At grocery stores, you can’t swing a tote bag without smacking a bottle of kombucha, the tart and fizzy tea brimming with probiotics. It’s made by fermenting tea and sugar with bacteria cultures and yeast. The fermentation process creates tangy acidity, carbonation, and a bit of alcohol, typically less than 0.5 percent. Now brewers are boosting alcohol to beerlike levels, creating a gut-friendly buzz with health benefits. “It’s not a trend, it’s a cultural shift, says Kyle Ingram, of Flying Embers, a hard-kombucha company in California.
“Consumers want better-for-you options.” Some hard kombuchas are beer-inspired and flavored with hops, while others take cues from a juice bar’s just-pressed tonics. Here are five to try (ordered and pictured from left to right).