Sunday, July 15, 2007

Flanders Red Kombucha

Flanders Red is just about the only beer style that any acetic acid (vinegar) is considered acceptable. La Folie from New Belgium and Rodenbach Grand Cru often have a sharp acetic contribution, not too much unlike a nice kombucha. Thus an idea formed in my head, why wait a total of 18 months for my "traditional" Flanders Red to age when I can make a low alcohol copy in 2 weeks with my kombucha culture.

So after I bottled my first attempt at making malt extract kombucha, which seems to have gone very well, I decided to give it a shot. I brought 2 qrts filtered water up to 150 degrees and added 1 oz CaraVienna, 1 oz CaraMunich, and .5 oz CaraAroma (these three caramel malts will give the "beer" its characteristic red color, dark fruit flavors, and residual sweetness) along with 5 oz of light DME. I let it steep for 30 minutes before running my skimmer though it to remove the spent grain. From there my process was the same as any other kombucha (boil, cool, pitch, ferment, prime, bottle).

Fermentation has been going much faster and cleaner now that I have temps in the 80s on the kitchen windowsill, it is these same high temperatures that are stopping me from doing another batch of sauerkraut which likes temps in the mid-60s.

24 comments:

Brian said...

Excited about this one also. I'm far behind on the kombucha (bottling my first batch this coming weekend), but I did get the bulk of my guidence on making the stuff from your blog.

Have you bottled any straight kombucha yet? And if so could you elaborate on the process? I plan on using water bottles, 12 oz, instead of one large 2 gallong jugs. Wondering what you would suggest regarding the amount of suger per ounce to carbonate with also, do you carbonate all in refrigderation?
Thanks,
Brian

The Mad Fermentationist said...

I finally got around to giving this a taste during an interview with Basic Brewing Radio, and man was it sour. Sitting around waiting for the interview (6 weeks in the bottle) this one really turned into vinegar. I think kombucha may just be a beverage that is best served as fresh as possible.

brix said...

This spring, I made a one gallon kombucha beer experiment by first making a gallon of kombucha with light DME. After two weeks, I strained the kombucha and boiled with more DME and a generous hop addition. I don't have the specifics on me, but I aimed for 7% abv and that seemed to balance the sourness nicely. After two months in the bottle, it was great, even though the kombucha bugs all got killed in the boil...

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Brix,

Very interesting stuff. I have yet to aim that "big” with my kombucha culture. Boiling seems like a reasonable way to stabilize the level of sourness, kind of like doing a sour mash.

Did you add brewer’s yeast after you boiled with the extra DME and hops?

I wonder how much of the acetic acid is knocked out of kombucha during the boil. Wine makers refer to acetic acid as part of the Volatile Acidity because it will boil off during an acid test ( http://www.eckraus.com/home-wine-making-vinegar.html ).

Mike

brix said...

I pitched a white labs belgian yeast on this.

I don't know anything about acetic acid being knocked out during the boil. It was a young kombucha batch (only one week old) and didn't taste very sour going into the boil. But the sourness really came through in the end...

I think it's time to try this one again.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Interesting stuff. It is really surprisng that the sourness seemed to get stronger after the boil. Let me know how your next try turns out.

Peter said...

mmm. i m trying something else. had a 1/2 gallon left over that wouldn't fit in my secondary fermenter. so I added a small piece of kombucha culture to it and I'll see how that ferments. my gf and I love sour beers
(rodenbachs, gueuzes, berliner weisse, etc)

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Keep me in the loop Peter, I'm interested to hear how that experiment turns out.

Gus Waneka said...

hey there, new to the bucha brew world. my brother gave me a mother for christmas and i started a 3 quart batch in some sweet green tea, it should be ready soon. i'm going to bottle it in some bucha bottles i already have. what do i do to give my bottles as much carbonation as possible? Should i add sugar at bottling ?

Also, for my next batch, i was planning on adding some kombucha culture to some barley extract. When my dad was finished steeping his mash last sunday, i asked him to run some more water through his grains and i have several quarts of wart. it's a big beer and the wart is dark and strong. is it smart to use this? what will my bucha be like? anything i should know or change?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Yeah, add some sugar at bottling. 1/2 tsp per 12 oz bottle is about as much as I would go.

Certainly fine to use wort for kombucha, but take a gravity reading and water it down to around 1.020-1.030 to make sure it won't be too strong. It will have more residual sweetness than a sugar based kombucha, but should have a good flavor. That said wort isn't exactly shelf stable, how are you storing it?

Ecclenser said...

Cool. I've been brewing kombucha and beer. Thought I'd check out fermenting some wort with kombucha.

I guess old style porters used a portion of sour ale mixed with fresh ale to make a porter. Nowadays they are just fresh. Perhaps a dark wort kombucha could be yummy.

Thanks for the mad fermentation.

Anonymous said...

Wondering if you guys have thought about a Kombucha Kentucky Common....

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I hadn't, but then I haven't even brewed an actual Kentucky Common.

Dylan Goldsmith said...

Did you take the original gravity of your malt kombuchas? I just pulled out some boiling wort (from straight two row mash) from the kettle before hopping, and added boiled water to get a gravity of 1.030. It is a week in the bucket still; I will check on it on Monday. No hops, no tea.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Not sure if I did at the time, but it works out to ~1.025. Good luck!

gordsellar said...

I haven't tried brewing a kombucha yet (no cultures here in Korea) but I will add one point to the effect of sourness being way more prominent in a beer than it was in a wort pre-boil. I made a sour ale that was insanely, mind-numbingly sour, by simply doing a sour mash. Granted, I mashed something like 10% of the grist sour, but it wasn't that sour; the final product, though, was crazy. Some people actually enjoyed small doses, but overall it was a pretty disappointing bust... that was my first all-grain brew, hahaha.

Anonymous said...

I love Kombucha
Got my kit from
http://www.royalkombucha.com
super easy to make
and way cheaper than five bucks a bottle

Kefir said...

Yeah www.royalkombucha.com is awesome !
They helped out with all my questions no prob , now I'm teaching my friends how to brew .
Thanks for the tip

baby-e said...

Royal Kombucha made my day !
I messed up my first batch and they sent me a new one for free.
Turns out you shouldn't use filtered water.
Guess I should have read the instructions a little better ,
But even so ... They hooked me up !
Great customer service and a superior product!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

What is wrong with filtered water? How would removing the chlorine cause a problem? Glad to hear your second batch turned out better.

Anonymous said...

HOw about making a beer and making a kombucha malt and blend them together before bottling?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

That would be a fine idea. You could even use "regular" kombucha if you wanted for blending. Jester King had good results blending a lightly tart beer with kombucha to create Buddha's Brew.

Beerhat said...

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The Imagineer said...

I've been playing with kombucha for quite awhile now, numerous radical experiments. I recently delivered a 5 gallon carboy to the local microbrewery to go on tap. Mixes very well with some beers. I've infused fermenting plain unhopped wort into actively fermenting kombucha, 25% at a time, at 4 day intervals, bottling 25% booch, then adding the beer, 4 days later bottling again, etc, finally bottling all that was left. A very interesting range of product. Next plan is to use a couple gallons of good sour kombucha in the mash tun along with the water...... hopefully it will keep the flavors, though it will kill the microbes. I'll probably do this with a fairly plain red.

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