Why San Diego is a destination for wellness beers better for you



Hard kombucha is just one of your options.

San Diego’s craft beer culture is second to none and yet we can’t help but notice new trends creeping into tap lists and beverage menus, the most intriguing being the so-called ‘conscious’. , or wellness beers like hard kombucha, hard Jun, and hard yerba mate.

You’ve probably heard of hard kombucha, a sparkling sweet and sour drink that’s fermented with black or green tea, sugar, and an active culture of yeast and bacteria. Unlike virgin kombucha (which often contains a negligible amount of alcohol due to fermentation), hard kombucha is fermented longer, allowing more of the sugar to turn into alcohol for a higher ABV.

In a similar category are the tough Jun kombuchas. Emma Hughes, Customer Experience Manager at JuneShine Hard Kombucha at Scripps Ranch, explains, “Traditional kombucha is infused with black tea and sugar, while Jun kombucha is infused with green tea and honey. There are no other differences between the two, by definition. But when it comes to taste, Jun kombucha has the reputation of being “the champagne of kombuchas” because it is much sweeter and much less acidic than kombucha made from black tea and sugar.

The latest entry into the conscious hard drink scene in San Diego is the world’s first hard yerba mate. Operations Manager Josh Makler of Barrio Logan’s Kové Hard Yerba Mate gave us an update on the tea-like beverage that is slowly becoming a staple in traditional grocery stores. “Mate comes from the naturally caffeinated leaves of a holly species that grows in the rainforests of South America … mate has a strong culture, native to indigenous communities in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. It is known as a symbol of friendship and traditions are passed down from generation to generation.

Whichever drink you choose, keep in mind that despite its claimed health benefits, it is still an alcoholic drink. As Michael ZonFrilli, CEO of Bambucha Kombucha points out: “From a ‘best for you’ perspective, kombucha is gluten-free, generally organic, and contains less sugar and calories than most alcoholic beverages. Consumers go crazy for hard seltzer for similar reasons, but these drinks don’t offer the bonus of the functional health benefits naturally found in raw kombucha, and rarely use whole food ingredients. Being an alcoholic beverage, we’re not claiming that drinking hard kombucha will make you healthier, but it might be a healthier choice in moderation.

With so many options, what’s the best way to dip your toe into the world of mindful drinks? It’s easy; Head to a tasting room and talk to a delivery guy – they’ll be happy to guide you to something you enjoy. We have six good starting points here:

yerba mate hard can
Kové Hard Yerba Mate

Logan district
Kové Hard Yerba Mate serves the world’s first hard version of the famous South American tea-like brew in their beautiful outdoor space, sharing a space with Thorn Brewing (KHYM uses Thorn’s brewing equipment), at the Acre of Awesome. Classified as a hard tea seltzer, sweet yerba mate tea undergoes a single fermentation by yeast rather than the bacteria / kombucha yeast combo, which, according to Josh Makler, makes hard yerba mate “a more accessible and crushable alternative to hard tea seltzer that you can enjoy without the acidity of hard kombuchas, and the false aroma of hard seltzer. ” At a moderate 5% BAC, Kové’s version is organic, vegan, and gluten-free, and comes in four flavors (so far); Mojito, lemonade iced tea, mango colada, and passion berry, plus the occasional limited edition only available at the tap room. They sometimes have n / a versions in the tasting room.
How to book: Places are allocated on a first come basis. You can also buy KHYM in cans online or at locations in San Diego County.

kombucha can
Nova Easy Kombucha

Ocean beach
Nova Easy Kombucha owner and founder Tiago Carniero didn’t expect him to end up brewing hard kombucha in Southern California, but after opening a successful brewery in Brazil in 1999, he and his brother have set their sights north, in San Diego. First launching Novo Brazil Brewing in Chula Vista, they followed with Nova Easy Kombucha, a beer and booch tasting room in the heart of Hippieville, Ocean Beach. Bursting with ripe tropical flavors, herbs and spices, the house favorite is Sexy Pina Colada, a light and frothy version of the classic beach cocktail, or Sexy Mojito, with lots of fragrant mint to balance the tangy lime. ; both grow in the 8% ABV range. Other flavors are just as mouth-watering, like mint watermelon, cactus fruit, agave and jalapeño and this season’s limited edition Peachy Lychee conjures up visions of surf, palm trees and summer without. end. There are always a few non-alcoholic (n / a) strains to try, as well as some new n / a performance kombuchas boosted with guarana and electrolytes.
How to book: Places are allocated on a first come basis. You can also purchase NEK boxes online or at locations in San Diego County.

Photo courtesy of Guava Hard Kombucha

Bambucha Kombucha doesn’t have its own tasting room, but its handcrafted, chef-designed hard kombucha is worth looking for in faucet rooms and restaurants across the region. Inspired flavors are developed by chefs, delivering global culinary flavors using 100% organic whole food ingredients sourced from local farms and specialty commodity companies, like whole root ginger and turmeric fresh from Fiji and rose water which is shipped directly from a producer in Morocco. Before flavoring their beers, Bambucha ethically sources fair trade teas from all over the world and generally organic cane sugar that is minimally processed to feed its crops. Three juicy and harsh flavors include blueberry vanilla, tropical guava, and Hawaiian hibiscus, as well as five n / a choices.
How to book: Find Bambucha Kombucha at these restaurants and tasting rooms: Belching Beaver, Surf Center Bar, San Elijo Vine & Tap, Crack Shack, The Hop Stop, and Tony’s Sports Bar and Grill. You can also buy canned BK at locations in San Diego County.

Photo courtesy of Boochcraft

Del Mar
Founded by three San Diego friends who wanted to make healthier alcoholic beverages, Boochcraft, the city’s largest and most well-known hard kombucha producer, takes a ‘farm to tank’ approach, sourcing ingredients directly from small local farms whenever possible. and whole fruit juice on site. Their first tasting room, in the stunning Del Mar Highlands Brewers Deck, features six base flavors, rotating seasons, their heritage series, and limited-edition “Liquid-Art-Lab†combos that push the boundaries with flavors like Blueberry Juniper and Mayan Spiced Coffee. Each product has a unique or problem-solving sourcing history, like Watermelon Chili, which is made from watermelons too large to transport watermelons that would otherwise be wasted.
How to book: Places are allocated on a first come basis. You can also buy BOHK in cans and bottles online or at locations across the United States.

local roots
Photo courtesy of Local Roots

Local Roots’ faucet room, known as The Boochyard, features 16 rotating flavors of squeezing hard kombucha on tap, making it the perfect stop when you don’t know exactly what you want. A range of basic riffs on popular old-fashioned and modern cocktails, like Booch on the Beach, Cali Mule, and Strawberry Mojito, plus a few stir-fry choices, such as Citra Hops Pear and Hoppy Habanero. Everything is raw, organic, vegan, and gluten-free and is also available in cans, crowlers, and growlers to take away.
How to book: Seats at the Boochyard are allocated on a first come basis. You can also purchase LR in cans online for delivery or pickup, or at locations throughout San Diego County.

JuneShine drinking friends
Photo courtesy of JuneShine

Ranch Scripps
JuneShine’s hard, light and refreshing Jun kombucha is a perfect entry-level choice in wellness drinks, with a soft, less acidic base of green tea and honey, flavored with fruit and vegetables. ‘seasonal herbs. Their popular fruity combos come from what is the freshest in the local market, as well as the creative genius of the brewers.

“Inspiration is everything! Emma Hughes said. She explained that “Recently our team took inspiration from our favorite iconic cocktails, including the Grapefruit Paloma, Iced Tea Lemonade and Spicy Pineapple Margin. All of our small batch specialties available in our SoCal tasting rooms are heavily influenced by seasonality, such as our summer strawberry fields and fall peach flavors.

The huge tasting room at the former Ballast Point production facility is family and pet friendly and is open seven days a week. A second San Diego tasting room at The Jackson, a new multi-purpose facility in North Park, has been temporarily shelved during the pandemic shutdown and plans to open later this year.
How to book: Places are allocated on a first come basis. You can also purchase JuneShine in cans online for delivery, or at locations across the United States.

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Mary Beth Abate is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Chicago and Los Angeles. His hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting, reading cookbooks and while drinking fabulous gin. Follow his experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.


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