Restaurant Law Blog

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Beyond Kombucha to Debut Its First Ale

A friend and client of mine was recently interviewed by Daily News’ reporter Clare Trapasso about his phenomenal product, Beyond Kombucha, which is now set for delivery.   Here is the article:

When the feds cracked down on the trace alcohol content in popular fermented Asian teas last year, a Queens kombucha manufacturer refused to tweak his recipe — or close up shop.  Instead, Beyond Kombucha, in Astoria, became the first licensed kombucha brewery on the East Coast this month.

Owner and brewer Spiro Theofilatos plans to unveil his first kombucha ale, Mava Roka, made with maple syrup and vanilla rooibos tea, on Thursday at the Queens Kickshaw in Astoria. He also brews half-a-dozen traditional kombucha varieties, with alcohol contents of 1% to 1 1/2%, and plans to unveil alcoholic kombucha ciders and sparkling wines in the coming months.

The bubbly, acidic beverage is reputed to offer health benefits, including boosting the immune system and aiding digestion. “It’s just the healthiest, most wonderful thing you can drink,” said Theofilatos, a former electronic music producer and DJ. “I wouldn’t be doing this with so much passion if I didn’t love it.”

Theofilatos was introduced to the drink in 2005 — and shortly after was drinking two to three bottles a day, he said.

It wasn’t long before the budding kombucha aficionado began brewing the fermented tea in his one-bedroom apartment, storing large jars of it in his boiler closet.

In January 2010, he opened Beyond Kombucha in the basement of his family’s brick commercial building where he used to live. He soon convinced his brother to install solar panels on the roof to power his fledgling business. But in June 2010, the federal government cracked down on the drink due to its alcohol content. Companies were forced to reformulate their recipes or become licensed alcohol producers. Theofilatos chose the latter and got his brewers license on Dec. 8 — making him the first licensed kombucha brewery on the East Coast.

Now, giant glass jars of tea cover a table in Theofilatos’s former windowless bedroom. The drink is fermented with a bacteria and yeast culture that stretches into the liquid like a jellyfish and its tentacles. “I had no question in my mind that I wanted to go the alcoholic route,” he said. “I did not want to fix something that was perfect.”

Hannah Crum, founder of Kombucha Kamp, a Los Angeles-based kombucha website that promotes the drink, said more manufacturers are turning their products into alcoholic beverages, such as beer. “We’ve barely touched the surface of what kombucha can do,” said Crum. “There’s a lot of room for creativity.”

Queens Kickshaw co-owner Ben Sandler said customers have been buzzing over the Mava Roka kombucha ale that the grilled cheese joint plans to put on tap. “People have been asking about it left and right,” he said. But Sarah Theodore, a global drinks analyst at the international firm Mintel Group Ltd., said kombucha is still a niche drink. “It’s becoming a much more popular product, but at this point it’s more restricted to natural food consumers,” she said.

By:  Clare Trapasso

http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-12-15/news/30522465_1_ale-drink-ciders

 

Beyond Kombucha

Spiro Theofilatos

http://www.beyondkombucha.com

718-274-2747

 


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