Home Brewing: How to Make Kombucha & Kombucha Beer/Ale
What is Kombucha, how do you make it, what does it have to do with beer, and why is this super food getting so popular? Everything you need to know about this fermented drink and it’s antioxidant-rich, probiotic qualities…
By Dustin Miller on Jul. 18, 2018
Kombucha is a fermented, low-alcohol drink made with tea, sugar, and bacteria. It’s often referred to as ‘mushroom tea’; however Kombucha is made with bacteria and yeast, not “mushrooms”. Kombucha is often flavoured or infused with herbs, fruit, spices, and other teas to create a delicious and ‘healthy’ beverage that’s also low in calories.
Kombucha, Combucha, Comboocha, ‘Boocha?
It has various names in different countries around the world; Kvass (Russia), Champignon de longue vie (France), Karagasok Tea, Manchurian Elixir, Russian Mother, tea mushroom, Manchurian mushroom, but it’s most commonly known as ‘Kombucha’
[pronounced ‘kawm-boo-chah’ or ‘kuh m-boo-chuh’].
Since November 2011, Kombucha has been gaining popularity in North America and many people have started home brewing their own Kombucha cultures. It typically takes about 10-21 days for a batch of Kombucha to be ready; however, if you’re not up for the challenge of brewing your own, but you want to try it for yourself, check your local health food stores or order it online from a selection of retailers.
Kombucha Quick List & Facts
- Kombucha is often touted for it’s “health benefits”, and branded as a super food because it’s a probiotic and often mixed with healthy ingredients like ginger, blueberries, herbs, and other antioxidants.
- Many sources claim that kombucha nourishes your body with compounds that detoxify, energize, support your immune system, streamline your digestive system (and your skin), prevent disease, and elevate your mood.
- Technically speaking, there is no scientific evidence to validate the health benefits of Kombucha.
- Kombucha by nature is low in alcohol (about 1-1.5% ABV), but it can be made to have a higher alcohol volume if specific measures are taken.
Kombucha Ale – If you’re a fan of sour beers and lambics, this beer style might be up your alley too. Kombucha-beer hybrids tend to be a mash-up of flavours, combining the tangy and tartness of a mild sour beer, with the earthy, spicy or fruity flavours of Kombucha.
Kombucha beer popularity is spreading; however, the availability of those will vary by province/state, city and time of year. If you can’t track down any Kombucha beers in your area, you can always try the ‘DIY option’ and attempt the home-brew, Kombucha beer recipe.
Kombucha Beers to Try
- Kombucha Beer / Brett Farmhouse Ale Recipe
Flavour Profile: “It’s sour, it’s flavorful, it’s good for you, and you can drink it for breakfast. While it’s nowhere near as complex as a good sour beer, it’s much cheaper, easier to make, and easier to find in a store.”
- Goose Island – Fleur
Flavour Profile: “If all you had to go by was the bottle of Fleur in your hand, all you’d know is that this is a “Belgian style ale” brewed with hibiscus flowers. But Fleur is one of the very, very few commercial beers I’ve ever seen that’s brewed or blended with Kombucha.”
- Unity Vibration Kombucha Beers
“Triple Goddess” is a marriage of our 30-day brewed Kombucha, organic dried hops and either organic raw ginger root, organic fresh raspberries, organic peaches, or three types of hops, juniper and grapefruit rind. All aged and open-air-fermented in oak barrels and then bottle conditioned. The combination creates exquisite flavors that have depth and complexity as well as healthy nutrients. Like our organic Kombucha, it is raw, made with organic ingredients, gluten free, vegan and bottle conditioned and lends itself to healthy and beneficial bacteria. Unity Vibration was the first to release an all-Kombucha based Kombucha Beer nationally. ALL OF OUR KOMBUCHA BEERS ARE GLUTEN-FREE!
- DIY Home Brew Recipe: Kombucha Beer
What About Kombucha Cocktails?
There are lots of great Kombucha cocktail recipes as well; but this is JustBeer, so we’ll stick to beer and the fermentation aspect of Kombucha.
How to Make Kombucha (Home Brewing Recipes)
The standard steps involved in brewing your own kombucha are:
- Brewing a tea (white, green, black, fruit, or herbal tea) and adding a fair amount of sugar to it (creating a ‘sweet tea’), the sugar will be consumed by the yeast and bacteria during fermentation process and thus the drink ends up being low-calorie (about 60 calories/16oz. drink) regardless of the amount of sugar used in this initial step.
- Letting the tea cool.
- Adding a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (AKA – ‘SCOBY’)
Note: if you don’t have a SCOBY, you can get one online, or at some health food stores; you can also start one from scratch using an existing Kombucha drink, but this will add about 2-4 weeks to your timeline.
- Covering the mixture with a cloth to allow for ventilation, but while blocking out insects (fruit flies) and air-born pathogens like mold spores.
- Leaving it for 1-2 weeks at room temperature (not in direct sunlight) to allow the mixture to ferment.
- Separating the SCOBY and either consuming the drink, or mixing it with other flavours and juices (about 10% additive to the Kombucha mix) and then bottling it for a second fermentation that also makes the drink lightly carbonated.
Okay, but show me an actual Kombucha recipe…
There are LOTS of online recipes and resources on how to brew Kombucha; here are a few recipe favourites that will give you the most thorough understanding of the Kombucha-making process:
Kombucha Health Risks?
Some experts warn about the potential dangers of home-brewed and unpasteurized Kombucha. Fermenting projects like this, when prepared in non-sterile conditions, can be unsafe or dangerous. This is the case if harmful bacteria/fungus get into a culture and can pose potential health issues.
“If you want to drink Kombucha, a safer bet is to go for one that is commercially prepared and pasteurized,” says Janet Helm, MS, RD, a Chicago nutritionist and author of Nutrition Unplugged blog.
If you’re still keen on home brewing Kombucha (because most things in life come with some level of risk, right?), Kombucha Kamp has this post that covers ways to recognize, avoid and isolate contamination if it occurs in your Kombucha culture. We encourage you to do as much research as possible before deciding if home-brewed Kombucha is right for you, as there may be health risks if proper steps are not taken to ensure cleanliness of your tools and fermenting containers.
Ready to start making your own Kombucha?
Great! Check out these other awesome books and materials to help you get started on your own Kombucha Brew…
- Kombucha Revolution: 75 Recipes for Homemade Brews, Elixirs, and Mixers
- Delicious Probiotic Drinks: 75 Recipes for Kombucha, Kefir, Ginger Beer, and Other Naturally-Fermented Drinks
- Kombucha Brewing Kit: Includes materials and ingredients to start your own Kombucha
- True Brews: How to craft fermented cider, beer, wine, sake, soda, mead, kefir and kombucha at home
- 6 – 16 oz. Easy-Cap Clear Beer Bottles – Chef’s Star (for bottling your home brewed Kombucha)
- Kombucha Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY) Start Kits
Did you like this post about Kombucha? You May Also Like…
- Ginger Bug (bacterial cultures started from ginger, used for sodas)
- How to Make Alcoholic Ginger Beer from Scratch
- Water Kefir – a Kombucha recipe without the tea
- Milk Kefir – like yogurt, but with a milky consistency