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Old 08-25-2013, 02:24 AM   #1
Aug 2013
Medicine Hat, Alberta
Posts: 8

Not sure if this is the right forum to post in but I figured kombucha is the closest thing to tibicos/kefir, on this forum.

For those of you that do not know about this Probiotic fermenter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibicos

I was curious to find out if anyone else is fermenting with it and if you are what type of result you've had/found?

I've been playing around with it for about a year and a half and have been exclusively fermenting ginger beers with it.

I do also make small quick batches using raisins or other dried fruit for regular drinking, but it's my long ferment ginger beers that are my main passion.

Some of my findings.

Like kombucha if left too long it will get rather sour. I've had some small sugar only batches that have been as sour as an apple cider vinegar.
That said if you ferment in a sealed container or with a bottle and bubbler setup the amount of oxygen that gets into it is minimized, increasing the time you can ferment without getting too sour.

The longer you can ferment the more you will get, but only if you ferment the kefir in sealed containers. I believe this has to do with restricting oxygen.
My best tests with some of the longer fermented stronger kefirs has gotten me about 2-2.5% alcohol which gets close to the same ballpark as a number of Lambic beers that I've seen.

Things to keep in mind
Since the kefir is like kombucha it tends to continue fermenting in the bottle. So if your bottling it, you need strong bottles. I use flip tops. I keep hearing that flip tops can be a bit weak for conditioning,because they don't hold a seal as well... for the rapid fermenting, kefir can do; that might not be a bad thing. They have worked well for me so far with regular seal replacing between batches.

If you want to use honey in your brew, making a starter batch is a necessity. Honey will stunt and eventually kill your grains due to its antimicrobial nature. Frankly I create starter for all my batches. Keeps my kefir grains safe.

If you use certain fruits in your fermentation process they will produce a lot of extra carbonation. Raisins, figs, and dates to name a few. (Basically high sugar content dried fruits.)

Fermenting time can be a bit tricky. the more new oxygen that gets into your fermentation container the faster the kefir will eat all that sugar up and get you to a sour state. When I'm making starter for a large batch or just for everyday drinking, open air fermentation (covered by a cheese cloth or other fabric), I can ferment 6 cups of sugar water in 24-48 hours depending on the ambient temperature; that then gets fully sour within 3-4 days. With a nicely sealed gallon jug you can go as long as 4 weeks, with frequent off-gassing or using a bubbler. (These sealed ferments tend to produce the most alcohol.) My last few batches have been 3-4 gallon batches done in 5 gallon plastic buckets with good seals. The fermenting has worked well, but due to the larger air gap at the top, the alcohol content is lower. I recently bought a large 5 gallon glass jug...for making wine/beer my next batch will be fermented in that with a bubbler to help reduce the oxygenation.

Final Comments
I find that when I properly control the ferment, the final product is a smooth creamy textured beverage that can maintain a nice smooth (micro bubble) head with really good micro bubble carbonation.

Since I predominantly ferment ginger beer, I aim for a final product with just enough sweetness to keep the sour from becoming overpowering, with lots of nice ginger bite. You know, that heat in the back of your throat type bite. As mentioned above, a well controlled ferment get's me between 2-2.5% alcohol, and the ginger beer has a wonderful look and feel.

Here is a quick phone camera pic of a full glass of one of my kefir ginger beers.

Not sure why it's not showing as an image. Here it is as a link.


Well that should about do it for me introducing myself.

If there is a better place to host this post please can I get a mod to transfer it and let me know for future reference.

If anyone has any comments or questions feel free to ask. I hope I've managed to use terminology that works, I'm about as homebrew as it gets since I've been doing this for a couple years and have not bothered to learn much outside my little field of kefir ginger beer brewing. Feel free to mention any corrections you might have.

All the notes above are based on my personal experiences.


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Old 08-25-2013, 04:57 PM   #2
skadalajara's Avatar
Nov 2008
Arizona, the northernmost state in Mexico.
Posts: 512
Liked 39 Times on 35 Posts

Haven't yet, but I plan to. Also want to do continuous ferment of kombucha. And a milk kefir, since I'm severely lactose intolerant.
I see CL posts all the time offering cultures for cheap.
I'd imagine all SCOBY fermentation discussions would be welcome here.

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Old 08-26-2013, 03:54 PM   #3
Jan 2013
Posts: 22
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

Nice write-up. Definitely works well for ginger beer.

I've been brewing water kefir in small batches for a few years. I find the amount brewed in one of those tall cylindrical pasta jars is a good amount for a starter. I then use that starter from the pasta jar to inoculate small amounts of juice in flip-top bottles to make a carbonated soda. Because of the acidic bite on it, for guests I sometimes backsweeten with small amounts of xylitol or stevia.

Homebrew question: has anyone racked their fermented beer to secondary on top of a water kefir starter? I've been wondering if that would produce a nice, tart lemony beer that has a restrained sourness or if it would go straight sour after awhile.

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Old 08-28-2013, 02:11 AM   #4
Aug 2013
Medicine Hat, Alberta
Posts: 8

@skadalajara Ya, the milk kefir is interesting, I don't mind it, but the fact that it's fizzy milk still gets to me at times. :P Good with a bit of raspberry or tart cherry juice added.

I like the kefir for thee milder flavours you get from it compared to the kombucha. But I drink both, have not had a scoby to use in a while though, last one molded up while I was away.

@hallebrewer I use large pickle jars.

As for racking onto a starter, I have plans....but not exactly that. I'm aiming to use kefir as a starter for a chocolate malt. Most likely going to use honey as a primer nutrient and see where it goes after a month or two. I figure well roasted malt would be the most likely to have sugars the kefir can funk up. Just have to get a few things together so I can try it.

For now I wait a few more days to test my latest ginger beer, a little worried as I only managed 3 gallons in a bucket so there is a lot of headroom for oxygen, but I'm hoping the large ginger chunks and the raisins I used will jeep some of it out.

I'll try and remember to take a picture of it when I crack the top off to test.


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Old 08-28-2013, 08:33 PM   #5
Jan 2013
Posts: 22
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

Originally Posted by orillian View Post
I'm aiming to use kefir as a starter for a chocolate malt. Most likely going to use honey as a primer nutrient and see where it goes after a month or two. I figure well roasted malt would be the most likely to have sugars the kefir can funk up.
Wow do keep us posted.

FYI, they make these syrups that work well for making carribean sodas like Mauby and Sorrel (ginger hibiscus drink).

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Old 01-30-2014, 06:45 PM   #6
Jan 2014
Posts: 1

could you pleas post your ginger beer recipe and other kefir beer recipes. I've been making kefir water for a few months now and love it. thanks!

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Old 02-03-2014, 09:59 PM   #7
divrguy's Avatar
Dec 2011
, California
Posts: 1,249
Liked 93 Times on 83 Posts

Great post! Just started up water kefir and found it ferments very fast. I like it straight out after 2 days. I will probably try to do a secondary ferment soon with fruit. Now... A ginger beer definitely sounds good may have to attempt that later on
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