Double Dog Kombucha brewer Lee Vang struggled for years with alcohol — beer was his particular poison. It took years of struggle (and the friendship of a couple inspirational rat terriers) to start to break the spell.
But it was the discovery of a high-quality kombucha that put him firmly on a new life path. “It was fizzy, flavorful, and so very refreshing,” Vang wrote to us in an email. “Soon after, I started brewing my own and then experimenting with different adjuncts. I wasn’t aware of any potential side effects of drinking kombucha but there was one — my craving for beer became less and less. This addiction that I had been struggling with for most of my life was quietly disintegrating, and I was not even aware it was happening.”
“Last year, I was laid off from my job and sitting in that conference room while the headhunter was signing my papers. I could not stop smiling. I knew I would be a kombucha brewer.”
With that kind of a backstory, we tried a few varieties of Vang’s kombucha hoping that the product lived up to the story, and it most assuredly did. Like all of our favorite kombuchas (Prohibition comes to mind), Double Dog’s base product is exceedingly light on its feet and quite effervescently refreshing. Unlike Prohibition (and most of the other kombuchas we’ve tried), Double Dog is downright aggressive on the flavor side. Not unbalanced or artificial, but bold.
Take Pelé, for example. It’s fitting that this kombucha is named after a volcano goddess. It’s a mix of pineapple, ginger, jalapeño, and cilantro flavors, and it packs a noteworthy but not excessive heat at the back of each sip. The fruit of the pineapple and the bright vegetal notes of the peppers dominate the body of this complex beverage that would pair wonderfully with sweet pork dishes or many Latin entrees.
Joy Bubbles is a seasonal offering, and it unites mint, strawberry, and a bold note of natural vanilla. Strawberry loses out in the clash, mostly disappearing, but the overall concept of mint and vanilla works, and the drink overall would make a fine non-alcoholic after-dinner cordial.
Citra Mango brings together the earthy fruitiness of mango with the bright, juicy flavors of Citra hops, resulting in a kombucha that is eerily (and pleasantly) beerlike. This would make a brilliant n/a beer substitute, or function 1:1 as a refreshing shandy-type beverage.
Double Dog Kombucha can be found at the Midtown and Linden Hills farmers markets.