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Kové brings a hard yerba mate bar to Barrio Logan

The first of its kind venue will open outside the walls of Thorn Brewing

A mural by the Tijuana artist, Mode, overlooks the new drinking venue being opened by Kové Hars Yerba Mate on June 18.
A mural by the Tijuana artist, Mode, overlooks the new drinking venue being opened by Kové Hars Yerba Mate on June 18.

San Diego is about to get a first of its kind taproom dedicated to hard yerba mate. Actually, tap “room” is inaccurate. The bar being launched by Kové Hard Yerba Mate is being built entirely outdoors, its founders transforming an industrial alley into a colorful drinking patio, aided by spraypaint, reclaimed wood, and thousands of dollars worth of green plants.

Place

Kove Hard Yerba Mate

1745 National Avenue, San Diego

With four inaugural flavors of hard yerba mate, Kové is forging a new spinoff from the still new hard tea market. It’s all part of a fast-rising trend of gluten-free beer alternatives that started with hard kombucha and hard seltzer. Fermented from a wash of sugar dissolved in brewed yerba mate, Kové is essentially a hard seltzer boosted by yerba mate, the tea-like beverage woven into the cultural fabric of South American countries including Paraguay and Argentina.

However, Kové’s three founders come from having a front-row seat for the growth of another fermented tea: hard kombucha. Each previously worked for Scripps Ranch-based boochmaker, JuneShine. COO Josh Makler brewed there, as well as at Chula Vista’s Boochcraft. CEO Alex Montelbano worked as tasting room manager at JuneShine and AleSmith brewing, and operates nascent Miramar sour ale brewery, Invoak Brewing & Blending.

Chief creative officer Ryder England’s experience in marketing includes film production and the sort of experiential campaigns that help alternative beverages thrive. Before the pandemic interrupted his work at JuneShine, he was preparing to travel the country in a vintage trailer he tricked out as a mobile hard kombucha bar. “I was one day away from going to Willie Nelson’s house for a music festival,” he laments, “that would have been cool.”

Makler came up with the idea to brew hard yerba mate after being introduced to Guayaki iced yerba mate drinks, which have exploded in popularity in recent years across the U.S. The more interested in yerba mate he became, the more convinced he grew it would make a strong alternative beverage base. “Because of all the work I was doing with the tea supplier, I started to talk to him about other products he had,” says Makler,” Yerba Mate was one of them.”

Like alcoholic beverages, the caffeinated product of steeped holly leaves has a strong tradition of promoting social engagement. “Yerba mate in its origin is a very community based drink,” as England explains. South Americans were introduced to the drink by the indigenous Guarani people, and adopted their practice of drinking the stuff from gourds, typically passed around and shared by friends and family at gatherings. The Kové brand picks up on that tradition. “The word is from the Guarani language,” says England, “Kové means to live, the art of living.” A two-story mural by Tijuana street artist Mode, overlooking the Kové venue, depicts a Guarani man sipping yerba mate from a gourd.

Montelbano says the trio spent most of the past year developing the brand and recipes — streamlined 12-ounce cans filled with sparkling beverages flavored by organic ingredients: passionfruit-blackberry, lemon-black tea, mango colada (mango, orange, coconut), and mojito (mint, line). But the biggest challenge was finding an affordable startup location.

Eventually, they hooked up with the growing cooperative of brands residing in a former boiler factory on National Avenue. Anchored by Thorn Brewing Co. brewery and tasting room, the acre-sized property includes upcycling distillery ReBru Spirits, outdoor restaurant Sideyard BBQ, and indoor restaurant HottMess Woodfired Pizza.

Kové is already available within the restaurants, and will soon operate on the same service schedule as its neighboring Thorn brewing taproom.

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A mural by the Tijuana artist, Mode, overlooks the new drinking venue being opened by Kové Hars Yerba Mate on June 18.
A mural by the Tijuana artist, Mode, overlooks the new drinking venue being opened by Kové Hars Yerba Mate on June 18.

San Diego is about to get a first of its kind taproom dedicated to hard yerba mate. Actually, tap “room” is inaccurate. The bar being launched by Kové Hard Yerba Mate is being built entirely outdoors, its founders transforming an industrial alley into a colorful drinking patio, aided by spraypaint, reclaimed wood, and thousands of dollars worth of green plants.

Place

Kove Hard Yerba Mate

1745 National Avenue, San Diego

With four inaugural flavors of hard yerba mate, Kové is forging a new spinoff from the still new hard tea market. It’s all part of a fast-rising trend of gluten-free beer alternatives that started with hard kombucha and hard seltzer. Fermented from a wash of sugar dissolved in brewed yerba mate, Kové is essentially a hard seltzer boosted by yerba mate, the tea-like beverage woven into the cultural fabric of South American countries including Paraguay and Argentina.

However, Kové’s three founders come from having a front-row seat for the growth of another fermented tea: hard kombucha. Each previously worked for Scripps Ranch-based boochmaker, JuneShine. COO Josh Makler brewed there, as well as at Chula Vista’s Boochcraft. CEO Alex Montelbano worked as tasting room manager at JuneShine and AleSmith brewing, and operates nascent Miramar sour ale brewery, Invoak Brewing & Blending.

Chief creative officer Ryder England’s experience in marketing includes film production and the sort of experiential campaigns that help alternative beverages thrive. Before the pandemic interrupted his work at JuneShine, he was preparing to travel the country in a vintage trailer he tricked out as a mobile hard kombucha bar. “I was one day away from going to Willie Nelson’s house for a music festival,” he laments, “that would have been cool.”

Makler came up with the idea to brew hard yerba mate after being introduced to Guayaki iced yerba mate drinks, which have exploded in popularity in recent years across the U.S. The more interested in yerba mate he became, the more convinced he grew it would make a strong alternative beverage base. “Because of all the work I was doing with the tea supplier, I started to talk to him about other products he had,” says Makler,” Yerba Mate was one of them.”

Like alcoholic beverages, the caffeinated product of steeped holly leaves has a strong tradition of promoting social engagement. “Yerba mate in its origin is a very community based drink,” as England explains. South Americans were introduced to the drink by the indigenous Guarani people, and adopted their practice of drinking the stuff from gourds, typically passed around and shared by friends and family at gatherings. The Kové brand picks up on that tradition. “The word is from the Guarani language,” says England, “Kové means to live, the art of living.” A two-story mural by Tijuana street artist Mode, overlooking the Kové venue, depicts a Guarani man sipping yerba mate from a gourd.

Montelbano says the trio spent most of the past year developing the brand and recipes — streamlined 12-ounce cans filled with sparkling beverages flavored by organic ingredients: passionfruit-blackberry, lemon-black tea, mango colada (mango, orange, coconut), and mojito (mint, line). But the biggest challenge was finding an affordable startup location.

Eventually, they hooked up with the growing cooperative of brands residing in a former boiler factory on National Avenue. Anchored by Thorn Brewing Co. brewery and tasting room, the acre-sized property includes upcycling distillery ReBru Spirits, outdoor restaurant Sideyard BBQ, and indoor restaurant HottMess Woodfired Pizza.

Kové is already available within the restaurants, and will soon operate on the same service schedule as its neighboring Thorn brewing taproom.

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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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