Luke Walker, Walker Brothers, Nashville, TN
Q: When did you first discover kombucha?
Sophomore year of high school my friend told me that his mom had found some type of mushroom tea at Whole Foods that gave you a strange buzz when you drank it. Naturally, I went to his house to try. I tasted my Aunt’s homemade kombucha shortly after this. I started drinking kombucha regularly a few years later after recognizing how helpful it was for balancing internal alkalinity and relieving acid reflux.
Q: Why did you start your own kombucha company?
I’m a big craft beer fan, but beer is often one of the reasons I struggle with acid reflux. I found myself drinking kombucha after beer to settle my stomach. One day I had a thought – “I wonder if I can brew an alcoholic kombucha that tastes similar to a wild sour beer.” I was already brewing kombucha at home at the time so I began experimenting with using wine/beer yeast strains with additional sugar to increase the ABV. Once the results started tasting good, I had a strong sense that this could be a worthy business venture. I’ve always been entrepreneurial but this was the first idea I had that wasn’t too niche or too difficult to scale.
At the time, I was already working as a sales rep for a national kombucha brand and my brother Sam was working as a portfolio manager at a beer distributorship. So, thankfully, we already had a great network of connections to aid us in the early stages of the business! From a mission standpoint – my brother and I wanted to bridge the gap between kombucha culture and craft beer culture (literally). Our hope is that our beverages can highlight the value of personal health and wellness within the beer world and emphasize the value craft, community, and transparency/generosity within the kombucha scene.
Q: What is your favorite flavor of kombucha?
I’ve had Root Wild Kombucha’s “Grapefruit Shine” a few times and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s super balanced and showcases mosaic hops in a beautiful way. I’m a sucker for dry hopped booch! I also love Katalyst Kombucha’s Jasmine kombucha.
Q: What is your former/current other life or career?
Well, the coolest job I ever had was when I spent a summer working as an “Island Supervisor” on one of the Boston Harbor Islands. I lived out in a stone shack on the island 5 days a week with no electricity or plumbing. The work consisted of trail maintenance, porta-john cleaning, and supervising folks that came out to use the campsites on the island. It was so refreshing – spending almost all day outside, living simply, rising with the sun and going to bed just after sunset.
Q: What is a saying that you live by?
There is an Annie Dillard quote that I aspire to live by – “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.” It’s a nice reminder to engage fully with life!