Ever wondered what happens when kombucha and beer collide?
Well, wonder no more!
In this guide, we’ll dive into the intriguing world of kombucha beer — the fermented and slightly boozy wonder taking the brewing scene by storm.
We’ll go over how to make a batch so you can sample it yourself!
One thing’s for sure:
It’s a fascinating beverage that has health-conscious folks and homebrew enthusiasts buzzing.
Learn more about it below!
What is Kombucha?
First, let’s get on the same page about what kombucha is.
Kombucha is a tangy and effervescent fermented tea beverage known for its unique flavor and potential health benefits.
A symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) is added to sweetened black or green tea to brew kombucha.
This initiates the fermentation process.
The SCOBY consumes the sugar over several days to weeks, producing organic acids, vitamins, and probiotics.
These components contribute to its reputed health perks, like aiding digestion and boosting the immune system.
The result is a lightly carbonated and refreshing drink with a distinct sweet-tart taste.
It’s a favorite among health-conscious and adventurous palates alike.
Try these sour beer smoothies too.
What is Kombucha Beer?
Now, let’s talk about its beer version.
It’s a fun infusion of fermented tea and beer, going through two stages of fermentation.
The tea is left to ferment under optimal conditions for about ten days in the first stage.
This is followed by the second fermentation, where beer ingredients and flavors are introduced, giving it a unique twist.
One of the key differences between regular kombucha and kombucha beer is their alcohol levels.
While regular kombucha keeps it light with an alcohol content of under 0.5%, the beer version packs a punch with an alcohol content ranging from 3.2% to 8.0%.
This increase in alcohol is achieved by adding yeast!
And what sets kombucha beer apart from hard kombucha is the infusion of hops, which gives it that distinct beer flavor.
How to Make Your Own Kombucha Beer
If you’re a kombucha lover, your mouth is probably already watering with the prospect of its boozier counterpart!
Well, here’s how you can whip up your batch.
The Equipment and Ingredients You’ll Need
- Sanitizer solution
- 4-gallon fermenter vessel (preferably ceramic or glass, with a large opening, airlock, and draining spigot)
- 2-gallon stockpot
- Storage bottles or mason jars
- Stirring spoon
- Rubber band or string
- 15 cups of distilled water
- Ten stringed tea bags
- 2 cups white sugar (Do not use intense flavored sweeteners like brown sugar or honey!)
- One pack of brewer’s yeast
If the end goal is kombucha beer, you must make raw kombucha first.
Step 1: Acquire some SCOBY.
All the ingredients in kombucha beer are pretty standard, with the possible exception of SCOBY.
That’s the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
This thick, jelly-like, translucent circular mass is essential to any kombucha brew.
The whole purpose of SCOBY is to work its magic during fermentation and turn tea into that tangy concoction that we love.
The trouble is that you probably won’t find SCOBY stocked up at your neighborhood grocery store.
So, you’ll have to hop online and find a reputable source.
A quick Google search will present tons of options!
You can also make some yourself, but it’s not always a guaranteed success.
Plus, it can take weeks for the yeast and bacteria to do their thing and form a SCOBY.
Step 2: Sanitize, sanitize, SANITIZE!
After you’ve scored some SCOBY and all the necessary ingredients lined up, the next crucial step is to ensure your equipment is squeaky clean — no, scratch that, SANITIZED!
Yes, there’s a difference.
Sanitizing goes beyond just cleaning; it’s about eliminating potential contaminants that could mess with your brewing process.
Northern Brewer has a straightforward guide on types of sanitizers and how to use them.
Step 3: Make the tea.
Start by bringing a gallon of water to a rolling boil.
Once it’s reached that point, please remove it from the heat source.
Take ten tea bags and steep them in the hot water, ensuring they’re fully submerged.
Then, let those tea bags steep in the water for about five minutes to ensure they’re fully saturated.
Next, add a cup of sugar and give it a good stir until the sugar dissolves completely.
After that, pop that sweet tea into the fridge to cool down.
The tea must be adequately chilled because any lingering heat can harm your precious SCOBY!
If you’re set on using loose tea, add two tablespoons to a gallon of water and let them dance together to a gentle boil.
But be careful not to overdo it, as it can turn the liquid too bitter, and that’s not what we’re going for!
Step 4: Add the SCOBY.
Once your sweet tea is ready, pour it into the fermenter vessel.
Add the SCOBY (and the liquid it might have come in) to the vessel, then cover it with a clean cheesecloth or coffee filter.
Affix the covering with a rubber band or string.
This covering prevents fruit flies and allows the SCOBY to ferment the tea by exchanging air.
Step 5: Store your mixture.
Find a spot for your fermenter vessel — ideally, somewhere warm and dry, with temperatures between 75°F and 85°F (24°C to 29°C).
Let the SCOBY do its thing and feast on those sugars in the sweet tea.
The fermentation process will take about 10 to 20 days.
Although, keep in mind that the exact duration depends on the size of your kombucha batch and the surrounding temperatures.
THE WARMER IT IS, THE FASTER IT FERMENTS.
All that time, watch the liquid closely to gauge its readiness.
You’ll know your kombucha is good to go when it has that delightfully tangy taste with subtle, sweet undertones.
We suggest picking some up from a store to have a baseline of what you’re looking for.
Be mindful not to let it get too sour, which could prevent it from transforming into your final beer product.
If you live in a cold place, consider using a heating mat to warm up the vessel.
This extra warmth will allow for proper fermentation!
Step 6: Prepare for the second fermentation.
Congrats! You now have raw kombucha, which contains a small amount of alcohol. Let’s amp that up a bit.
To kickstart this process, dissolve one cup of table sugar in one cup of warm distilled water.
Give it a good stir until the sugar is thoroughly incorporated, and let the mixture cool down completely.
Then add ¾ of your pack of brewer’s yeast.
A wide variety of brewer’s yeast is available, but you may want one with a hoppy flavor for that real beer taste.
But feel free to choose any yeast you like — fruity, spicy, malty, or a combo of your favorite beer traits.
Once you add the yeast, it should start foaming.
This indicates that the yeast is activated.
Please don’t use dry yeast, as it won’t achieve the desired result of producing alcohol.
Yeast that hasn’t been rehydrated will struggle to survive in an environment where other active yeast is already present.
Step 7: Wait for the second fermentation.
Add your yeast mixture to the fermenter vessel and thoroughly stir, ensuring it’s all mixed in.
It’s time to seal the vessel, but not too tightly.
A loose lid is ideal, allowing just enough air to escape while preventing any pressure buildup that could lead to an unwanted explosion! Safety first!
Then, find a dark, warm spot for your vessel and let it sit there for about one to two weeks.
You’ll start seeing bubbles rising to the vessel’s surface — a sure sign that your “booch” is happily fermenting away.
Step 8: Bottle your product.
You now have kombucha beer!
Now, it’s time to package your creation.
You can go for swing-tip bottles, but Mason jars would also do the trick.
Here’s where you can get creative, too.
Feel free to infuse your beer with your preferred flavors by adding cut fruits or spices for that extra oomph.
We’re thinking blueberries, apples, cinnamon, or nutmeg. Yum!
Once your beer is all set in bottles, chill them in the fridge and enjoy them at your leisure.
Kombucha Beer FAQs
But that would be called “Kombucha Shandy,” not kombucha beer.
Making this shandy is as easy as mixing flavored kombucha with your favorite beer.
This beer cocktail makes for easy drinking on a hot day!
The readiness of kombucha depends on personal preference and the desired taste.
But generally, kombucha is ready to drink after around seven to ten days.
You must sit through a second fermentation process if you want kombucha beer.
Kombucha beer is usually lower in carbs, sugar, and calories per serving than regular beer, wine, and mixed drinks.
But it still contains alcohol, so it can’t be considered a healthier option than other alcoholic beverages.
Making kombucha beer is a delightful journey of flavor exploration.
So, embrace your creativity, experiment with different ingredients, and enjoy the unique results!
We hope your brewing adventures lead you to a batch of delicious kombucha beer to share with friends.