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  • Writer's pictureBig Norwegian Kombucha

Getting ready to tap in

We picked up two new 100 gallon (400L) stainless steel fermenters and put them to quick use.

We are growing ever closer to opening our kombucha brewery. The brewery is less of a construction zone now and taking shape as a production facility. We are currently growing our kombucha cultures and a stock of starter to jump-start our production.

The cultures we breed are called SCOBY, or symbiotic colonies of yeast and bacteria -- these are essentially organic cellulose discs that provide a habitat for wild yeast and bacteria, which are the microorganisms responsible for fermenting the tea we brew.

We last left off while we were beginning the licensing process through the NYS department of Agriculture and Markets. We are happy to report that we passed all of our alcohol testing (AWESOME!), so now we await a finalized scheduled process.

For those of you who have never heard of a scheduled process, it is simply a detailed account of the process by which we produce our kombucha -- the idea is that if you follow the process we supplied, you would recreate our product, and also replicate the alcohol and nutritional values of our product. Now we must wait while a food scientist finalizes our process. Until this is complete, we are not licensed to sell kombucha.

While the delay does put a slight damper on getting our kombucha to the market, we are using this time to finish our taproom so that we can welcome new customers as soon as we are cleared to do so.

The developments that are forthcoming in our taproom include a 10-tap drip tray coming directly through the wall of our walk-in cooler so that the kombucha remains as cold as possible before it is dispensed. We also have a great design plan for the tap wall -- we can't wait to make it happen! We will install a handy bar sink, some shelving, and signage. We are planning something very special to finish off the bar that my father-in-law, John Lehner, made specially for us (see photos) -- I won't let the cat out of the bag yet, but some of my Norwegian heritage will make its way into the space in a very sweet way.

We have also been doing some intense research and development with regard to our flavoring. My wife Marissa is heading up the flavor department, as well as the general design of the taproom -- she has worked most of her career as an artist and a teaching artist, and she amazes me every day with her ability to handle our toddler and our infant, as well as the countless demands this family business puts on her. She has also forayed into the culinary arts, and her ability to meld delicious components of taste with our outstanding kombucha is uncanny. She is also currently obsessed with Samin Nosrat's Salt Fat Acid Heat cookbook, which has yielded some super delicious meals and desserts for the Big Norwegian ;).

Here is a pretty beautiful new SCOBY that has been growing with our black tea kombucha. Many people used to call kombucha "mushroom tea," however that is a misnomer -- there should not be any fungi in the ferment!

We are brewing both a black tea kombucha and a green tea kombucha, both of which have their own distinct characteristics. The black tea kombucha base is very full-bodied, mildly sweet, and slightly tart due to a heavy array of organic acids. The green tea kombucha base is much lighter, and more delicate -- it shares some qualities with the black tea base but also affords a champagne-like quality that dances on your tongue. All of the tea we use for fermentation is certified organic and fair trade. The flavors that we are working on are meant to bolster the already delicious kombucha bases, but not overpower them -- we are also committed to keeping our sugar content as low as possible, so many of our flavors are benefiting from special herbal infusions.

Up next we will be finishing some plumbing and CO2 planning, as well as picking up some brite tanks, which we will use to chill, carbonate, and flavor our kombucha.

Have a happy Valentine's Day folks!

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