Best Continuous Brewing Containers
Thinking of doing some continuous kombucha brewing? Here is a list of suitable brewing setups and containers, as well as our pick of the lot.
Are you considering getting hold of a continuous brewing system for your kombucha?
Most people start off brewing kombucha with a non-continuous brewing system. However if you find that you want to have larger batches on hand, continuous kombucha on tap, and less vessel cleaning to do – then perhaps a continuous brewing system is for you!
There has been some bad press with regards to continuous brewing systems. However given the right conditions and requirements, they can work really well. If you are brewing in the right conditions and quantities, then continuous brew system might just be your new best friend.
Should I Get a Continuous Brewing System?
Before we get into which containers and set ups make for good continuous brewing systems, here are two considerations to think about.
What is the Temperature Range Where You Live
The reason why continuous brewing systems sometimes get a bad rap is often due to high temperatures. High temperatures encourage yeast growth. Yeast populations tend to hang out and accumulate at the bottom of fermentation vessels. Because continuous brewing systems tend to not get emptied out as regularly as non-continuous brewing systems, the yeasts can grow out of proportion to the bacteria. However this is only usually a problem if the temperatures are high. High temperatures means active yeasts and semi active bacteria. A recipe for overly fast ferments that sour prematurely.
How Much Kombucha Do You Want to Brew
Whether or not a continuous brewing system is the thing for you will also depend on what size batches you want to ferment. Continuous brew systems are most suited to brewing medium to large amounts of kombucha. The reason for this is as follows: The point of continuous brewing systems is that one can tap off kombucha at will. To replenish the volume of fermenting tea, you must then top up the system regularly to keep it full. If your batch of continuous kombucha is on the larger side, then any tapping off and additions of fresh tea will not affect the taste and ‘maturity level’ of batch on the whole.
However, if you have a smaller amount of kombucha on the go in a continuous brewing system, then adding new tea will probably cause the taste and maturity level to change. If you are not crazy about mature kombucha and prefer it more on the sweet and less well fermented side, then this might not be too much of an issue.
Have a think about the above two points. If the temperatures where you are do not often go over 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.5 degrees Celsius), and you want to brew biggish batches – then a continuous brewing system could work well for you!
What to Look For in Continuous Brewing Containers
If you have established that continuous brewing is the way to go for your kombucha making, then the next thing is to find a suitable container/setup.
As mentioned above, when doing continuous brewing it is advisable to do medium to large sized batches. Ultra small containers are not practical. However if you are going to be doing medium sized batches then it is not necessary to purchase an inordinately large container. Larger containers will cost slightly more than their medium sized counterparts. However, if you are planning to go big, then by all means go for a vessel which is big enough for your needs.
Kombucha has a big mouth. Or should have! The SCOBY needs good amounts of oxygen to maintain optimum brewing power. Nice wide mouths provide this. However too wide of a mouth is also not ideal. Overly wide mouthed containers (in comparison to their depth and base) can cause premature souring of ferments. This is due to the SCOBY being able to grow out of proportion to the volume of liquid held.
Most containers which can be successfully turned into continuous brewing systems, or already have a spigot, will not be made to these extreme dimensions however.
Avoid containers which are overly tall in comparison to their diameter. These are not suitable for reasons stated under ‘Mouth Size’. An overly tall container will cause the surface area to be too small for SCOBY happiness.
When looking for a continuous brewing container, you can choose to buy one with a spigot already installed. Or, you can purchase the spigot and the container separately, and mount the spigot yourself. This can be a good option if you have a great container in mind, and all the tools neccesary to mount the spigot. If you do not have the tools, then the easier option is to get a container which already has the spigot in place.
Types of Spigots
You can pretty much go with most spigots, as long as they are easy to clean. There is however a danger of plastic spigots leaching BPAs into your kombucha. A good rule of thumb when selecting a spigot is to go with a middle of the range to high end one which is made out of a high quality material which will not leach into your kombucha.
A main consideration when selecting brewing containers for kombucha is what material is it made out of. Kombucha is acidic in ph thanks to the natural acids which are produced during fermentation. This is great for one’s health, but rules out some materials as an option for brewing containers. This is because the acids in kombucha can eat away on an invisible level at reactive substances such as plastic and some metals.
Here are some of the materials which are suitable for continuous brewing containers.
Glass is one one of the most popular materials when it comes to kombucha fermentation containers. It is completely non reactive, and glass jars comes in a wide variety of sizes. A big plus to using a glass brewing vessel, particularly for continuous brewing, is that it is see through! Which means you can always easily see at a glance what is going on inside the container with the SCOBY and the brew.
Wood is a suitable substance for kombucha brewing. Think old style wine barrels! Some people claim that wooden barrels actually impart kombucha with the best flavor. If you are just looking to make merely a moderate amount of kombucha then a barrel will obviously be too big. However if you are planning to make very large batches – perhaps you are intending to market it – then a barrel might be an appropriate size for you.
Ceramic is another option for a continuous brewing vessel. There are quite a few kombucha continuous brewing systems on the market, and as long as they are made with food grade porcelain or ceramic, then are fine. If however you are considering using an older crock pot to modify into a continuous brewing vessel, check to make sure that it is covered in a food grade glazing that does not contain lead.
If you look around, you will see that there are a lot of stainless steel containers fitted with spigots available, which are perfect for doing continuous kombucha brewing in! As long as they are made out of stainless steal and not some other metal which is reactive, then you are good to go.
As you can see, there are quite a lot of good options out there. For the purpose of all round convenience, our pick of continuous kombucha brewing containers is:
Already fitted with a spigot, this glass brewing vessel comes in a 2 gallon size, which is suitable for a lot of brewing needs. The glass container makes for easy checking in on your SCOBY and brew. If you are concerned about the plastic spigot, you can replaced it with THIS stainless steel one.
While continuous brewing has had some bad reviews lately, there are many kombucha brewers who love and swear by their continuous brew setups.
Having a continuous brewing setup means:
- reduced cleaning
- less time required to maintain your kombucha
- kombucha on tap
- easy tapping off
If you are living in a super hot climate, then you might experience some hassles with overactive yeasts when maintaining a continuous brewing system. Also, if you intend to make smaller batches of kombucha in your continuous brewing system, you might find that the ratio of fermented tea to fresh tea is thrown out when you add new tea.
But provided that you are living in a moderate climate, and plan to make medium + sized batches of booch – continuous brewing can be really convenient!
If you have any questions regarding brewing setups, don’t hesitate to reach out to us in the comments.