Kombucha has never been one of my favorite drinks. This is kind of weird because I absolutely love sour beers, and while kombucha is a vastly different beverage, there are similarities. Well, my distaste for kombucha was abated by local producer Luna Kombucha.

Kombucha has never been one of my favorite drinks. This is kind of weird because I absolutely love sour beers, and while kombucha is a vastly different beverage, there are similarities. Well, my distaste for kombucha was abated by local producer Luna Kombucha.

My mind was partially changed by the flavors, a blend of subtle fruit with spices or herbal plants, big carbonation and a decent amount of acidity. The other factor is that Luna has recently started experimenting — successfully — with boosting the ABV of its beverages from around one percent to five percent.

By consulting local brewer Jason Matthew Kusowski, founder of the Spruce Campbells Brewing Co., Luna has found the person who can transform its original recipes into higher ABV versions while also creating new flavors.

“Some of them are scalable and some aren’t,” Kusowski said. “A lot of the good marriages are a fruit paired with some sort of spice, or plants like guava jasmine and lavender. So you still have so many variations on that [for new recipes] and some will have to change [by adding or removing] certain flavors.”

Luna’s first five-percenter is the Blue Eyed Lola, a fermented tea using blueberry and lavender to flavor. The result is Bluebird, a highly refreshing beverage that’s hard to imagine has any alcohol in it at all. (For an even more refreshing outcome, drink it on the rocks.)

Luna isn’t resting on its laurels. The company plans to adapt higher-ABV versions, like a ginger beer and black raspberry with hops variety at 7.8 ABV. Luna owner Mike Iannarino feels there’s nothing else like this on the market and could be very popular among craft drinkers.

“We’re in bars now, and are hoping to bring it to more,” Iannarino said. “Ultimately, we’d like to give it to mixologists and let them come up with their own cocktails.”

For now, Iannarino and Kusowski are creating new recipes, but mainly focused on maintaining a consistency with the higher ABV versions. The next step is moving to a larger production facility because, as Iannarino said, “because of a higher ABV, we’ve gotten really busy.”

Photo by Jesse Tigges