Mr Beer Kambucha

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WoodHokie4

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Hi there. I've made my fair share of beer and now I'm attempting my first batch of kambucha. For my first batch of beer, I used a Mr Beer kit which has been collecting dust ever since. I was hoping to be able to use this for my kambucha, but have heard about concerns with using plastic for this type of open air brewing. Has anyone had any experience with this?

Thanks!
 

Curtis2010

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What kind of plastic is used in Mr. Beer system?
 

8rnw8

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Kombucha needs some oxygen. Typically it is made in an open container with a coffee filter rubber banded on top.
 
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WoodHokie4

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Ok, but can the container be used with an open lid and filter?
 

Curtis2010

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Good to go as long as thats a good quality fitting. Will a magnet stick to it?

Weve got a similar one with a good quality stainless (non magnetic) fitting.
 
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WoodHokie4

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That's a plastic fitting (silver coating on the outside). So no worries
 

ericbw

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Yeah, good call on the size and shape of the SCOBY in a Mr. Beer! I didn't think of that.

But I would also be worried that some bacteria could set up shop in the Mr. Beer, so it would ONLY be good for kombucha in the future. A Ms. Booch, if you will.
 

Curtis2010

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No need for an airlock really. Acetobact ferm is slow and does not off gas much. Also it needs air. I just use a couple of coffee filters and a rubber band to cover opening.
 

charles

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When I started this batch og was 1.1 and it has been fermenting like mad. The last time I checked it it was down to 1.02. I have already strained it out and fermentation has slowed a lot. Do I still need to use a coffee filer and if I do for how long?
 
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WoodHokie4

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I keep a paper towel rubberbanded over my pot. My understanding is that you want fresh air for the bacteria to thrive and only cap it off for secondary containers to lightly carbonate at the end. Plus, then any bacteria in the air can join in on the party
 

charles

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Update: the batch has been bottled for about 4 weeks now. I used priming sugar for the carbonation and has a good taste to it. This was a base line recipe and I definitely will be experimenting with this to make it better. It is very dry and bitter from the lemon juice I used. And it fermented out to 13%. Cheers
 
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WoodHokie4

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Have you factored how much of that is vinegar? I haven't measured my gravity tradings, but I would assume that the biggest % would be vinegar, not ethanol
 

ericbw

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You're saying your original gravity was 1.100? That seems really high. Can you share your recipe again? It would take about 3 lbs of sugar to get that high.

And as WoodHokie4 mentioned, it won't be all alcohol. In kombucha, the yeast eat sugar and make alcohol (and CO2); some of the bacteria then eat the alcohol and produce acids. I would guess that the sugar is gone, but so it most of the alcohol.

I know there has to be a connection between gravity readings and pH to calculate how much sugar, acid, and alcohol are in the final kombucha. I don't know what the math would be, though!
 

charles

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The recipe is as follows: 15 Lipton tea bags 15 oz lemon juice 8 oz honey and 1.7 lbs cane sugar boil tea bags for 5 minutes. Remove bags let drain add the lemon and honey blend in well and boil for an additional 4 minutes add sugar and let dissolve well let cool to 80°f. Transfer to primary and pitch yeast. I used a wine yeast on it. From what my notes said og was 1.094.
 

charles

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The next recipe I will do in the next few weeks. I'm going to cut down on the lemon juice and add a little more honey.
 
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WoodHokie4

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Everything I've read says not to use any sugar other than cane sugar or fruit sugar. Honey's antibacterial properties may actually hurt your scoby
 
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WoodHokie4

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Also, I don't think that wine yeast will give you proper kambucha. When I made mine, I used 8 tea bags with 2 cups of sugar and about a cup of white vinegar for acidity. For the culture, i poured the last inch of a bottle of comercial kambucha. This way, I knew I was getting the proper strains of bacteria for the brew along with the right ph
 

charles

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I brewed it like a wine and the wine yeast just consumed all the sugars including the honey.
 

charles

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I'm trying to find a balance of sweetness and slight bitterness. And the next batch I'm going to take samples and stop fermentation when it tastes good to me
 

ericbw

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That's not kombucha. It's wine made from tea. You need a SCOBY culture that will make the acids that are in booch.

Do you want a better full recipe?
 

charles

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I'm up for learning new recipes. The harder the recipe the better it usually tastes. My preference is to make one off brews that are different. If I make a good batch I will keep it but with any home brew it will have subtle differences. Like the availability of hops when doing seasonal batches. Cheers
 
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WoodHokie4

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That's probably true for beer, but has not been my experience with kambucha. I'm doing continuous brewing and use my individual bottles to flavor during secondary fermentation. Plus, it gives me flexibility y using a master batch
 

charles

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I just tried another one of my hard teas it has been in the fridge for a while now and can definitely say it has come a long way. The lemon flavor is more subtle and is starting to taste really good. Cheers
 

ericbw

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Hard tea is a good way of describing what you have made. It's tea and sugar that is fermented with wine yeast. It's high alcohol, unlike things like Twisted Tea. So it's interesting, but not kombucha.

To make kombucha, you need tea, sugar, and a culture that's a mix of yeast and bacteria (calld a SCOBY - symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. It's symbiotic because the yeast and bacteria work together and need each other to make the environment good for both). You can buy a SCOBY or get one from someone, or you can use a bottle of kombucha that you buy from the store.

For a gallon batch, you need to make a gallon of tea and sweeten it with a cup of sugar. To that, add 2 cups of the "starter tea" (existing kombucha - comes with the SCOBY if you buy it, or use a bottle of commercial kombucha). Put your SCOBY on top and cover with a cloth secured with a rubber band. Note that you really only need 3.5 quarts of the sweet tea, but it's easier to make a gallon.

Ferment that for a week and then taste it to see if you like it. I like it after 2 weeks sometimes, when it is more tart.

If you follow my link, there are a couple of more detailed posts about my process. Getting the kombucha SCOBY and starter tea is essential.

Again, sounds like you make high alcohol hard tea, which sounds good, too!
 

charles

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I have been experimenting with the tea again. I finally have a good Baseline on it. I used a peach tea with a pear extract in it. Added 4oz of honey and 1lb of sugar. I used 1 oz of the extract in it and 20 bags of tea.
 
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