How To Make Naturally Carbonated Soda At Home

Step #1 "Soften" your yeast by dissolving in a cup of lukewarm (body temperature) water for 5 - 15 minutes. This should be thoroughly mixed up before adding to the rest of the ingredients. For best results, use fresh champagne or dried beer yeast. If you're in doubt about the freshness of the yeast, do not use it! Bread yeast will make your soft drinks taste "yeasty" or "bready," and may not settle out well and pack down firmly.

Step #2 Shake extract bottle well. Combine extract with sugar and lukewarm water. At this point you may wish to "play" with the recipe by increasing the amount of extract or sugar per gallon. Adjust the proportions to taste. However, the one critical proportion is the amount of yeast per gallon. Do not exceed the recommended amounts!

Step #3 Now mix the "yeast slurry" with the extract/sugar water. This should be stirred thoroughly to insure that the yeast is evenly dispersed throughout the beverage. Otherwise, some bottles may carbonate very rapidly while others take considerably longer.

Step #4 Sanitize your bottles. Use either: 1 oz. unscented bleach per gallon water for 10 minutes or 2 capfuls of iodophor per 5 gallons for 5 minutes. Note: bottles must be clean before sanitizing. Unless you have some reason to suspect the quality of your tap water, we recommended giving the bottles a quick rinse with warm to hot tap water after sanitation. Now fill your bottles, leaving 1 - 2 inches of headspace in each bottle. Seal with caps.

Step #5 Age soda at room temperature for 3 - 4 days before cooling. You may wish to "check" the carbonation level before proceeding. This can be done by simply chilling a bottle and sampling. An alternative is to bottle at least some soda in re-used plastic 16 - 67 oz. PET commercial soda bottles and screwing the cap back on. When your homemade soda becomes carbonated, these plastic bottles become very hard. Under any circumstances, as soon as your homemade soda is carbonated, it must be refrigerated! Otherwise, it will gush upon opening (at best) or it may even explode! For best results, age the soda in the refrigerator for 1 - 2 weeks. This will allow the flavors to meld and the yeast sediment to firmly pack down on the bottom of the bottles. This slight yeast deposit is a natural result of the fermentation process and is not harmful in any way, but some people find the flavor objectionable. For this reason, it is best to pour carefully out of the bottle so as to leave most of the yeast deposit behind. Again, for best results, refrigerate your soda prior to opening.


Amount to
Be Made
Yeast Amount
(or to suit taste)
(or to suit taste)
1 gallon 1/8 tsp. 1 TBS. (1/2 oz.) 2 cups (~1 lb.) fill to 1 gallon
2 gallons 1/4 tsp. 2 TBS. (1 oz.) 4 cups (~2 lb.) fill to 2 gallon
4 gallons 1/2 tsp. 2 oz. 8 cups (~4 lb.) fill to 4 gallon

***Please note that Zatarain’s comes in 4 oz. bottles, so double the recommended amount of extract.

For a heavenly variation on root beer, add a tablespoon of vanilla extract along with the root beer extract.  Also, note that some customers have had very good results with adding 4 - 8 oz. of malto-dextrin per 4 - 5 gallons to the mix to enhance the body & mouthfeel.  To visit the soft drink section of our catalog, go to: Soft Drink Supplies



One way to maximize your enjoyment of winemaking, mead making, cider making, and homebrewing is to share the fun with others.  Fortunately, we have several organizations locally devoted to this very notion.  DeFalco's has been very supportive over the years of our local homebrewing and winemaking clubs.  We were integral in the formation of both the Foam Rangers Homebrew Club in 1981 and The Houston Home Vintners in 2008.  We provide meeting space for both of these clubs on a regular basis.  Furthermore, dues paid members of any of the clubs listed below receive a 5% discount at DeFalco's.  Get together with like-minded people and share knowledge and enjoyment.  Join a club and join the fun!


DeFalco's opened its doors in the Rice University Village in June of 1971 in the wake of a home winemaking boom.  The original proprietor, Frank DeFalco, had an uncle, Dom DeFalco, who had opened a similar establishment in Ottawa, Ontario a few years earlier, and Frank leaned on his uncle for advice. Getting the doors open was no minor feat as Frank was obliged to go to Austin to get the legality of making wine at home clarified.  This delayed the opening by several months.  Technically, the aspiring amateur winemaker was required to contact the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission and report the amount of homemade wine that was produced and pay 17¢ per gallon tax.  Homebrewing was not even addressed as this was technically illegal nationwide since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.
In March 1978, Scott Birdwell was hired as a part-time employee and was the company's first "beer expert" (after two successful batches!).  DeFalco's carried homebrewing supplies even though, technically, the customer could not legally make beer with them.  The standard line at the time was that the customer was merely producing "sparkling barley wine."  Within a few months, Scott became a full-timer and Senator Alan Cranston introduced a bill in Washington DC to legalize homebrewing, which passed with minimal opposition that summer.  President Carter signed the bill and beginning in February 1979, it was legal to make your own beer (sort of).  Unfortunately, this law only removed the federal restrictions on homebrewing.  Each individual state could prohibit the practice, if it was so inclined.  Homebrewing wasn't legalized in Texas until 1983 (but, this is a story for another day!).
In the spring of 1980, the shop's lease expired and faced with a rent at nearly double the existing rate, the shop was moved around the corner to 5611 Morningside.  Despite not having the atmosphere of the original University Boulevard location, the move was a good one for the shop and we remained there for the next 16 years. Later that same year, Frank DeFalco and his silent partner sold the shop to Birdwell, then the store manager.  Good news came, again, five years later when The Gingerman opened up next door, and a symbiotic relationship was born!
In 1996, after sixteen years on Morningside, the property was sold and the new landlord tripled the rent, so the shop moved once more this time to Robinhood, about six blocks away.  This proved to be our shortest stay at only five years when, stop me if you've heard this before, the landlord wanted to double the rent.  It was at this point the shop moved out of the fashionable and high-priced Rice Village to Stella Link.  After eleven years at 8715 Stella Link, we moved to our current location 9223 Stella Link in January 2012.  With the popularity of home wine & beer making, we were compelled to expand, and the new location enabled us to nearly triple our square footage.  We hope you like the new space.  We have grown quite comfortable here.
Having been established in Houston since 1971, DeFalco's was the area's "go-to" source for wine, beer, cider, mead, & cheese making supplies for 48 years. Unfortunately, customers buying patterns change with time. The last five years have been an exceptionally tough time in the homebrew & home wine business. Hundreds of shops across the country have closed their doors in that period. We, unfortunately, could no longer hold out and closed our doors permanently September 8, 2019 after 48 years of service. Thank you for your support over the years!