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Bottle Carbonated Kombucha

On 5/3/2015, I bottled a single bottle of Kombucha as a test, to see how it would do. A couple of days ago, I put the bottle into the refrigerator. This morning, I decided to open it up and check the results. Unfortunately. the bottle fogged with condensation when I removed it from the fridge. Otherwise, you would be able to see a small amount of cloudy, globby stuff in the bottom. It never really formed a SCOBY on the surface, though. I believe I added a teaspoon of sugar at bottling…have to go back and check notes to confirm.

Bottle conditioned kombucha

Bottle conditioned kombucha

I was able to easily avoid the stuff on the bottom by careful pouring. The result is a pale drink with nice clarity and a beatiful carbonation! Not too aggressive, like a soda…more like a sparkling wine.

Nice clarity, tiny bubbles!

Nice clarity, tiny bubbles!

The flavor is light and has a nice sweetness. Not syrupy, like a soda, but not too dry. The bubbles continue to rise in the glass, like champagne, long after pouring. Now I wish I had bottled a BUNCH!!! Because it does take much longer to carb than beer. This is at about 2-1/2 months.

Effervescing kombucha makes me happy.

Effervescing kombucha makes me happy.

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Belgo Paleo After 5 Day Dry Hop

 

Trub in Secondary

Trub in Secondary

The Belgo Paleo Pale Ale has been in secondary for awhile now and dry hops were added 5 days ago. This has been a strange brew. I thought I had done a pretty good job of leaving behind most of the trub when I transferred from primary to secondary; however, fermentation appears to have renewed and a new layer of trub is on the bottom. The dry hop addition was contained in a bag.

Floating bag o' hops

Floating bag o’ hops

While some might have disintegrated enough to pass through the bag, it shouldn’t have created the amount of trub that I have now! So, I’m thinking of getting this beer into a tertiary phase and taking another hydrometer sample. I’ll give it a couple of days to settle down and make sure it’s done fermenting. If it still seems to be going, I may have to let it go longer and add some more hops.

Okay, back to the beer…I have now racked the Belgo Paleo again. It turns out that the additional trub was, indeed, dissolved hops from the dry hop bag. I’m down to 3.9 gallons now, but I left the trub behind and I filtered the beer back into the carboy through a small mesh strainer, lined with cheesecloth.

Not a very fine filter, but did well enough.

Not a very fine filter, but did well enough.

The SG did actually drop a *little* more…down to 1.014. Maybe I’ll get this bottled over the weekend. I’m not going to add more hops and lose more volume!

After temp correction, 1.014 SG

After temp correction, 1.014 SG

Made another batch of kombucha today and added another SCOBY to the hotel. I gave a couple to a friend about 10 days ago and she has completed her first batch and has a second going! I know the SCOBYs look weird, but this stuff is good and healthy, so I’m going to keep it rolling and pass on the sodas as much as possible.

Looks weird. but you don't drink the SCOBY!

Looks weird. but you don’t drink the SCOBY!

 

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SCOBY Hotel: Occupied.

One batch in the fridge, two fermenting and SCOBY Hotel (front, lleft)

One batch in the fridge, two fermenting and a SCOBY Hotel (front, left).

I moved a batch of Kombucha to the refrigerator today. It was in a 1 gallon carboy, with a narrow opening. The SCOBY has become rather substantial, so it is difficult to remove. I wrestled with it a bit and managed to get it into a clean bowl and rinse it off. The was a small, sludgy SCOBY that I disposed of, along with bits and globs. I took a couple of nice healthy pieces and started my new batch. I added the rest of the SCOBY to a quart size canning jar with a little Kombucha and a sprinkle of sugar…viola! SCOBY Hotel! I covered the top with a double layer of coffee filters and screwed on the ring. I’ll refresh the liquid in the hotel every couple of weeks and add or remove SCOBYs as needed. (I have 3 in the hotel currently…I actually started it last week with SCOBY from the 1/2 green tea & 1/2 Earl Grey batch.) The SCOBY Hotel is kept at room temp, indefinitely, with regular refreshing.

I have one other batch in progress since 3/23. I tasted it and it definitely needs more time to ferment…still sweet and no tart. I might need to go ahead and get a third batch into rotation, so that the supply stays steady. The good news is that I have drastically cut down on my soda consumption.

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Kombucha Report

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A couple of days ago, I transferred my kombucha batch from March 9th to my refrigerator jug and started a new batch. (I bought more green tea last week at the grocery store.) I tasted the batch I made with half green tea and half Earl Grey…it definitely has a different flavor. I’m not sure I like it, but I’m not sure I don’t…it may grow on me. I was warned by another kombucha maker online, to be careful using the Earl Grey tea, because the added “oils and flavorings” may compromise the health of the SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria/Yeast). The label on the Earl Grey tea says that it’s ingredients are just 100% tea and it seems to be doing okay, so far. That batch was started on March 12th.

Half Earl Grey/half green tea SCOBY.

Half Earl Grey/half green tea SCOBY.

Original green tea SCOBY.

Original green tea SCOBY.

Speaking of SCOBY’s, they seem quite healthy. When I transferred the batch to the refrigerator yesterday, I could not get the SCOBY out of the narrow neck and opening in the 1-gallon glass carboy. I did manage to get a little baby disk out, but the main SCOBY stayed in the carboy. So, I made the new batch of tea and added the cup of sugar. I topped with cool water to bring the temperature down from brewing, and poured into the carboy. I then topped off the carboy, below the neck, with cool water. The SCOBY floated mostly to the top and eventually leveled off. I put the baby SCOBY disk in a glass bowl with a little kombucha and covered it with plastic wrap. The SCOBY in the Earl Grey batch seems to be doing well. I do get some dark green stuff sometimes…not sure why, but from what I’ve read, it’s okay and doesn’t hurt anything. When I’m transferring SCOBY’s, I do try to rinse off some of the green, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

Some green stuff...doesn't seem to bother anything according to my research.

Some green stuff…doesn’t seem to bother anything according to my research.

This evening, I went out to a store for unrelated shopping and wound up finding a couple of one gallon glass containers with wide mouths…one with a spigot. I had bought a two gallon container with a spigot recently, but decided it was just too big. I transferred the remainder of the kombucha in the refrigerator from the cheap, plastic jug to the new glass jar without the spigot. It fits in the refrigerator door perfectly! In the new jar with the spigot, I began a new batch of green tea kombucha, using my little baby SCOBY disk.

New wide mouth jar with spigot. I like it!

New wide mouth jar with spigot. I like it!

It had already grown a thin layer to cover the surface in the bowl. It sank to the bottom, but I’m not concerned…they seem to rise, over time. If not, I will find a way to harvest some from the other green tea batch and add it to the newest batch. The reason I am using the jar with the spigot for fermentation, is so that I can draw off the “boocha”, and leave just about the right amount for starter in the bottom. The SCOBY won’t even have to be touched, unless I want to clean it up a bit, now and then.

I’ll probably reduce my batches to just enough to keep supplied over the next month, but I don’t need to have three batches going at a time! I did run out once, but just for a few days. The Earl Grey batch will not need to be replaced as I use it up (unless it really grows on me).  I think I’ll be buying another wide mouth jar with a spigot…seems like they are going to be a convenient part of my evolving set-up.

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Update Kombucha and Fruit Cider/Wine

Kombucha getting started.

Kombucha getting started.

Following up on the two little side fermentation projects that I have going on: kombucha and a mixed fruit cider/wine thing….

First, on the kombucha, I have reached out to some folks online regarding my progress, because I don’t really know how this is supposed to look. I’m using 1 gallon of green tea, a cup of sugar, and the dregs from a bottle of kombucha soda. After a couple of days, I have some bubbles around the perimeter of the carboy, a small “island” in the middle, and a few floaters that appear to be dark green and hang down like a “beard”.

perimeter bubbles and "beard" floater.

perimeter bubbles and “beard” floater.

There’s a little more sediment at the bottom than I started with, too. The little floaters are my biggest concern…all the pictures that I’ve seen online show the “SCOBY” (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) are off-white to tan in color. A little further research shows the floaters to be common…need to watch out for mold growing on top. That would be mean throwing out the batch. Also, it sounds like I may need to make a “baby” SCOBY and start another batch to grow a “mother” SCOBY? It’s a learning experience, that’s for sure!

Moving on to my mixed fruit little experiment: I racked the juice and it was still pretty thick on the bottom. After racking, I have just a little under a gallon.

Ready for first racking.

Ready for first racking.

I may only get a half gallon by the time this batch is racked and aged enough. So, I took some juice from the dregs and strained it to use for a hydrometer sample…I hope any “body” in the juice isn’t affecting the hydrometer’s measurement.

Taking hydrometer and temperature reading.

Taking hydrometer and temperature reading.

The hydrometer reading is 0.998 at 70F, so that is 0.999 corrected. With the OG of 1.073, that puts it at 9.71% ABV. It’s still on the border between cider and wine…not sure what will end up being. (Other than delicious, I hope!)

Update 1/19/15:

Racking with a little mesh bag on siphon.

Racking with a little mesh bag on siphon.

Racked the mixed fruit cider to a 1 gallon glass carboy. I strained the dregs and took a hydrometer reading of 0.996@69F.

Transferring

Transferring

I’m thinking I may top off with Culligan bottled water next time I rack, so I have a gallon. Currently, it’s a little under a gallon…maybe 10% short? Looks good though and over 9% ABV, so a top-off won’t hurt it.

A little under a gallon of mixed fruit cider.

A little under a gallon of mixed fruit cider.

The Kombucha is coming along…looks like a pretty decent skin is forming…almost covering the surface. Now.let’s see if it thickens. The jug has a small neck, so I’ll need to figure out removing the SCOBY and find a new, more appropriate container.

Early SCOBY signs! Day 11.

Early SCOBY signs! Day 11.

Probably one of those 1 gallonlemonade/iced tea dispensers with the spigot. The smell is a little tangy…haven’t attempted a taste yet. I’m not sure whether this first batch is supposed to be drinkable or not. We’ll see when I remove the SCOBY…somehow.

Update 2/24/15:  Okay, so, I’ve been been saving some of a hydrometer sample of the mixed fruit cider, in the refrigerator. I’ve been taking a little sip every couple of days. It has settled nicely and the flavor is not agressive, but it IS distinct from straight apple cider. The jug is looking good…still needs more clearing. I’ll let it go another week and rack it onto just enough clean water to top it off…should only take about 2-3 cups.

Now for the kombucha: pretty much “Wow”. I sanitized a turkey baster to retrieve a sample. (I need a new wine thief!) I had  to nudge the SCOBY aside…it is definitely holding together as a solid raft. I may go ahead and go to the next batch soon! The sample that I removed was tart and tasted “lemony”. I’m not a huge tea fan, but this stuff is really good! Not much tea flavor…just a little. I’m glad I used green tea. So, thumbs up! Let’s see if it will continue with the next round.

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Kombucha Experiment

This is what I am experimenting with to see if I can grow a SCOBY. I am in no way affiliated with this brand of soda...but the root beer is interesting!

This is what I am experimenting with to see if I can grow a SCOBY. I am in no way affiliated with this brand of soda…but the root beer is interesting!

Kombucha…odd sounding. And when you hear the description, it’s gets kind of weird. So, you brew up some sweet tea, right? Okay, any good Southerner would be good with that. Then, you take something called a “SCOBY” (or affectionately referred to as the “mother”) and you chuck some of that in the tea. It looks like a slimey, spongy, white mass floating on the top of a previous batch of kombucha. SCOBY stands for “Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria/Yeast”. Mmm MMM!!! So, then you cover with cheesecloth and a rubber band, let that ferment for a while, eating the sugar in the tea, and BOOM! You have a tangy, fermented tea drink with lots of healthy probiotics, like yogurt does, but even better! Are you still with me? Okay, then you start a new batch, throw your SCOBY in and put your Kombucha in clean jars in the fridge…or you can add a little more sugar and seal and let ferment at room temperature and you get kombucha soda! Here’s a Wikipedia link, if you want more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha

Disclaimer! There are some risks with fermented products. Please read the Wikipedia article and, especially if you have any ongoing health issues or possible medication interactions, please, please consult your doctor before making and consuming any fermented products! And always sanitize the crap out of EVERYTHING! Constantly!!! Okay, moving along….

I have to admit, I’m not a big tea drinker. Never really cared for iced tea. But green tea is pretty mild and I like experimenting with fermented things, so here we go! I found a “LIVE Soda” at a store today. This brand is a “raw, organic, kombucha soda and comes in a few flavors. I decided to try a root beer flavor. The bottle instructs you to not shake…besides spewing all over you…it would disturb the dregs that have settled on the bottom of the bottle. That’s what I’m going to use to attempt to generate my own SCOBY. I have read that using a bottled product is not usually successful because of some change that was made in much of the industry a few years ago; however, this brand doesn’t seem to have any additives and its raw/organic status gives me hope. If it doesn’t work, I can go to my local home brew shop and pick up a starter for $8 and salvage my experiment.

What I did was, I brewed 8 teabags of green tea in 3 cups of Culligan bottled water from the “hot” side of my dispenser. (You could bring water to a boil for 10 minutes to sanitize, if you don’t have a hot water spigot/bottled water dispenser and then add your teabags). Next, I added a cup of sugar to a sanitized 1 gallon carboy. A wide mouth gallon jar would be better for removing the SCOBY, but I didn’t have one. Anyway, I poured the hot tea onto the sugar in the carboy and then topped up to a little under a gallon, leaving room for the mother to grow. The cold water brought the temperature down to about 90F (checked with a sanitized pocket thermometer). I put some ice in a mixing bowl and added some cold tap water and put the carboy in the bring the temperature down, so I wouldn’t kill off the SCOBY critters.

Green tea, sugar...bring the temperature down.

Green tea, sugar…bring the temperature down.

Then, I poured off about 2/3 of the LIVE Soda into a glass to drink…the rest was then swirled to suspend the dregs in the remaining soda, and poured into the tea. I topped the jar with a piece of sanitized cheesecloth and a rubber band and now we wait to see if it works.

Let's see what happens!

Let’s see what happens!

It will probably be a month, give or take a week, to know if a SCOBY is going to form. If it does, the next batch should go faster.

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