Process of Making Brew Dr. Kombucha
We get asked a lot about the process of making Brew Dr. Kombucha. We love to tell our story, so we thought we’d put together a virtual tour of our brewery. Let’s go!
The whole shebang starts with tea. These brew tanks are where we blend organic tea and botanicals according to each flavor’s unique recipe, and brew it in hot water with organic cane sugar. Essentially, we steep a really big pot of sweetened tea!
This steep is the most important step – it’s where a lot of our flavor comes from! Because we started as a tea company, we have a tea-first approach to making our kombucha taste great. We use the same high-quality tea and botanicals in our kombucha that we serve to guests at our teahouses. Once we’ve got a great tasting tea, we pump it over into the fermentation room.
Our first batches of kombucha began with 5-gallon fermentation containers. Then we went to 75 gallons, then 250, then 900. The fermentation tanks you see above hold 9,000 gallons each – that’s a lot of booch! On top of each tank is a cloth-topped vent port to help keep the air flowing while holding a room temperature of about 75 degrees. Every batch takes around 2 to 4 weeks to ferment. Can’t rush the good stuff!
Next stop is our chilled holding tanks. The finished kombucha is pumped into one of these guys and quickly chilled down to around 33 degrees.
Because we brew our kombucha using a traditional method, it can end up with 1%–3% alcohol after fermentation. While we love a cocktail, we want our kombucha to be safe for all ages, so the next step is to remove that alcohol. We utilize a technology that does its magic without the use of excessive heat – this keeps our product authentically raw. Presenting… the Spinning Cone Column!
Our kombucha is pumped into the top of the column. Inside the column, the atmospheric pressure is reduced to the point where ethanol (a.k.a. alcohol) atomizes at a low temperature. The column heats to that low temperature and, as the kombucha trickles down through the column, the ethanol starts to atomize or turn into a gaseous state. Ethanol leaves out the top while our kombucha flows out the bottom. Now the alcohol is around 0.1%, and we’ve got authentic, raw kombucha that is safe for all ages to enjoy!
So what about that alcohol? We wouldn’t want it to just go to waste. Over the years, we’ve found innovative and sustainable methods for reusing it, including craft spirits. These days, we partner with Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program to repurpose it into bioethanol fuel and with Straightaway Cocktails to create hand sanitizer.
This is when we spice up some of our bolder flavors by adding a little organic fruit juice, or ginger extract. This is also when we add the functional ingredients to create our Tranquil and Uplift flavors.
Bottling is the next step. Check out that line! We utilize a bottling process similar to craft beer, where our kombucha is put into chilled “brite” tanks and gently carbonated overnight. Then it’s bottled at a chilly 33 degrees and scooted into cold storage, before making its way to a store near you.
And that’s how we make our beloved Brew Dr. Kombucha. We hope you enjoyed the tour! Cheers!