Instagram: Inside large batch kombucha breweries
Our last post highlighted the glass jars, oak barrels and small stainless steel tanks used by small batch kombucha breweries. Small batch does not necessarily mean low volume. Both GTs and Health-Ade brew vast quantities in small batches. This article explains that Health-Ade use over 100,000 2.5 gallon glass containers: the same size many home brewers use, just a whole lot more!
However, as with beer brewers, there are commercial companies who’ve invested in large capacity stainless steel tanks and even very large wooden casks.
This industrial-scale equipment requires an upfront investment but presumably is easier to operate at scale compared to the multiple small-batch containers.
Companies like Stout offer versions of beer brewing tanks customized for kombucha.
We understand how to scale fermentation. We have spent decades fermenting in home kitchens, and then began designing equipment to ferment at larger scales. We know how to take a 1 gallon batch you start on your stove top, convert to a 1 barrel home-brew system, and then scale that into a 10 barrel commercial brew and fermentation system. We understand the energy balance of heating your tea hot enough to steep and dissolve your sugars, and how to bring the temperature down to where your SCOBY is comfortable, and maintain the right temperature for the kind of fermentation you want throughout the entire fermentation process.
There are known challenges with brewing in larger containers:
Kombucha needs oxygen during the fermentation process. “If you have a vessel that’s too deep, you don’t allow the oxygen to penetrate all the way to bottom of the brew…”
We’re curious to hear from any companies who have fermented kombucha in both small and large batches about the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.