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Hops and Kombucha: Not Just for Beer Anymore

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Hops and Kombucha: Not Just for Beer Anymore

 

We go on and on about flavoring kombucha, and have covered both pre- and post- fermentation flavoring. We've espoused a different approach than, generally, store-bought kombuchas have taken.   But there's one avenue we haven't covered yet, and that's the use of the glorious herb that is hops in flavoring your kombucha. We've found that the combination of hops and kombucha makes an exceptional spicy, dry and floral kombucha whose thirst-quenching ability is second to none. For a couple of years we've gotten our hops from Wrobel Farms, in Bridgewater, NY and have been very pleased to use their whole cone and pellet cascade hops in our keg program's 'buch.  

Dry Hopping

 

The approach we've taken with hops and kombucha is to "dry hop" it - that means that the hops are added to the kombucha after we've steeped the tea. Unlike our love for using herbs in the tea infusion, we've been leaving the hops out of this stage.     Generally, in beer brewing, it's common to add hops during the boiling process to contribute a bitter aspect - this can be early on in the boil, or at the end of the boil, depending on the amount of bitterness desired in the final brew. This does reduce the amount of volatile hop oils in your brew, but the addition of hops after the boil has become commonplace as well, and it is this practice we label "dry hopping." The end result is that the hops contribute an intensely hoppy essence to your brew, with a deeply floral aspect that is incomparable to boiled hops, which will have lost much of the volatile oil originally present in the herb.   On the whole, hop with low alpha-acid ratings are chosen for dry-hopping, since they will have less of a bittering effect on the brew, and will contribute more highly floral and aromatic notes.   When we're dry-hopping our kombucha, we simply add the hops to a vessel containing kombucha for secondary fermentation. For a 32-oz growler, adding 3 grams of whole cone hops gives your brew a nice, strong flavor.  


Consider this approach: add 12 grams whole cone hops, per gallon, to kombucha that is finished with primary fermentation. Allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least a week. After a week, strain out the hops, distribute into bottles, and allow to undergo secondary fermentation.

  Remember, though that you should monitor your secondary fermentations with a plastic bottle so you can observe the carbonation taking place in all of your glass bottles. Read more on this simple process here.  

  So - get some 'buch going, and spice it up with some hops!   Hoppy brewing!   

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  • Eric
Comments 4
  • Eric Childs
    Eric Childs

    Hi Drew, good question. That method would work but it would tie up your brew jar for your next brew. We like to add the hops directly to the bottle and the the kombucha dry hop there. Both methods will give you great dry-hopped kombucha.

    As for tea, our straight up blend works great but I am yet to find a tea that does not work with hops. My favorites would be green and white.

  • Chris
    Chris

    Hi John, the process will be primary fermentation, bottling / dry hopping for about a week (in ready-to-drink bottles), then refrigerating. You can strain it before you refrigerate it, if you like, but I find that ’buch is best when strained right before drinking.

  • Drew
    Drew

    When you “dry hop” your Kombucha, what tea do you find goes well with the hops? Also am I correct that your process would be to 1) start a new batch of komucha and let it brew for 1-2 weeks 2) remove scobies and add hops 3) let the hops soak for 1 week with no scoby in jar 4) finally, remove hops and bottle your hoppy kombucha into air tight bottles for second ferment for the fizz?

    Thanks for this article! My co-worker and I were just discussing how cool it would be if we could use hops and then we found this article on your site! Perfect

  • John
    John

    This sounds great, but do I understand correctly that you’re using a three step process: primary fermentation, then a flavoring step with the kombucha in the fridge for a week (still in a gallon jar?), and then finally a secondary fermentation (presumably not in the fridge) w the kombucha strained and put in the bottles?

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