Aspen Times Weekly Bar Talk: Rediscovering Hard Kombucha

Photo Rose Laudicina took in Hawaii of the Strainge Beast kombucha can from the first time she had one. To go with this weeks bar talk
Rose Laudicina

The very first time I had hard kombucha, I distinctly remember strongly disliking it.

It was probably six or seven years ago at an event in Aspen, and the brand, which I truly can’t recall the name of, was offering tasters of its new, alcoholic kombucha.

I already was a fan of the normal fermented tea-based drink, so I was excited to try it, but I was instantly regretful for taking a sip. It tasted like skunked beer mixed with kombucha; the fizz was gone, and in its place was a lackluster, flat, vaguely sour drink that I instantly disposed of.

After that, the kombucha variant disappeared from my radar, and I assumed it was a failed product attempt, until a few years ago when the drink resurfaced and started creeping onto local liquor store shelves.

For my second encounter with hard kombucha, I was on the hunt for something light and summer appropriate to enjoy outdoors after recreating and saw the brand Flying Embers in flavors such as Grapefruit Thyme and Watermelon Basil.

Once again intrigued, I decided to give it another try because the flavors were traditionally ones I enjoyed in cocktails. Luckily, the formula was vastly improved, and now hard kombucha is one of my alcoholic drink go-tos.

In taste, hard kombucha is somewhat similar to nonalcoholic kombucha when done right.

Kombucha, a drink that has been brewed for over 2,000 years and, which at its core is tea, sugar and yeast, naturally has a small amount of alcohol in it since it is made through the process of fermentation. However, the alcohol content in traditional kombucha is in such trace amounts, it doesn’t impact the taste or the consumer.

Hard kombucha, while also made through fermentation, has more yeast and sugar added, allowing it to ferment for a longer period and produce a higher percentage of alcohol.

One can of hard kombucha typically has 4-6 percent alcohol by volume, which is similar to what you will find in a can of hard seltzer, making it easy to drink and not likely to derail your day or evening if you have a few.

A benefit to nonalcoholic kombucha and the reason that many choose to sip the fermented tea is that it is filled with good-for-your-gut bacteria and probiotics. While hard kombucha maintains some of those positive digestive and healthy properties, it’s still alcohol and the good is not going to outweigh the negative impacts, so like all drinks, you’re recommended to consume in moderation.

June Shine Midnight Pain Killer
Courtesy photo
Flying Embers
Courtesy photo

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