BeerMumbo: 5 awesome fermented beverages you can brew at home

CINCINNATI -- If you are on this section of the website, you probably enjoy having a beer or two.  You may even homebrew your own fermented beverages at home.

Booze has been a major piece of human existence for thousands of years.  People literally fermented and still ferment anything to create an alcoholic beverage.  It was even safer to drink than water.  In some parts of the world, that is still the case.

Check out these awesome fermented beverages from around that world that are unique and somewhat easy to create in your own home.

Put something different in one of those empty carboys or gallon jugs.  Some of these recipes are tweaked to be more brew friendly and yeast options can be changed to your preference.

T’ej (Ethiopia)

T’ej is a honey wine (mead) that has been brewed in Ethiopia for centuries.  It is bittered with gesho leaves and twigs.  Gesho is kind of like a hop and falls into the buckthorn family.

The gesho also gives it a unique direction of flavor.  T’ej is usually homebrewed in Ethiopia.  However,  there are tej betoch (Tej houses) throughout the country.

Traditionally, it is served in a berele container but a pint would be just fine.  It is best served chilled and goes well with spicy food.

Recipe (1 gallon)(ABV 8-12%):
32 oz of honey
96 oz filtered water (you don’t want chlorine flavors!) 
8 oz of ground gesho leaves  
4 oz of gesho sticks
1/4 tsp of Lalvin D-47 yeast (it will make your T’ej happier) 

  1. Mix and let stand at room temperature for three days. 
  2. Take about 6 cups of the mixture and bring to a boil with the gesho.  
  3. Cook for 15 minutes in low heat. Let cool and add to the mixtures.
  4. Move to a sanitized sealed container and pitch the proper amount of yeast.  
  5. Now leave at room temperature for 15-21 days.  
  6. If too dry, add a cup of honey and leave over night. If too sweet, add more gesho directly into the mixture and let it ferment more.
  7. Strain and serve cold. 

Sima (Findland)

Sima is the official drink of spring in Finland.  This sparkling beverage is brewed to celebrate the 1st of May.  They know this as the coming of the warm season.

It is very easy to make and usually served with a funnel cake.  How can you go wrong with that?  It is refreshing and very drinkable.  Actually, the children drink it in Finland if it is poured before the raisins float to the top.

Recipe (1 gallon)(ABV 1-2%):
1 gallon of water
2 lemons
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 white sugar
1/4 tsp of yeast (Lalvin D-47 yeast  works great)
*You can also add some citra hops leaves at the end of your boil for a nice addition.

  1. Bring the water to a boil.  
  2. While you are waiting for the water to boil, removed the skin of the lemons with a potato peeler.  
  3. Place these in a sanitized container.  
  4. Next, clean up the lemons by removing any remaining skin.  
  5. Slice the lemons and combine the skin and sliced lemons in a container along with the brown and white sugars.
  6. After  the water comes to a boil, pour it into a container with the lemons and sugar.
  7. Let cool to 70-75 degrees, then stir in the yeast.
  8. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours, or until you see bubbles forming at the surface.
  1. Strain the liquid into clean and sanitized glass bottles.  
  2. Add 5  raisins and 1 tsp. sugar to each bottle of Sima.  
  3. Seal the bottles and refrigerate for 3-5 days.  Or just looks for the raising to start floating to the top.  
  4. It is probably around 1% ABV at this point.  If you want a higher ABV, let the Sima sit for another 3-5 days or add more sugars.

Be careful of exploding bottles if you bump up the fermentables.  You know what can happen.

Kvass (Russia & Ukraine)

Kvass is a fermented beverage popular in Russia and Ukraine.  It is also popular in most of the former Soviet states.  It is made from rye or black bread, sugar, and yeast.

The breads give it the color and it is often flavored with raisins, mint, and other adjuncts.  Kvass has been a popular drink in Russia for thousands of years.

It was first mentioned in written form in the year 996.  However, this beverage was consumed many years before.

Recipe (3 gallons)(ABV 1-2%):
3 gallons of water
10 slices of rye, dark, or black bread
1 cup of raisins
4 cups of sugar
1.5 tablespoons of yeast (Lalvin D-47 yeast  works great)

DAY 1: (try to do part 1 in the evening)

  1. Toast the bread slices twice on the highest setting on your toaster. The darker the bread…the darker the kvass.  Your house may get stanky!  Toast in open air.
  2. Fill a large pot with 3 gallons of water and bring to a boil.
  3. When the boil starts, remove the pot from heat. Add raisins and toasted bread to the pot, cover with the lid and let it rest overnight.

DAY 2:

  1. Carefully remove toasted bread and throw it away.  A strainer works well for this.
  2. In a medium sized sanitized bowl, mix together 4 cups of sugar and 1.5 Tbsp of yeast, add them to kvass while stirring.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and leave the mixture
    1. on the counter for another 6-8 hours, stirring every couple hours.
    2. Remove the floating raisins with a large spoon.
    3. Using strainer, pour the kvass into bottles (plastic work great), close with a lid and leave them in the fridge overnight.

    The next day, crack open and enjoy!

    Tepache (Mexico)

    Tepache is low abv fermented beverage from Mexico.  It is popular among street vendors and inmates in the Mexican prisons.

    It dates back thousands of year to the Nahua people where it was usually made with a maize base.  Today, you can find it commercially produced in a non-alcoholic form.

    Recipe (1 gallon)(ABV 1%):
    1 pineapple cut into cubes and save the rinds
    1 gallon of water
    1lb piloncillo , or  1lb of dark brown sugar
    1 cinnamon stick
    4 cloves
    8oz light beer

    1. In a large pot, bring 1 gallon of water along with the piloncillo/brown sugar, cinnamon stick, and the cloves.  Turn down the heat and let the piloncillo completely dissolve while simmering.
    2. Wash the pineapple, and cut it up into cubes about 1in squared.
    3. Add in the pineapple cubes and rinds to the 1 gallon of water.
    4. Transfer to a glass 1 gallon jug and cover the top with either an airlock or plastic wrap.  Let it sit for 2 days.
    5. After it starts to bubble, add 8oz of beer, stir, and let it sit for 12 hours more.  If you let it ferment too long, it will turn into vinegar.

    You can also add a pinch of tobacco after 2 days to give it an extra kick.  When it is ready, strain through a very fine strainer or cheesecloth, and serve cold.  This stuff is great.

    Basi (Philippines)

    Basi is a fermented beverage made from sugarcane that has been popular in the Philippines and Guyana for many centuries.  It is stored and earthen jars and usually ferments for several years.

    A Basi festival is held every year in Naguilian, La Union.

    Recipe (1 gallon)(ABV 10-12%):
    4.5lbs Sugar cane (cubed)
    1oz Ginger (bruised)
    1 gallon Water
    2.5lbs Sugar
    8oz Raisins (chopped)
    Yeast (Lalvin D-47 yeast ) and yeast nutrient

    1. Put the sugar cubes into a large pot with the ginger and 1 gallon of water.
    2. Bring to the boil  and then simmer for 45 mins.
    3. Strain onto sugar and raisins in a glass jog and leave to cool.  
    4. When cool (70-75 degrees) add yeast and nutrient.  Leave for 4 or 5 days and stir daily.
    5. Strain to bottles and let ferment from 30 days and up to 2 years.

    For more on the latest craft beer news in Cincinnati and beyond, go to: www.beermumbo.com


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