The rise of hard, or alcoholic, kombucha may soon mimic that of hard seltzer. Both are lauded as healthier alternatives to other boozy drinks, but their draws are different. Hard seltzer’s appeal comes from what’s missing: carbs and calories. For kombucha drinkers, the focus is on the inclusion of much-touted probiotics. Hard kombucha’s alignment with the “healthier for you” movement is creating new demand for the beverage on tap, in cans, and mixed into cocktails. Here are a few to keep your eye on.
Flying Embers dry ferments its kombucha with champagne yeast, giving it an approachable, easily pairable flavor. “Hard kombucha has been following some of the same trajectories as wine,” says Beryl Jacobson, Flying Embers’ chief strategy officer. Consider pairing a floral kombucha with a light meal and one with some kick with a heartier meal. Its flexibility makes Flying Embers an on-tap staple at the Breckenridge Pour House.
At Esters in Denver, JuneShine can be found in brunch cocktails or in 12-ounce cans. The Rise & Shine blends Tito’s vodka, lemon, simple syrup, and JuneShine’s Blood Orange Mint Hard Kombucha, while the Midnight Hour combines the brand’s Midnight Painkiller Hard Kombucha with lime, Tito’s, and honey syrup. “Hard kombucha is a great alternative that is organic and gluten-free,” says JuneShine’s co-founder Greg Serrao.
Mortal Kombucha crafts its certified organic kombuchas with creative flavors inspired by the hard seltzer and craft beer scenes. “Both the salted cucumber and lime and the pineapple and jalapeño flavors taste like wine spritzers,” says Becca Schepps, Mortal’s founder and CEO. Mortal is most often found bottled at spots like Colorado Springs’ Streetcar 520, though the company is beginning to offer kegs as well.
Thanks to its widespread distribution and eye-catching branding, Jiant Kombucha has rock star name recognition. “[Jiant] can be found anywhere from ingredient-driven cafes, to boutique hotels, to fast-casual restaurants, taco shops, and iconic dive bars,” according to co-founders Larry Haertel Jr. and Aaron Telch. Look for Jiant on tap, in cans, and used as mixers at establishments like the Rayback Collective in Boulder.
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