Your questions answered: Alcohol content of kefir

Reader Sarah wrote with a question about kefir:

I have been reading your website for a while now, and came across your thoughts on kefir.  A quick Google search showed that kefir has a high alcohol content.  Is yours different, or do you know anything about this?  I would love to start making it as it is so healthy, but am concerned about the alcohol.

Sarah, thanks for writing! :)

You are correct that kefir does contain some alcohol, since it is a fermented food. My research indicates that kefir may contain between 0.08% to 2% alcohol.

However, kefir that has been cultured for 24 hours is more likely to contain between .08% to .1% alcohol. Kefir that is cultured with a tight lid will get fizzy and be on the higher end of those figures, for alcohol content. The temperature of your room and length of culturing time all can affect the alcohol content slightly, as well.

I did, however, make a kefir fruit smoothie one day, and put it in the fridge for later. The next day, it was very fizzy, and I guess the yeast in the kefir reacted with the sugar in the fruit to increase the alcohol content. I didn't like the taste at all! :)

So anyway, unless someone is on a very strict diet, where they don't wish to consume anything with alcohol (even tiny amounts of naturally-occurring alcohol), kefir shouldn't be a problem. :)

Making your own kefir: It's affordable, easy, and FUN! :)


Hello again, it's lil_irish_lass. I just passed some kefir grains to a friend, and was looking up your instructions since somehow my bookmarks got wiped. It never occured to me that kefir contained alcohol, but it makes sense since it's fermented and all :D I don't do the extra-step fermenting that some places talk about to make it fizzy; I only culture my kefir for 12 hours.

Anyways, I don't know anything about alcohol, but I'm wondering if that's a lot? Compared to a beer or something? Do you know? I just don't want to give it to my kids if it has a lot of alcohol in it, but I don't know what "a lot" is.

No, it isn't. :) From what I've read, the alcohol content of 24-hour kefir is (on the high estimate) .1 percent... i.e. one tenth of one percent. :)

As a recovering alcoholic, need I be concerned for the alcohol in Kefir?

I really don't think so. The % of alcohol is quite minimal in Kefir. It's such a healthy drink too, I think your body will smile!

I have hepatitis B virus and the only thing the doctor told me NOT to do is to drink alcoholic beverages, drinks.
I understand the alcohol % is minimal, so do you think I should be worried about start drinkinf milk kefir?
I appeciate your atention,

I bought my kefir grains on eBay in 2005 and have been fermenting the SAME batch of grains (or the billionth "generation" of same, if you prefer) for 6 yrs. now. Other than some batches that came out more "sour" than I like, I have never gotten the tiniest "buzz" (and I don't even know what that would feel like, as I don't drink (hate the taste of alcoholic beverages) nor plan to) from drinking kefir. Unless you are ultra-mega-hyper alcohol-sensitive, or your doctor tells you not to drink ANYTHING containing even the tiniest percentage of alcohol (and we're talking percentages that are utterly insignificant!), then I would say that the benefits FAR outweigh the alcohol content.

Someone pull up (post here) an alcoholic beverages that has the absolute lowest percentage advertized (a light beer or wine cooler perhaps?) and then compare that to kefir. I think you will probably get a laugh out of it.

Now, I will warn you (from personal experience), that if you leave your grains in the fridge TOO LONG (a week or longer) and your milk to kefir ratio is not high enough (i.e. too many grains in too little milk)... your kefir will eventually smell like beer or wine... I kid you not! You couldn't PAY me enough to even try tasting kefir in THAT state! I hate the taste/smell of beer anyways, so...

Dunno what the alcohol level is when kefir smells like that, but you'll never get me to try it! But, apart from the radical accidental "over-culture" periods, I have never worried about how much alcohol was ever in it, but... isn't a "little alcohol" (a few percent once in awhile) actually good for you? I know Paul (in the bible) said something about it:

1 Timothy 5:23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.

So I figure kefir can't be any worse than that! :-D And I sometimes drink two batches a day (when my kefir grains ratio gets high enough!). If kefir was prone to having significant levels of alcohol, I am quite sure I would NOT like it... I hate every other alcoholic beverage made today.

And don't EVEN get me started on Myer's Jamaican Rum... unless you want to know just how fast and hard I can fling a bottle against the nearest wall... not that I actually did, but the "micro sip" (the tiniest amount I could put on my tongue) I tried, sure made me want to!

But enough off-topic... I've had my say.



The "high end" of 0.1% alcohol in kefir noted above would be quite unnoticeable. Even the lightest-weight drinker would likely be unable to notice any impact from such a low percentage if they drank kefir until the burst.

As a basis of comparison for those with no experience with alcohol, one "standard drink" in the US is defined as having 18 ml of alcohol. From my own experience, one "standard drink" may have a slightly noticeable effect on a person who has never had a drop of alcohol before and is very susceptible to alcohol (a female of low weight tends to be most impacted). Based on the alcohol by volume (ABV), here are the amounts one would have to consume to achieve a "standard drink" of various beverages:

3-2 beer (3.2% ABV): 437.50 mL (14.79 US fl. oz.)
Standard beer (4% ABV): 350.00 mL (11.83 US fl. oz.)
Strong beer (6% ABV): 233.33 mL (7.89 US fl. oz.)
Standard wine (13% ABV): 107.69 mL (3.64 US fl. oz.)
Strong wine (16% ABV): 87.50 mL (2.96 US fl. oz.)
Standard liquor (40% ABV): 35.00 mL (1.18 US fl. oz.)
Strong liquor (60% ABV): 23.33 mL (0.79 US fl. oz.)

In contrast, at the "high end" noted above (0.1%), you'd need to be a kefir-guzzling fool to stand a chance at the scarcest hint of noticeable effect (i.e.: you'd probably drown in kefir before getting drunk). Even at the "supernatural" 2% noted above, you'd get a belly-ful of the probiotic stuff before noticing it:

“High end” kefir (0.1% ABV): 14000.00 mL (3.70 US gallons)
"Supernatural" kefir (2% ABV): 700.00 mL (0.74 US quart)

Also, I might point out that in the US, anything with less than 0.5% ABV is considered non-alcoholic.


Metta....that is great to know. Could you compare a couple of more things for alcohol content?

How does vanilla and other extracts compare? How much of that would you have to drink?

And how about those awful mouthwashes that have alcohol in them? I don't use them, but I just wondered how the alcohol content would be compared to the other things you listed.

Thanks Metta!

I came across this while searching in how to make kefir. I am from Australia and so am confused as to how you don't know what is the alcohol content in these things - this is not meant in a condescending way at all but here it is the law that everything containing alcohol must have the percentage of alcohol and standard drinks in the bottle if it is a drink well, meant for drinking ( unlike mouthwash etc). It is all relative to how much you drink of the liquid! Here, beer averages 4.8 -5% alcohol unless it is light ( low alcohol) but is served in 425ml glasses (between half and full pint) where as a spirit averages 45% but a shot is only 30ml. You would have to skull about 3 litres of kefir to feel the effect of a beer at the 2% alcohol content!

Mouthwash is not meant for drinking so why does it matter? May as well ask the content of mentholated spirits or cough syrup - unless the real question was how much should you drink to get drunk in which case take a sip and see what happens?

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