Kombucha beer and Kombucha wine recipes have made the rounds among homebrewers forever, but only recently have commercial brewers considered the combination of Kombucha and beer, especially Belgian beers which share many of the same flavors and even yeasts as Kombucha, namely brettanomyces.
When I found out that my Sweet Home Chicago based Goose Island Brewery was one of the first to jump on the Kombucha beer trend with their hibiscus hinted offering Fleur, the perfect excuse to visit home had presented itself. Us Midwestern types are known for our hospitality, and the folks at Goose Island did us proud with a full private tour of their facility and Kombucha brewing operation.
Tom Korder, Brewery Operations Manager, brought me up to speed on beer brewing basics (delightfully similar to brewin’ up the booch) and clued me in on Goose Island’s plans for expansion. He’s excited because the craft beer movement has created room for innovation and creativity that didn’t exist before. I was pleased to learn that all of Goose Island’s offerings remain unpasteurized (though they don’t advertise that fact), providing more nutrients akin to the beers brewed in times of yore. So when you drink Fleur, you are also receiving health benefits from live Kombucha Tea.
John Laffler, author of our great guest post this week, showed me the ropes of Goose Island’s Kombucha brewing operation. Starting out in a base of Oolong Tea, Hibiscus flowers are added lending fruity, floral notes; “Fleur” means flower in French, after all. The resulting tea is bright pink, staining the SCOBYs purple over time. Glucose is the sweetener of choice which produces a milder, less acetic (vinegary) ferment. Though the Kombucha is intended to balance the sweetness of the beer, using regular sugar could create a sourness that would over-power the more delicate flavors of the beer.
Enjoy the video!
I really enjoyed this smooth, floral quaff, especially after sipping for a few minutes (I admit I’m not the biggest beer drinker). Fleur has been well reviewed by Emma Christensen of The Kitchn and scores a B+ on BeerAdvocate. The good news is that it is being rolled out to new markets including the East Coast – Boston & New York as well as coming out West to California. It is currently sold in a 22 oz size meant for sharing with friends. I’ve heard that 4 packs and kegs will be available this year as well.
To see if Goose Island beers are available where you live, plug your zip code into their Beer finder.
Have you had Fleur?
If not, do you like the idea of Kombucha mixed with beer?
Leave your comment below!