It’s Octoberfest and I get what you’re thinking: Why talk about anything other than maidens prancing around pouring frothy pints of beer? Well, for over the past year, hard kombucha has been my personal drink of choice. Whenever I’m at BYOB gatherings, I’m always asked about what fizzy booch is in my hand. As it's now something I often gush about, let’s discuss why kombucha is such a great alternative, and then we’ll dive straight into which flavor would be best for you.

Why Kombucha?

Alissa Caldwell

Whether you’re health-conscious, gluten intolerant (in which beer would be a no-go), or you simply like to try to new things, treating yourself with a hard kombucha can be a delightful choice. Kombucha naturally has a minimal alcohol percentage ranging from 0.5 to 2 percent, but when it's brewed a little differently, it can be sold to those who are 21+ in the 5-8 percent range.

If you like to limit additives and sugar intake, hard kombucha is a greater alternative to heavy beers, sweet wines, or wild mixed drinks because it has lower sugar content. Although it is brewed with sugar, it naturally ferments away in the process of production. Most hard booches use clean ingredients, like fruit, to flavor a batch. This is one reason why I love cracking open the bubbly beverage: I can actually read the ingredients that I’m sipping on.

This gluten-free drink also contains probiotics, a buzzed-about health topic for this year. Probiotics are a great way to support your digestive system and balance your gut health. While bacteria may sound gross to consume, probiotics are the good guys and can help you forget about beer bloat.

Which Booch are You?

By now you’re either on the fence of where to start with the beverage or you’re already craving one, let’s look at the guide to help you decide based on your usual pour.

For the Wine Lovers

Alissa Caldwell

Flying Ember’s “Ancient Berry” batch is a sweet blend of raspberries, goji berries, and elderberries. Surprisingly, it is brewed without any sugar and contains zero grams overall. JuneShine, a San Diego based brewery has a tart Acai Berry flavor. While it’s not as robust as wine and is actually carbonated, the rich fruit flavor is still reminiscent of adult grape juice.

If we actually had “Rosè all day,” we’d be headed towards a sugar crash resulting in a heavier hangover. A more satisfying move may be to sip on some Rosè flavored beverages. Both JuneShine and GT Kombucha tastes like the real deal. Depending on how tipsy you’d like to feel, JuneShine’s is 6 percent alcohol for its volume, and GT’s is around 3 percent.

For the Beer Enthusiasts

Alissa Caldwell

Flying Ember’s Ginger Oak, is a mix between a ginger brew and a craft brew. It’s smooth and rich in flavor and, like all of the other flavors, is crafted with adaptogens. GT’s Heavenly Hops goes straight for the traditional beer flavor with an authentic hop flavor while staying true to the classic booch tang.

#SpoonTip: Since GT's is light on the alcohol volume, it’s a great alternative for a school night or relaxed evening when you are just craving the flavor of an IPA.

For the Mixed Drink Devotee’s

coffee, chocolate, milk
Hannah Linn

If you always eye a drink jam-packed in flavor, mixed Hard Kombucha could be your new best friend. JuneShine’s “Midnight Painkiller” has a tropical palate with coconut and pineapple. As a twist, there is added charcoal in it. Don't worry, charcoal doesn’t have a flavor, but it has detoxifying properties—also, drinking a black drink couldn’t be more perfect for Halloween. Meanwhile, GT’s play on a classic Mojito is so refreshing. The crisp citrus and herbal mint make for a light and fresh sipper. Boochcraft, another upcoming brand, has a grapefruit and hibiscus beverage that is equal parts tangy, citrusy and sweet.

Hard Kombucha can now be found at your local grocery store, like Berkeley Bowl, and even common chains such as Trader Joe’s. I suggest experimenting with it by pairing it with fresh fruit, using it as a mixer, or trying it on tap at a local bar. It’s a hangover friendly beverage that can reduce processed additives in your life, and overall it is a healthier alternative to traditional party selections. What are your thoughts on spiked kombucha for your next social gathering?