Brewing Kombucha Beer

Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System

Kombucha contains beneficial bacteria and yeast, as well as other vitamins and minerals. It can help boost your immune system and reduce symptoms of depression.

The FDA says kombucha poses no health risks when it’s brewed correctly. Brewing your own kombucha is easy, inexpensive and convenient. The process requires minimal space and is simple.

Equipment

There are a number of manufacturers who offer systems designed to streamline the process and ensure consistency. These systems are perfect for small commercial and home brewing.

Large glass container: Choose a one- or two-gallon container that is solid and without a spigot. Look for ones with a wideneck (a smaller surface area allows for more oxygen). Mason jars and other narrow-mouth containers don’t allow enough air in during the fermentation process.

A thermometer: Often overlooked but essential for regulating the temperature during fermentation. In winter, a heating pad can be used to warm up kombucha if it is too cold.

Long, flexible bottle brush: Ideal for cleaning tight corners and nooks. Brewery wash is specially formulated to remove stubborn residues from jar surfaces and narrow necks. Use a bottle cleaner brush in conjunction with this product for best results.

Ingredients

Kombucha is a tea that has been fermented and touted as having health benefits. It is made by mixing bacteria and yeast in a symbiotic solution with sweetened tea. The symbiotic method creates what is called a “biofilm”, a matrix of cells. The biofilm contains lactic-acid bacteria and yeast that produce acids and other substances which give kombucha it’s distinctive flavor and nutritional value.

The symbiotic reaction also breaks sugar down into carbon dioxide, and small amounts of ethanol. This is the reason kombucha can be called “the Champagne of Health.” Commercial kombucha is typically less than 0.5% in alcohol, which meets FDA requirements for a nonalcoholic label.

When you brew your own kombucha, it is important to use high quality ingredients. Choose a black or green tea that is not herbal and unflavored, with white or turbinado plain sugar to avoid oils or flavors that could compromise the brew. The sweetener will feed the SCOBY and be converted into vitamins and antioxidants during fermentation.

Scobys

A scoby consists of bacteria and yeast which form a symbiotic relation and produce kombucha. You can buy a scoby online, or get one from friends and relatives who make kombucha.

Once the tea is at room temperature, add the scoby to your brewing vessel (store-bought scobys are fine). Cover the tea with a cloth of a tight weave, such as a bandana, or an old t-shirt. This allows airflow, but keeps fruit flies out and dust out.

Place the jar in a dark, warm place for 7-10 day. Check the jar occasionally and gently touch the surface of the scoby. If it feels nubbly, rough or patchy, this is normal; the scoby will become smooth and more uniform with each batch of kombucha you brew. Be sure to keep your jars away from sunlight, as light can cause the kombucha to taste vinegary.

Storage

Find a dark place to store your Kombucha where the temperature will not fluctuate too much. A large cabinet or closet is a good choice if you open and close it often enough. If you choose to keep your brew in the cupboard, you may want to keep a starter tea handy in case you wish to re-start another batch.

Always use sterile equipment and clean hands when handling a SCOBY. It’s important to test your kombucha regularly for harmful bacteria and fungal growth.

If you find mold or fungi in your kombucha, discard it and start again. Use the starter liquid in your SCOBY Hotel for your next batch. Continue this process until you have a constant supply. Enjoy!