I was going to post on the pros and cons Kombucha vs. Kefir. But that post will have to wait. For now, I don’t even know if this is a pro or con: You won’t get drunk from your Kefir. You can try to ferment it for twice as long, but before you open that bubbly drink, put on your face-mask and helmet.
Fortunately, my 30-year-old son suffered no damage when experimenting. But he’d tried to up the alcohol content by letting his kefir ferment a full four days. He’d put the brew into an old Grolsch bottle–the kind with a ceramic stopper, rubber ring, and metal straps to hold it on tight. Well, it got quite carbonated; when he went to open it, the entire metal casing shot right off the bottle, like a rocket, along with the ceramic stopper. Seriously, watch out when playing with kefir!
Alas, my son did not get drunk off the brew. But I’m sure his gut was happy.
Meanwhile, I brought some “kefir soda” to my women’s group. I was anticipating squeals of delight as they all began to imagine how they, too, could brew this stuff. (I even brought along some extra grains, in case anyone was so inspired.) Instead, one of my friends decided she could taste the alcohol, and that she was in fact feeling tipsy. She admitted that she’s very sensitive to alcohol, but… really?!
Of course, that encouraged the entire group to suspect that the real reason for my effervescent mood was just the alcohol talking. My pride was a tad wounded. I take this health stuff so seriously!
But I had to be a good sport. It was all in jest. I pretended I was drunk, but put the extra grains back in my bag. No one seemed too eager to take on a new kefir project.
Kelly the Kitchen Kop (see her post here) had the same concerns as me, what with an extended family suspecting she might be turning her kids into boozers. So she went to quite a bit of effort to determine just how much alcohol is in kefir. Her findings: Less than 1%, which concurs with other findings.
Cultures for Health goes into detail, but basically, alcoholic content of normally-brewed water kefir is lower than 1%. They say that all cultured and fermented foods contain a small amount of naturally occurring alcohol, but it is usually significantly less than 1%.
However! If you actually wanted more alcohol in your kefir, you could use 100% juice in the first ferment (along with the sugar), adding the grains right to the juice/sugar mix. (But only go for 24 hours, lest you have an experience like my son had…)
Oh, and if you love the idea of Kefir Beer, this page goes into detail.
I will have to do a home-brewery experiment at some point, if only out of curiosity. I’m considering that I could brew something very strong and alcoholic, and drink it before the next women’s group meeting. Just so we could compare the “really” drunk me with the regular one. But… I probably won’t go that far.