Kombucha Beer: The Complete Brewing And Buying Guide – Grow Your Pantry

Kombucha Beer: The Complete Brewing And Buying Guide

by Susan Grey on November 27, 2019
kombucha_beer_infographic

 

Kombucha Beer, otherwise known as Kombucha Ale or Kombucha Pale Ale, is a new beverage that fuses the distinct sweet, fruity, and tart flavors of kombucha with traditional beer and ale flavors. Typically kombucha is brewed in the standard way, yet when the second ferment occurs, barley, molasses, and hops are added, turning it from a health drink to a genuine beer. You’re able to brew the beverage at home or buy ready from a store. We’ll delve deep into the topic of kombucha beer to review brewing techniques, famous brands, flavor profiles, and everything kombucha beer. 
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What Is Kombucha Beer?

Kombucha beer is a hybrid beverage of fermented tea and beer that goes through two stages of fermentation. The first stage is to ferment the tea by leaving under optimal conditions for 10 days, followed by a second ferment that introduces beer ingredients and flavors. After the second ferment has completed, you’ll have a tasty and tangy beverage. 
One important thing to note is the definition of beer. In the USA, the governing body that defines beer defines it as an alcoholic beverage. Therefore there are some “Kombucha Beers” that do contain no beer yeast, hops, or barley. Be sure to check if you’re looking for a hop-infused kombucha beverage, check the labels carefully!

What Does Kombucha Beer Taste Like?

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A lot of the flavors and taste profiles are dependent on how the kombucha is brewed, and ingredients used. Therefore we’ll give a broad overview for a generic recipe and method; the tastes can vary a lot between homebrews and commercial brands.
 

Kombucha’s Taste Influence

Fruity - Depending on if there are fruits present during the first or second ferment, you can have a sweet and fruity flavor coming through. 
Sweet - Sugar is a key ingredient when brewing kombucha, the sugar feeds the SCOBY and ferments the tea. 
Tart - A sour and bitter taste can develop, the longer the tea is fermented for, the less sweet and more tart it becomes. Leading to an often sharp flavor. 
Fizzy - During the second ferment, the Kombucha Beer becomes carbonated, leaving a slightly effervescent experience. 

Kombucha Beer Review 

Appearance - A pale-looking beer, that has gotten its light color from being mixed with fermented tea. 
Smell - Yeasty in smell, both yeast from the long-fermented SCOBY growth and beer both being raw unpasteurized, unstrained final products. 
Taste - A well-balanced flavor not dominated by either overwhelming beer flavors or kombucha tartness. 
Mouthfeel - The carbonation should come through when in your mouth with a feeling of a light beverage. 
 

What Is Kombucha? 

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Kombucha is a carbonated, tart fermented tea drink that originated over 2000 years ago in China. It has become increasingly popular in the past 15 years, with the introduction to grocery store chains, and the growth of Youtube home-brewing tutorials. 

 

What Is Beer? 

Beer is one of the oldest beverages known to man. Beer is an alcoholic drink that is made from hops, barley, and sugar — left to ferment with yeast and bacteria to produce a carbonated drink. There are thousands of variations of the drink, each with different ingredients and brewing techniques, all leading to different and unique flavors.

 

What’s The Difference Between Kombucha And Beer?

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Both kombucha and beer are fermented drinks, made using a few ingredients and in a similar way. However, there are many distinct differences between them. We’ll review the most common distinctions and differences.
Alcohol - The quantity of ABV (Alcohol By Volume) for beer is much higher than commercially produced kombucha. Most kombucha is sold as alcohol-free, so has an ABV of 0.5%, the recipes and brewing methods have been altered to adhere to this, whereas the typical beer is between 3-9% with the strongest beer in the world being 67.5% ABV!
Purpose Of The Drinks - Kombucha has been touted as a health drink and is often marketed and promoted using this fact. Whereas beer is sold as a recreational drug, forbidden from consuming if you’re a follower of many religions, and those that abuse it are seen as a burden on society. 
Ingredients - Kombucha is fermented tea that often gets infused with fruits, such as berries or melon. In contrast, beer is produced typically with water, hops, malt, and yeast. In many countries, the production and ingredients used to make beer are strictly controlled to protect the beer name for consumers.
Production Method - Beer production often has a lot more steps than kombucha production. Often beer goes through 7-10 stages of production from raw ingredients to the final product. In comparison, kombucha could be made in 3-5 steps.

 

Kombucha Beer Benefits & Disadvantages

Often when speaking about kombucha and other commonly fermented beverages, their purported health benefits are referenced. Such as probiotics and gut health. It can be confusing when we’re talking about Kombucha Beer and beer is seen as very harmful for our health. Therefore we’ve written a break down of the advantages and disadvantages of consuming Kombucha Beer.
Probiotic - Kombucha SCOBYs contain many strains of bacteria. Some common bacteria strains are lactic-acid bacteria. There was a recent study that connects these specific lactic acid bacteria with having probiotic effects. The current evidence for the probiotic effects is weak at best.
Antioxidants - Green and black tea are commonly used to produce kombucha tea. These teas contain compounds cited for being antioxidants. Although kombucha tea may have been steeped in green and black tea, there has not been definitive proof that kombucha has anti-oxidizing effects on the body.
Alcohol Content - Kombucha beer typically contains 2.5% - 4% ABV. Alcohol has many recorded effects on the human body, including higher chances of brain dependence, the shrinking of the brain, cancer, and lung infection. Although these are recorded and proven, it is also known that for most people consuming small amounts, within the nation, guidelines are thought to have smaller long term consequences. 

 

Review Of The Most Popular Brands

There are now many brands of kombucha beer that are produced commercially available for you to purchase in grocery stores, liquor stores, online, or at bars. The variety of kombucha beers available to consumers is still minimal, so we’ve given a breakdown of the top 2 brands that produce kombucha beer. 

 

Brand Name - Unity Vibrations Kombucha Beer
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About The Brand - Unity kombucha are a kombucha brewing company that is based out of Michigan, USA. They started by brewing at home and selling at local events, health food stores, co-ops, and farmer’s markets. Before becoming stocked in Whole Foods too! 
In 2011 they began brewing kombucha beer, which was higher in alcohol content than standard kombucha tea, before quickly brewing with hops to create their signature brews.
About The Brew - Unity Vibrations have 8 varieties of kombucha that have unique flavors such as peach, raspberry, ginger, strawberry, cherry, lemon, and elderflower. Each blend has been produced using The strength is higher than the typical beer with an ABV of between 8 - 9.1%.
Price - We couldn’t find the price stated anywhere online, but there are a few ways to buy. We could only find Unity Vibrations Kombucha available online for sale on a specialist beverage website called Bevmo.com. If you’re on the West Coast of the USA, you will be able to get your brew delivered. The Unity Vibrations Website also has a post that contains a list of all licensed distributors. Which can be found here: Find A Store.
Review - 4.5 / 5 Stars
The only thing stopping Unity Vibrations from receiving a 5-star review is the lack of worldwide distribution, making it harder to buy.

 

Brand Name - Willy’s Non-Alcoholic Kombucha Beer
About The Brand - Willy’s started as an apple cider vinegar brand that branched into selling infused kombucha beer. 
Hemp & Hop Flavor - Using hemp tea as a base before fermenting and infusing with hops. Although non-alcoholic, they say that it’s “reminiscent of a pale ale.”
Kombucha Beer (Ginger) - Brewed using green tea before being infused with ginger, this beer has no hops or alcohol in it. They’re putting their unique spin on what it means to be kombucha beer. 
Price - Available from their U.K. website for £26 for a 12 pack.
Review - 4/5 Stars
Willy’s kombucha beer receives a 4-star review for the Hemp & Hop Kombucha Beer Beverage. Great tasting, hop flavors, the only reason it doesn’t get a 5 is for the lack of alcohol it contains.

 

Brand Name - Kyla Hard Kombucha
About The Brand - From there website, we see that they were founded by microbiologists that set on a quest to create a “healthy-ish” hard kombucha beverage, their kombucha is brewed and perfected in Oregon. 
Variety - Kyla Hard Kombucha comes in 4 flavors, which include Ginger Tangerine, Hibiscus Lime, Pink Grapefruit, and Berry Ginger. All of which can be bought individually or as a mixed multipack. Their standard ABV is 4.5%, which is comparable to a beer. Kyla Hard Kombucha is not brewed with hops, barley, or beer yeast, yet are classified as a “beer” due to containing an alcohol content of 4.5%.
Price - $12.99 For A 6 Pack Of 12oz Bottles
Where To Buy - There are a few online stores that you can buy Kyla Hard Kombucha from, such as craftcity.com, which can be bought here.
Review - 3.5 / 5 
It’s low as it doesn’t contain any beer ingredients. Instead, it’s just a hard kombucha. What keeps it a 3.5 is the rave reviews online for taste, flavor, and affordable price tag.

 

Brand Name - Dr. Hops Kombucha Beer
About The Brand - They have 8 team members all that embody their message of “leading the way is delightful, health-conscious alcohol. As we understand, it has two passionate brewers spearheading the company with a team of investors, fermentation experts, and a supportive team.
Variety - From their website, they have 4 main brew beverages IPK, The Lop, The Jackalope, and Binky. All ranging from 5% - 9% ABV content. All of the brews contain American Hops, which makes this a true Kombucha Beer.
Price - $8.04 - $10 per 500ml bottle, making it one of the most expensive kombucha beers.
Where To Buy - Dr. Hops Kombucha Beer can be found in many retailers, including WholeFoods, Total Wines And More, and also many independent retailers - for the full list check out Dr. Hops Locations. Alternatively, online a BEVMO! and Drizzly
Review - 4.5/5 Dr. Hops is arguably the market leader for kombucha beer. It tastes fantastic. The brew contains both raw kombucha and authentically brewed beer. The only thing that lets it down is the expensive price tag, making it a less frequent beverage to consume. If the price were reduced, it would’ve been a 5.

How To Brew Kombucha Beer Recipe

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Making Kombucha Beer at home is more complicated than brewing a standard batch for the fact that the flavors could clash, and to get the balance is considerably tricky. This guide will walk you through the process of homebrewing kombucha beer, with variations too.
Differences Between Brewing Kombucha Beer And Kombucha 
When brewing kombucha beer, to infuse with hops and get an authentic beer taste, you’ll need some additional equipment and ingredients, for the second ferment, here’s a list.
 Extra Equipment Required
  •   Airlock
  •   Carboy
  •   Hydrometer
 
Extra Ingredients Required
  •  Extra Sugar
  •   Molasses
  •   Beer Yeast
  •   Barley
  •   Hops   
  

How To Brew Kombucha Beer

The first step is to make the fermented tea, after which you’ll do the second ferment to create the beer. Therefore we’ve split the process up into two stages First Ferment and Second Ferment.

First Ferment - Kombucha Tea

Ingredients Required
  • Black or Green Tea - 8 Bags (2 Tbsp Loose Leaf)
  • Sugar - 1 Cup (200g)
  • SCOBY - 1
  • Water - 14 Cups (3.3L)
  • Starter Tea (Alternatively Raw Store-Bought Kombucha)- 2 Cups (470ml) 
Equipment Needed
  • 1 Gallon Jar
  • Tightly Woven Cloth
  • Thermometer
  • pH Strips
Method
1.  Bring the water to a boil in a pot, remove from the heat and dissolve all sugar
2.  Once dissolved, leave your tea to be steep in your pot for a minimum of 15 minutes
3.  After your water has cooled to slightly warmer than room temperature you can add the SCOBY
4.  Add your starter tea to the jar
5.  Use your pH strips to make sure the pH of your brew is between 2.5 - 4. (If it’s too high add some more starter liquid before testing again)
6.  Place the cloth on top of your jar and secure with a rubber band or strap to ensure a tight fit
7.  Leave to ferment in a room without direct sunlight with a temperature between 70º - 75ºF (21º - 24ºC) for between 7-14 days
8.  Test with a straw after 7 days taste with a straw
9.  Leave to ferment until it matches your taste

Second Ferment - Kombucha Beer

 Ingredients Required
  •   1 Batch Of Freshly Fermented Kombucha Tea
  •   Water - 5 Cups (1.1L)
  •   Molasses - 1 Cup (340g)
  •   Sugar - 1 Cup (200g)
  •   Fresh Hops - 1oz (30g)
  •   Beer Yeast - 1 Sachet (roughly 4oz - or 115g) [Be sure to check instructions for details]
 Equipment Required
  •   Carboy - (At Least 2 Gallons (8L) In Size)
  •   Airlock Lid
  •   Hydrometer
Method
[Make sure that you’ve completed the first ferment and you have your batch of fermented tea ready to make kombucha beer]
1.  Bring all of the water to the boil in a pan
2.  Remove from the heat and add barley
3.  Add the sugar, hops, and molasses into the pan
4.  Once the mixture is just above room temperature add the beer yeast before mixing
5.  Add both the fermented tea (without SCOBY) and mixture in your pan into the carboy
6.  Stir together before securing the airlock on top
7.  Return to your chosen fermentation spot and leave until fermentation has stopped
Signs Fermentation Has Stopped
a)  Hydrometer showing a reading less than 
b) No more bubbles being released in the airlock
    8.  When ready strain before bottling

      Root Beer Kombucha

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      What Is Root Beer Kombucha?
      Root beer kombucha is a fermented, fizzy beverage that mixes already produced kombucha and root beer before letting it ferment for a couple of weeks.
      How Is It Different To Kombucha Beer?
      Root beer kombucha is not an alcoholic or uses any beer ingredients. Ingredients they don’t use are barley, hops, and molasses. The alcohol content is also a significant difference as root beer has been brewed as a soft drink and not an alcoholic beverage.
      Kombucha beer is an enjoyable beverage to consume, fun drinks to make, and available to buy too. This article should now give you the confidence to understand precisely what kombucha beer is, where to buy it from, considerations before buying, and how to brew at home.
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