Bottle Conditioned Beverages

The home brewed ale I put in my fridge last week and real champagne have something in common: both are naturally carbonated. The bubbles are the result of yeast converting sugar into alcohol. The process also produces a bit of sediment that settles to the bottom of the bottle. Champagne makers get rid of the sediment. Mine stays in the bottle. This in-bottle fermentation is called bottle conditioning. The viable yeast cells in the beverage are a probiotic.

Of course, alcohol is only healthy in small amounts. Also, only one strain of a living microbe is in the ale. Kefir, yogurt, and kombucha all have several beneficial microbes for our GI system. Still, home brewed ale is my favorite probiotic. When I have a batch in the fridge, remembering to consume a probiotic with a meal is no problem.

I’ve also made bottle conditioned kombucha. Since I have the capper for brewing its easy. The cappers are available for less than $20.00 at home brew suppliers. At the end of the kombucha process that I described in a post last week, I added these steps before refrigeration:

Sanitize several beer bottles and caps. Pour 1-2 ounces of fruit juice (pomegranate or grape) into each 12 ounce bottle. Fill with kombucha. Set the kombucha on a shelf at room temperature for 24 hours, then refrigerate. Open container over a sink since the level of carbonation is unknown. I’ve also tried this with apple and orange juice but didn’t care for the way their flavors combined with the kombucha. Fruit juice provides natural sugar for the kombucha to feed on. Chilling and carbonating makes beverages refreshing. This is the natural way.

So far I have created only one bottle bomb by this method. Carbonation creates pressure that can cause a glass bottle to explode. Avoiding bottle bomb creation is a good idea. It happened with help from a friend. I shared a bottle of my carbonated kombucha with a friend. We met at a farmers market and I told him it could potentially explode if it was not refrigerated. He went home with several bags from the market. He put the bottle in a bag that other things in it that didn’t require refrigeration and by the time he got home, didn’t remember the bottle. Several days later a sound reminded him, and there was a wet bag with broken glass near his front entry. Fortunately, no other damage.

Bottle bombs are easy to avoid. For home beer brewers, priming sugar calculators available online give amounts of sugar to add so that excessive pressure will not happen. Bottle conditioned beverages are great probiotics.

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