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Dr. Kombu Brewing Co. taps into South Shore kombucha demand


Dr. Kombu Brewing Co. founders Gabrielle Pope (left) and Clare Rivard (right) said kombucha is a healthy and delicious alternative to other sugary drinks.
Dr. Kombu Brewing Co. founders Gabrielle Pope (left) and Clare Rivard (right) said kombucha is a healthy and delicious alternative to other sugary drinks. - Josh Healey

Meet the South Shore’s ‘booch’ slingers

Editor’s note: This week, we profile the six winners of the Lunenburg Queens Business Excellence Awards.

Dr. Kombu Brewing Co.’s staff are preparing themselves for a busy summer of fermentation.

The company — which is based just outside of New Ross — recently won the export achievement award at the Lunenburg Queens Business Excellence Awards for their Sòlas kombucha.

“We’ve been working so hard and so fast,” said Gabrielle Pope, one of the company’s three founders.

“You just don’t have a second to sit back and reflect on achievements.”

The reason Gabrielle, Clare and Dominic Rivard—a triumvirate of ‘booch’ slingers— haven’t had a chance to reflect is the fact that Maritimers have gotten a taste for kombucha.

Kombucha is a non-alcoholic product made from fermented tea.

The demand, explained Clare, has risen very quickly since the rural kombuchery first started to circulate its products in 2017.

“It really, really infiltrated the province. People are into it,” said Clare, adding that the company has fielded requests throughout the East Coast.

Dominic said the company is expecting to produce between 3,000 to 4,000 litres of kombucha a week during busy season but is unsure if they’ll be able to keep up with demand.

 Sòlas kombucha has a black tea base and comes in several different flavours. For example, the Bliss flavour is made with ingredients like hibiscus, blueberries and kaffir lime leaves. - Josh Healey
Sòlas kombucha has a black tea base and comes in several different flavours. For example, the Bliss flavour is made with ingredients like hibiscus, blueberries and kaffir lime leaves. - Josh Healey

Given the rapid interest in kombucha, Dominic said he is also optimistic the company will grow to meet the number of product requests they receive.

“This is a wonderful start,” he said. “It’s important for us to capitalize on emerging markets.”

When asked about the challenges of expanding as a rural business, Gabrielle pointed to deliveries.

“That seems to be a big problem for a lot of small businesses,” she said, explaining that it is hard to find a cost effective solution.

But concerning the future of kombucha, both Gabrielle and Clare were quick to point out its many benefits.

For example, the starter culture in the tea eats most of the sugar, making it healthier than pop or juices.

“People need to drink it because it’s healthy for them but also it’s a nice alternative to alcohol,” said Clare.

And although the busy season has yet to arrive, the company has already started to look for additional space to help meet the province’s kombucha craze.

“Fermented foods is not a fad,” said Gabrielle. “The way the world is going, it’s kind of the future of food.”

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