When it comes to crisp, refreshing beverages, Kombucha is the perfect balancing act. It is causal with solid health benefits, sweet with a touch of tangy, and boozy with low alcohol content.
Kombucha is basically fermented sweet tea. With just a few ingredients, you can brew your own booch and even kick it a notch higher and turn it into an alcoholic beer. Throw in fresh spices or whole fruit and you have the go-to comfort booze for every season.
In this article, we will show you how to make Kombucha beer based on one of our favorite recipes. You’ll also find some amazing tips to make your home brewing project a success.
Tools and Supplies For Making Kombucha Beer
- 4-gallon fermenter vessel with an airlock
- 2-gallon stockpot
- Distilled water
- Storage bottles or mason jars
- Stirring spoon
Here’s our favorite kombucha beer recipe:
- 15 cups of distilled water
- 10 stringed tea bags
- 2 cups table sugar
- 1 pct brewer’s yeast
Step-by-Step Guide to Make Kombucha Beer
To make kombucha beer, you will first have to make raw kombucha. Follow these simple steps to get started:
Step 1: Secure some SCOBY
Before starting the brewing process, you need to have some SCOBY on hand. SCOBY stands for the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. This thick, jelly-like, translucent, and circular mass hosts yeast and bacteria.
SCOBY helps to ferment and transform sweet tea into a tangy non-alcoholic liquid known as kombucha.
Unfortunately, you cannot buy SCOBY from your nearest grocery store. But, you can purchase it from a reputable online source, grow one yourself or ask someone who already makes kombucha to lend you a SCOBY.
The fastest way to make kombucha beer is to either buy or borrow ready SCOBY. The problem with attempting to make your own is that the experiment might be unsuccessful. Other than that, it takes weeks of waiting for the yeast and bacteria substrate to form. We’re not sure you want to wait that long to enjoy your homemade booch.
Step 2: Sanitize brewing equipment
Once you have secured your SCOBY and of course, all the other ingredients, the next step is to sanitize the equipment you will use to make your beer. Notice that we are saying sanitize and not just clean the equipment—there is a difference.
Sanitizing gets rid of contaminants that can affect the brewing process and the quality of your beer. If you would like to learn how to properly sanitize your brewing equipment, we recommend checking out this video tutorial.
Step 3: Prepare sweet tea
Before making kombucha beer, you will first have to make non-alcoholic kombucha, which you will then ferment to produce alcohol.
The first step in making non-alcoholic booch is preparing your sweet tea. Bring a gallon of water to a boil then remove from the heat. If you are using tea bags, steep 10 of them in the hot water with bags fully submerged.
Leave the teabags in the water for five minutes to ensure that they saturate completely. Add 1 cup of sugar and stir until it dissolves. Then, set the sweet tea in the fridge to cool. Make sure that the tea is really cold; heat will instantly kill your SCOBY.
If you will be using loose tea, add 2 tablespoons into a gallon of water and let the mixture boil together. Do not boil the liquid for too long as this can make it too bitter.
Pro Tip: Only use white table sugar for this recipe. Avoid strongly flavored sweeteners such as honey or brown sugar.
Step 4: Add SCOBY
Transfer the sweet tea to the fermenter vessel. Preferably, the fermenter vessel should be a ceramic or glass container with a large opening and a draining spigot.
Then, add the SCOBY plus the liquid it came in into the fermenter vessel. Cover the vessel with a clean cheesecloth or coffee filter and secure with a rubber band or string.
Covering will keep fruit flies away and it will allow the free exchange of air too. The yeast and bacteria in the SCOBY need oxygen to do their job of fermenting the sweet tea.
As the SCOBY ferments, it reproduces more SCOBY and releases probiotics, which help with gut health.
Step 5: Store the liquid
Move the fermenter vessel to a warm but dry spot. You should aim for a storage temperature of about 75oF and 85oF. Let the SCOBY ‘eat’ the sugars in the sweet tea for about 10 to 20 days.
The duration of fermentation will really depend on the amount of kombucha you are brewing and the ambient temperatures. The warmer the temperature, the faster the fermentation process, and of course, the larger the batch, the more time it will take to ferment.
During this time, be sure to keep an eye on the liquid for readiness. You will know that your kombucha is ready if it tastes tangy with underlying notes of sweet. Don’t allow the liquid to become too sour as this will prevent it from fermenting into beer.
Pro Tip: If your chosen storage spot is cold, consider warming it using a heating mat or other such heating equipment. The warm temperatures will ensure proper fermentation.
Step 6: Activate brewer’s yeast
After step 5, you now have raw kombucha with a small amount of alcohol. To make kombucha beer with higher alcohol content, you will need to do another round of fermentation.
For this second fermentation process, add 1 cup of table sugar to 1 cup of warm distilled water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Allow the mixture to cool completely.
Next, add ¾ of brewer’s yeast to the sweet water mixture. There are many types of brewer’s yeast and we love the type that produces a hoppy flavor. But, you can choose any yeast that has the qualities you would like your beer to have whether that is spicy, fruity, hoppy, malt, spicy, or any of these combinations.
Once you mix the yeast and the sweetened water, the mixture should foam. This shows that the yeast is activated and you can now use it to ferment your kombucha.
Adding dry yeast will not allow you to achieve the desired result, which is to produce alcohol. Yeast that has not been rehydrated will easily die off when it is introduced into an environment where other active yeast already lives.
So, as you can see, it is really important to mix your yeast with the mixture of sugar and water.
Step 7: Ferment the Kombucha
To turn your kombucha into a boozy beverage, you will need to introduce yeast into it. Add the yeast to the fermenter vessel containing the kombucha and stir the mixture thoroughly.
Loosely seal the fermenter vessel with a lid. This will prevent too much air from entering the container while still allowing the CO2 that forms to escape the vessel instead of accumulating inside and causing a potential explosion.
Store the fermenter vessel in a warm, dark, and quiet spot and allow about 1 to 2 weeks for fermentation to take place. You will notice bubbles rising to the surface of the kombucha in the vessel, which shows that the booch is actually fermenting.
Pro Tip: Consider buying a fermenter vessel with a lid that has a grommet hole where you can insert an airlock. The airlock acts as a vent for the CO2 that forms during fermentation.
Step 8: Package the kombucha beer
After successful fermentation of kombucha, you now have kombucha beer. What’s left is to package your beer ready to drink. We prefer the swing-top bottles but storing your beer in mason jars is a good alternative as well.
At this point, feel free to infuse the beer with your favorite flavors.
Once you transfer the beer to the bottles, you can opt to throw in whole cut fruit or spices.
Our favorite fruits to add to kombucha beer are strawberries and apples, which work well together and offer a blend of fruity and tangy. We also love to add cinnamon or nutmeg into the works.
Feel free to create the flavors you want. Then, store your beer in the refrigerator to chill and, enjoy at your own convenience.
- The quality of the SCOBY plays a big role in how good your Kombucha beer turns out. Make sure that you start the home brewing process with a high-quality culture that is fresh, hygienic, and whose liquid is nice and concentrated.
- Observe high levels of hygiene when preparing homemade, unpasteurized Kombucha. Fermenting projects can easily attract bacteria and fungus that are dangerous to your health. This should not deter you from making Kombucha beer. As long as you maintain hygiene, you should be safe.
As you can see, you can make kombucha beer in an afternoon. Of course, the drink will need a few weeks to ferment but the wait is totally worth it.
Once you secure some good quality SCOBY, you should be well on your way to creating your own flavorful beer. Be sure to sanitize your equipment to avoid contamination, which can affect the quality of your beer.
Finally, experiment with different flavors and make your homemade kombucha beer truly your own!