Growing Strong Culture
By Ian Griffin, Booch News

From the welcome reception on Wednesday to the after-party on Friday, the attendees at the Kombucha Brewers International (KBI) 2019 sixth annual conference celebrated the theme of “Growing Strong Culture”.  As everyone who has brewed ‘booch knows, the quality of the drink depends on the strength of the SCOBY (the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). This year’s event was the biggest to date, with 424 attendees and 61 sponsor booths. People from 17 countries represented 112 brands from around the world. There were kombucha brewers from as far away as Japan, Iceland and Australia and as close to home as California and Oregon.

To hear what attracted some of the international visitors to the event, listen to this podcast.

Kombucha brewers at the conference gained strength from being part of a community of like-minded people.  It was a unique opportunity for people to come together as an industry. The content of the keynotes, the information from trade show vendors, and the discussions around the kombucha sample bar all gave new and experienced brewers alike valuable insight into a rapidly growing industry.

 

 


KBI Member Sessions

Thursday & Friday mornings were KBI member-only sessions. These sessions are rich with information for KBI Brewery members and cover a range of topics including the Treasurer’s Report, Membership Report, Standard of Identity and more. KBI members login here to access the presentations from the conference. Not a member? Join here.

 Trade Show

The 61 sponsor booths at the Trade Show showcased companies able to assist in every phase of the kombucha business.  A comprehensive set of solutions under one roof covered everything from financing and production to ingredients, testing, marketing and distribution. Anyone looking to start a kombucha company ought to start their search here to review the list of vendors for the tools they need to launch, evolve and strengthen their business.

There were multiple solutions on offer in each category.  Organic teas and flavorings sourced from around the world. Brewing vessels, kegs, bottling and labeling equipment for every sized operation. These suppliers also service the craft beer industry and solve similar challenges in the growing kombucha industry. 

To hear from a random selection of vendors check out this podcast.

Market Trends

Bobbie Leahy, director of sales for SPINS– the leading provider of data and insights for the natural foods industry – reviewed natural beverage trends. While US kombucha and fermented beverage sales are up 21% to $728 million in the past year, velocities are down.  Warning “what goes up sometimes goes down,” Leahy cautioned brewers to be ready to defend their distribution channels. It was no surprise to hear that the top four brands (GTs, KeVita, Health-Ade, and Humm) account for 85% of sales in the conventional channel.  The ‘long tail’ of the remaining brands each account for less than 1% of sales.

 

 

Game-Changing Brew Tank Design

Keeping alcohol content under 0.5% ABV is one of the main challenges faced by kombucha brewers.  A joint presentation by Stout Tanks and Kettles and Texas-based Bare Bucha described what might possibly be a game-changing design in stainless steel brewing tanks. Unlike the typical cylindrical-shaped vessels, Bare Bucha spent over a year experimenting with an innovative stackable tray designed to provide ideal levels of oxygen to the brew.  The increased contact with oxygen allows aerobic bacteria to metabolize ethanol to acetic acid; sugars to lactic acid; and glucose to gluconic acid. The Stout Tanks Symbiosis Fermenter shifts the balance towards bacteria, which reduces overall alcohol.

If these trays prove as effective with other brewers as they have for Bare Bucha, they could well be the shape of things to come and hopefully spurs additional innovations for fermenting Kombucha without compromising quality.

Kombucha Standards of Identity

KBI President Hannah Crum and members of the KBI Board gave an overview of the industry and called for establishing a standard of identity for ‘booch.  This is a diverse industry: 43% of KBI members are women-owned companies, 17% minority owned and 11% LGBTQ+ owned. Members brew ‘booch in everything from 2-gallon glass jars to 6,000-gallon stainless steel fermenters.

Work on developing meaningful standards of identity continues, as KBI gears up to publish an acceptable definition of authentic kombucha.  Under development since last fall, the standard will attempt to define authentic ‘booch both in terms of source materials and brewing process. It recognizes that creating an authentic product requires fermenting sweetened tea with a SCOBY and that the end product is not pasteurized or adulterated.

The campaign received a boost when GT Dave announced an endowment of $1 million to KBI in support of the program that will, he stated, “fight for what kombucha is, protect it, honor it, and celebrate it.”

Other presenters went into detail about the brewing techniques and best practices necessary to produce quality ‘booch, as well as the microbiology and DNA profiles of SCOBYs and kombucha liquid.

Laraine Dave $1 Million Endowment

Rapturous applause greeted the surprise announcement by GT Dave of a $1 million endowment gift to KBI. GT explained the endowment will help KBI in two main areas. ”First, it supports the promotion of the fair and cohesive legislation necessary for our industry to thrive. Second, we urgently need a standard of identity to protect the integrity of the product.”

GT Dave illustrated the challenge of maintaining authenticity by showing the range of what passes for “orange juice” on the shelves: from artificially flavored juice that might sell for $0.06/oz to fresh squeezed juice for $0.72/oz. Most consumers are well aware of the difference and willingly pay the price for the more authentic juice if that is important to them.  

 

Kombucha Tasting Bar

The well-stocked kombucha tasting bar was the office water cooler at the event.  Participants took advantage of the opportunity to share their kombucha with other attendees. There were over 50 brands on ice.  Everyone had a KombuchaKon 2019 souvenir shot glass and a chance to savor more flavors of kombucha in one place than anywhere else on the planet.

As people gathered around the ‘booch tasting bar at the end of the day, we asked what were some of the big takeaways. Here’s what they told us.

Tyler Gage calls for Fierce Collaboration

The founder of the RUNA energy drink brewed from guayusa, a nutrient dense leaf  found almost exclusively in the Amazonian forests in Ecuador, shared his story in a closing keynote. After college, Tyler moved to the rainforest for two years to learn the local languages and ancient traditions of the native Kichwa tribe. The company partners with these farmers in the Amazon to grow caffeinated guayusa leaves and provides income to the local community. RUNA now supports more than 3,000 farming families in Ecuador, and RUNA products are sold in over 10,000 stores across the U.S. and Canada. Tyler notes that “when you’re doing something authentic, that for whatever reason the universe tends to attract resources and support.” Though like every entrepreneur’s story, there were hiccups along the way, Tyler has landed on his feet at Terrafertil, a superfoods brand recently acquired by Nestle Foods.

His powerful story of how collaboration across cultures built a strong and successful company made a fitting end to KombuchaKon 2019.

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Conference Recordings

Did you miss a talk or would you like to have all the info at your fingertips? Here’s your chance to have all the information that was presented at KKon19! Purchase your conference recording now for $199 by clicking on the ad. *Does not include Brewery Member only content.

               

 


Photo Gallery

Beyers Analytical Brewing Sciences & KBI Sour Units Study – Part 1

 

Kombucha Brewers International & Beyers Analytical Brewing Sciences, LLC (BABS) are partnering to build a library of information correlating analytically measured sourness and sweetness to perceived sourness and sweetness of Kombucha.

The goal of the study is to create a standardized sour/sweet numerical value that can be used by producers and consumers alike. Similar to IBU (international bitterness units) we hope to create a Kombucha Sourness Units metric that will help consumers find products that fit their palate; provide additional information to producers to define styles of Kombucha and set a metric to judge Kombucha for international competitions and the like.

A two-part study, the first part is a focused effort to determine the possible ranges of titratable acidity (TA) values in kombucha, and then the second part will integrate this information with sensory data to-be-captured at KombuchaKon 2019. All data and information collected by BABS as part of this study will be shared with KBI and published as a report.  

To achieve the first part of this study, which involves hundreds of titratable acidity measurements in kombucha, we will need as many kombucha samples as we can get to make sure that the database is as comprehensive as possible. This is where YOU come in! Kombucha Brewers International members will be able to submit up to 5 samples for FREE testing (non-members & additional samples = $20/sample)

KBI Member can find the free coupon code here in the Member Forum!

BABS will analyze all submitted samples for TA and test results will be shared with individual brands..

Here are all of the details:

  • Samples can be submitted anytime between February 4, 2019 and March 29, 2019
  • TA measurements will be free for KBI members for up to 5 SKUs
    • 1 TA measurement per SKU
    • Additional TA measurements available for $20 each
  • TA measurements will be $20/sample for non-members
    • 1 TA measurement per SKU
  • Minimum volume of 150 mL (5 fl.oz) of each SKU will be needed for testing
  • Visit Beyers Analytical website to place an order and enroll in the study
  • Follow the shipping instructions after placing an order and ship samples to BABS

Beyers Analytical Brewing Sciences, LLC
108 Coronado Ct.
Suite B
Fort Collins, CO 80525

  • Reports of results will be sent out when testing is completed (generally 24-48 hours)
  • Contact BABS us with any questions!

(970) 226-8649
info@beyersanaytical.com

Details for Part 2 will be disclosed in March. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

In the words of The Brady Bunch “When it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange….”

When KBI first started with 40 members, we knew we wanted to create an organization that is inclusive and welcoming to everyone who shares the same passion for brewing Kombucha commercially. Six years later we can now boast a membership of nearly 300 members around the world; an increase of 750%!  To keep up with our rapid expansion, we have added new staff to help manage the email inquiries and numerous issues and tasks of promoting and protecting Kombucha worldwide. To reflect how much we’ve grown, we are making changes to our member tier structure.

The first major big change is that the Brewery in Process (BIP) membership will be decreasing from $995 to $395. From the onset of that tier level, it has been KBI’s desire to lower the cost for BIPs and now that we have additional administrative support from our Administrative & Development Manager, we are happy to announce that as of October 1st, BIP pricing has been reduced by $600! We hope that will help fledgling and potential new brewers find the support and resources they need to launch their brands.

We also recognize that there is quite a difference in a brewery that produces 25K gallons of Kombucha a year versus one that produces 100K gallons a year, so a new tier has been added. We also know that as our industry grows, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” This means those who are at our top tier, Tier 4, will be paying higher dues.

As we’ve offered in the past, if anyone would like to pay their dues in advance, we will accept dues at the old rate through November 15th. If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, please email Kevin at info@kombuchabrewers.org. Paying dues in advance will extend your membership by one year from the date you joined. Subsequent years will be charged at the new tier structure rate.

 

NEW Brewery Membership Dues Structure:

Tier 1: $395 – 0-25,000 gal annual output

Tier 2: $695 – 25,001 – 100,000 gallons produced annually

Tier 3: $995 – 100,001 – 250,000 gallons produced annually

Tier 4: $1295 – 250,001+ gallons produced annually

Brewery in Process (BIP) $395 – Requirements can be found HERE

Adjunct Member $395 – Requirements can be found HERE

Affiliate Member $395 – Requirements can be found HERE

ALCOHOL & FLAVOUR MANAGEMENT IN KOMBUCHA PRODUCTS 
DATE: 1/16/2019 1 pm on Zoom
WHO: Aubrey Dyer
COST: Free (members); $20 (non-members)

The presentation will discuss some of the challenges involved producing a beverage that is authentic, has great flavour and of course meets legal requirements on a commercial scale. The Flavourtech Spinning Cone Column will be explained in detail and some of the approaches taken to alcohol adjustment in the Beer and Wine industries discussed.

Presentation Topics

  • The Challenges and Constraints in Scaling Up: Some of the challenges involved in producing a beverage that is authentic, has great flavour and of course meets legal requirements on a commercial scale.
  • Introduction to the Spinning Cone Column (SCC): The Flavourtech Spinning Cone Column will be explained in detail and some of the approaches taken to alcohol adjustment in the Beer and Wine industries discussed.
  • Alternative processing options
  • SCC deployment options

Webinar Host


Aubrey Dyer spent 20 years in a range of technical and commercial roles in the New Zealand Food and Beverage industry before taking responsibility for the Americas Region for Flavourtech in early 2011. Since then he has worked closely with many premium food and beverage companies, assisting them to develop and produce market leading products with Flavourtech’s processing technologies.

About Flavourtech
Flavourtech has been in business for over 40 years with extensive expertise high-quality in flavour, alcohol, tea and coffee processing.

About Scan American Corporation
Scan American Corporation were founded in 1977 and specialize in distribution and support unique equipment from around the globe

**The views and results in the following White Paper are the property of Beyers Analytical and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Kombucha Brewers International.**

Introduction

Beyers Analytical Brewing Sciences, LLC (BABS) is an analytical laboratory based in Fort Collins, Colorado that is dedicated to performing chemical and microbiological measurements for kombucha, beer, spirits, wine, and coffee 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. We are often asked what methods can be used to monitor ethanol in kombucha.

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).  This study presents a comparison of four ethanol measurement technologies for the kombucha industry.  Eight off-the-shelf kombucha products were analyzed in a blind test for ethanol content using gas chromatography (GC), an OptiEnz Sensors ethanol sensing system, an Anton-Paar Alcolyzer, and distillation paired with an Anton-Paar densitometer.

Results and Discussion

The table below presents the advantages and disadvantages of each ethanol measurement technology.  These items are worth considering prior to using commercial laboratory testing or purchasing an instrument as part of a quality control program.

Average ethanol measurements for each kombucha sample and performance statistics for each technology are presented in the table below.

Gas Chromatography

Measurements of ethanol concentration made using GC were taken to be the target
concentration for calculations of accuracy in this study due to the technology’s widespread use as a “gold standard.”  However, high upfront costs, high maintenance costs, complicated procedures, and long measurement times prevent most kombucha producers from using this technology at their facilities.

OptiEnz Sensors Ethanol Sensing System

The OptiEnz Sensors ethanol sensing system is more affordable than GC and the Anton-Paar. Alcolyzer, is easier to use than GC, and has one of the shortest measurement times of these technologies. This technology provided ethanol measurements in kombucha that most closely matched GC measurements.

Anton-Paar Alcolyzer

The Anton-Paar Alcolyzer is the easiest technology to use, provides short measurement times, and is more affordable than GC.  Ethanol measurements made with this technology were precise, but consistently lower than GC measurements.

Distillation and Anton-Paar Densitometer

Distillation has a low upfront cost, very long sample preparation times, and requires higher-level technical training.  Ethanol measurements made with this technology were consistently lower than GC measurements.

Conclusions

All the tested technologies are capable of measuring ethanol at concentrations found in kombucha, but the advantages and disadvantages of each method need to be considered when implementing a testing program. Proximity to the threshold concentration of 0.5% is also an important consideration.  Any instrument is only as good as the operator running it.  Training, accurate standards, and quality control are required to achieve reliable measurements.

Experimental Procedures

Gas Chromatography

Headspace gas chromatography – flame ionization detection (HS/GC-FID) measurements and sample preparation were performed using AOAC methods for determination of ethanol in kombucha (AOAC 2016.12).  Analysis was completed on a HP 5890 Series II gas chromatograph (four measurements per sample) with a Restek Stabilwax-DA capillary column using nitrogen as the carrier gas, and resolution of methanol, ethanol, isopropanol, 1-propanol, and acetone was possible using this setup.  A calibration curve was constructed using Cerilliant ethanol standards purchased from Sigma-Aldrich.

OptiEnz Sensors Ethanol Sensing System

Ethanol measurements were performed using an OptiEnz Sensors ethanol sensing system. The instrument was calibrated over 10 minutes using prepared ethanol standards.  Ethanol measurements (six measurements per sample) were made by diluting 0.1 mL of sample into 50 mL of buffer, immersing the sensor probe into the dilute solution and allowing the system to stabilize for three minutes.

Anton-Paar Alcolyzer

Density and Alcolyzer measurements were performed using an Anton-Paar DMA 4500 M-EC with Enhanced Calibration for Ethanol paired with an Alcolyzer Beer ME module and Sample Handling Unit (Xsample 22).  The instrument was calibrated with degassed, deionized water and achieved a density measurement of 0.99820 ± 0.00001 g/mL at 20ºC. Sample analysis (six measurements per sample) was performed by pumping 40 mL of sample through the system, bringing the sample temperature to 20.00 ± 0.01°C, and then collecting density and Alcolyzer measurements.

Distillation and Anton-Paar Densitometer

Kombucha samples (100 mL per sample) were distilled according to the TTB-recommended distillation-specific gravity method (AOAC 935.21).  Density measurements (one measurement per sample) were made using the Anton-Paar densitometer.

Kombucha is a traditionally fermented, low alcohol, non-intoxicating beverage that is most commonly consumed raw, meaning unpasteurized, to protect the probiotics and nutrients in a living form from being damaged.

Unpasteurized means not subject to pasteurization via heat or chemical means. As a result of remaining a raw product, it can experience slight shifts in ethanol as the fermentation process continues in the bottle.

To arrest that process, raw Kombucha must be kept cold at all times to maintain the integrity of the product and to prevent over fermentation in the bottle.

Cold storage ought to be maintained at 34-40º F /1.1-4.4ºC to slow the fermentation of the Kombucha throughout the supply chain.

Shelf life of Kombucha is determined by how long the product can remain in cold storage before the ethanol level goes above the prescribed legal limit (will vary based on location).

Products that claim to be both shelf-stable and raw are not currently recognized as stable without further evidence vis a vis shelf life testing by a third party lab to verify that the ethanol level remains within the legal limit for that location. No such products currently exist in the US marketplace as all raw Kombucha is subject to refrigeration.

 

Rev.090517 Approved KBI Board October 2017

 

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As the kombucha industry continues to grow, so too do the needs of the membership. Poised to crest $1.8 billion dollars in gross sales by 2020 according to some projections, our industry has consistently demonstrated rapid growth, stimulated by the stability brought to the marketplace through the formation and actions of Kombucha Brewers International. Since 2014, KBI has established kombucha industry Best Practices, spearheaded a new ethanol testing method that more accurately reflects the complexity of kombucha, developed the KBI Verification program (launching June 2016), created new resources for new brewers just entering the industry with our Brewery in Process membership and resources, lobbied Congress for governmental support, gathered annually at KombuchaKon for education and networking, and launched a new educational webinar series.

We have done all of this great work with the help of volunteers and through the financial support of member dues. This year, we hired our first full-time employee – an important step forward in building the organization. As such, it is now time for us to increase the due structure so that we can continue to offer quality programs and support to kombucha brewers around the globe. The new rates reflect the growing role of the organization and its advocacy, as well as the continued generation of valuable member resources.

The benefits of membership remain the same and include discounted admission for two attendees to the world’s only kombucha conference (KombuchaKon), discounted educational webinars, and access to the member forum which is bursting with resources and valuable information. Learn more about joining KBI and our member types.

As of October 1, 2016, Kombucha Brewers International yearly member dues (except for Brewery in Process memberships) will increase to the following levels:

Tier 1: $395 – 0-25,000 gal annual output

Tier 2: $595 – 25,001-250,000 gal annual output

Tier 3: $795 – 250,001+ gal annual output

Brewery in Process: $995

Affiliate Member (supplier, laboratory): $395

Adjunct Member (jun, kefir, fermented drinks): $395

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At this time, KBI is pleased to offer current members the opportunity to renew dues early at the current rate before the increase (note: payment must be received in full by September 30, 2016 in order to qualify for this offer).

Early renewals will extend membership one year beyond current expiration date; for example, if your current membership expires in February 2017, renewing now will extend it to February 2018.

Please email us to take advantage of this offer now!

Not a member yet, but want to join before the rates increase? Join KBI here!

 

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Kombucha Brewers International announces the formation of a new membership category: BrewPub Members.

In order to qualify under the BrewPub designation, members must already have an operational kombucha brewery actively serving flavors on tap to retail customers. Alternately, BrewPubs can be a licensed beer brewery that also brews and sells kombucha.

The BrewPub designation is priced in the same tier structure as the current member categories, and is measured by annual gallon output.

KBI added this additional type of brewery qualification due to shifting member makeup and interest from BrewPub potential members who did not feel their products fit into the previous levels of KBI membership, according to KBI president Hannah Crum.

While other brewer members must demonstrate that their products are sold in five or more retail locations, BrewPub members must present a copy of a business license showing active status and the physical address of the BrewPub where kombucha is sold on tap to retail customers.

KBI reports that it looks forward to expanding the organization by offering its services to another type of client, effective immediately.

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