South Florida is becoming home to a lot of new breweries. And Broward County can lay claim to yet another.
But hold on -- this isn't beer. Rather, it's another type of craft brewery called Kombulicious, what local farmer Scott Lyon and South Florida chef Glenn Dee say is the state's first production kombucha brewery.
Lyon is a University of Florida graduate and owner of South Florida's largest gourmet organic mushroom farming operation. His company, Sublicious Farms, also sells its own organic compost and mushroom cultures across Florida and online. Lyon, currently in the process of setting up several more farms statewide, is best-known for his Blue Oyster mushrooms, a product that can often be found on many of the area's fine-dining menus.
Dee is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of American and worked as a sous chef in cities like Dallas, Breckenridge, Baltimore, New York, New Orleans, and Portland before moving to South Florida nearly seven years ago. Here, Dee has worked number of establishments, including two years with Michelle Bernstein at Sra. Martinez, Market 17 in Fort Lauderdale, and most recently for BoxPark and Taperia Raca in Miami. No matter where he went, however, he was always fermenting -- from salami and pickles to kimchi and kombucha.
"I love to ferment, and Scott and I always knew we wanted to work together on something, whether it be starting a charcuterie company or even making an organic dog treat," says Dee. "But we decided on kombucha because we saw the need."
While states like California and Oregon are home to dozens of kombucha breweries, Florida had none -- until now.
After a few meetings, the duo decided to convert one of Sublicious Farms' Oakland Park-based warehouses into a brewing facility for Kombulicious, their 3-month-old kombucha brewery. The full commercial operation is equipped with two 80-gallon stainless-steel fermenting tanks, which are able to produce about 1,000 bottles every two weeks.
"There's been a very positive response to our product so far. This is a true artisanal product," says Dee, who closely monitors the entire brewing process and shares the sales, distribution, and production duties with Lyon. "No two batches are ever the same, and we are still just a small operation. We're a local company, and part of our mission is to support the idea of eating and drinking locally."
Many of the ingredients Dee uses to brew the kombucha are sourced from nearby farms and according to what's seasonally available. Kombulicious makes its kombucha with triple-filtered water, and uses a combination of teas, roots, herbs, fruits, and spices for flavor and health benefits. Some they grow themselves. Other ingredients come from Global Organics, a Florida-based company. The rest are sourced from local farms through the help of Miami forager Chris Padin.
Flavors are funky and include watermelon and ginger; lemongrass and coriander; starfruit, tangerine, and hibiscus; and pineapple, lime, coconut, and aloe. New seasonal flavors will offer cinnamon, pear, vanilla, and lavender; grapefruit, moringa, and dandelion; and valerium, passionflower, and chamomille -- even a sour cherry with cocoa and chili.
"I see it as something that will help us shift away from soda for a more naturally fermented and carbonated probiotic product," says Dee. "If Kombulicious can help get even one person off corn-syrup-laden, artificial drinks, then that's the best I can ask for."
Find Kombulicious at Facebook.com/Kombulicious, and for sale at these South Florida retailers including MyaPapaya, Green Spot Kitchen, Brothers Farmer's Market (both locations), New River Grocery, Marando Farms, the Pompano Beach Farmers Market, and Juice & Java. Coming soon: five-gallon kegs made especially for bars and restaurants like Sublime, the Federal, and Stache.
Nicole Danna is a food blogger covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.