No Corporate Beer Reviews: Ancient Berry Kombucha

Beer: Ancient Berry Kombucha
Brewery: Flying Embers (Ventura, CA)
Style: Kombucha
4.5% ABV / N/A IBU

Technically, all kombucha is alcoholic, in the same way many non-alcoholic beers have trace amounts of alcohol. Let’s just say you’re on the way to Whole Foods to stock up on cashew milk and organic fair-trade chocolate and you decide to grab a kombucha on your way out – that’s going to be about 0.5% ABV, roughly equivalent to a St. Pauli Girl N/A beer. Your kidneys will filter that out immediately, but no one’s reaching for kombucha to get crunk. It’s all about antioxidants and probiotics and, uh, magic hippie healing vibes.

The split between regular kombucha tea and the class of products being marketed as “hard kombucha” is a median of 4.5% ABV that places the latter in the range of easy-drinking lagers and session beers. The basic science involves adding yeast and bacteria to convert sugars into alcohol through fermentation. Introduce more sugar and you’re likely to get a more alcoholic brew. But, of course, the sugars get converted to alcohol, so the hard kombucha is pretty much the same as the kombucha tea, from a caloric perspective. At around 100 calories per 12 oz can, hard kombucha is a solid alternative to the hard seltzer market.

Ancient Berry from Flying Embers offers a blend of elderberry, goji berry, and raspberry. Hints of all three are discernible, but the effect is muted. Berry flavors are hard to capture in ciders and beers because we’ve gotten accustomed to the boldness of fruit lambics and berliner weisse beers with fruit syrups. Kombucha, itself, is fairly muted without the addition of citrus or spice/heat – the rest of the Flying Embers includes lemon, grapefruit, ginger, and chili peppers. A botanical like thyme or rosemary would really help Ancient Berry to pop, but maybe it works because it isn’t flashy. Hard kombucha is kind of like sticking a Playboy in between the covers of a Mad Magazine (back when either of those things existed) – if you’re gonna drink before noon, you gotta keep up appearances.

For more info, check out Collective Arts Brewing here.