108 Coronado Ct.
Suite B
Fort Collins, CO 80525

(970) 226-8649

Introduction

Rare Combinations LLC contracted Beyers Analytical Brewing Sciences (BABS) to provide an impartial and critical review of their Kombucha Alcohol Detector. BABS is an analytical laboratory based in Fort Collins, Colorado that is dedicated to developing and performing chemical and microbiological measurements for kombucha and beer producers. The analysts at BABS are certified beer chemists with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and are qualified to provide accurate measurements of components within beverage products. BABS provides education for kombucha producers regarding analytical techniques that can be used to monitor their products. The low level of ethanol required for non-alcoholic kombucha necessitates quick, affordable, and reliable testing that can be used to measure levels at or below 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Methodology

BABS compared the Rare Combinations LLC Kombucha Alcohol Detector (KAD) to gas chromatography paired with flame ionization detection (GC-FID) utilizing AOAC 2016.12. Standards were purchased from Cerilliant when applicable. Quality controls were made from grain alcohol and analytically proofed using a calibrated Anton-Paar DMA4500 densitometer that provides accurate density readings to five decimal places (± 0.00001). Five kombucha samples were purchased from a local grocery store and tested by GC-FID and KAD in duplicate to allow comparison. The KAD was operated according to instructions provided by Rare Combinations LLC. The ABV read-out and the raw value read‑out were recorded for each sample measured by the KAD. All sample measurements were performed in duplicate and occurred at room temperature (22-23~C).

Results

The KAD instrument interface provides sample measurement results reported as ABV from a factory-installed calibration curve as well as the ability to make a custom calibration curve using raw data from the detector’s response. We decided to evaluate the accuracy of the instrument using the factory-installed calibration curve as well as using its capability to generate a custom calibration curve for alcohol. The table below compares the results from GC-FID, the KAD factory-installed calibration curve, and the KAD custom calibration curve.

Table 1: Comparison of alcohol values determined by GC-FID and KAD

Sample Measured ABV (%) (GC-FID) Measured ABV (%) (KAD – Factory Curve) Measured ABV (%) (KAD – Custom Curve)
Kombucha 1 0.35 ± 0.01 0.44 ± 0.05 0.32 ± 0.05
Kombucha 2 0.82 ± 0.01 0.79 ± 0.05 0.76 ± 0.05
Kombucha 3 0.60 ± 0.01 0.63 ± 0.05 0.54 ± 0.05
Kombucha 4 0.86 ± 0.01 0.78 ± 0.05 0.76 ± 0.05
Kombucha 5 0.16 ± 0.01 0.25 ± 0.05 0.14 ± 0.05
QC 0.75% 0.74 ± 0.01 0.68 ± 0.05 0.77 ± 0.05

 

Discussion

The KAD version that we used can provide comparable results to the GC-FID using either the factory-installed calibration curve or the custom calibration curve. However, we would recommend that each customer who purchases the KAD take the time to build their own calibration curve on site and determine what curve fit works best for them.

Final Recommendations

The KAD can be a powerful tool for spot-checking alcohol concentrations in day-to-day operations. Taking the time to develop an on-site, instrument-specific calibration curve for each KAD can potentially increase accuracy. Any instrument is only as good as the operator running it. Training, accurate standards, and quality control are required to achieve reliable measurements. Proximity to the threshold concentration of 0.5% is also an important consideration. Testing of final product with GC-FID using method AOAC 2016.12 is still recommended to ensure legal compliance.

Disclosure and Disclaimer

BABS received payment from Rare Combinations LLC to perform this instrument review and validation. Rare Combinations LLC wanted a completely impartial review and did not make payment contingent upon any specific or desired outcomes. BABS does not make any guarantees or promises to the efficacy of the KAD for individual users or the reproducibility or robustness of the instrument over time. The writing in this document is the result of a small‑scale study performed by BABS and is the opinion of BABS only. The data, opinions, observations, and anything of the like should not be used as legal guidance. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The KAD cannot replace GC-FID as an absolute analytical method.

 

 Alison Root, Megan Root, and Eoin Flinn, Booch, Kikuyu, Kenya 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

November 2016. Late to the party. Started a kombucha company 2 months later in January 2017.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

I fell in love with kombucha, the taste and the increased energy, it wasn’t available on the market here in Kenya, and I knew I would drop off making it at home after a few months – time to employ people!

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Mama Kombucha (another Kenyan brand)

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

Engineer to Salesman to Entrepreneur. These days making beer and soap in addition to kombucha.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Never give up!

 Aleksandra Tomažin, AYATANA, Lesce, Slovenia

 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I first came across kombucha in the summer of 2016 when I was studying at Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy in Venice Beach, California. As soon as I got home, kombucha was my first news to my husband. I later discovered that kombucha SCOBY was used to prepare kombucha by my ancestors but seemed to fail being transferred through generations.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

It was kind of a love at first taste 😊 I was always well aware of fermentation benefits to our body, so that was just another reason to begin with our own production.

Back in 2018 me and my husband met a fermentation specialist, who now is our partner. We started the whole process from scratch – research, development, and building a production site – it took us more than a year, and we introduced our AYATANA kombucha to the market at the beginning of the summer of 2019.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

My first and favorite kombucha flavor is from Health-Ade Pomegranate and Cayenne cleanse. Karma’s Grenade boost is also one of my favorite. But my husband goes for Jarr Kombucha’s ginger and GT’S Lemonade.

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

Well, fermented products (we also sell kombucha shots and water kefir products) are one part of the business. We also have a culinary store and are about to launch our innovative and in-house built family plant-based meal planner shortly. I am also a mother to two daughters, both under three years old, so that is another “career” I hold.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

To put it shortly – #cleanguthappybutt.

Freya Twigden, Fix8, London, United Kingdom 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

2014, I was living in Shanghai for a year abroad of study. I had some time on my hands so decided to enroll in a Traditional Chinese Medicine course at a local health food shop. It was the first week I attended and discovered a home brewed kombucha in the fridge. I learnt how it was used in Chinese medicine to support liver and stomach Qi (energy). Immediately I grabbed a bottle… and it was love at first sip.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

Well, firstly (like most of us) I launched Fix8 because I was completely obsessed with kombucha myself! Second, I had this feeling that kombucha in the UK could be much more than a niche health drink sold just to ‘health food shops’… but a drink enjoyed for its nuanced complex taste that could be consumed as a non-alcoholic craft drink (or mixer) across bars, restaurants and British pubs. The flavour of kombucha is so exciting and unique, something you just don’t find in sugary soft drinks.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

I spent some time in the USA researching before launching Fix8, two amazing breweries I visited left me still thinking about their flavour today! First – the Lavender White by Happy Mountain Kombucha – I LOVE the crisp white tea base to all their booch. I also loved the dry hopped pamplemousse by Whalebird Kombucha down in San Luis Obispo.

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

I was previously studying at university, so technically this is my first job! I studied politics at the University of Edinburgh and after graduation, trained as a yoga teacher in India thinking that might be the path I pursued. Little did I know… the booch was calling!

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

Brooke and Jesse Rich, Rich Elixirs, Costa Mesa, CA, USA 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?
(Jesse) I first discovered Kombucha, when I stumbled upon it at the store. I loved it so much that I started buying a ton of it! I began researching everything on Kombucha and then started making my own!

(Brooke) I went through some major stomach issues when I was 21, and began taking probiotics. I researched all the things that had probiotics in them, and discovered kombucha did! Ever since then, I’ve been drinking & loving it!

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?
We started our kombucha business because we were so passionate about the product & how beneficial it has been for both of us. Our friends loved our kombucha as well, and we decided that we wanted the ability to share with everyone in our community!

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha?
Our top flavors are Gt’s Ginger Hibiscus & Guava Goodness!

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?
(Jesse) I work as an IT Manager. (Brooke): I freelance Graphic Design!

Q: What is a saying that you live by?
We love this quote and saying, “Doubt kills more dreams then failure ever will.” – Suzy Kassem

Eric Elliott, Reputation Beverage Co, DeWitt, MI, USA 

 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

Fall of 2018, my wife brought a GT’s Gingerade. I was blow away by the flavor.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company? 

January 2019, after that first experience with GT’s, it set in motion trying to make my own at home. After a few batches I realized my small town didn’t have any local Kombucha. I wanted to share with my community how fantastic Kombucha is!

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Honestly my go-to is GT’s Gingerade.

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

I spent my career in the alcohol industry. From a beer distribution sales rep, to running a beer distributor. Moved from distributor to starting my own mico brewery in Michigan. In Oct 2018 I sold the brewery. After some time off spent with my family, I decided to start Reputation Beverage Co. A Kombucha and Nitro Coffee brand here in Mid-Michigan.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Work Hard, Play Hard

Mark Bostleman and Mollie Houkom, Ascent Kombucha, Driggs, ID, USA 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

I bought my first kombucha in 2003 in Boulder, Colorado after a friend told me about it and I’ve been drinking kombucha ever since!

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company? 

I followed my passion and when I look back I can see all the different paths that have led me here. I have a real sense of peace knowing I am doing what I am meant to be doing in this moment.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Wild Culture Kombucha’s Ginger Hibiscus Jasmine

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

I have mostly worked as a self employed massage therapist.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

John Muir wrote, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” I’ve made a life in the mountains to be close to nature. I try to spend time outside every day to clear my mind and it’s where I find answers, new ideas and inspiration.

 

Miguel Irarrazaval, Dr. Kombú Kombucha, Santiago, Chile  

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

It was in 2004, when my elder brother initiated in the Hare Krishna religion, and brought many healthy foods and a healthy life style to our family. He started selling the blessed kombucha in plastic bottles in the streets, in orange clothing. I met many wonderful people, and they were always at festivals sharing booch and delicious food. Our family has been producing to share and sell since then.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

I wanted to share this healthy beverage with everybody! It is so delicious but people didn’t know it. Chile is the number three consumer of soft drinks per capita in the word, and I wanted to be part of the change for good.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

My favourite Kombucha I have tried is the Wonder Drink Cherry and Black Currant.

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

I am a Paragliding Instructor, and my career is Agronomist.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Where there is a will, there is a way.

Katarina Schwarz, Katboocha, Rochester, NY, USA  

 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

2015 via my now fiancee’s family!

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company? 

I saw a need for kombucha in Rochester, NY, a town that prides itself on their local food and beverage scene. It started as a small idea, with the idea to test the waters. Shortly after, I was joined by 3-4 other local kombucha brewing companies all within the first year and a half!

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Hmm…I’m always up for a mate kombucha!

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

I have a degree in classical music and prior to starting Katboocha, I was a musician, and I worked for Public Radio/TV.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Just show up. Failure isn’t falling down, it’s not getting back up.

 

Jo Kempton, Happy Belly Ferments, New Zealand 

Q: When did you first discover kombucha?

7 years ago I was introduced to kombucha and water kefir by a specialist who was helping my special needs son with his health. Probiotics were recommended as important to improve his gut health and in turn his behaviour, physical and emotional health. I started brewing kombucha and water kefir as well as making saukeraut and kimchi. The fermented foods and drinks certainly helped a lot. The whole family started drinking kombucha and we loved it.

Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?

I had been making kombucha and water kefir for my immediate family and started sharing it with my extended family and friends. They loved it so much they encouraged me to start selling it. It was quite a process to go from home production on the kitchen bench top to commercial production but I’m so pleased I did.

Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha? 

Kate’s Kombucha Blueberry Flavour

Q: What is your former/current other life or career?

As well as being a kombucha brewer I am an Energy Healer. I specialise in helping people clear Emotional Baggage from the past which may be holding them back from living the life they dream of. In an earlier part of my life I worked in the banking industry. I also worked for an apple juice manufacturer which gave me loads of useful beverage experience which got me started as a commercial kombucha brewer.

Q: What is a saying that you live by?

Just Keep Going!