J's Hard Kombucha

There's a new and improved hard kombucha on tap!

There's a new hard kombucha on tap at Indeed Brewing Company! We said "so long" to Boon Hard Kombucha and "hey!" to J's Hard Kombucha. In collaboration with J's Kombucha, our new and improved hard kombucha features a new kombucha flavor courtesy of J's (hibiscus-sage-blackberry) and ABV (5%).

We chatted with Jason Wagner, owner and founder of J's Kombucha, about their kombucha and the collaboration hard kombucha on tap at Indeed's Northeast taproom.

When and why did you start J’s Kombucha?
J’s Kombucha opened its doors in the summer of 2021, but the reason why it all started traces back to 2013 when I was searching for a way to alleviate my oldest son’s severe allergies and was drawn to kombucha as a non-dairy source of probiotics. My son was allergic to nearly all foods, and experiencing allergic reactions daily, so I was compelled to do something more than respond with medication after the fact and thought our best bet would be to strengthen his immune system so that we didn’t need to rely on medication as much. My thinking was if allergic reactions begin in the immune system, and over 70% of the immune system lives in the gut, then a stronger gut should lead to less severe allergic reactions. To strengthen his gut, we needed to improve its microbiome by populating it with good microbiota while expelling the bad, and kombucha was central to this strategy.

Gradually my son’s allergies became more manageable, and I’ve brewed kombucha ever since. While I don’t consider kombucha to be a cure for allergies or a replacement for allergy meds, it is a tool that played an important role in improving his gut health when few options were available. We feel lucky to have learned about kombucha when we did and it’s satisfying to now be sharing it with others and hoping that it can bring something positive to their lives as well. This summer, my son began working part-time at J’s Kombucha, which has been meaningful for both of us.

What sets J's Kombucha apart from other kombuchas?
J’s Kombucha is an approachable, mellow kombucha that’s less sour or tart than a lot of the kombucha brands on the market. In part, this is because we use kombucha-specific symbiosis fermenters, which are shallow open-air fermenters resembling a Koelschip. The shape and depth provide a balanced environment for the yeast and bacteria so that ethanol is converted to gluconic and acetic acids as fast as it’s being produced while also promoting a faster, more complete fermentation. The result is a crisper, cleaner ferment, which we flavor with fresh herbs and organic fruit that’s cold pressed on-site.

What your process for making kombucha?
Kombucha is made by first steeping tea (we use a blend of black and green) and then mixing in sugar to fuel the ferment. Once the sweetened tea has cooled, it's combined with filtered water and inoculated with our kombucha culture, which provides the necessary populations of bacteria and yeast. Finally, a cellulose biofilm called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) is added and then everything is left to ferment for about a week with the thermostat set around 73°.

Once the primary ferment is complete, we flavor it with a secondary ferment. This is when we add our cold-pressed juice along with herbs and allow it to continue fermenting for 1-2 days. This creates a complex flavor profile as flavors are broken down and blended with nuance and depth.

How do you experiment with flavors? What have some unique flavor combos been?
Our flavor experiments usually begin with a conversation where our team determines what kind of flavor we’re looking for and what sort of ingredient combinations we want to try. Once we have a list of flavors several test batches are made. When these are finished, we reconvene as a tasting panel to select the best options, which then go on to a second and possibly third round of tests where ingredient ratios are adjusted until everyone is happy.

While experimenting for the Indeed collab we thought fresh basil would be fun, especially because it was an ingredient in Indeed’s original Boon Hard Kombucha. I think it was a blackberry-basil-sage flavor combo that somehow ended up tasting like a pizza, or a caprese, which was kind of amazing, but not exactly what we were looking for.

How did the partnership with Indeed come about?
Some of the core members of the J’s Kombucha team have a lot of experience in the craft brewery world, and a recurring topic of conversation has been hard kombucha, and how we would approach making it. We aren’t licensed to manufacture alcohol and don’t want to be, so the idea of collaboration had been on our wish list for a while. Since Indeed already made Boon, and we were all big fans, it seemed like a natural fit for us. One of our brewers went to the Indeed taproom to introduce J’s Kombucha and let our interest in collaboration be known, and it turned out the feeling was mutual.

How did you develop the first flavor combination? What other flavors are on deck?
The first flavor combination, Blackberry-Hibiscus-Sage, was developed as a nod to the original Boon. We know how popular it was and appreciate that it blazed the trail for Minnesota-made hard kombucha, so we wanted to make something that resonated with it and are eager to hear what long-time Boon fans think.

For the next flavor, we’re looking at some options in response to the onset of cold weather, so something that brings a bit of spice or warmth will be next. Right now, we’re experimenting with ingredients like cascara, bourbon chips, and a few other things we can’t wait to share, stay tuned!

What else is brewing at J's?
This year we also launched a THC-infused kombucha brand called Purple J’s. We currently have 2 flavors available: Raspberry Island and Blackberry Hill, which are first among their kind.