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Babe Kombucha brings a different success story to Linda Vista

Growth includes a new distributor, new brewhouse, and new yerba mate kombucha

Babe kombucha's lineup features regular and hard kombucha flavors
Babe kombucha's lineup features regular and hard kombucha flavors

Could lightning in a bottle strike twice in the same strip mall? Back in late 2017, a small group, led by brother and sister Vinnie and Carol Pavan, co-founded Babe Kombucha. The craft kombucha maker operates out of a small, Linda Vista brewery and tasting room, right next door to Home Brew Mart, the homebrewing supply shop that served as launching point for what became the billion-dollar beer company, Ballast Point.

Place

Babe Kombucha

5401 Linda Vista Rd Suite #409, San Diego

That location is pure coincidence, insists Vinnie, though the inspiration is not lost on the Pavans. “We were like, Shit, man. They have an amazing story!” he says, “Let’s repeat that!

Of course, in this decade, amazing liquid success stories are being written less on the beer side than they are in kombucha. According to MarketWatch, a segment that barely existed seven years ago now is now worth roughly $2 billion annually. And over the past five years, hard kombucha has grown to $100 million a year, a number forecast to rise more than 40-percent over the next five years, led in part by the explosive growth of innovators including the local brands, Boochcraft and JuneShine.

Babe was set to launch a new, organic yerba mate kombucha on May 17.

Babe’s start was relatively modest, though no less interesting. The brand only began selling hard kombucha last October. For the first three years, Babe focused exclusively on nonalcoholic — a.k.a. regular — booch.

Carol, a former architect, serves as president of Babe, while Vinnie continues his marketing career as vice president of sales and marketing. San Diegans for the past twenty years, the siblings actually grew up in southern Brazil, and Vinnie explains it was the embrace of our healthy, surf-friendly San Diego lifestyle that started them on the path to starting a kombucha company.

“Ninety-nine percent of the world drink sodas,” he says, “One percent of the world drinks apple cider vinegar. In order for me to make a difference in this world, I need to make a product that is healthy as apple cider vinegar, but still tastes good.” To him, that means marketing a probiotic tea that improves on kombucha’s once acetic reputation. “Something for people that want to be healthy, but are not willing to make a weird face when they have a drink.”

To help achieve this, the Pavans struck a deal to source local fruit from organic producer Stehly Farms. They enlisted Travis Davenport, a kombucha fanatic who’d been perfecting his process for more than a decade as a homebrewer. Usually in between gigs, globetrotting as a high-end fashion model for the likes of Ralph Lauren and Dolce & Gabbana. Though Babe’s cartoon logo features various poses of a long-haired, shoulder-baring woman with a flower in her hair, Davenport represents the rare brewmaster more photogenic than the girls popping up in the company’s Instagram feed.

It was Davenport, Vinnie Pavan says, who pushed to add hard kombucha to Babe’s line. In part for the market opportunity, in part for the creative challenge, and mostly so he could drink it himself. Using champagne yeast, the Babe brewing team delivered a very dry lineup including mango orange, piña colada, and a cranberry plus blood orange flavor inspired by the cocktail, cosmopolitan.

Cans of the hard stuff are starting to hit local shelves, and promise to move quickly now that Babe has signed on with Scout Distribution. But, turns out, Babe was already doing fairly well in that regard. Though Pavan expects hard kombucha to eventually overtake regular booch sales, currently he estimates sales are ten to one in favor of the nonalcoholic stuff. Babe’s soft stuff has been flourishing, especially considering the company’s early days, almost exclusive to Linda Vista.

“We started Very community-oriented,” says Pavan, “We started out selling kombucha in our tasting room to the USD students and the neighbors.” The brand didn’t even sell cans until 2019, but now Babe distributes to early 500 accounts. This, in addition to hard kombucha, Babe is expanding its product line again with the May 17 debut of an organic yerba mate kombucha, featuring blueberry, blackberry, and 150 milligrams of caffeine per 16-ounce can. By the end of the year, Pavan sets the ambitious goal of placing Babe in a thousand accounts by the end of the year.

With so much growth, Babe’s production long ago outstripped the capacity of its three-barrel Linda Vista brewhouse. So in February, the company moved most production to a new, 20-barrel brewhouse in Miramar, located at 7727 Formula Place.

“We’re right behind Ballast Point,” he says with a laugh, “Again.”

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Babe kombucha's lineup features regular and hard kombucha flavors
Babe kombucha's lineup features regular and hard kombucha flavors

Could lightning in a bottle strike twice in the same strip mall? Back in late 2017, a small group, led by brother and sister Vinnie and Carol Pavan, co-founded Babe Kombucha. The craft kombucha maker operates out of a small, Linda Vista brewery and tasting room, right next door to Home Brew Mart, the homebrewing supply shop that served as launching point for what became the billion-dollar beer company, Ballast Point.

Place

Babe Kombucha

5401 Linda Vista Rd Suite #409, San Diego

That location is pure coincidence, insists Vinnie, though the inspiration is not lost on the Pavans. “We were like, Shit, man. They have an amazing story!” he says, “Let’s repeat that!

Of course, in this decade, amazing liquid success stories are being written less on the beer side than they are in kombucha. According to MarketWatch, a segment that barely existed seven years ago now is now worth roughly $2 billion annually. And over the past five years, hard kombucha has grown to $100 million a year, a number forecast to rise more than 40-percent over the next five years, led in part by the explosive growth of innovators including the local brands, Boochcraft and JuneShine.

Babe was set to launch a new, organic yerba mate kombucha on May 17.

Babe’s start was relatively modest, though no less interesting. The brand only began selling hard kombucha last October. For the first three years, Babe focused exclusively on nonalcoholic — a.k.a. regular — booch.

Carol, a former architect, serves as president of Babe, while Vinnie continues his marketing career as vice president of sales and marketing. San Diegans for the past twenty years, the siblings actually grew up in southern Brazil, and Vinnie explains it was the embrace of our healthy, surf-friendly San Diego lifestyle that started them on the path to starting a kombucha company.

“Ninety-nine percent of the world drink sodas,” he says, “One percent of the world drinks apple cider vinegar. In order for me to make a difference in this world, I need to make a product that is healthy as apple cider vinegar, but still tastes good.” To him, that means marketing a probiotic tea that improves on kombucha’s once acetic reputation. “Something for people that want to be healthy, but are not willing to make a weird face when they have a drink.”

To help achieve this, the Pavans struck a deal to source local fruit from organic producer Stehly Farms. They enlisted Travis Davenport, a kombucha fanatic who’d been perfecting his process for more than a decade as a homebrewer. Usually in between gigs, globetrotting as a high-end fashion model for the likes of Ralph Lauren and Dolce & Gabbana. Though Babe’s cartoon logo features various poses of a long-haired, shoulder-baring woman with a flower in her hair, Davenport represents the rare brewmaster more photogenic than the girls popping up in the company’s Instagram feed.

It was Davenport, Vinnie Pavan says, who pushed to add hard kombucha to Babe’s line. In part for the market opportunity, in part for the creative challenge, and mostly so he could drink it himself. Using champagne yeast, the Babe brewing team delivered a very dry lineup including mango orange, piña colada, and a cranberry plus blood orange flavor inspired by the cocktail, cosmopolitan.

Cans of the hard stuff are starting to hit local shelves, and promise to move quickly now that Babe has signed on with Scout Distribution. But, turns out, Babe was already doing fairly well in that regard. Though Pavan expects hard kombucha to eventually overtake regular booch sales, currently he estimates sales are ten to one in favor of the nonalcoholic stuff. Babe’s soft stuff has been flourishing, especially considering the company’s early days, almost exclusive to Linda Vista.

“We started Very community-oriented,” says Pavan, “We started out selling kombucha in our tasting room to the USD students and the neighbors.” The brand didn’t even sell cans until 2019, but now Babe distributes to early 500 accounts. This, in addition to hard kombucha, Babe is expanding its product line again with the May 17 debut of an organic yerba mate kombucha, featuring blueberry, blackberry, and 150 milligrams of caffeine per 16-ounce can. By the end of the year, Pavan sets the ambitious goal of placing Babe in a thousand accounts by the end of the year.

With so much growth, Babe’s production long ago outstripped the capacity of its three-barrel Linda Vista brewhouse. So in February, the company moved most production to a new, 20-barrel brewhouse in Miramar, located at 7727 Formula Place.

“We’re right behind Ballast Point,” he says with a laugh, “Again.”

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