Local brewers seize emerging hard kombucha market
Posted on July 19, 2019
San Diego is known for its craft beer culture, but there’s a new trend brewing: hard kombucha. A relatively new entrant to the adult beverage industry, it has come on in a big way over the past year, particularly in San Diego County, where a pair of producers is making big waves where “mindful drinking” is concerned.
“There are living probiotics in every batch of our farm-to-tank kombucha,” says Adam Hiner, co-founder of Chula Vista-based Boochcraft. The four-year-old company is the only local kombucha brewery to use 100 percent all-natural, raw, cold-pressed juice, which, says Hiner, “allows us to retain healthful attributes from the produce we use, while our cold-extraction method gets all of the herbal benefits.” All of Boochcraft’s kombuchas employ a juice, herb, and botanical trio. Popular varieties include grapefruit, hibiscus, and heather; and ginger, lime, and rosehips.
Also activating creative flavor profiles like blood orange-mint and honey-ginger-lemon is JuneShine. Opened in a small lease-to-brew suite in North Park last summer, a sexy “coastal bohemian” vibe and fervent demand have allowed its founders to take over Ballast Point Brewing’s former headquarters in Scripps Ranch in February, which is capable of producing up to a staggering 120,000 barrels annually. “JuneShine is jun kombucha brewed with honey and green tea, while traditional kombucha is brewed with cane sugar and black tea,” says co-founder Forrest Dein. “The honey and green tea give our product a smoother taste profile without the apple-cider vinegar smell and bite of most kombucha.”
According to Nielsen research, one fourth of consumers are actively seeking alcoholic options with wellness in mind. With probiotics and just 63-169 calories per 11-ounce serving, hard kombucha scratches that itch. And it’s widely available, not just at grocery and liquor stores, but increasingly at restaurants and bars, including JuneShine’s pair of tasting rooms in Scripps Ranch and North Park and, coming soon, a Boochcraft tasting room on the “Sky Deck” of Del Mar Highlands’ upcoming retail plaza, The Collection.
Both companies claim a higher purpose beyond the typical entrepreneurial spirit. “[JuneShine’s] goal is to produce honest alcohol for a healthier planet,” says Dein. “People deserve to know exactly what they are putting in their body, and we’ve made it our mission to brew hard kombucha people can feel good about drinking.”
As for Boochcraft, it is a one-percent-for-the-planet company, donating at least that amount annually to humanitarian and charitable causes. On top of that, it is a green operation, composting hundreds of thousands of pounds of fruit and tea scraps, and a supporter of the Farm to Families food skills education program delivered by South Bay’s Wild Willow Farm and Education Center.