After the beer ice cream and pouring beer on cereal, I told myself I was going to stay away from tricked up beer combinations for awhile. Dallas breweries are making loads of interesting, delicious beers, so why not celebrate a well-made brew on its own terms?
Then, I received a cryptic text from an old friend: "buchabeer. 2.8. come get some tomorrow."
Buchabeer could only mean one thing: Kombucha + Beer. For the uninitiated, kombucha is a fermented sweet tea that claims a variety of health benefits due to the presence of live bacteria cultures. If you've seen a yoga-pantsed woman wandering the aisles of Whole Foods drinking a bottle of something that appears to be carbonated Hi-C, there's a good chance it was kombucha.
This, however, is buchabeer. More specifically, this is Holy Rooster Prickly Pear Kombucha Beer. As its name implies, there's a lot going on here. Stick with me.
Holy Kombucha has been brewing and bottling their own products in North Texas since 2011, and one of their most popular flavors is Prickly Pear. They teamed up with Four Corners Brewing Co. to produce Holy Rooster, an even mix of beer and 'bucha that hits around 2.8 % ABV.
Admittedly, I had a lot of high expectations for this brew. I really enjoy kombucha, so much so that my wife and I have taken to brewing our own at home for the past two summers. Holy Rooster's smell is strong -- like apple cider vinegar but sweeter -- and it tastes unlike anything I've ever had. It's not as boozy as a cider, it's not as sweet as a shandy; it's got the body of a light beer and the pleasantly funky qualities of kombucha. It finishes clean, but with all of these competing sensations and flavors from lemon zest to honey to a sharp acidic mystery guest.
Seeing the glass, I was excited. On my first sip, I was somewhat disappointed, in a "what the hell was that" sort of way. But, as I continued my way through the pint and started talking to others about it, the flavor grew on me considerably. Is it kind of weird? Of course it is, it's kombucha mixed with beer. But, it's actually pretty damn refreshing. And, at such a low ABV, it's fine to drink anytime of day in just about any quantity.
George Esquivel, co-founder of Four Corners Brewing, told me that this first collaboration batch is a limited test run. "We're looking for feedback from kombucha fans, beer fans and people new to both," he says. "We would love to see this in packaged format in the near future but there's a lot to learn in this process."
The other issue that requires a longer test run is the combination of two very different types of brews in one bottle. I wondered if the health benefits of kombucha can survive in competition with the brewer's yeast, and vice versa. "Initial tests show that cultures can survive," George says. "But for this test, cultures are not active. Eventually, we want to keep the benefits intact."
For now, Holy Rooster is available at Whole Foods Market's Park Lane, Lakewood, Highland Park, Colleyville and Addison locations, as well as LUCK Dallas and Bottle Shop.