As I highlighted several months back, this was a summer of sour Berliner Weisse beers, tart and salty goses, and thirst-quenching radlers and shandies. And as these lower alcohol, often funky and fruity beers enter the mainstream, I started to think that we’re not so far off from a possible new trend: kombucha-craft beer hybrids.
Kombucha, a fermented, fizzy tea often flavored with fruit and spices, can be an acquired taste. It’s tart and vinegary and might result in a double-take for first-time sippers. It also contains live bacteria and yeast and is lauded for possible health benefits, such as help with digestion and immune system support. Now, as small-batch kombucha makers open up across the country, craft brewers are experimenting with funky hybrids.
Hoppy Leaf-Crooked StaveIn Dallas, Four Corners Brewing Co. partnered with Holy Kombucha to create Holy Rooster Prickly Pear Kombucha Beer, a 2.8 percent ABV blend of Holy Kombucha’s Prickly Pear booch and Four Corners beer. Earlier this year, Crooked Stave in Denver, Colorado, collaborated with nearby Happy Leaf Kombucha, Denver’s first dedicated kombucha brewery. Their booch-beer blends include Crooked Stave’s Vieille barrel-aged saison with Happy Leaf’s rose and ginger, lemon, hibiscus and ginger, and prickly pear kombuchas, all of which were poured on draft at Crooked Stave’s tasting room (pictured at top). Kombucha makers are also finding inspiration in beer: Urban Farm Fermentory in Portland, Maine, makes a dry-hopped kombucha, as well as tart kombucha-cider blends.
Michigan’s Unity Vibration Kombucha Beer is perhaps one of the best-known hybrids. Their Triple Goddess blends kombucha, organic hops, and either organic raw ginger root, fresh raspberries, and peaches or three types of hops, juniper, and grapefruit rind, and is then aged in oak barrels and bottle conditioned. Goose Island has also released Fleur, a 5.2 percent ABV Belgian Pale Ale blended with hibiscus and kombucha.
Or perhaps you’ve seen the somewhat mysterious Lambrucha in the Belgian beer section at your local bottle shop. The kombucha-beer from Vanberg & DeWulf clocks in at a low 3.5 percent ABV and is described as a “mystic marriage of two fermented drinks: lambic and kombucha.”
"Lambrucha is the brainchild of Don Feinberg, with technical yeast management assistance from Dr. Roger Mussche (the Belgian brewing scientist who is the world’s leading authority on Brettanomyces). Lambrucha is blended at Brouwerij De Troch in Wambeek—the heart of Payottenland. Lambrucha combines hand-selected house Lambics that are a minimum of one year old and specially brewed organic Belgian kombucha.”
I shared a bottle with friends and the consensus was that it was among the most unique tasting beers we’ve ever tried—tangy, bright, and briney—and one for the pickle lovers. Find it in 750ml cork-finished bottles to taste for yourself.