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Local Roots brings booch to North County

Hard Kombucha and soft kombucha, served dry, side by side

The Boochyard, North County's first hard kombucha tasting room
The Boochyard, North County's first hard kombucha tasting room

Add hard kombucha to the list of craft beverage attractions on the Hops Highway. In late April, Local Roots Kombucha opened a spacious and colorful booch tasting room in Vista, taking over over the brewery and license left behind following Toolbox Brewing Company’s abrupt closure last fall.

Place

Local Roots Kombucha

1495 Poinsettia Ave Unit 148, Vista

Local Roots was already in business when that happened, just barely. Cousins and co-founders Ryan White and Joe Carmichael started up in Carlsbad last year, producing traditional, soft kombucha using cold pressed juices and certified organic ingredients. Kegs and cans moved quickly, and they maxed out production capacity within six months. They needed room to grow just as the turnkey opportunity became available. Plus it accelerated part of their long-term business plan: joining the hard kombucha market.

A flight of hard kombucha: a dry, mixed fermented tea beverage measuring seven percent alcohol.

Kombucha in general has been on a steep upward trajectory nationwide, reports of 30 percent annual growth for the mixed fermentation tea follow its move from health stores into cafés, markets, and bars. Within San Diego, hard kombucha companies have shown a likewise steep trajectory. Pioneering hard kombucha brand Boochcraft just completed expanding the one-thousand-barrel Chula Vista brewery it launched with only three years ago, into a 70-thousand-barrel-a-year operation. Meanwhile, North Park’s Juneshine opened in a turnkey brewery less than a year ago, but has started moving into a former Ballast Point brewery in Scripps Ranch that could produce up to a reported 100,000 barrels annually. Craft brewers have taken notice. Otay Mesa’s Novo Brazil has started selling hard kombucha in addition to beer, and all three brands now offer hard kombucha in cans.

White and Carmichael come from healthcare and aerospace industries, respectively, and Local Roots grew out of a shared interest in healthy eating and cold press juices, which led them to brewing kombucha at home. Carmichael suggests the same principles are behind the sudden demand for kombucha in its hard form.

“For us it fits a bigger picture,” says Carmichael, “People are changing the way they’re eating, and with that they’re changing the way they’re drinking too.” Hard kombucha, he explains, offers health-minded consumers the first real opportunity to drink something healthy when they imbibe. “It’s not just another flavor, not just another palate experience.”

While the vinegary reputation of traditional kombucha is a marketing hurdle hard kombucha makers have to overcome, a flight of hard booch at Local Roots reveals exceptionally dry booch, brewed with a blend of black and green teas and a house culture that yields low perceived acidity. Assorted combinations of cold pressed fruits, roots, herbs, and spices added after fermentation provide enough sweetness to mask it. Most flavors feature fruit combined with something aromatic, such as blueberry ginger or watermelon basil. For some, that includes hops, such as a citra and pear combination, and the so-called Hoppy Habanero, where the chili pepper heat is braced against piney cascade hops.

One of the unique benefits of The Boochyard, as Local Roots calls its artificial turf and patio furniture style tasting room, is a chance for drinkers and non-drinkers (whether kids, teetotalers, or designated drivers) to enjoy similar beverage experiences side by side.

In addition to seven percent alcohol booch, Local Roots continues to make soft kombucha. Every regular kombucha flavor has a corresponding hard kombucha, made using the same ingredients. So, tasting notes of the soft strawberry mint may compare to the hard strawberry mojito.

It’s a reminder that potency isn’t the crucial part of crafting a beverage. “Even though it’s nonalcoholic,” says Carmichael, “it’s still a craft.”

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The Boochyard, North County's first hard kombucha tasting room
The Boochyard, North County's first hard kombucha tasting room

Add hard kombucha to the list of craft beverage attractions on the Hops Highway. In late April, Local Roots Kombucha opened a spacious and colorful booch tasting room in Vista, taking over over the brewery and license left behind following Toolbox Brewing Company’s abrupt closure last fall.

Place

Local Roots Kombucha

1495 Poinsettia Ave Unit 148, Vista

Local Roots was already in business when that happened, just barely. Cousins and co-founders Ryan White and Joe Carmichael started up in Carlsbad last year, producing traditional, soft kombucha using cold pressed juices and certified organic ingredients. Kegs and cans moved quickly, and they maxed out production capacity within six months. They needed room to grow just as the turnkey opportunity became available. Plus it accelerated part of their long-term business plan: joining the hard kombucha market.

A flight of hard kombucha: a dry, mixed fermented tea beverage measuring seven percent alcohol.

Kombucha in general has been on a steep upward trajectory nationwide, reports of 30 percent annual growth for the mixed fermentation tea follow its move from health stores into cafés, markets, and bars. Within San Diego, hard kombucha companies have shown a likewise steep trajectory. Pioneering hard kombucha brand Boochcraft just completed expanding the one-thousand-barrel Chula Vista brewery it launched with only three years ago, into a 70-thousand-barrel-a-year operation. Meanwhile, North Park’s Juneshine opened in a turnkey brewery less than a year ago, but has started moving into a former Ballast Point brewery in Scripps Ranch that could produce up to a reported 100,000 barrels annually. Craft brewers have taken notice. Otay Mesa’s Novo Brazil has started selling hard kombucha in addition to beer, and all three brands now offer hard kombucha in cans.

White and Carmichael come from healthcare and aerospace industries, respectively, and Local Roots grew out of a shared interest in healthy eating and cold press juices, which led them to brewing kombucha at home. Carmichael suggests the same principles are behind the sudden demand for kombucha in its hard form.

“For us it fits a bigger picture,” says Carmichael, “People are changing the way they’re eating, and with that they’re changing the way they’re drinking too.” Hard kombucha, he explains, offers health-minded consumers the first real opportunity to drink something healthy when they imbibe. “It’s not just another flavor, not just another palate experience.”

While the vinegary reputation of traditional kombucha is a marketing hurdle hard kombucha makers have to overcome, a flight of hard booch at Local Roots reveals exceptionally dry booch, brewed with a blend of black and green teas and a house culture that yields low perceived acidity. Assorted combinations of cold pressed fruits, roots, herbs, and spices added after fermentation provide enough sweetness to mask it. Most flavors feature fruit combined with something aromatic, such as blueberry ginger or watermelon basil. For some, that includes hops, such as a citra and pear combination, and the so-called Hoppy Habanero, where the chili pepper heat is braced against piney cascade hops.

One of the unique benefits of The Boochyard, as Local Roots calls its artificial turf and patio furniture style tasting room, is a chance for drinkers and non-drinkers (whether kids, teetotalers, or designated drivers) to enjoy similar beverage experiences side by side.

In addition to seven percent alcohol booch, Local Roots continues to make soft kombucha. Every regular kombucha flavor has a corresponding hard kombucha, made using the same ingredients. So, tasting notes of the soft strawberry mint may compare to the hard strawberry mojito.

It’s a reminder that potency isn’t the crucial part of crafting a beverage. “Even though it’s nonalcoholic,” says Carmichael, “it’s still a craft.”

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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