Find innovative alternatives in LA Kombucha
We’re in the enviable position of being able to work with some amazing producers. We are equally proud of them, as we are of their creations. They usually let their products do the talking, but we thought we’d turn the tables. Keep reading below and let Louise Avery from L.A Brewery takes you behind the scenes.
Can you tell us a bit about LA Brewery and how you got into brewing?
I started L.A Brewery after falling in love with kombucha on a trip to the States 11 years ago. I loved the idea that the fermentation process could be manipulated to create different flavours and unique taste experiences - anything from a champagne to a beer to a cider. I started homebrewing and selling to a few independent cafes and restaurants in East London, this was still at a time when kombucha and fermented drinks were relatively unheard of in the U.K. I spent about 3 years obsessing over the science of fermentation, incorporating seasonal ingredients and foraged fruits and flowers into my drinks to complement and enhance the kombucha. This led me to write a book on the subject, and subsequently meet my business partners before launching L.A Brewery in 2017.
Why did you feel a partnership with Adnams was a good match?
Adnams is an amazing local business who are widely respected for the quality and taste of their beers and spirits as well as placing huge importance on their ethical and environmental responsibilities. We would like to think we also have the same values, albeit operating on a much smaller scale and as a non-alcoholic brewery. We believe that sharing knowledge and expertise from our different drinks categories will result in something very special.
As a fellow Suffolk brewery, what made you choose this area as your brewery home?
Before we launched L.A Brewery, I was given the opportunity to exhibit my drinks at Aldeburgh food & drink festival and my eyes were opened to the creative food & drink heartland that is Suffolk – I came away with valuable feedback and my first group of customers outside of London. It felt like a very welcoming environment to build our business with many like-minded artisan food brands in close proximity. We actually built our brewery on the airbase in Rendlesham which also houses Pump St chocolate and Stokes Sauces so lots of experienced manufacturers are around when we need assistance or advice - Adnams are also very helpful to us too in that department.
For those who have yet to be converted, can you explain the process of brewing Kombucha and what it is?
Kombucha is made by fermenting sweetened tea. We steep a blend of White Monkey green Assam black teas before adding organic sugar and cooling to room temperature. At this point we add some strong kombucha which contains live cultures of bacteria and yeast. During the aerobic fermentation, the yeast eats the sugar and creates low levels of alcohol which are then converted by the bacteria into acetic and organic acids. The final result is a drink which is complex and has some of the characteristics of a wine or a beer but is non-alcoholic yet full of flavour.
The Kombucha industry is growing in the UK, what do you think next for this fantastic drink?
Kombucha is known primarily as a health tonic and has stretched effectively into soft drink alternatives. I believe it will now grow extensively in the no and low alcoholic drinks area as an exciting alcohol alternative…
We know foraging inspired a lot of your flavours, is there an ingredient that is perfect to find in Suffolk?
Sea buckthorn can be found in Suffolk on the coast - the berries are delicious added to drinks though very potent, so you only need a few and they are extremely rich in Vitamin C. One of my favourite homebrew recipes is a sea buckthorn & clementine kombucha – one to make in Autumn when sea buckthorn is out in abundance.
What makes Kombucha a great low alcohol alternative?
The fermentation process of kombucha produces similar bacteria and yeast strains used in beer and wine making that really contribute to flavour and complexity but without the alcohol. These flavours can be enhanced and manipulated with flowers like hops and botanical extracts to create something totally unique that is full flavoured but doesn’t have to go through the de-alcoholisation process which often strips taste and mouthfeel from drinks. For me, kombucha is one of those very unique drinks that can trigger all of the taste receptors on your tongue – sweet, sour, salty, bitter & umami – something quite rare outside of food, and a very satisfying experience.
What is your favourite thing to do in Suffolk?
I really love Aldeburgh food & drink festival, walks along the beach in Aldeburgh and Walberswick, and obviously spending time at our brewery which is just really fun.
What is the future for LA Brewery?
We have some new products coming out this year which are a bit of a diversion from our existing ranges, so I’m incredibly excited about that. Our longer terms plans are to grow the business sustainably, become BCorp certified this year, and hopefully start shipping products further afield - into Europe and beyond!