Brewing Kombucha in Oak Barrels

Homebrewing is more than just a hobby these days. Many companies and breweries have found success after dabbling in their garages to master their craft. Homebrewing goes beyond just beer. Ciders, wines, and tons of other beverages can be created at home. One popular beverage that homebrewers are dabbling in as of lately is Kombucha. 

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha tea is a fermented drink made using black or green tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. It is made by mixing a colony of bacteria and yeast (called SCOBY-symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Then, sugar and tea are added before the mixture is allowed to ferment. 

The beverage has become a trendy drink as of late because of its health benefits. Not only does it have the same health benefits as drinking tea, but the drink also contains probiotics and antioxidants to help kill harmful bacteria. There have even been positive health claims that kombucha can help fight certain diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and even some forms of cancer, but there is no concrete evidence to support these claims.

Brewing Kombucha Tea

There are a few key features in brewing kombucha. Cleanliness is very important since contaminated brews can be hazardous. The entire process can take anywhere from two and a half to seven weeks for full fermentation and carbonation. Throughout the process, it is important to monitor your kombucha closely.

While there are a few container options to choose from –glass, ceramic, wooden barrels, etc.– you should NEVER use metal or plastic containers. The metal can react with your SCOBY, and plastic containers can house bacteria growth. Many homebrewers use glass jars to make small batches at home. We, of course, recommend wooden barrels.

Using Oak Barrels in Kombucha Brewing

For barrel brewers, kombucha is a relatively untapped market. Breweries can serve them alongside their favorite alcoholic drinks as a non-alcoholic alternative. While the drink can sometimes become somewhat alcoholic during the fermentation process, they are usually somewhere around a very low 1% ABV.

Kombucha takes to oak barrel brewing very well. Brewing in oak barrels offers a unique flavor profile, adding complex layers of flavor. Charred barrels add hints of vanilla and earth, which make great compliments to the drink, especially when adding other flavor profiles. Lastly, oak barrels make for a more repeatable and predictable brewing container. As the mixture saturates the wood, it creates a hospitable environment for fermenting bacteria and yeast.

Cautions to Home Brewers

Because kombucha is somewhat difficult to brew, some choose to buy their drinks in-store or online. Not only is homebrewing difficult, but contaminated or over-fermented kombucha can cause serious health problems. This is why the brewing process is best left to experts and can offer an opportunity for professional brewers.

If you are looking to try out your batch of kombucha, contact the expert brewers at The Barrel Mill.