Charlotte is a city of beer. But is kombucha the next big city drink craze? | DFA 90.7

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Fresh produce and consumers’ appetites for seasonal drinks could make Charlotte one of the East Coast’s kombucha hotspots, says the founder of a brewery that makes fermented tea.

“If there’s a kombucha capital, it’s somewhere in California,” said Townes Mozer, who founded Charlotte’s Lenny Boy Brewing in 2011.

“The West Coast always seems to be about three to five years ahead of us on everything from kombucha to beer to a lot of things,” Mozer said, highlighting cannabis laws, for example. “But Charlotte is definitely becoming a beautiful kombucha town. You know, Charlotte and Atlanta are probably two of the bigger ones. Another good kombucha town is Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s not that big, right? But they have a lot to do with the kombucha out there.

Lenny Boy Brewing

Towns of Mozer

Lenny Boy was created around the same time as some of Charlotte’s oldest craft breweries, Olde Mecklenburg, Birdsong, and NoDa. Three other kombucha breweries in town – Queen B Booch, SUM Bucha, and Updog – are five years younger.

A relationship with farmers helped Mozer go from a $ 10,000 investment in tanks, bottles, labels and a trailer to a business selling kombucha in grocery stores, restaurants and bottle stores across the country. East Coast. Lenny Boy Brewing does not publicly disclose its financial results.

Leveraging relationships with farmers, Lenny Boy innovates by brewing with seasonal produce, Mozer said. He started building his agricultural network right after graduating from UNC Wilmington in 2010, working on an organic farm near Asheville.

“We’re very inspired by the seasons,” Mozer said. “So maybe a farmer says, ‘Hey, I have a ton of persimmons this week, and persimmons are a very short season, like two or three weeks. So they’ll say, ‘Hey, I got a bunch of persimmons or sweet potatoes or pears or whatever.’ They’ll reach out and then we’ll usually try to throw them in a kombucha. “

Some of the brewery’s seasonal flavors are inspired by sweet potato pie, cranberries and caramel apples.

One recent Wednesday afternoon at Lenny Boy, a professor walked into the bar with a group of students. Aaron Socha, who teaches chemistry at Queens University Charlotte, relied on Mozer to demonstrate the principles of yeast and bacteria.

In a process similar to production vinegar, kombucha is based on yeast fermentation of sugar into alcohol, followed by bacterial fermentation of alcohol into acetic acid.

“We’re interested in the kombucha side of brewing, the fermented non-alcoholic drink made here with tea, yeast and bacteria,” Socha said.

His chemistry students grow kombucha tea in the classroom, measure aspects of the crop, and use “orthogonal” techniques to prove the concentration of organic acids.

“So we use high pressure liquid chromatography and titration to prove the concentration of acetic acid in tea,” Socha said.

The Estimated Food Institute the kombucha market with a turnover of $ 1.8 billion in 2019, the number of brands increasing by 30% per year. Market growth is estimated at 19.5% per year and is expected to reach $ 7 billion by 2027. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have recently invested in kombucha brands, but the best-selling kombucha company in the United States, GT’s Living Foods is independent.


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