Luna Bay Hard Kombucha: One-Man Taste Panel
today at 6:52 pm
Earlier this month, I ran my interview with Bridget Connelly, co-founder of Luna Bay Booch. This brand of hard kombucha was developed in Chicago, tested and scaled up at Pilot Project Brewing, and is now expanding nationwide in cans from Denver’s Crazy Mountain Brewing Co.
My disclosure: the request to cover this brand came with an offer of samples to try. I received one can of each of their flagship flavors, and went through them one at a time.
I turned this tasting into a procedure: I’d try each drink straight, and then finish it off in a mixed drink. This has worked out well with my writing about other kombuchas and a ginger beer. I figured this would turn into a chance to get the flavors or a syrup mixer, but with much less sugar.
Ginger and Lemon
Plenty of fizz that slips away very quickly. A cloudy yellow lemonade color. Nice strong smell of fresh grated ginger. Taste is light and spicy, with ginger and lemon complementing nicely.
It seems the logical thing to make of this would be a highball, with some ice and whiskey. The extra alcohol makes this a little more dry, and I found some of the wood the whiskey would have been aged in.
A lavender, or more closely, a purplish pour. I am picking up yeast in the nose before any floral or other character. Since I’m not a lavender kinda guy, the main impression is kind of like a sparkling wine, like a blush Asti. But there still is some yeast in the taste as well. Perhaps I will check out another can to see if this is just a blip.
Since this is a botanically-focused drink, I figured to mix with a botanical liquor; in this case, the Monkey 47 Gin I was sent earlier. There’s an extra bit of floral taste added, and the dryness of the gin keeps everything in check. But I felt it needed a little bit of lime juice to round it out.
Palo Santo Blueberry
A touch stronger at 6% abv, this is aged on slat of palo santo wood. My previous experience with the South American hardwood was Dogfish Head’s Palo Santo Marron, a 12% brown ale aged in barrels from palo santo. This is a hazy purple color, again with a fizzy head that goes away quickly. The main smell is again yeast, but it least it smells like it’s live. Taste has yeast again and, as I sip, a fresh blueberry smell comes just to the top of my nose. The wood taste is kind of slight, more of a general impression of tree sap. And there are some yeast dregs that come out at the end of the can.
I figured a complex combination like this would required a neutral spirit like vodka. Here the alcohol opens up the taste of yeast and wood into a sort of perfume. Blueberries never quite take over the palate, which works out well.
These turn out to be pretty good by themselves, and a nice mixer. Since there is some yeast left in the can, it’s a good idea to have them fresh or keep chilled.