The first time I heard about kombucha was a few years back in this Fog and Smog viral video about the "realness" of the Whole Foods parking lot: "...I been on edge since they took kombucha off the shelf..."
Two years later, I find myself forking over $3.50 at least twice a week for a G.T.'s Trilogy or some other concoction.
Who knew probiotics could taste this good? There's something about kombucha's sour effervescence that works for many of us. For me, it might hearken back to the days I drank at least one Coke a day and while kombucha often makes my stomach feel settled, there is all the sugar.
We are told that kombucha is good for us, so therefore it must be? Right. Let's hope so.
There's plenty of discussion as to the health benefits/risks of this ancient elixir (Chinese roots, but migrated to Korea and Japan then to Russia and finally to Western Europe, as per KombuchaKamp) but let's move on to today's subject at hand, kombucha beer, specifically Unity Vibration's product brewed in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Husband-and-wife team Tarek and Rachel Kanaan used to brew their kombucha tea strictly for friends and family. But when demand started to become an issue, the pair decided to incorporate. Unity Vibration Kombucha started hitting Michigan shelves in November 2009, as per Concentrate Media.
In 2014, their kombucha tea and kombucha beer can be found in 11 states in hundreds of markets.
While at a poker party in Ypsilanti in January, our host brought out a bottle of Triple-Goddess Ginger. I was very curious to taste this but my palate was already clogged by a couple of Labatt Blues. My friend drank most of the bottle and gave it positive reviews.
The following week I set out on a quest to taste kombucha beer, specifically the Ginger variety, though Unity also makes Raspberry, K.P.A. (Kombucha Pale Ale) and Bourbon Peach flavors.
Long story short, I couldn't find the Ginger after visiting three stores and had to settle for the Triple-Goddess Raspberry for my tasting. Admittedly, I had high hopes for what I thought would be a delightful marriage of two of my favorite beverages.
Popping the bottle, I found not much foam and a cider vinegar aroma with a hint of raspberry. I poured about six ounces of the pinkish-red liquid into a tall tumbler, let it settle, then took a sip.
Not at all what I was expecting, very little flavor at all, lacking the distinct sourness of most kombucha I've tried and there was almost no bite like most beers. Yes, it's gluten-free and made with organic dried hops, but unless I got a bad batch, I have to say the overall taste was bland.
By all means, support local entrepreneurs like Unity Vibration. We're not judging Unity on the basis of one beverage; they have five kinds of kombucha (with another four seasonal varieties, probably have to pass on the Xochiquetzal though—chocolate-pumpkin-chili) and three other beers to try.
My gut said keep hunting for the ginger to give Unity a fair shake and I promise to do so the next time I feel like forking over $7.99 for 22 ounces of adult-like beverage.