Every Saturday, you can find Amy Goldman and Sean Galloway at the Merriam Farmers’ Market, where they sell growlers full of their new Lucky Elixir kombucha.
If you can’t make it out to Merriam, don’t worry. Back in April, the couple—who do business as The Brewkery—started selling bottles of Lucky Elixir through more than 20 stores across the metro. You can also buy it at Flavor Trade, the shared commercial kitchen where Galloway and Goldman brew it.
Never heard of kombucha? You’re in good company locally, at least. About half the people Goldman encounters at the farmers’ market haven’t either. But the drink—a type of fermented, flavored tea—is very popular in other cities.
“On the West Coast, it’s so popular,” Goldman said. “In the Midwest, it hasn’t hit yet, and we want to be on the forefront when it happens.”
That could happen sooner than you might expect. Every weekend at the farmers’ market, more people give Lucky Elixir a try—and come back for more the next Saturday.
HOW DID THEY GET STARTED?
Kombucha wasn’t the plan when The Brewkery launched. Galloway and Goldman wanted to focus on their passions: artisanal sourdough bread and craft beer.
They started selling their bread at the farmers’ market, but the beer wasn’t allowed. Goldman wanted to offer a fermented drink, too, and she hit on the idea of selling kombucha. A friend taught her how to make it.
“By the end of the summer,” Goldman said, “we realized there was an untapped market for kombucha in Kansas City.”
So last fall, The Brewkery duo decided to go all-in on kombucha. They consulted with a kombucha brewer in Portland and rented space at Flavor Trade. It took about six months of research and development to perfect the recipes.
They’ve been working on it full time since January.
“We decided it was time to dive in headfirst and make this our full-time job,” Goldman said.
HOW IS KOMBUCHA MADE?
Galloway and Goldman ferment sweet tea using “a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”—what’s known in the industry as SCOBY. It’s a two-week process, followed by two days in a keg.
“Once it’s fermented, it eats all the sugar,” Goldman said. “We’re left with a product that is very low in sugar—about 4 grams of carbohydrates per serving.” It’s tangy, earthy and slightly sweet.
The Brewkery started out selling four flavors of kombucha: ginger lime, aroniaberry, citrus hop and spiced. (The spiced is out of rotation and will return in the fall.)
“Now that we have our system down, it’s pretty streamlined,” Goldman said. “I would say the most difficult thing is it’s a live product and can be unpredictable.”
The SCOBY doesn’t always operate on a strict timetable. Sometimes it needs an extra day or two, depending on temperature. “If it’s not ready,” Goldman said, “we have to wait.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE BREWKERY?
The Brewkery has started to get attention from stores in St. Louis and other cities interested in carrying Lucky Elixir. Goldman and Galloway are looking for ways to scale up their production process.
They also want to roll out another flavor later this year. So, this summer, they’re auditioning a series of new tastes at the Merriam Farmers’ Market. Contenders include mango cilantro, tart cherry, blueberry and peach among others. Look for the winner on store shelves this fall.