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Kombucha with a Kick - Brewing Kombucha Wine Pt. 1

Kombucha with a Kick - Brewing Kombucha Wine Pt. 1

It's no secret that kombucha contains alcohol. Albeit usually in trace amounts that the body is able to metabolize quickly, and you are none the wiser. People will say to me, even after drinking a 1 oz. sample at a market, that they've received a "buzz" from my kombucha, insisting that I'm trying to get them drunk. It's definitely not from alcohol.  

I find it hard to believe that any beverage artisan wants consumers to feel anything but fulfilled from drinking their product. Not to suppose that inebriation forfeits assessment of flavor (though we can all see how this can be possible in extreme circumstances), but getting hammered on a fine microbrew or expensive bottle of wine to an extent cheapens its value as a thing carefully-sourced and produced. Nuances and layers of flavor are best appreciated in careful consideration, and on the whole I'd say the ability to ascertain subtleties towards the end of a sizable run of alcohol consumption becomes difficult, possibly only overcome through diligent practice and variation (during the session) in the type/style of beer, wine, etc. Perhaps differences in many varieties, during a stint at a wine or beer festival, become relative to each other, making discrimination easier.   I'll state for the record that I've never become drunk on kombucha; if anything, after a long day of working at the market selling kombucha, and the requisite consumption of it that accompanies the event, I feel energized and content, with acute senses, perception and mobility that would assist me in anything from writing a research paper to driving across the country. I won't encourage anyone to drink that much kombucha (sometimes up to a gallon a day), but I'm definitely an aberrance in the field; not because I think kombucha is bad for you, but because I believe (and don't always practice) the "less is more" and "everything in moderation" approaches to consumption. Maybe 32 oz. a day feels good for you, maybe 4 oz. feels right. Maybe I want 2 liters.  

That Being Said

  You can make kombucha that contains a sizable amount of alcohol, akin to that of a standard American lager, and perhaps more (do experiment, please).   There are definitely kombucha companies out there who have chosen not to control the amount of alcohol in their kombucha, and they should be commended, be it for better or for worse.   There are also companies that have produced hybrids of kombucha and beer, with results ranging from 5-10% alcohol by volume. Whoa! Experimentation is the spice of life, and I'm happy these boundaries have been pushed.   However - I would be hard-pressed to say that I've completely enjoyed any of the marketed high-alcohol kombuchas available. Obvious merits are in the realm of a sour beer, of which I do count myself a fan, but something really different happens in kombucha - kombucha contains bacteria; most beers exclude all but a certain strain of yeast (that's why extreme sanitation and an airlock are used during the production of beers).   The only way I've found to make palatable and delicious (appreciably) alcoholic kombucha is in brewing kombucha wine; I've achieved about 5.5% alcohol, with only a few caveats in flavor based on a few different factors.  

In upcoming posts, I'll describe my process of making kombucha wine, complete with suggestions and recipes - in the meantime, do some experimentation yourself! Don't wait for me to spell it out. I'll give you a hint - airlock, champagne yeast. Go!

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  • Eric
Comments 11
  • tyler

    i’d actually just prefer you to spell it out for me!

  • Zac B.
    Zac B.

    How I am thinking that this would work is… Take a fairly strong/tart kombucha, add sugar, champagne yeast and any fruits you may want, mix well and ferment. Obviously the amount of sugar you would use would depend on the amount of alcohol you would want to have so, special attention to your S.G. would be important.

  • Jasen

    I have been brewing computer for the past 7 years and I’m looking at stepping up my production two, five gallons a week. but I also want to start brewing kombucha wine. I have champagne yeast the carboy and all the necessary equipment I just need a little help with the range on my hydrometer and so forth so I don’t make bombs. I make a good tasting beverage I love my kombucha but I want to take it to the next level and make an alcoholic beverages as well.

    thank you.
  • creosote

    Please post part 2.. There is very little info on the net that explains how to do this reliably. We need your expertise!!

  • bschiff

    Where is pt.2?

  • Christine

    Hi…I am a homebrewer who had my first kombucha yesterday, and can see what you mean about its similarity to sours…had to head out and get a scoby right away. Making my first one today, and looking to venture into kombucha tea wine very soon. Did you post more info online? Can you post a link? Thanks!

  • Howard

    I’ve played with various variants of kombucha, pursuing the same goal. The important issues are having enough fermentable sugars, and a yeast capable of doing it (use a hydrometer or refractometer). The yeast species in most kombucha does not appear capable of reaching high ABV levels. And of course giving the yeast a good head start so the acetic acid levels don’t prevent the yeast from doing it’s job. Any beer yeast is capable of hitting 12%, and some much higher……but your starting gravity has to be high enough. There is also the matter of fermentable versus non-fermentable sugars. You need fermentables for alcohol, and non-fermentables for residual sweetness. It’s a science…..

  • HappyBellyBooch

    So I am selling Kombucha online… I have a problem trying to find glass bottles that are cheap enough to really make any money at all, when you add shipping into the equation. Right now i am using mason jars, but they seem to sometimes leak while being shipped. Does anyone have any suggestion?

  • Chris

    Hi Russel! You won’t get a SCOBY from the probiotic capsules – you need to start with a ’buch SCOBY.

  • Russel

    I am fascinated with kombucha but i don’t have one. What i did is i bought nature’s plus maximum strength probiotics capsule. From there i made my own kombucha or fermented lemon with the help of one capsule only. It didn’t develop a scoby but fermented anyway. I do recycle from old fermented one. Atm, i seperate small parts of the drink and waiting to get a scoby, hopefully.

  • RayRay

    I have been making different variations of kombucha for some time. If I want a higher abv level I add a young kombocha brew 3-4 days old to the same recipe used for wine making. I add organic grape juice and 1 1/2 cups of sugar along with desired yeast (beer or wine). I ferment it 1 week in a home made airlock and then bottle and let ferment another week. By then it’s ready for consumption or the refrigerator. I find it needs to be consumed within a month or so. The active yeast of the kombucha will eventually consume all the bacteria and sugar resulting in vinegar. My final brew yields an abv of 13-17 percent. Not bad for a kombucha hybrid. :)

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