What is Hard Kombucha??
THE HARD BOOCH DIFFERENCE
We often get asked to explain the difference between “hard kombucha” and “alcoholic kombucha”.
First of all, they both contain alcohol (to state the obvious). The key difference lies in how the alcohol gets there.
Most alcoholic kombucha on the market are simply kombucha mixed with alcohol. Effectively an RTD. With many alcoholic kombucha, once the kombucha is brewed (more on this process later) alcohol (often a white spirit) is then added and mixed in to give you the finished product. With hard kombucha on the other hand, the alcohol is naturally occurring during the fermentation process.
So let's quickly take a look at the basics of how kombucha is made. As many will already know, kombucha is a fermented drink using black tea, sugar and a SCOBY (which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). The SCOBY feeds off the sugar and ferments the tea creating beneficial acids and bacteria, resulting in the refreshing probiotic fizz we all know and love - kombucha.
As with any fermentation process, one of the by-products is also alcohol. While non-alcoholic kombucha often contains traces of alcohol, with hard kombucha we need to go through a secondary fermentation process. This is where the champagne yeast comes into play.
So why is it that we need to use a different yeast for the secondary ferment? This is because our beloved SCOBY has evolved to create a low alcohol beverage with highly beneficial probiotics. In order to create more alcohol, we need to use a yeast that has evolved to turn sugars into alcohol. Such as champagne yeast.
It is after this secondary fermentation process with champagne yeast, that our botanical booch goes from having a trace of alcohol to becoming a 4.5%ABV refreshing alcoholic bevvy primed and ready for happy hour.
Effectively if you are to put this into wine speak, an alcoholic kombucha is like having a glass of sparkling grape juice with vodka added, while a hard kombucha is like having a glass of sparkling wine. We know which one we would prefer!