First Brew is Also a Cool Brew...So Many Questions

Discussion in 'Kombucha Brewing' started by LycanGalen, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. LycanGalen

    LycanGalen New Member

    Hi everyone! I've been scouring the site (which is fantastic, I'm so glad I found this place!) but I haven't quite found the answers I'm looking for. forgive me if there are some repeats.

    This is my first buch brew. It came from a kit, with pre-measured tea and sugar and a nice pre-packaged scoby.

    *** Here's my setup, feel free to skip to the bottom for my questions:

    The kit is 2L (1/2 gallon). I brewed 8 grams of Ceylon and 125 grams of organic sugar in 1 litre (1/4 gallon) of distilled water, topped it up with more distilled water plus ~cup of starter (which was added with the scoby when the sweet tea hit room temp). The pH at this point was 4 or less. I was relying on strips that started at 4, so all I knew was that if the colour wasn't changing, it wasn't above 4, but that's all.

    I put the jar on top of my fridge, where it stayed at about 21C (70F). It was brewing slowly; still very sweet by the end of the first week (instructions said to bottle in 6 days, lol) Then we hit -30C (-22F) around here, and my brew was about 20C (68F) for a night - I moved it into my office and bumped up the thermostat to provide it with more heat. It's back to 21C (70F) and has been brewing for 16 days. The pH this morning was 3.4

    *** Here are my questions:

    1. When I sample the buch right now, it gives a fairly strong bitter kick right off the bat, and then the flavour goes very sweet - almost like I'm drinking a shot of really dry cider and then a shot of sweet tea right after. I know that slow brews are generally sweeter, but I'm curious if this "double whammy" is a normal thing? Will this smooth out if I leave it longer, or will it just get sharper on the front end and keep the (overly) sweet finish?

    2. My scoby sank, and then a baby scoby started on the surface. Unfortunately, the first time I tried to sample the buch, I pulled a newb brain fart and shoved my pipette straight into the middle of the baby scoby layer (well done, me!) and it sank. My next scoby top layer sank from the shakeup of being moved into the office. My third scoby has stayed on the surface - hurray! But that means, because of how they fell, I have 4 separate scobis in my jar. So when I finally bottle this batch, should I try to layer these new scobys on top of the mother (will they meld?), or make a hotel and try to grow them, or just compost them?

    3. The buch is cloudy - I can only see into the jar ~1.5" before things get pretty hazy. I have no idea if that's standard buch cloud, or if my yeast has gotten out of whack - and is that possible? Everything I found on here spoke about yeast going goofy when it's too hot, not when it's too cold. Could the bacteria have gone to sleep from the cold, or possibly it's the bacteria run amok? I guess what I'm wondering is should I be preparing to rebalance my scoby, and if yes, which way should I be going - reduce the yeast or the bacteria?

    Thanks for this awesome forum, and for any knowledge you're willing to share!
  2. Misschief

    Misschief Member

    Hi Lycan, I may not be able to address all your questions but I'll answer what I can.

    1. When the weather turns cold, I tend to put my scobies to bed. We don't heat our house at night, even when the temps are in the minus double digits (I'm in the Okanagan area of BC) and, as you know, kombucha doesn't like it cold. It will definitely take longer to brew at lower temps. Even in summer temps, I usually let mine go for about two weeks.

    2. Scobies do what scobies do. They'll float on top, they'll sink to the bottom, they'll stand on edge. It doesn't matter. Eventually, a new scoby will form on top. Because you're brew is brand new, I probably wouldn't keep the extra babies, just the original mother and the newest scoby. That is, unless the sinkers meld with the mother.

    3. Not sure how to answer that one. Hopefully, someone else can answer. I do know that my kombucha usually goes a little cloudy once it's "brewing".
  3. LycanGalen

    LycanGalen New Member

    Thanks Misschief.

    I guess I figured I'd give it a shot since articles both here and elsewhere talk about how a slower brew can make for a very complex and interesting flavour. I also didn't want to leave my new scoby in the package for the next 4 months until the weather turns up again - I figured it would be rude not to offer my new guests something to eat ;)

    I'm not worried about having a sinker scoby (or 3!) - I figured since my brew keeps growing a new surface batch that things must be going OK. I guess I was more curious/concerned as to how the repeated disruptions of the surface seal would impact the results, and like I'd mentioned, what to do with the extra babies. Thanks for answering that. I'll just keep the mother and the newest scoby unless one of the other babies seems to have really grown well/seems to be really happy and then maybe I'll scoop it into a hotel to see what happens (since this is a learning experience, may as well experiment and learn some things!)

    I'll wait it out I guess. I'll see if the brew clears up once I'm on to second stage, and keep an eye on the scoby for any other symptoms. Of course, I'm all ears if anyone has any other suggestions for what to look for, things to try, etc.

    Thanks again for your answers!

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