Kombucha Fermented on Hops

I added 1/4 cup cascade whole cones to the beginning of a typical 1 quart micro-batch of kombucha fermentation. I wanted to see what affect whole hops would have on the fermentation process, and what the hops flavor would be like when added at the beginning rather than at the end.

  • 12 days: pH 3.6. I stirred this every few days to maximize the hops extraction and antimicrobial potential. Each day it grew a thin scoby that connected the hop cones floating at the top of the jar (which my stirring broke up).
  • 19 days: pH 3.2. The scoby on top kept getting thicker and stronger, probably because I left it alone for 1 week.

The final flavor is a bit more sour than I’d like, but it’s really not too bad. The hop flavor is a lot more “round” and “juicy” than when I’ve added it at bottling, and I like the contribution it makes to the whole.

Increasing acidity and scoby formation indicates that the culture continues to work, so either the antimicrobials aren’t being extracted, or they aren’t affecting the kombucha microbes. Another possibility is that I didn’t use enough hops. While 1/4 cup is a relatively high percentage of the total 1 qt volume, it is < .1 oz. But even considering that, I was clearly able to add enough to taste hops without inhibiting the fermentation, so it works.

In the future I should make a 1 gallon batch like this, and then add a new round of hops at bottling time. Maybe I should find a complementary variety before I begin…

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6 thoughts on “Kombucha Fermented on Hops

  1. Thanks for the comment!

    I’ve not tried exactly that, but I have steeped the hops separately and added the “hop tea” for the primary ferment. My next post will probably describe the results of that. I’ll also try an alcohol extraction of the hops, but it will be months before the resulting tincture will be ready to add to a batch of kombucha. I have three unopened packs of hops left, and more kombucha/hops experiments queued.

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  2. Yes, I added the hop cones to the primary ferment. This was only a 1 qt batch, so I wasn’t too concerned about the potential loss. And I used only 1/4 cup of kombucha from my scoby hotel for the culture inoculation, so I wasn’t even risking the loss of a scoby. So far, hops appears to have no damaging or inhibiting effect on the kombucha culture.

    I’ve not yet tried to propagate the culture from one hops batch to another, so I can’t say if hops would progressively weaken or change it over time. It would be easy enough to try this using only the tea, but if I wanted to propagate from the scoby I’d need to get some fermentation weights.

    I’ll eventually have a post summarizing what I’ve read about the potential antimicrobial effects of hops on kombucha fermentation, and how my experiments relate to that. It’s a post that will have a lot of references, and I’m not yet done with the research, so it could be a few months before I get it finished. In the meantime, there will be smaller posts for each new thing I try.

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  3. Pingback: Hop-Tea Kombucha | :|

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