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Geoffrey Levens
Posts: 54
Location: Paonia, Colorado, USA
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This was just posted to a "membership" diet and nutrition form I go to. I love water kefir, beer not so much, but I might really like this brew!
~G

As a permaculturist, and experimental chef endeavoring to contribute to a nutritarian gastronomy , I was determined to make a beer-like drink that tasted like some of our best India Pale Ales made here in Vermont. So I used water kefir with brown rice syrup and beet sugar, which creates a probiotic liquid, and brewed some so that there was no residual sugar left (ie no sweetness). (for those of you who don't know about water kefir, its a culture of probiotic bacteria and yeast that feed on carbohydrates and colonize the medium they're in with probiotics) I made a strong tea of chaga, turkey tail and reishi (all medicinal mushrooms in our forest), seaberry (sea-buckthorn) leaf and bark (high in micronutrients), roasted dandeliion root and milk thistle seeds, and two kinds of hops. It came out just great. So a hoppy, healing beverage with no sugar filled with probiotics. How cool is that!! We're so thrilled here to be able to enjoy the old tastes in new form.
 
Sean Henry
Posts: 74
Location: Louisville, KY Zone 7
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Interesting.

I would recommend using an airlock when doing this to reduce the amount or o2 entering the container that will keep the brew from oxidizing that can cause off flavors. Also I would assume that this will take longer to finish than brewing an ale. Ales take 2-3 weeks to finish once the yeast becomes active.

Depending on how long it ferments and the types of bacteria it might have a bit of a sour taste like a lambic beer.

A week ago I brewed a root beer other wise a sassafras tea with sugar and California ale yeast added. At the end there will be very little to no sugar left it will be converted to 3% ABV, I will have to add a sweetener at the end before I carbonate it. Since honey is not easily fermented I will be using that and capping the bottles for 2-3 weeks possible longer it depends on how well it carbonates. I also have a 1 gal batch that I made with the second run of the ingredients. It is a bit lighter and is more bitter but I'm using a ginger bug to try fermenting that one but after 5 days there is not much activity in that one.

 
Geoffrey Levens
Posts: 54
Location: Paonia, Colorado, USA
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Water kefir only takes 36-48 hours start to finish. Very robustly resistant to contamination. I made new batch every couple days (just water, brown sugar, molasses) for a couple years. Somewhat similar in flavor to kombucha but not at all identical; quite different colony of critters.
 
Sean Henry
Posts: 74
Location: Louisville, KY Zone 7
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I did some quick research to find a recipe it looks like usually the amounts are.

¼ - ⅓ cup unrefined sugar
1t molasses
2.5 - 3 cups spring water
¼ - 1 cup of water kefir grains

For my calculations I'm going to use 2c of brown sugar is 1 lb (it is actually 2 1/4ish to a lb) and not add the molasses. There are 16cups in a gal so increasing every thing by 5.3x to make a 1 gal batch the numbers are.

1.325c BR sugar (0.6625 lb)
5.3t molasses
1gal water
1.325c - 5.3c kefir

If fully fermented will contain about 4.9% ABV. From me reading kefir can only get to about 3% ABV. I'm assuming that it will take longer than two days to ferment all the sugar beer normally takes 8-14 days to finish.

If you are wanting to try a 2% ABV try 4.3oz Br sugar
If you are wanting to try a 3% ABV try 6.4oz Br sugar
 
Geoffrey Levens
Posts: 54
Location: Paonia, Colorado, USA
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Only potential issue is as water kefir ferments it gets more acidic. At some point the acidity stops the fermentation. Adding small amount (pinch) of baking soda can help some and allow the critters to work longer
 
Geoffrey Levens
Posts: 54
Location: Paonia, Colorado, USA
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Just found this via links at bottom of page. Worth a look

http://www.permies.com/t/23515/fermentation/kefir-beer
 
Sean Henry
Posts: 74
Location: Louisville, KY Zone 7
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Geoffrey Levens wrote:Only potential issue is as water kefir ferments it gets more acidic. At some point the acidity stops the fermentation. Adding small amount (pinch) of baking soda can help some and allow the critters to work longer


I do not think that it stops the fermentation but it slows down just like in a sour beer. Sour beers are aged 6mo-a few years although most of that is to mellow out some of the flavors and allow the slower fermentation processes to finish. If I were to brew this I would be taking hydrometer readings till they stayed consistent for a day or two or take a brix reading to make sure most of the sugar is fermented.

http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2011/11/measuring-sour-beer-ph.html
 
Geoffrey Levens
Posts: 54
Location: Paonia, Colorado, USA
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I like water kefir to not have noticeable sweet taste, mostly complexly sour, more vinegary. After a few days in fridge it does not taste as good in some undefinable way, at least to me. Don't know what that means, just reporting it.

I am primarily after the live probiotic culture, the flavor secondary. But one of the things I like best about it is the simplicity and speed of brewing. For me, managing a chem experiment would take it off my list. That is a fine thing to do for those who enjoy it, just not my thing.
 
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