Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => Other Fermentables => Topic started by: pinnah on November 08, 2013, 01:38:12 PM

Title: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: pinnah on November 08, 2013, 01:38:12 PM
Are there still any kambucha brewers here?
 \Cap started a thread once, but seems he is off cooking.

My first batch reminds me of sweet vinegar.  I might let it sit a while more.
Thinking about blending some raspberries and was looking for some tips.

Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: morticaixavier on November 08, 2013, 03:39:30 PM
haven't made it, like it though. satisfies in a way very similar to beer.
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: breweite on November 08, 2013, 03:54:39 PM
My wife and I do kombucha. We've done it from purchasing a SCOBY, as well as a starter from a bottle of store bought kombucha.  It's a fun hobby and actually a good way to experiment.. "I wonder what it is like to drink _______________" 

Local brewery here in Austin did a kombucha beer:
http://jesterkingbrewery.com/beers/#beers_261 (http://jesterkingbrewery.com/beers/#beers_261)

Unfortunately I never got around to tasting it, not sure if it's seasonal, or one time collaboration.. I don't know, but I'll be there this weekend for the AHA rally to find out!!

Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: duncan on November 08, 2013, 03:59:29 PM
I love kombucha and want to try to make it, but haven't yet. Whenever I gear up to do it I end up thinking, "eh, I'll just make a small batch of beer instead."  ;D

I spoke with a guy in Brooklyn recently who owns a kombucha brewery and has been making kombucha-inspired ales and wines. Basically, instead of a SCOBY he uses and ale yeast and adds some malt to up the alcohol. Interesting concept... Could be a fun experiment.
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: breweite on November 08, 2013, 04:00:18 PM
Whoops!  My .02 on tips for kombucha:  It's very easy to tweak, if you don't like it throw in something new.  Add more sugar, give it more time, steep some hibiscus flowers, whatever you want. The results will come very quickly, especially if you're doing 1-2G batches. Much easier to balance flavors than beer in my opinion.

And save your SCOBY, one SCOBY will last you're entire life and you can pass them along to friends with every new batch.. and of course clean/sanitize like homebrew.

Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: pinnah on November 09, 2013, 03:48:06 PM
Thanks.  I made a new batch last night.  Looking forward to experimenting.
 It all seems very loosy-goosy, which I think I might enjoy.

So do you always re-use the mother and not the baby? 
My mother sat for about 6 months and looks a little ragged.  The baby is nice thick and new.
Thinking about just making the baby into the new mother and tossing the old?
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: el_capitan on December 05, 2013, 02:29:23 AM
I think your new growth is A-ok to use.  I brewed kombucha for about a year (but that was 5 years ago).  I found that it was really all about timing.  If you let it sit a long time, you'll essentially have really strong vinegar.  I was able to get the timing down to where it was still somewhat sweet, very spritzy, and I think a bit boozy. 

I poured myself a glass and took it on the road, and about halfway through I realized there might be a bit of alcohol in it after all...  :o  Oops. 

I've been thinking about getting started again, but I also remember that there seems to be some disagreement as to the actual health benefits of kombucha. 

Another fun ferment is kefir.  My wife kept me going with a goat kefir smoothie every morning for about a year.  Good stuff.  This summer we really refined our vegetable ferments and have turned out some excellent kimchi and sauerkraut.  Love that kimchi!  The key for us was finally devising a method to exclude oxygen. 

We bought some 5L Fido Jars and had the lids drilled at a glass shop.  They're excellent.  We've made kraut for a few years, and it's been good but not great.  Now it's perfect- no oxidation at all.  Nice and crisp, sour, and still bright green (not brown and funky like it can get when it's oxidized). 

(http://i.c-b.co/is/image/Crate/FidoJarWClampLid5LiterOT9/$web_zoom$&/1308302308/fido-five-liter-jar-with-clamp-lid.jpg)

Happy Fermenting, Pinnah! 
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on December 05, 2013, 02:48:11 PM
Mary Izett had a great presentation on 'alternative' fermentations at this year's NHC, including kombucha. Take a look, and use her as a reference!
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: EHall on December 05, 2013, 06:02:27 PM
http://www.culturesforhealth.com/kombucha
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: hubie on December 07, 2013, 06:23:21 PM
We bought some 5L Fido Jars and had the lids drilled at a glass shop.  They're excellent.  We've made kraut for a few years, and it's been good but not great.  Now it's perfect- no oxidation at all.  Nice and crisp, sour, and still bright green (not brown and funky like it can get when it's oxidized). 

What is the purpose of drilling a hole in the lid?
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: el_capitan on December 09, 2013, 04:30:29 AM
We had the lids drilled to fit a #9 stopper and airlock.  We've tried a lot of other things in the past (drilling canning jar lids, etc.) but nothing has been truly airtight yet until we went with these bail-top Fido jars. 

The ferments have been excellent, now that oxygen is excluded. 
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: hubie on December 09, 2013, 06:06:39 PM
We had the lids drilled to fit a #9 stopper and airlock.  We've tried a lot of other things in the past (drilling canning jar lids, etc.) but nothing has been truly airtight yet until we went with these bail-top Fido jars. 

The ferments have been excellent, now that oxygen is excluded.

I assume you still weigh down the cabbage so that it is below the liquid line?  I've never thought about it in terms of using a container with an airlock.  The kraut crocs look very nice, but are pretty expensive.  I suppose I could also use one of the 2-gallon food-grade buckets I have with lid and airlock (assuming I don't want to use it for wine/mead anymore).
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: el_capitan on December 10, 2013, 04:59:24 AM
Yes, we still weight down the cabbage to keep it below the liquid line.  We keep a couple nice, whole leaves intact and use those over the top like a sheet.  Then on top of that we put a glass lid from a different jar that fits inside. 

Lots of monkeying around, but we've gotten an all-glass system down.  My wife is very leery of plastic, and I can see her point.  I use plastic fermenters for my beer, but I think some of these food ferments are even lower pH than beer.  I could be wrong on that.  Either way, we're fermenting food for the health benefits, so it makes sense to eliminate any questionable factors. 

I'll see if I can get a snapshot of our setup here to post. 
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: pinnah on December 11, 2013, 02:43:53 PM
Cool.  Thanks for the info.

el_cap, I guess you don't cook your turkey in a plastic bag?   :o

I am on my third batch of kambucha.  Starting to figure it out.  need to take notes and start a folder.
I bottled some in some old amber Grolsch swing tops I had with a few cranberries.  Waiting to see how long it takes to fizz up.

Did you ever bottle any?
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: el_capitan on December 13, 2013, 05:43:00 AM
I used to bottle in plastic bottles, because I was leery about unpredictable carbonation.  I did eventually crank out a couple batches that were delicious and carbed up nicely.  Took a lot of fine-tuning though, and I never really took notes of what I was doing. 

Hey, once you figure out the perfect method, you can show us the light.

But that reminds me of one of my earliest brewing experiences - making root beer with my 7th grade science class.  We bottled in plastic bottles and checked it every day.  It really wasn't carbing much in my cold cabinets, so we kind of ignored it for about a week.  When I checked, the bottles were rock hard and bulging.  I moved those to a fridge ASAP.  When we drank them, most of the kids turned up their noses at the yeasty, fairly nasty stuff.  One kid kept chugging it (probably because I told the kids there was a tiny bit of alcohol in the bottles, like fresh-squeezed orange juice).  He ended up overdoing it and barfing in the sink.  It was disgustingly hilarious.  I felt so bad for the kid, cleaning up his own hot dog chunks while I laughed at him.   ;D  Ahhh, memories. 
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: pinnah on December 14, 2013, 12:39:18 AM
 ;D. rolf.   I have not heard the word barf in quite a while...need to spend more time with some middle schoolers. ;)

I might try the plastic bottles in the future. 
But the grolsch certainly are not "carbing" very fast.  I think I need to make more so I can wait to get some carbed before I drink it. Sound familiar?  Like a beer brewing newbie.

Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: el_capitan on December 15, 2013, 02:00:41 AM
I've really enjoyed some of these alternate fermentations, because my wife doesn't touch beer, but she's into fermented food.  She wants me to build her a temp-controlled ferm chamber like the one I built for brewing.  There are a lot of health benefits from fermented foods, and it's cool to have another area to experiment with.  Like you said, it's a whole new world to learn about.  Fun stuff. 

Another funny word that never gets old is "turd."  Hah!  Turd.  Ahhh, yeah.  One thing about teaching middle school is that it keeps you immature.  Brew on.  Cheers, amigo.
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: pinnah on January 09, 2014, 04:42:07 AM
Well I had to use coconut sugar. 
Looked pretty brown. Like a mix of hulls, tree bark and unrefined sweet stuff. Organic  ::)
I don't live in a house with plain white sugar.

Brewed green tea as well.
Hope my scoby does not freak out.

The cranberry secondary fermentation in the amber grolsch bottles was excellent.
My house is too cold to produce bottle bombs.

I separated a fat and layered scoby tonight.  Odd.
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: el_capitan on January 11, 2014, 02:49:28 AM
My SCOBY always grew lots of fat layers too.  I kind of went back and forth with the refined sugar issue - it pretty much kept my wife away from sampling the finished product.  I seem to remember reading that the fermentation kind of takes care of the concern - still, that stuff is pretty much poison.   :o

I was thinking of experimenting with a hopped and honey-sweetened green tea.  Not fermented, just a beverage.  Trying to figure out if simply dry-hopping some tea would work.  Lord knows I have enough homegrown hops around!  Might have to give it a shot this weekend and see how it goes.  I wonder how hops would play in the kombucha?  Do you think they'd mess up your SCOBY?  The acidity/sourness might make it hard to find a good complementary hop, but then again the C-hops might be pretty good. 
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: euge on January 11, 2014, 04:45:11 AM
American SCOBY. Getting fat.
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: erockrph on January 11, 2014, 06:42:17 AM
My SCOBY always grew lots of fat layers too.  I kind of went back and forth with the refined sugar issue - it pretty much kept my wife away from sampling the finished product.  I seem to remember reading that the fermentation kind of takes care of the concern - still, that stuff is pretty much poison.   :o

I was thinking of experimenting with a hopped and honey-sweetened green tea.  Not fermented, just a beverage.  Trying to figure out if simply dry-hopping some tea would work.  Lord knows I have enough homegrown hops around!  Might have to give it a shot this weekend and see how it goes.  I wonder how hops would play in the kombucha?  Do you think they'd mess up your SCOBY?  The acidity/sourness might make it hard to find a good complementary hop, but then again the C-hops might be pretty good.

Nelson Sauvin is my go-to hop for non-traditional dry-hopping. The vinous character really seems to mesh well where other hops might be questionable. Worked quite well in a dry-hopped cider for me. I'm guessing you probably don't have any homegrown Nelsons, though...
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: pinnah on January 12, 2014, 04:13:42 PM
American SCOBY. Getting fat.

and sassy.   :D
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: pinnah on January 12, 2014, 04:17:13 PM
  I wonder how hops would play in the kombucha?  Do you think they'd mess up your SCOBY?  The acidity/sourness might make it hard to find a good complementary hop, but then again the C-hops might be pretty good.

Interesting thought.  Perhaps not during fermentation but after as an additive flavor agent?  Crystal?  I have a pile of those... :)
Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: pinnah on January 25, 2014, 02:51:10 PM
Well the green tea/coconut mixture worked, but not my favorite.
Thought I got a little sulphur on the nose from it.
Plus, it made my pretty white SCOBY all brown and sorry looking. :o

I am trying brown sugar with black tea this week. 

I added a little elderberry extract to the stuff I containerized...pretty easy flavoring.

Have yet to try the hops...but I did mix in a little SNCA into my glass one day...not impressive. :-[

Title: Re: Kambucha anyone?
Post by: pete b on February 25, 2014, 01:56:21 AM
I used to brew kombucha but gave it up due to time and fruit flies. I recommend using lapsang suchong tea, the smoky flavor is nice. The hops idea makes me want to do it again.