News / Edmonton

Back off, beer: Local Edmonton brewery selling kombucha at concerts

Edmonton's first kombucha brewery sets up shop in the Starlite Room basement, plans to 'compete with beer'

Brian MacLean and Jennifer Darling show off their Kombucha as the first kombucha brewers in Edmonton.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

Brian MacLean and Jennifer Darling show off their Kombucha as the first kombucha brewers in Edmonton.

A new Edmonton business is using rock ’n’ roll to spread kombucha to the masses.

Boocha, a three-person operation billing itself as the city’s first kombucha brewery, has set up in the basement of long-running music venue the Starlite Room.

“We want it to be places where kombucha isn’t,” said Byron Hradaway, who founded the business with Jenn Darling and Brian MacLean.

“It’s about getting it out there to people that don’t know what it is, they’ve never tried it. People that come to a punk or metal show at Starlite generally wouldn’t have access to kombucha.”

The three are longtime friends who have dabbled in brewing beer, and they were living together in a rental house when they started making kombucha.

MacLean describes the process as similar to brewing beer, only using tea instead of grains. For flavouring, they use organic cane sugar, fruits and dried berries.

They started selling at the 104 Street Farmer’s Market and Nook Café before teaming up with the Starlite.

MacLean said they’ve focused on strong flavours to make the drinks more accessible for people who might otherwise have an aversion to fermented drink.

“We realize a lot of people like the idea of what kombucha does for you, and the health benefits of it, but a lot of it can taste like a dirty hippie made it,” he said.

The Starlite partnership has opened up several new partnerships, while also giving non-drinkers at shows a more palatable option.

“A lot of people are trying to kick things like pop, a lot of people want to try to drink less alcohol and things like that,” MacLean said.

“(They) can go to a show and I can drink something that’s not a pint of Coke with over 200 grams of sugar in it.”

But it isn’t just for those looking to cut back on booze.

Boocha’s cherry, lavender, peach and snozzberry flavours – the latter a reference to Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – also happen to also pair with certain liquors.

On March 23, Boocha will partner with Yellowhead Brewery to showcase its alcohol-pairing options, which include lavender with gin and cherry kombucha cut with beer.

Darling said she’s heard of other kombucha breweries coming up in Edmonton, but hopes being the first gives Boocha a competitive edge.

The business is working with the Alberta Treasury Branch Booster campaign to raise $10,000 by March 14, which would allow them to automate production and start getting into kegs so they can put it on tap.

“We want to compete with a beer – a premium non-alcoholic drink,” Hradoway said.

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