Kombucha, the healthiest of fermented beverages, just joined its more festive cousin, beer, in a most unexpected location: behind the bar.
Kombucha is a fermented tea with an alcohol content typically less than 0.5%, sold in the juice aisle of the grocery store.
Boochcraft in Chula Vista is now offering a high-alcohol kombucha (7% ABV). Co-owners Andrew Clark, Todd Kent and Adam Hiner say they’re the first in SoCal.
“There was a big demand for [high-alcohol kombucha] that wasn’t being filled,” says Kent. Two years of research and development and one brewery later, Boochcraft has teamed with Stone Brewery to distribute its high-alcohol or “hard” kombucha to over 350 locations in San Diego.
Though it may seem like beer, Boochcraft’s brewmaster, Clark, stresses that it’s not. “It’s not made with grains or hops,” which makes it a safe alternative to beer for people with gluten sensitivity or intolerance.
Kombucha has been touted as a cure-all, said to heal everything from irritable bowel syndrome to arthritis. The scientific evidence is a little murky; however, the fermentation process that kombucha undergoes does produce healthful B vitamins and beneficial acids. Because it’s unpasteurized, it’s also rich in probiotics and prebiotics that are known to promote healthy bacteria in the gut and to boost immunity.
Does this high alcohol inhibit kombucha’s beneficial properties? “Not all at,” says Hiner. He explains that the alcohol feeds the probiotics, helping them to thrive in that environment. “At 7% they’re totally happy.” Clark adds, “You could make the argument that the alcohol helps extract more beneficial vitamins from the herbs and probiotics.”
They aren’t advocating for kombucha benders—“It’s never in your best interest to drink too much alcohol,” Hiner quickly acknowledges. Clark adds that it is in your best interest, however, to drink an alcoholic beverage made from “the best ingredients possible.” This is why Boochcraft’s kombuchas are 100% organic and non- GMO and are made from locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, cold-pressed juices and chlorine-free filtered water. The only ingredient not sourced locally is the tea.
“We want to pay homage to the original purveyors of tea … who are the best in the world,” says Clark. This is why Boochcraft’s tea is entirely handcrafted by a family of farmers in the mountains of Eastern China. “The land is unadulterated because it’s away from the modern perils of industrialization, so the soil is minerally rich,” he says. “And they use spring water from the mountains, which hasn’t been exposed to toxins. You can taste the terroir in the tea; it’s got subtleties of what grows nearby.”
Asked to explain his inspiration for inventive flavors such as Grape Coriander Anise and Turmeric Tangerine Ginger, Clark says he focused on the “specific healing benefits of each flavor.”
Few people might recognize that rose hips, an ingredient in his Ginger Lime Rose Hips blend, contain more than 40 times the vitamin C of an orange. Or that the heather in the Grapefruit Hibiscus Heather blend is considered a natural antihistamine that has been used since Celtic times.
What they will recognize is clean, fresh flavor, which Clark says results from the careful balancing of ingredients and the understanding of steeping times, which he has mastered over the past 10 years.
The strict adherence to quality, deep-rooted integrity of craft and steady commitment to sustainability have put them on the road to success. Soon, you might just find yourself buying a round for friends.
For more information and to find stores and restaurants to purchase, visit their website.