Here's a COLDBREAK® secret: We always have a keg of flavored sparkling water (i.e., seltzer) on tap at the shop. It’s a perfect, refreshing alternative for the days you just need to get stuff done. Plus, making our own is a lot cheaper than maintaining our La Croix Pastèque habit.
If you’re a homebrewer, you already have the equipment you’ll need to replicate your favorite flavor combinations in seltzer form—in bulk—for CHEAP. Whether you’re curious about homebrewing or drink enough of the sparkling, bubbly stuff as much as we do, here’s your How to guide in making your own at home.
What You Need:
- A small keg
- Fresh water
- Flavor extract
- A jockey box
Depending how thirsty we are, we use either a 2.5-gallon or 5-gallon “Cornelius” keg (aka, Corny keg or soda keg). They’re easy to open and clean, and their size is convenient for at-home parties and gatherings. Pro tip: Having a few 2.5-gallon kegs allows you to tap or rotate multiple, different flavors at once through a single jockey box.
Any amateur or pro brewer knows that bad water equals bad beer. The same naturally applies to sparkling water. We suggest avoiding using city or well water that has any noticeable flavors or aromas like sulfur or chlorine. Water should taste like… you know… water. You can purchase either at most grocery stores for about $1 per gallon. That’s an easy dollar to spend to achieve a quality finished product.
When it comes to natural flavor extract, some extracts make better flavored water. While it’s a matter of taste and preference, we’ve noticed that extracts in the fruit and citrus categories have been the biggest fan favorites. Our personal top three are watermelon, blackberry, and lime. Regardless of which brand of extract you use, its quality must be food and beverage-grade. For your first purchase, start with 2-3 flavors that you like. Feeling adventurous? Experiment by layering a couple together.
Extracts can be added before or after you carbonate your water. Each bottle will list the recommended ratio of extract to water. Most flavors recommend starting with one (1) ounce per gallon. Our experience has proven that a little goes a looong way. Like salt on your food, you can always add more to your liking. Remember: you’re making flavored water, not sugar-spiked soda.
How do you add carbonation to water? Easy! Step 1: Fill your clean keg with non-chlorinated water and hook it up to your CO2 tank. Step 2: Set your regulator (which connects to your CO2 tank) to 30 PSI for 24 hours. Pro tip: Use COLD water. The warmer the water is, the longer it will take to carbonate, so—if your space at home allows, once you’ve filled your keg with water, stick it in your refrigerator (or kegerator) for the assist.
After your water has spent a day carbonating, it’s ready to drink!
You’ve got two options: 1) a jockey box, or 2) a kegerator.
Since you’ve found your way here, you now know what a jockey box is. If you want or need to pour your ice-cold seltzer water literally anywhere—anytime, then a jockey box is already your best friend because there’s no electricity required.
Your other choice is a kegerator. Often synonymous with old, ugly fridges just before they’re put out to the curb with a “FREE” sign, they’re essentially refrigerators repurposed with similar components as a jockey box. The catch is twofold: 1) you’re at the mercy of it being stationary, and 2) it’s an ugly refrigerator that probably smells like frostbitten hamburger or last Christmas’s forgotten fruitcake.
Flavored sparkling water will cost you anywhere from $3.50 to $4.50 per gallon when buying it by the 12 oz can. Making it yourself (if you already have the equipment) will cost you around 40% less. Also, Mother Nature will thank you because you’re not generating waste, and you’ll save yourself time and headache in trips to the recycling bin or store for a nickel or dime at a time. You’ll also probably find that you appreciate the freedom in making your own drinks at home, and you can’t put a price tag on that.
Got Questions? Drop us a line—we’re always happy to help!