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Can you make kefir "beer"?  RSS feed

 
Jennifer Jennings
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Location: 39.720014, -74.875139 - Waterford Works, NJ
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Sandor, have you or any of your "fermies" had any luck with creating a kefir or kombucha that would pass for an ale or beer? I came pretty close using barley malt syrup and buckwheat honey in a 3:1 ratio, but it wouldn't hold carbonation as well as my regular water kefir made with organic sugar or succanat. Should I just add some more plain sugar to up the CO2? Any suggestions would be appreciated, as I've been concocting this brew for a friend trying to kick his alcoholism and repair his gut.
 
Emily Aaston
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The first time I tried Kombucha was on a farm in New Zealand a few years back and it was so good I drank ten glasses the first day and definitely felt tipsy. I haven't experienced this since making my own, and I have also wondered how that brew was so much more alcoholic than any I've made, not that I've tried. But it is an interesting thought: kombucha beer.
 
Devon Olsen
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from my albiet limited understanding, unpasteurized beer is considered a fermented drink that still has probiotics intact, and i believe that the way to achieve an unpasteurized beer is simply to ferment it without boiling and then strain it through a cheesecloth into your bottles, meaing you wouldnt nessacarily have to go with a kombucha twist to achieve the probiotic benefits

but again thats my limited understanding, i feel i have a long ways to go before i truly understand the art of making my own unpasteurized beer
 
ross johnson
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Jennifer Jennings wrote:Sandor, have you or any of your "fermies" had any luck with creating a kefir or kombucha that would pass for an ale or beer? I came pretty close using barley malt syrup and buckwheat honey in a 3:1 ratio, but it wouldn't hold carbonation as well as my regular water kefir made with organic sugar or succanat. Should I just add some more plain sugar to up the CO2? Any suggestions would be appreciated, as I've been concocting this brew for a friend trying to kick his alcoholism and repair his gut.


My kefir beer is just finishing up. Im about to stick it in the fridge.

For kefir beer you need to add hops. The hops will supress the activity of the bacteria but not the yeast so over the course of a week more or less, the yeast convert the sugar to alcohol among other things, but the bacteria do not convert the alcohol like they normally would .

This batch is 1.5 gallons made with 3 cups of sugar, a cup of barely malt, and 3 or 4 handfuls of croation hops. If you want it gluten free you can omit the barley malt and use molases for a guiness style beer.
 
Jennifer Jennings
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Location: 39.720014, -74.875139 - Waterford Works, NJ
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Thanks for an exact recipe, Ross! I was just going for the taste without the alcohol and all the goodness of probiotics, but the real McCoy you posted sounds tempting to try, especially since I favor the darker types like Guinness.
 
ross johnson
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Jennifer Jennings wrote:Thanks for an exact recipe, Ross! I was just going for the taste without the alcohol and all the goodness of probiotics, but the real McCoy you posted sounds tempting to try, especially since I favor the darker types like Guinness.


Whoops! Im sorry, I must've misunderstood but Im glad you appreciated the derail. Im drinking some kefir beer right now! Good stuff, Like an IPA but probably with a little less alcohol. I dont have a hydrometer to check but it definitley worked.
 
Jennifer Jennings
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Location: 39.720014, -74.875139 - Waterford Works, NJ
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Some of the best discoveries are accidental, Ross - and I do have friends who would want the best of both - booze AND 'biotics! Keep the great ideas coming!
 
Sa Dia
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Here's a thought, hops is added to beer to suppress bacteria, honey is also antibacterial. Would it be a valid assumption that honey could supplant hops to suppress bacterial fermentation and encourage yeast to make alcohol? What about adding additional yeast?
 
Luke Burkholder
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Hpney is only antibacterial as long as the moisture content is low (<18% I think.) As soon as you dilute it, the sugar in honey will support the growth of bacteria or yeast.
 
Jeremy Hutchins
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Ross - are you saying you're using kefir grains in making your beer? It seems like you're saying you're still using yeast to do the fermenting? Or just water, sugar, malt/molasses, hops and kefir grains? My wife is gluten free and I'd love to be able to make a batch of your "guiness style" beer to try!
 
S Bengi
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Water Kefir grains (50%) + water, sugar = beer smelling/tasting drink.
And once you strain and cap improperly it has been know to explode so it does get carbonated.
The only problem is that the alcohol content is very low, even though it seems like beer about 0.09% alcohol.
Now I suppose that if you added some yeast and sugar, you could bring up the alcohol to about 2% or 3% without affecting the good microbes in the drink. You could basically make a new batch everyday, once you work out the grain/yeast to sugar-water percentage.

I have found that running the kefir grain thru ginger/grape the previous batch does give the resulting kefir a kick.
 
Johnny Niamert
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Location: Colo
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Just for general knowledge:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/09/17/223345977/auto-brewery-syndrome-apparently-you-can-make-beer-in-your-gut

If your friend is an alcoholic, more yeast is probably something he really doesn't need.


I believe I had this 'syndrome' from too much yeasty IPA style beer, breads, and a poor diet.
Alcoholic vinegar shouldn't be considered a probiotic. EM is much better than kombucha, IMO.
 
Alexander Linder
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Hi!

Seems like no one has written in this post for a while. I am going to try to activate it like yeast!
I want to brew a kefir beer and I was wondering about a couple of things...

Does anybody know if water kefir grains thrive on wort? Also if the wort is hopped?

If hops do not allow for the bacterial activity that creates the sour flavour... does that mean that they kill the bacteria and only allow for the yeast to grow? Or are there still going to be the probiotic bacteria in the drink, just not producing lactic acid?

Thanks!
 
Luke Burkholder
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I think the outcome of the beverage you make will have a strong dependence on the amount of air that the Kefir colonies get. Typically Kefir is an aerobic fermentation: surface exposed to some oxygen, maybe covered lightly with a cloth. The yeasts will munch on sugar to make some alcohol as they do, and the bacteria will munch on the alcohol to make some acid.

Beers and other alcoholic things are usually fermented in anerobic conditions: with an airlock so CO2 can escape, but no more air can get back in. Yeast can still munch sugar to make alcohol without air, but bacteria have a much harder time munching alcohol to make acid. I don't think the bacteria will die, but you will definitely tip the scales in favor of the yeast (and therefore the production and retention of alcohol) by adding an airlock.
 
Alexander Linder
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Thanks Luke! I wasn't considering the oxygen in my brew... I'll definitely try some with and some without airlock.

What about hops? Are they going to kill the good bacteria, or just stop the good bacteria from producing lactic acid?
 
Luke Burkholder
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Well, we always say hops are added to beer to inhibit spoilage bacteria, but there are sour beers like Belgian Lambics that are hopped and yet bacteria are integral to the flavor profile.

I have tried to make malt vinegar from beer, and did not have good success, and maybe some of that can be blamed on the hops, but I didn't have much success with wine vinegar either, so I think it's more about my technique or local conditions than anything else.

My guess is that the hops will slow the bacteria down, but not completely kill them, or maybe only kill certain strains. Again, if you want to favor the production of alcohol, then you want conditions that favor yeast, so that should work in your favor.

You could also consider adding some lactose (milk sugar) since the Kefir grains are used to eating lactose in milk. Most brewing stores sell powdered lactose.
 
Alexander Linder
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Thanks Luke.

I am doing my first batch of kefir "beer" with sugar, molasses and hops.

Another question I have for you.. We say that kefir feeds on sugars, whether milk sugar (lactose) or other types of sugar. What if I add corn or oats in my wort? If they are not malted, is kefir going to "work" on them? I mean, break them down?
 
Luke Burkholder
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Sounds delicious.

If you are adding those things it sounds like you must be doing an all grain mash. If you mash with *only* corn or rice, then there are not enough enzymes to break up the starches. If you are using a bunch of barley and adding some corn, then the enzymes in the barley will break up whatever starch they encounter, regardless of the source. You can control what reactions happen by changing the ratio of different grains and the temperatures and times they are exposed to in the mash.

When you make beer by adding a commercial yeast pack, you are adding like a trillion cells that are all from a single strain, propagated in a lab in sterile conditions. If that strain can't produce enzymes that break up complex polysaccharides, then those molecules will remain in the finished beer and affect the properties of the beer. That may be intended: undigested sugars and starches add sweetness and "maltiness" and mouthfeel, and your body will digest whatever the yeast don't. A classic brewing anecdote is that in the days before pasteurization and reliable city water, orphanages would brew weak beer, >2% alcohol but with lots of sugar and starch left over (i.e. lots of calories) and serve it to children.

The Kefir scoby is more "wild" and wild things tend to be more adaptive, there will be some dominant strains in there doing their Kefir thing when they are in milk, but there will be countless other strains hanging around that will be able to digest all kinds of things, and the mix will change when you put them in wort.
 
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