November 16, 2012

Homemade Soda Holiday Gift Ideas 2012

It's that time of year again.  Halloween is over and Thanksgiving is sneaking up fast.  As of this post, there's only one week until the dreaded Black Friday.  The Holiday shopping season is upon us.
So now you need some gift ideas for that special someone who has taken up a sodamaking hobby.  We can be a hard bunch to shop for, I know.  If you're having some trouble, here are 10 ideas that I have handpicked for anyone who loves homemade soda.

1. The Artisan Soda Workshop by Andrea Lynn

This little book would make a great stocking stuffer.  For anyone who is into natural ingredients and artisan foods, this book is a great companion.  The recipes in it were developed with the Sodastream in mind, so it's a perfect segue from the commercially available sodastream syrups to DIY prowess.  The flavors in here are really inspiring, too.  From Rhubarb Basil and Rosemary Lemonade to Tomato Water and Persimmon-Black Pepper Shrub.  

Fee Brothers has been serving mixologists since 1920 with drink mixes and flavorings.  They have an impressive lineup of syrups for beverages including Watermelon, Sour Apple, Warm Ginger, Grape, Orange, Lemon, Lime, and many more.  

3. iSi Soda Siphon
iSi has been in the soda siphon and cream whipper business for quite some time.  If you want to go vintage, there are glass syphons with mesh from other manufacturers, but iSi offers a brushed aluminum that will hold up to some wear and is more economical, but still has the vintage feel.  Andrew Schloss recommends these in his book as an easy way for quick force carbonated soda.

Bottling in glass bottles is fun.  There's something nostalgic about it.  You can make that experience even more nostalgic with overrun caps.  A plain cap is inexpensive, but lacks character.  This seller on ebay has the best variety of new, unused bottle caps.  You don't have to worry about getting ancient caps that may or may not seal, and you get a great assortment to avoid the mundane.

5. Vintage Soda Crates
If you are bottling in glass bottles, that means that you're storing glass bottles somewhere.  Under the stairs, in the closet, in milk crates, in cardboard boxes.  Vintage soda crates usually run about $25 each depending on where you find them.  This seller on ebay has good feedback and a wide selection.  Check flea markets, craigslist, and antique stores in your area if you want to buy local.  Sometimes garage sales have them for a great price, too.

6. Homebrew Kit
Go old school with a homebrew soda equipment kit from Midwest Supplies.  The process is simple: boil and strain your roots (or easier yet, use an extract), add sugar, pitch the yeast, bottle, and wait.  The process is made easier with a bottling bucket and bottle filler.  

7.Mr. Root Beer or Copernicus Kit.

If you want to go old school, but don't want the big batch kit from Midwest, try an all inclusive kit from Mr. Root Beer or Copernicus.  Kits include everything you need to make a yeast brewed batch of soda.  Pretty much you just add water.  The Mr. Root Beer Kit even includes bottles.

8. Roots and Herbs
Starwest Botanicals is one of the top finds for bulk herbs and spices.  They have a wide selection that includes common root beer and cola ingredients such as sarsaparilla root, sassafras root bark, burdock root, dandelion root, star anise, vanilla beans, and many more.  When using herbs and roots, it's always advisable that these were originally used for medicinal purposes, so it's important to know what these herbs were used for to avoid any unwanted side effects.

9. Fix the Pumps by Darcy O'Neil
From mixologist Darcy O'Neil, author of the Art of Drink blog, Fix the Pumps tells the history of the soda fountain and includes old time formulations using their original ingredients.  A must have history lesson for any soda maker.

Gnome specializes in old fashioned flavors and comes highly recommended.  Available in Crystal Clear Vanilla Cream Soda, Dark Vanilla Cream Soda, Draft Style Root Beer, Autumn Red Birch Beer, and Spicy Ginger Beer.  Add your favorite sweetener to taste and carbonate naturally or under pressure.  Their home page has instructions and sugar equivalents, but these must be purchased through other retailers such as CHI, Midwest, Northern Brewer and other homebrew supply stores.

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