well with sassafras extract, burdock root, wintergreen and vanilla.

-Fist Bump Ginger Ale - A simple recipe using subtle ginger paste and a kick of lemon juice.  Featured in last summer's Quick Kegging Recipes post

-Lime in d'Coconut - One of my all time favorite recipes also featured on my Quick Kegging Recipes.

The leftovers will be available for tasting at our church's variety show later that evening, along with some other recipes made special for the event:
- Banana (soon to be posted)
- Lemon Mint Cooler
and a full keg Cherry Limeade Soda. (soon to be posted)

I'll post an update after the weekend is over with pictures.

February 15, 2013

Head Retention in Homemade Soda

When I compare commercial sodas to some basic homemade sodas, a couple of things I notice right off the bat are the difference in that frothy head on top and the difference in body or mouthfeel.  So after doing some research, here is what I've come up with.Gum Arabic Powder

Also known acacia gum, this powder helps your homemade soda in a couple different ways.  Acacia is sometimes used in beverages to emulsify flavoring oils.  The original Orange Crush recipe used this to mix orange oil in water, and it still uses it today.  I'm not sure if Crush was the first beverage to use it, but I do believe it was one of the early ones.  Some species of acacia produce a gum that has better emulsification properties than some other species, however, you don't know what species it comes from specifically unless you go to the source.  So it may not be the best way to mix your flavor oils with water.

One property you can count on with any species of acacia is it's ability to thicken.  just a small amount will give your soda body that you didn't know you were missing.  Along with that comes a decent head retention as well.  Compare the two most recent pictures I've posted here.  My photo for homemade cola, and my photo for homemade Fresca.  The cola I added just a pinch of acacia gum to the syrup, whereas the fresca I added nothing.  You can definitely see the difference.

Acacia gum can be difficult to get to dissolve, so you make sure you have a hand mixer or something with some force behind it to get it to mix in correctly. 

There are also other options you can try as well.  Maltodextrin is also a thickener used in beverages, it's used by homebrewers regularly because it's not fermentable by yeasts.  You can usually find it at a homebrew store if you want to source it locally.  Another good foam stabilizer that I have not tried in a soda is a protein.  Proteins develop matrices that trap air and hold foam quite well.  Meringues and whipped cream are good examples of protein stabilized foams.  For sodas, I've considered adding a small amount of whey protein powder, but I haven't had the opportunity to do so. 

February 8, 2013

Recipe 24 - Homemade Cola

This is an adaptation of a cola flavor that has been floating around the web.  Most directly it is adapted from the NY Times article found here.  They use raw ingredients, but not having access to them at the time, I wanted to do something that incorporated some extracts as well.  You'll probably get better flavor with raw ingredients, but you'll also have a little more inconsistency from batch to batch depending on the seasonality of your ingredients.

For lavender I substituted a very floral honey, which seemed to work well for the application.  I'll have to hit the health nut store sometime to see if I can pick up some dried flowers in the bulk herb section.

You'll need:
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
1-2 drops Pure Anise extract
3 Tbsp floral Honey
1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
1 Lemon
1 Orange
1 Lime
1 lb sugar (2 cups)
1 tsp molasses
2 cups water
Top up to 1 gallon with carbonated water.

To begin, zest and juice all three citrus fruits, keep the zest and juice separate.  In a saucepan, combine the zests, and the three spices with the 2 cups water.  Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Strain out the particulates add the sugar and molasses to the flavor infused water.  Heat to dissolve the sugar.  Allow to cool and then add the honey, vanilla, anise extract, and citrus juices.  Add syrup to carbonated water and there you have homemade cola!

This won't be a direct copy of Coke or Pepsi, because it does not contain the phosphoric acid.  If you want a closer match to their cola flavor, there are some places where you can get phosphoric acid, but make sure it is USP or Food Grade.  I believe the book Fix the Pumps discusses this somewhat, or the author's website, Art of Drink has some resources available as well, it's not the safest stuff to play with if you don't know what you're doing.  Certainly adding some citric acid will help get some extra bite into your cola, but the phosphoric acid is the real deal.
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