Local Brewer Jesse Friedman Now Slinging Soda Pop
When life gives you empty kegs and you want to make a family-friendly beverage, make soda. Jesse Friedman (of Beer and Nosh and Almanac Beer Co.) knew he was onto something while attending a friend's wedding. Despite offering a unique homebrew for the nuptials, Friedman noticed that the revelers blew through his keg of homemade ginger ale first. Visions of soda pop danced in his head.
jordan.ching12/Flickr Our favorite soda jerk: Jesse Friedman at New Taste Marketplace.
For his first run at S.F.'s New Taste Marketplace, Friedman sold 10 gallons of his spicy ginger ale in a matter of hours. Since then, he's been preaching the pop gospel ― soda, says Friedman, isn't inherently a four-letter word. The craft sodas Friedman's been making aren't the sugary, chemical-laden beverages on grocery-store shelves. The taplist at last Saturday's New Taste Marketplace included Good 'Ol Southern Boy Sweet Tea Soda, infused with mint and lemon; Meyer Lemon and Fennel Fizz, from juiced fennel and backyard lemons; and his signature Ginger Ale, made with Eureka lemons and eight pounds of hand-juiced ginger.
Not a soda drinker by habit, Friedman creates his beverages with a similar demographic in mind. All are made with fresh, local ingredients, lightly sweetened with cane sugar, and balanced. Through his homebrewing and commercial brewing ventures, he's become a yeast whisperer of sorts. While CO2-carbonated sodas have an aggressive, slightly painful punch, the baking yeast Friedman employs provides a softer effervescence that releases aroma without steamrolling complex flavors.
Quality ingredients, yeast cultivation, and careful technique: the same elements that go into craft beer, minus the alcohol. Of course, there's nothing wrong with fortifying your soda ― ginger and bourbon make great bedfellows.
And while you wait for the sodas to hit your local haunts, give Friedman a pat on the back for the effort. Juicing ginger is like squeezing blood from a stone.