If you’ve been wanting to brew your own high alcohol kombucha at home, here is a step-by-step recipe guide that will yield 1 gallon of hard kombucha at approximately 4-7% ABV.
What You'll Need:
- Scoby (Kombucha Starter Culture)
- 1 Gallon Glass Jar
- Black Tea
Step 1: Brew tea.
For 1 gallon of boozy Kombucha, you will need to brew 14 cups of black tea with 8 tea bags in spring (or reverse osmosis) water and 1 cup of sugar.
Step 2: Allow the tea to cool before adding in your gallon jar. Add your SCOBY and the starter culture liquid that come along with it. Allow fermenting for 10 days with cheesecloth over the top to prevent fruit flies from accessing the inside. The fermentation organisms require oxygen flow through the cloth to reproduce and grow more SCOBY and beneficial enzymes/acids.
Step 3: Second fermentation time!
Remove the SCOBY (save your SCOBY for your next batch in a small jar with a small amount of your Kombucha, cover and refrigerate). You essentially have “normal” kombucha with only a trace amount of alcohol. The pH has dropped considerably as more beneficial acids are produced. If it’s too acidic (like vinegar) the second fermentation may not start or complete, so make sure to taste along the way (days 7-10) and catch before it becomes overly sour. Ordinarily, you would add any flavorings of choice and then distribute them into smaller jars or swing-top bottles. But to make your Kombucha boozy, you’ll need a second round of fermentation. For this second round, dissolve 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of warm spring (or reverse osmosis) water. Once it cools, add ¾ teaspoon of dehydrated champagne yeast with characteristics that appeal to you. We like yeast that produces fruity aromatics and flavor rather than spicy or neutral but go for whatever sounds tasty! Within a few minutes, the yeast and sugar mixture will begin to foam, this means the yeast has re-awakened from its slumber and ready to eat up all the sugars to produce more alcohol. If the yeast does not foam, dump and try again with another packet of yeast. Once you’re happy with your active yeast, add the mixture to your gallon of kombucha and sufficiently stir it in. Adding dry yeast directly into the fermenter without allowing it to rehydrate first will cause it to not achieve its foothold against the other active bacteria and yeast that already staked their claim in the environment.
Step 4: Wait for it.....
This time instead of a cloth cover you’ll want to loosely close the lid over the top. The idea is to only allow positive pressure of CO2 to build and escape rather than the air entering the vessel. Allow an additional 7-14 fermentation days and store somewhere with relatively consistent temperature and low light while the ABV climbs. You’ll know it’s working when you see bubbles forming and rising to the surface!
Step 5: Add flavors and bottle
After 7-14 days of second fermentation, it’s time to add flavors! Give it a taste first and notice how dry and boozy it is before deciding your juice additions to balance it out. Add any organic fruit juices that you’d like or flavorings. As a final step, you’ll want to pour the jar of boozy Kombucha into smaller, single-serve bottles, mason jars or growlers. Try to use slightly more juice than desirable for the next step to carbonate in the bottle, and this time close the lids as tightly as possible.
Step 6: Bottle condition
By using a little bit of extra juice the sugars will continue to ferment and trap the carbonation in the bottles for the delicious zippiness we all love that helps unlock the aromas and flavors of the finished product. Leave the bottles at room temp for 24-48 hours to build carbonation, then store them in the fridge before they get too fizzy! Pop open your amazing creation and revel in the joy of fermentation mastery!