If you are like me, you are a huge fan of kombucha and all of its amazing healthy properties. But did you know that you can make your booch with the alcohol level of a good double IPA, and still retain those healthy vibes?
If you live in the southern California area, you are probably already familiar with Boochcraft. They make an amazing product. They have a few different varieties, but they all clock in at 7.0% alcohol.
This past summer, I visited the Boochcraft brewery (here in San Diego county, along with a few thousand of the best breweries in the world), and learned a few tips to try to make it myself.
After my trip to the Boochcraft brewery, I had to first invest in some supplies.
In addition to purchasing a SCOBY and a metric ton of pure cane sugar and black tea bags, I bought a 6.5-gallon brewing bucket with a spigot at the bottom (Trust me, that bottom spigot will come in handy later…):
I also bought a 6-gallon clear plastic carboy for the second ferment.
If you’ve never made your own kombucha before, it goes like this:
- You obtain a SCOBY. That’s the funny-looking squishy thing at the top. It’s concentrated yeast and it’s what will give turns tea into kombucha. (You can obtain these online or get one from a friend who brews their own kombucha. It is also possible to grow one, but that takes a while).
- You brew strong black tea with a large amount of sugar in it. For one gallon, you will need 14 cups water, 1 cup sugar, and 8 tea bags. Brew it and let it cool, then add it to the liquid that comes with your SCOBY and place the SCOBY on top (it might sink a little, this is fine).
- Let it ferment for 5-7 days.
- Congratulations, you have now completed your first fermentation! Now for the second ferment (also known as 2F).
- Pour the kombucha into bottles and add fruit juices, or other sugar or flavoring.
- Let it ferment for another 3-5 days.
- Put it in the fridge and chill it, and it’s ready to drink!
This will make “regular” kombucha, which will have a negligible alcohol content or less than 0.5 percent.
To make your kombucha extra alcoholic, it only takes another step, another ingredient, and a bit more time.
Step one is the same. Obtain a SCOBY and brew your tea, and let it ferment for about a week. The difference comes in the second ferment.
Essentially, I placed my (pretty large) SCOBY in the bucket with about 5 gallons of brewed sweet tea (note: if you use a large bucket like I did, the SCOBY will expand to the size of the bucket!), then for the second ferment, I placed it in a large plastic carboy instead of glass bottles.
Don’t add any juices or extra flavors yet.
To add extra alcohol, you need to add extra yeast and sugar to the existing ferment.
For one gallon of kombucha, you will need one cup of water and one cup of sugar, Bring it to a boil, let it cool, then add between 1/2 -3/4 tsp. of champagne yeast.
After it starts to react (you will see lots of bubbles and/or foam), add it to the carboy filled with the partially-fermented kombucha.
You will also need to let it ferment for a few days (maybe even a week) longer than a standard 2F. I discovered that the best method is to use an airlock cap, and then when the mixture stops bubbling, it’s ready.
Now it’s ready for you to test, flavor and enjoy!
There are two different ways to test your home-brew:
- a triple-scale hydrometer, but this requires that you take a pre-fermentation reading and a post-fermentation reading to get an accurate percentage of alcohol content; or
- a refractometer, which is slightly more expensive but is very easy to use – after calibrating it, you simply put a drop of liquid on a slide and view it through the scope, and it tells you the alcohol content.