Are you a fan of Netflix’s Breaking Bad series? I am. And that is the first thing I thought about when I walked into The Wine Factory in New Westminster to “cook” a batch of Hard Bubbles with owner Don Holmsten. Don has a table set up with all the items you need to cook and can or bottle your Hard Bubbles. Have you ever made seltzer before? I haven’t had the chance. The Wine Factory is a UVIN, where you brew your own wine based on wine kits that are sold by The Wine Factory. But starting a year ago they decided to add a seltzer, which is popular among the younger drinking demographic.
There is a choice of many flavours of your Hard Bubbles. I selected the Wildberry Hibiscus Lemonade tea infusion. The whole process takes two weeks, and I set up the initial steps of making the wort and adding in the yeast to start the fermentation process, which will take about a week. In the second week, there will be fining and adding flavour, which Don and his team take care of. I will then show up in two weeks to do the canning of my seltzer. I do like that you can pick sugar, or sugar-free (made with Monk Fruit) seltzer, plus the sweetness level from None to Sweet.
Let me tell you a bit more about the steps to make my Hard Bubbles seltzer.
You need three ingredients to make the alcohol you need for the seltzer; water, yeast, and sugar. The yeast is dried and has to be activated in warm water. The sugar, in this case corn dextrose, has to be dissolved in warmer water as well. The temperature for the yeast and the sugar are at different temperatures, so Don has separate devices to get both to the right temperature for the right length of time. The yeast is added to water at 30 degrees, while the sugar is dissolved in water at 60 degrees Celcius.
With my lab coat on, I had the honour of adding two test tubes of yeast to the 30-degree temperature water and adding the dextrose to the 60-degree temperature water container. I stirred the yeast on and off to break up clumps, and the dextrose once just to get things mixed. I felt very much like Walter White! After 10 minutes both the yeast and the dextrose were ready for the next step.
The next step was to add both ingredients, plus extra water to a carboy, then plug the carboy with a cork airlock to let the carbon dioxide escape but not let any air inside. At this point Don and his crew will be taking care of my seltzer fermentation, keeping it at a constant temperature, if the fermentation slows, adding more yeast or dextrose as needed over the next week. In the second week, they will then add the tea infusion, add sweetener to my specification, plus settle out the dead yeast and siphon off into another container, ready for me to arrive and do the canning, which includes adding bubbles from CO2. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my seltzer adventure when I do the bottling, plus tasting my creation!
Thanks to Don for providing me with this experience to make a complimentary batch of Hard Bubbles. If you are interested you can cook a batch of Hard Bubbles at The Wine Factory, or maybe adventure and make your own wine. I will cover the wine option from The Wine Factory as well in Part 2.