"Hey, that seltzer ain't free!"
Our kegerator has four taps, and the last tap is dedicated to a non-alcoholic selection (usually some kind of pop, or--for those of you who don't live in the green portions of this map--"soda"). Initially, my plan was to make up some red creme soda once we ran out of our Swearengen's Old Tyme Root Beer. However, in doing some research for my recipe, I discovered that cream soda was originally mixed up in soda fountains (and yes, I should've known that without having to do research; thanks for pointing it out), and this got me thinking. Before I got into coffee drinks I used to always buy Italian sodas at Starbucks. And Leah and I both love strawberry sodas (the ice cream kind, that is). It seemed like simply having seltzer on tap would give us more versatility, and I kinda liked the whole throwback quality of soda fountains.
My one concern, though, was that it takes much more CO2 to carbonate water than it does to carbonate beer. In fact, some places suggest over 40 psi for water, as opposed to the 12 psi I generally use to carbonate beer. Since I only have one CO2 regulator, and my hose is cut to the appropriate length for 12-15 psi of pressure, I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to dispense seltzer from the same system. Of course, the only thing I had to lose was some CO2 so I decided to go for it. I carbonated my water to a relatively low level (around 25 psi) and it seemed pretty comparable to store-bought seltzer. Then I hooked it up to my kegerator at 12 psi and it seemed fine! It didn't fizz over or anything, and a week later it seems just as carbonated as before.
So there you have it. We'll see if I discover problems down the road, but for now having seltzer on tap seems like a pretty good deal to me. It gives you a lot of flexibility to experiment with various drinks; Leah will even do half cranberry juice and half seltzer and it's pretty damn good! Now if only I could figure out the right mix to replicate Barq's Red Creme Soda...