Hey, I've learned a lot of info on this forum as to how to get started, but now I'm a little stumped on what's the best way to scale up and get consistency for carbonating/bottling.
I started developing alcoholic beverages (spirits) but the costs of licensing in my state is still very prohibitive. It made more sense to instead start with non-alcoholic beverages.
I did some homework, learned from here and other sources (but mostly here) on how to force carbonate, bought a corny, equipment (I live the Twin Cities so very close to both Midwest Brewing and Northern Brewers), a freezer, temp regulator, BeerGun, etc. So it's allowed me to run experiments on and off for a while now, including trying some bottling for shelf-life tests. At this point I have a flavor I like and want to try testing on a larger scale.
The term "soda" might be a slight misnomer: this isn't really like a cola, but rather a flavored, clear seltzer (with a couple of proprietary tweaks but nothing that would affect the carbonation profess).
My present issue is with the right approach to scaling up a bit to a start-up level. Right now it takes a good while to force carbonate a batch in my corny (sodas require a higher PSI and take a while longer). I've also noticed it's hard to get the different batches to match on carbonation--though maybe it's because my system could be better. I often seem to run out of CO2 mid-batch but there are no leaks in my system (used the diluted dishsoap/sprayer test). Basically the issue is a combination of speed and efficiency.
What would be the best method of carbonation for a start-up beverage business? Do I stick with force carbonation, tweak my set-up and get more cornys and CO2? Is there an option between force carbonation and large scale carbonation systems (i.e. the ones in the tens-of-thousands range)?
I know most motorized carbonation systems (McCann, etc) are aimed at bag-in-box systems (e.g. bar-guns, fountains,etc) but is it possible to use one to mix my own syrup with carbonated water and bottle it or is it just for immediate dispensing?
I appreciate feedback. At worst I figure this will end up being another thread that gets Google hits by folks wondering the same thing (which is how I found this forum to begin with).