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My 5 Gallon Kombucha Set-Up

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Scott83

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My wife's setup currently is a kit from Williams-Sonoma. This is a 5L (approx 1.3 gallon) kit. The kombucha has been turning out great. She does primary fermentation in this glass jar and then transfers to 16 oz swing top bottles for secondary fermentation with various combinations of different juices, like pomegranate, blueberry, lemon, ginger, etc. Her birthday is coming up and I am going to be upgrading her system. Please let me know what you think.

1. Boiling water/ steeping tea: Once cool enough, transfer to primary fermentation.

2. Primary fermentation: Primary will occur in one of the 7 gallon Ss Brewtech Brew Buckets with a cloth covering the top to allow proper oxygenation. My goal is to be able to do slightly more than 5 gallons so that I can leave a little bit in the primary brew bucket with the SCOBY for continuous brewing. Once she samples the primary product and gets it to where she likes, we'll then transfer via a silicon tubing to a second 7 gallon brew bucket, for secondary fermentation.

3. Secondary fermentation: The secondary brew bucket will contain either straight fruit or juice or a combo of the two. This will then be sealed with the included lid. Once this is done, we'll transfer to a keg. Both these brew buckets will be dedicated just to kombucha.

4. Kegging: Transfer to a 5 gallon Corny keg for consumption.

5. Repeat process to start the next batch of kombucha in the original primary brew bucket.

Here are my questions:
1. What does everyone use for boiling the water for steeping the tea? We have just been doing it on a pot on the stove for the 1.3 gallon batch. We will be doing the fermentation in our heated basement and I don't think steeping the tea in small batches and carrying it downstairs would be ideal. I am thinking about getting this, Kombucha Hot Water Tank DigiBoil, to boil/steep and then transfer to the primary fermenter. What are thoughts about using a hop spider to easily deal with the tea and prevent clogging on transfer?

2. Will we need any filter for the brew buckets so that the racking arm doesn't get clogged or otherwise transfer any fruit particles into the keg?

Any comments or concerns with this setup? I'm sure I will have more questions as we move forward but appreciate any advice. I did exactly one homebrew beer in college and am just getting back into it during this quarantine period. I have a red ale and an american IPA both going at the moment (both from kits). Hoping to get into all grain brewing with a dedicated setup later this summer.

Scott
 

Yooper

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I only do three gallon batches, and ferment in a carboy. Once it's done, I rack (siphon) to the serving keg and start again with 1/2 gallon of starter tea. It's hard getting the SCOBY out, so the wide bucket seems like a good idea. I'm more into "simple" so that is about all I would do.
For heating the water to steep the tea, have you considered cold steeping? It would make the sugar harder to dissolve, but I can't think of any other downside.

I do my secondary right in the keg. I will put the juice in directly, but for ginger, lemon zest, etc, I put those either in a paint straining bag or a tea ball strainer (MUST be stainless for that), or a dryhops bag. I serve with a co2 set up in my kegerator along with beer and sparkling water.
 
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Scott83

Scott83

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I only do three gallon batches, and ferment in a carboy. Once it's done, I rack (siphon) to the serving keg and start again with 1/2 gallon of starter tea. It's hard getting the SCOBY out, so the wide bucket seems like a good idea. I'm more into "simple" so that is about all I would do.
For heating the water to steep the tea, have you considered cold steeping? It would make the sugar harder to dissolve, but I can't think of any other downside.

I do my secondary right in the keg. I will put the juice in directly, but for ginger, lemon zest, etc, I put those either in a paint straining bag or a tea ball strainer (MUST be stainless for that), or a dryhops bag. I serve with a co2 set up in my kegerator along with beer and sparkling water.
Thanks, Yooper! Cold steeping would be another way to do it. Is the process similar to making cold brew coffee? We typically let it steep for 12ish hours for that.

My thought on getting the two brew buckets would be to not have to fish the SCOBY out. I'd just transfer the kombucha to the keg or the secondary fermenter and begin the next batch of kombucha with the starter and SCOBY already waiting in the first brew bucket.

I've so far only bottled my beer so am excited about getting some kegging equipment. I hate having to wait the 2 weeks once the fermentation is done for my beer to carbonate.
 

mahdudemikey

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Hey! So I am actually going through the same upgrade (SS 7 GAL). I will also be using a fermenter heating wrap with a temperature controller to keep the brew at a certain temperature, and just force carbonate in the keg.
 

mahdudemikey

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I only do three gallon batches, and ferment in a carboy. Once it's done, I rack (siphon) to the serving keg and start again with 1/2 gallon of starter tea. It's hard getting the SCOBY out, so the wide bucket seems like a good idea. I'm more into "simple" so that is about all I would do.
For heating the water to steep the tea, have you considered cold steeping? It would make the sugar harder to dissolve, but I can't think of any other downside.

I do my secondary right in the keg. I will put the juice in directly, but for ginger, lemon zest, etc, I put those either in a paint straining bag or a tea ball strainer (MUST be stainless for that), or a dryhops bag. I serve with a co2 set up in my kegerator along with beer and sparkling water.

I'm about to do my first larger batch, and am only used to flavoring during second fermentation with swing tops. At which point in the process would you put things like ginger/lemon zest in/ how long? I assume if I'm just doing juice and throw it into the fermenter after I pull the scoby out.
 

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I'm about to do my first larger batch, and am only used to flavoring during second fermentation with swing tops. At which point in the process would you put things like ginger/lemon zest in/ how long? I assume if I'm just doing juice and throw it into the fermenter after I pull the scoby out.
I put it in a hops bag, and put it in my keg if it's chunky. If it's a strained liquid (say, blackberry juice), I put that right in the keg.
 

pvpeacock

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I make 3 gallon batches in an 3 1/2 gallon SS Bretech Brew Bucket. I have been making sun tea instead of boiling using 3 1 gallon glass jars with lids. Add the water, the tea bags and 1 cup of sugar in each. Put the lid on the jars and set in the sun all day. I try to shake them every once in a while to make sure the sugar dissolves. Then I pour the sun tea in the fermenter, add the starter tea (usually 2 quarts) and SCOBY and let ferment.

When the Kombucha reaches the taste I like, I remove the SCOBY and 2 quarts of kombucha and store them in one of the jars or in tupperware. Then I add fruit to the fermenter for 3-5 days to taste. Then I keg the kombucha in a 2 1/2 or 3 gallon keg (without the fruit), put in my keezer on CO2 and let it carbonate. I then clean out my fermenter and start the process over again.

It's great to have kombucha on tap all the time.
 
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Yooper

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Does the flavor intensify over time? Is there a way to have bag in there last couple days of the ferment?
No, the flavor doesn't really change. I think for two reasons- first, it's in the kegerator cold and so things would not ferment or breakdown quickly if at all, and also because once it gives up the flavor in a short period, there isn't much flavor left.

I've not added it turning fermentation if I didn't want it to ferment, but I did add some lemon and ginger to bottles when carbonating before I started kegging it. You could add things in a bag and then remove it if you wanted to, but I can't imagine why anyone would want to do that and make a mess.
 
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