Kombucha Tasting Notes – Part 1
When preparing to launch Booch News last October, we considered publishing a ‘booch version of Wine Spectator or the esteemed Jancis Robinson’s wine appreciation column in the Financial Times. These oenophiles offer expert ratings, reviews, tasting notes, scores, prices and suggestions on which wine to drink. They promise to help their readers “learn more and drink better”.
The main problem is that, as a home brewer, our taste buds have become accustomed to a more robust brew than most commercial varieties. Back in the day, we absolutely fell in love with GTs Gingerade. Indeed, it was when our habit required a case a week that we found the wonderful Hannah Crum’s website and started home brewing. We still buy the occasional commercial bottle when on the road, but any attempt to review commercial brands would be like a Guinness drinker comparing Miller vs. Coors Light — corny as that might be these days! Both ales and stouts are, of course, the right drink for the right person. As the French say: à chacun son goût.
Absent our own reviews, we were delighted to find ‘boochheads who post reviews different brands on Instagram. Their tasting notes don’t (yet) reach the tortured prose wine connoisseurs employ to describe their tipple. After all, who can compete with a review like this:
Aromas of rich dark currants, nectarine skins, gushing blackberry, but lots of fragrant tobacco, rich soil, white flowers, smashed minerals and metal. Medium-bodied and saucy but racy acidity stabilises the wine nicely with the robust tannins.
Fine wine often sells for hundreds of dollars a bottle. Booch (with few exceptions) is rarely above $5 a bottle. Still, when browsing the chiller, it’s great to have an idea which brands have brought pleasure to others. Who knows, a future Jancis Robinson might be educating his or her palate even now.
In nearly 100 posts on Instagram Rae Reed shares her impressions of a wide range of brands. The pictures are upbeat, often ‘selfies’ with ‘booch bottles at hand. She’s a home brewer who also posts pictures of her own ferments and flavorings. The reviews are brief, largely positive, and give a real sense of excitement about her discoveries, especially of seasonal brands.
Here’s her review of a seasonal GTs Blood Orange Hibiscus
There’s quite a contrast between the Chronicles and those from “Big Booch–Larry Scoby” who has authored 46 reviews on Instagram. For one, he often looks quite serious about the task at hand! Larry also includes brief videos. These are filmed in his car when he’s out and about, looking over the bottles, reading the ingredients, musing on the carbonation, and giving a first-hand impression of the taste.
His review of the same GTs Blood Orange Hibiscus that Rae tasted gives a sense of his style. We loved the way he slowly inverts then opens the bottle, takes a moment to sniff the aroma, then (in the 2nd video) rolls it around in his mouth and gives his verdict: “It’s a good drink, not too sweet…definitely taste the orange…little flower hints spread abut the brew…” The final step is to award a score out of 10. He gives it an 8.1.
What’s with PA? Big Larry isn’t the only reviewer in the keystone state. Ms. T. E. lives in Pittsburgh. A coincidence? Or is Pennsylvania the east coast answer to Oregon as a top ‘booch location?
Her listing kicks off by reviewing the same seasonal GTs ‘booch is brief, to the point, and scores on a 5-point scale: “First post, what! I bought this at Giant Eagle Market in Shadyside. It’s bomb 💣 💥. Calling all those that love hibiscus, you won’t regret! 5/5.”
Minnows and a Whale
There’s other emerging ‘booch reviewers out there in the early stages of developing their palate and postings.
We found Aggie & Koops in Auckland, NZ, who are just getting started with two reviews as they “blog the booch”. Kombucha Diaries has four reviews. Then there’s Kombucha Rates with three. Kombooch Rating with four (including yet another GTs Blood Orange Hibiscus review.) The aptly named Kumbucha Reviews has two.
Gee, what with Kumbucha & Kombooch, Rates & Rating, what’s a poor boy to do?
However, after all this, we stumbled on a whale of a kombucha review site. Check back for Part 2 of this series to find out what the mystery site is.