Local favorite Lake Louie Brewing, formerly of Arena and now part of Wisconsin Brewing Company in Verona, recently sent over a couple cases of their newest product — hard kombucha!
The tea is sourced from Rishi Tea, of Milwaukee, and the kombucha is brewed at Forage in Fitchburg before finding its way to Wisconsin Brewing Company for finishing.
“A unique Wisconsin-made beverage that sets itself apart,” says Ellen Weiler, sales manager at Wisconsin Brewing Company.
After assisting development and retiring this past summer, Lake Louie founder Tom Porter is leaving this new product in capable hands.
After being released earlier last year, Lake Louie is already making waves, the Wild Tropic flavor took gold and the Berry flavor took bronze in the 2021 U.S. Open Hard Kombucha Championships.
I must admit, I wasn’t excited to try the Lake Louie Hard Kombucha. Kombucha is seriously just one thing I can’t get behind, to me, it’s basically carbonated apple cider vinegar dressed up with fruity flavors. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this refreshing, not too kombucha-y hard drink.
We tried both the Berry and Wild Tropic flavors, the latter was my favorite out of the two. Berry one has heavier flavor notes and resembles a regular batch of kombucha more than Wild Tropic. Wild Tropic has really forward notes of pineapple, with after notes similar to a pina colada, I almost forgot it was a kombucha, and felt more like I was drinking an extra flavorful hard seltzer. It also scored bonus points for instantly making me nostalgic for a float down the Wisconsin River with the sun shining and the temperature 80+, not 80 below like it has been recently (okay, not really, but basically).
Honestly, both are good options. If you’re kombucha-adverse like me, try Wild Tropic to start. I think my favorite part of these (besides the instant summer vibes) are that these are kind of good for any occasion. They don’t have too much alcohol, about 4.5% per can, so they’re good for a casual drink, or longevity if you’re spending the day at a summer barbecue or a day by the pool. But they’re also beer-y enough that they’re a good option to accompany pizza or a sports event. They’re good for any event, really, even a cozy and relaxing bath.
Bonus points for how light these guys are, again not too strong and they don’t weigh you down like beer or cider can.
I’m surprised, but really, the hard kombuchas are kind of always the vibe. I will definitely purchase them and have them in my rotation this summer!
—Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief
In case you haven’t guessed yet, I’m the one that loves kombucha. However, this was my first time drinking hard kombucha.
I started with Berry, and then moved on to Wild Tropic. You crack it open expecting a hiss similar to a hard seltzer, but it’s lighter — setting the tone for the entire experience.
You take the obligatory olfactory whiff before your first taste and you’re surprised by a sweet earthy, fruity and slightly yeasty scent that is reminiscent of a mix of light beer and kombucha itself.
The Berry is full bodied, and then smooths out. The Wild Tropic is subtle. Both are sweet and easier to drink than hard seltzer and certainly less carbonated.
I agree, despite the bitterly cold temperatures outside, you immediately feel a summery vibe and imagine yourself floating on the river.
I literally, and very naturally, started online shopping for kayaks before finishing my first can. I’m not joking.
Trying to cut beer, but too manly to drink seltzer? This may be the right option. The sweetness reminds you of a shandy and while the pleasant yeastiness reinforces the feeling.
—Taylor Scott, Managing Editor
Lake Louie Hard Kombucha is available locally at the Crappie Shop (300 Dalogasa Dr, Arena) and Arcadia Books/Paper Crane Coffeehouse (102 E Jefferson St, Spring Green).
Jenn Jensen, owner of The Paper Crane Coffeehouse, says: “We think this is a perfect mix for our customers. Lake Louie makes great beers and we love supporting other local businesses. People like the health benefits of kombucha so when we were told about this unique drink, we knew we wanted to carry it.”