This past weekend I was introduced to Pats Backcountry Beverages, an American company that is delivering brew concentrate to many a thirsty adventurers. They offer three different ales, American Logger, Black Hops, and Pale Rail each weighing in at 50g and when combined with water delivers 14oz of crisp cold beer.
The trick however lies in the carbonation process. Pats offers Activator Packs consisting of Citric Acid and Potassium Bicarbonate which when combined in the water will produce carbonation. Having tried it, I cant say that I was impressed as it resulted in rather flat beer. Online reviews are mixed, some obtaining perfect results, others left a little disappointed.
The whole experience was somewhat inspiring. While developing beer concentrate is outside my skill repitoir, engineering a superior carbonation mechanism was certainly right up my alley. After 3 prototypes, two kitchen explosions I have perfected carbonation perfect for coke, mojitos, beer or what ever you desire!
By the end of this article you too will be equipped to serve premier backcountry beverages.
- Schrader Stem Valve – I choose to use a Schrader valve because it has a much lower profile then the Presta valves. Another benefit is that they can be easily obtained at your local automotive parts store. Mine cost just over $5.
- CO2 Bike Tire Inflator – This was a tricky part for me. I went through 3 different inflators before finding the perfect one for the job. The most important part is that you choose one with a knob to control the CO2 release. I use a Pink Bike Red Zeppelin inflator which I found at MEC for $12.75.
- CO2 Cartridges – Trust me you are going to want a few extra! A case is the most economical way to achieve this, I found 20 cartridges for $23 at MEC! You will get approximately four 800mL beverages out of each cartridge.
- 1 Litre Pop Bottle – Just an el-cheap-o recycled pop bottle. Trust me. My first design utilized a Nalgene bottle with no success.
- Beer or Pop Concentrate – With home carbonation units becoming more and more popular it is easy to find your classic pop flavourings at most stores. I found Soda Streams Cola and Ginger Ale syrups at Bed Bath and Beyond for $6.99 each but have seen them at Canadian tire, Walmart, and London Drugs.
- Select a drill bit that matches the size of your Schrader stem valve. Specifically you want to look at the rubber valve and match the hole to the rubber seal. Drill the hole in the centre of the lid from the pop bottle.
- Insert the Schrader valve into the lid of the bottle and tighten it in place using a wrench. You will want this to be very secure.
- Fill the bottle with water, if from a backcountry source be sure to treat it first. You will want to leave a couple of inches of room at the top.
- Secure the lid with the valve onto the bottle.
- Attach the tire inflator to the valve and thread a CO2 bottle.
- Gently open the valve on the inflator to release CO2 into the bottle, you will only want to put a second or so’s worth of gas into the bottle. You will feel the bottle get hard. Shake the bottle and then add a little more CO2. Repeat this process 2-3 times.
- Remove the lid (you can leave the inflator in place for the next bottle!) and then add the concentrate of your choice.