If you’ve been to any sort of health food, higher-end grocery, uppity restaurant food retailer place anytime recently, you’re starting to see a word creep up more and more: Kombucha.
Kombucha is not to be feared. It is only to be understood.
Basically, kombucha is a lightly sweetened black or green tea that has been fermented with a mass of bacteria and yeast, commonly referred to as a SCOBY (SKO-bee). Cultures generally vary, and the kombucha that is commercially available rarely get alcohol levels high enough to consider them to be alcoholic beverages. Home-brewed kombucha, on the other hand, could get a little out of control.
There are also brewing, distributing, commercially available local kombucha breweries, many of whom are starting to become a part of the local brewers framework in the same way beer breweries are. One local to me, based in West Palm Beach, is Non-Prophet Brewing.
Owner and brewer Chris Montelius was in the beer distribution business for almost a decade. After that, he decided to get into the brewing business, and decided on kombucha since there’s a lot of interest in the beverage, especially in South Florida.
Chris takes a base tea, ferments the kombucha and crashes it cold in a brite tank to control the kombucha’s alcohol level. The ABV never gets above the legal minimum of .5% required for an alcoholic beverage, which also means he can self-distribute the brews.
There’s a lot that he adds in secondary fermentation: mango, jalapeno, bourbon-barrel aging, etc. My first time trying Non-Prophet kombuchas was the interestingly-flavored Citra Dry Hop Kombucha (Kombucha, .5% ABV).
Yep, Citra hops. It was a little nod to Chris’ beer interest, and what’s great about the kombucha is that it brings out all of the great, orange/grapefruit flavors of the hop with none of the bitterness traditionally associated with hoppy beers.
Chris mentioned that he dry hops the kombucha in secondary, similar to how a lot of other breweries are starting to do so (Interestingly enough, we mentioned my recent article about Fresh from Civil Society, another brewer that does a lot of late hopping for the most hop flavor with the least hop bitterness).
I’ve had a lot of bottled kombucha products, and this was leagues beyond all of them. It’s soft, with a little tang, and remarkably nowhere near the vinegar beverages many products tend to be. It has a light sweetness, very refreshing, and blends so very well with the hops.
I am definitely going to be searching out more of Chris’ great kombucha products. I want to see what else he has up his sleeve.
And it is definitely not to be feared.
Drink Florida Craft,