FAQ: Beer, Wine, Cider & Kombucha

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DO NOT DUMP your beer, kombucha, wine or hard cider before contacting us! More than likely, your batch is just fine. Be sure to snap a photo and shoot us an email at info@craftabrew.com if you have any concerns.

Beer Kit FAQ:

Our kits make 1 gallon of beer which, once bottled is about 10 regular 12 oz. bottles.
As long as you stick to the provided Guide to Craft Brewing, your first batch will turn out great! Ask any homebrewer how they felt right before they tasted their first batch of homebrew and most will reply that although their expectations were low it turned out way better than expected, even rivaling some of their favorite beers. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how well your beer will turn out and you may find you will never want to go back to store bought!
We source all of our ingredients from the same supplier that the craft brewing industry uses for their own beer. This ensures we always have the freshest ingredients on hand that meet the strictest requirements of the American brewing industry.
1-gallon glass carboy, funnel, food grade tubing with thumb clamp, thermometer, rubber stopper, 3-piece airlock, curved racking cane (for bottling your beer), our guide to craft brewing, the recipe kit of your choice (malt extract, brewers grains, hops, yeast, sanitizer and a brew bag)
Our kits come with almost everything you need to brew your own beer. The only things we do not provide is a pot to brew the beer in yet any normal pot with a capacity over a gallon will work just fine. After your beer ferments for two weeks you will need to find some flip top style bottles or a couple six packs of regular "pry off" (non twist-off) bottles along with our capping kit.
NO! Never dump your beer without checking with us first. That problem that may seem like a big deal might just turn out to be a small mistake that won't have an effect on the final product so use the contact us link before doing something as drastic as dumping beer down the drain!
If your beer is under-carbonated continue aging it in the bottles at room temperature for about 5 more days. This most likely means there is still sugar in the bottles that the yeast still needs to consume to create the carbonation. Giving it extra time will help create more CO2.
Some amount of sediment is normal for any naturally conditioned beer. It will all sink to the bottom of the bottles after the beer is carbonated. When you’re ready to drink your beer you can avoid getting this in your glass by pouring slowly and leaving the last ½ ounce in the bottle. There is no good way to remove ALL of the sediment unless you use a professional style filter, but getting sediment in your glass won’t hurt anything except the appearance.
It is normal to lose some amount of volume during the boil. If after filling up your carboy you notice the liquid doesn’t reach the 1-gallon mark simply add cool water to do so. Your beer will be just fine!
If you aren’t seeing signs of fermentation right away, don’t worry! The “lag phase” of fermentation can take up to 72 hours. You can also try moving your carboy to a warmer spot in your house, as yeast are not very active at colder temperatures.
We recommend a carboy brush to remove any residue that forms inside your carboy. B-Brite cleanser gets organic material off of your equipment and can be used as a sanitizer when you soak equipment in it for 30 minutes.

Catalyst FAQ:

Make sure your valve is installed right-side-up. The handle should crank DOWNWARD to OPEN the gasket and should be horizontal when the valve is closed. The writing on the valve will also help determine the correct way to install. To ensure the best lid seal, first put the lid on without clasping the latches, ensuring everything lines up. Then, press down to seat the seal. Close each latch in an “X” pattern - close one, then the one across from it, rather than going around in a circle clasping them shut.
Leave your Trub Trap valve open during fermentation to allow sediment to collect and compact in the attached mason jar. Wait at least 10 days of fermentation before removing your trub. It may be tempting to dump the jar as soon as it appears to be full, but patience is key to saving precious beer. Sediment falls VERY slowly and compacts on itself over time. A seemingly full mason jar can be deceiving. We’ve seen a full 16 oz jar of trub (after 5 days of fermentation) condense down to a half-full jar (after 10 days of fermentation).

Collect pre-fermentation trub BEFORE pitching your yeast if you did not separate your hops. To cut down on the number of mason jar removals/trub dumps (and to save precious beer) we recommend waiting a few hours before pitching yeast to allow pre-fermentation trub to settle and collect in the jar. This typically makes up a large portion of the sediment collected during the process and removing it before adding yeast can help curb the number of jar dumps. Larger volume mason jars can also help, but time is the biggest factor. We’d recommend waiting 10 days before removing your first jar of sediment during fermentation.

With a standard airlock installed in the lid the total height = 30”
Watch our quick video for help reinstalling the lid gasket to avoid over-stretching the seal. The gasket is more likely to separate when lifting the lid straight up and off of the tank with both hands. The best way to avoid this is to unlock the hinges and then lift from one side.
You may see a very thin layer of sediment adhering to the sides of the conical. In earlier stages of fermentation, a light tap or a slight rock back & forth can dislodge some of the sediment. But not to worry if this doesn’t remove all of it. When you move on to bottling that light layer won’t get pulled into the bottling attachment and into the bottles, it will remain stuck to the side.
Whenever you open the valve we recommend doing so slowly. While this will create some bubbles going through your beer, it will not have an oxidizing effect on your beer. Especially if you are just entering the secondary phase as the yeast is still doing its job and finishing the fermentation. We’ve spoken to many pro brewers about this and they agree that this introduction of some oxygen to the beer is much less then doing a traditional transfer to a secondary container or even a bottling bucket.
Try to find a place in your house that is within the fermentation temperature range (65 - 75 degrees Fahrenheit). If your beer is fermenting at too low a temperature you can try insulating the tank with a towel or blanket. You can also use a Brew Belt to help raise the temp 10 degrees above room temp. You can also use a Cool Brewing insulated fermentation bag to reduce the temperature. You can fill this with frozen 2L bottles of water to achieve a lower fermentation temperature.
Overactive foaming and bubbling can occur when fermenting, we recommend trying to cool down your fermentation temperature and making a “blow off setup” where the tubing is inserted into the stopper and the other end of the tubing is inserted into a half full glass of water. This will allow foam and CO2 to escape and any foam will be captured in the glass. Another solution for overactive fermentation is Fermcap-S, an anti-foam solution that helps settle foam and eliminate messy blow-off.

Kombucha FAQ:

The SCOBY culture is best used within 4 months of receipt. It is fine to live in its pouch at room temperature (not in the fridge) until you’re ready to brew.

Don’t worry, what you’re likely seeing is a new baby SCOBY forming on the surface. A new culture will grow with each fermentation - it can stay connected to the mother SCOBY or will grow separately. At first, this baby SCOBY can look thin & fuzzy, but it will get thicker and more opaque:

New SCOBY growth

Mold development on a SCOBY is quite rare. Sometimes pockets of yeast or even trapped air can develop and look a bit like mold. If your SCOBY does develop fuzzy blue, white or green spots  (like you’d see on food), this could be mold. Snap a photo and we can take a look.

If mold does begin to grow, it can be caused by a few things:

  • Adding hot tea to the SCOBY. Brewed tea must be cooled to room temp before coming in contact the SCOBY or else you risk scalding it.
  • Airborne mold spores from things in your house near the fermenting jar like house plants, produce, etc. Be sure to store your jar away from such things.
  • Storing the SCOBY in the fridge for an extended period before brewing
  • Using fruit or other juices during fermentation, exposing the SCOBY to them (instead of waiting until bottling)
  • Fermenting at too cold a temperature. SCOBYs like it warm, be sure to ferment within our recommended range of 70-85*F. You can always wrap the jar in a towel to insulate.
  • SCOBY growth (whether the mother SCOBY gets bigger OR whether a thin haze of a new culture develops on the surface of the liquid - see photo below)
  • The tea will get a bit more hazy and lighten in color (immediately after brewing, the liquid will be pretty dark brown/orange).
  • As you taste your kombucha per the instructions, you should taste the ‘tang’ increasing with time. So on day 7 the booch may still be pretty sweet, but at day 12 or 14 you should taste more tart, ‘vinegar-y’ flavor like your favorite kombucha.

If you see these signs, your SCOBY is happy and fermenting as it should :) If you don’t see these happening, it’s likely that your kombucha is fermenting in too cold a location. Your SCOBY is happiest between 70 - 85*F and can ferment slower in colder temps or even go dormant. You can wrap the jar in a towel or blanket to insulate.

Before bottling, you will want to reserve ½ - 2 cups of the fermented tea. This will NOT be bottled, but will be saved to jumpstart your next batch of booch. Store the SCOBY and this reserved tea in the jar with the cloth cover for up to 4 weeks. This will keep the SCOBY healthy between batches and will serve as starter tea for your next batch. Be sure to use the SCOBY & starter tea within 4 weeks for best performance. If you won’t be brewing for more than a month, you’ll need to ‘feed’ the SCOBY with more brewed sweet tea.
If shipments fall under a certain weight, a tracking # will not be populated to accompany the package. The map below shows approx. how many days your shipment will spend in transit before being delivered!
Don’t worry, this is completely normal. SCOBYs can float, sink, or land somewhere in the middle. If the SCOBY sank suddenly, it’s most likely due to a fluctuation or drop in the ambient temperature.
  • Your bottles likely need more time. We recommend carbonating for 3 - 5 days and then opening a bottle to test. If it isn’t fizzy enough, re-seal and leave the batch at room temp for another 2 - 3 days and check again.
  • Bottles may have been stored at too cold a temp. Ensure bottles carbonate at room temp. If stored in the fridge, the yeast (which consume sugars to create CO2) will have gone dormant and will not be able to carbonate your booch.
  • Your bottles may not be filled enough. Too much headspace can mean carbonation takes longer. Make sure the bottles have no more than an inch of headspace. More headspace = less carbonation.
  • You didn’t add fruit or juice to the bottles. While this isn’t required, the addition of sugars from fruit & juice give the yeast more fuel to create CO2.
Don't worry, every SCOBY is different and yours will grow with each fermentation! The starter tea in the pouch with the SCOBY is the real driver of fermentation.
  • Per the instructions, we recommend fermenting for 7 days and then tasting your tea with a clean spoon. If it isn't tart enough or strong enough for you, continue fermenting. More time will give it more tang.
  • On your next batch, try fermenting for a bit longer (10 - 14 days) to create a stronger base and create more CO2 in bottles.