Cross Culture Kombucha just opened its doors in Danbury. It’s the first Kombucha taproom and brewery in the state, and they’ve been welcomed with open arms and growlers ready to fill. The light, effervescent drink has been around for ages but has most recently seen the limelight as a non-alcoholic alternative; one that is both really delicious and packed with healthy goodness.
It took several attempts at home, but owners Ian and Liz Ceppos, looked high and low for something beyond juice or seltzer to enjoy socially, before creating a recipe that was tasty, yet not too sweet or not too tart. They shared their hobby-cum-obsession with family and friends, and, with incredible feedback, decided to officially create the business.
Kombucha is a fermented and naturally carbonated tea drink. The fermentation process incorporates a live culture called a “SCOBY” (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Many debate as to its origin, commonly pointing to Northeast Asia in Manchuria. Wherever the origin, Kombucha is highlighted on a growing list of other K-named fermented foods and drinks, like Kefir, Kvass, or Kimchi known for their health benefits, such as aiding digestion, in particular.
As a relatively new Kombucha drinker, I’ve noticed a stark difference between the bottled brew of other brands and that of Cross Culture Kombucha. Some have layers of sediment on the bottom and are often too sweet with added sugars or too acidic. Others just taste “off” as if they’ll be vinegar in a day or two. Liz says they pride themselves on their light, fresh taste, and how they customize the batches. Since their focus is local, they’re not worried about huge cross-country shipments, so, there’s no need to make numerous cases that just sit around, and therefore leave the brew to change dramatically by the day.
The taproom is small and cozy, yet undoubtedly hip with a sleek wooden bar and industrial metal stools. Customers can pull up to the bar and try a flight, resembling those of the many new breweries in the area of late. A “local” sign is in clear view from the bar as are the taps, some of which don a very musical vibe. When I visited the first time, I sat directly across the tap for their popular Hip Hops flavor, complete with a picture of Notorious B.I.G, Biggie Smalls, considered by many, one of the best rappers of all time. In addition to sticker pics on the taps, each metal barrel in the brewery is emblazoned with a musical great Ian is fond of. I for one, zoomed right into the barrel with Lauryn Hill on the front. You can also see through the glass from the bar, images of the Beastie Boys and Ice Cube, among others. “This is my way of paying tribute to the old-school hip-hop I grew up with,” noted Ian.
Hip Hops, as a matter of fact, is the flavor most resembling beer. Other big sellers, Jasmine, Earl Grey, and OG-Original Green, have more mild, herbal notes and are especially good if you are new to Kombucha or not looking for something too powerful. I’ve now filled a growler twice, once with Boogie Down Black, which feels like a good happy medium or everyday drink with the pow of fermentation, but the great taste of an earthy tea. My second growler refill was Hip Hops. The Mojito truly tastes like its original alcoholic namesake, and the mint was grown locally at Holbrook Farm in Bethel (unfortunately closing in November). For adventurous palettes, the Jalapeno Watermelon had the warm zing of a jalapeno pepper but light, fruity kick of sweet watermelon. At last check, they were experimenting with Chai, letting visitors give comments and suggestions, and Blueberry with Lime zest. Uh...yum!
In just over two years, before the taproom opened on September 20, they’ve placed their booch in over 50 locations across the state and Westchester County and are looking to add to other bars and taprooms as a non-alcoholic option. They continue to make connections and collaborate with other local businesses, like Mothership Bakery & Cafe from Main Street, who now supplies CCK with savory and sweet treats to compliment the booch.
If you are out and about, you can meet up with CCK every other weekend at the Westport Farmers Market through November and various events through CT. Best bet, follow them on facebook or instagram for up to date event and product info.
Cross Culture Kombucha: Experience Tea Differently
52 Division Street (across from Uhaul)
Danbury, CT 06810
For now, they are open Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. but, after farmers market season, hope to expand their hours.