Profile: Scobi Kombucha, Spearfish, SD
Kombucha from the Frozen North
While some might know of the Black Hills of South Dakota from the 1953 film Calamity Jane, where Doris Day waxes lyrical about ” …the pines so high that they kiss the skies above,” it’s now home to an award-winning Kombucha brewery: Scobi Kombucha.
The company, based in Spearfish on the edge of the Black Hills National Forest, was started by two women who met while studying at Black Hills State University. Carissa Hauck and Bianca Hutzler launched their business on February 16th of this year after winning a “Shark Tank” style contest in a Small Business Management class where students present ideas to a panel of experts in hopes of getting a small loan.
It all started in a dorm room
Carissa started brewing kombucha in her college apartment during her senior year. While applying for jobs internationally her plans of starting her career and moving abroad were abruptly shattered by a sports accident.
This meant more time for experimenting with kombucha brewing. Soon family and friends were raving about the flavors.
After many long days and nights of experimenting with different flavors, perfecting the brewing process, and finding the best ingredients, she teamed with Bianca and took the leap into commercial production.
Scobi Kombucha is the only craft kombucha brewery in Spearfish. In fact it’s only the second brewery in all of the Dakotas. Hauck and Hutzler brew in small batch glass jars before hand-filling environmentally-friendly glass bottles.
Instead of sourcing their ingredients from large national corporations, they prefer shopping at local farmer’s markets for fruit and herbs and the specialty tea provider in town for their teas.
“It makes a big difference in the taste and the quality. We like to compare our product to good wine,” said Hutzler.
They currently produce an “entry level” pure fruit blend for those new to kombucha who often prefer a sweet drink. They also have a raspberry-mint blend and a pure herbal lemon balm flavor as well.
Bees make honey, they make Jun
We were surprised to learn that North and South Dakota are the top two honey producing states in the US. (The bees hibernate all winter then come out to feast on the prairie grass and flowers in the spring.)
Given this, it’s no surprise that Scobi Kombucha plans to make a honey-based Jun tea. “We are aware of the importance of honey bees. We plan to partner with a local beekeeper to source the honey from there and donate part of the profits to a save the bees project,” said Hutzler.
After reading about Scobi Kombucha in the press, we scheduled a phone call to hear first hand about their small company. To hear more about what they told us, click on the podcast icon below.
For more information about Scobi Kombucha, visit www.scobikombucha.com or their Instagram or Facebook pages.
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Nice to see Scobi Kombucha featured on local TV. https://www.blackhillsfox.com/content/news/Black-Hills-FOX-Business-Scobi-Kombuca-507653341.html
Another great article on Scobi Kombucha: https://www.prairiebusinessmagazine.com/business/workplace/4607848-its-all-about-booch-black-hills-state-university-student-alumna-launch#
Love the way they have seen the opportunity in the upper midwest:
Carissa: We started commercial production earlier this year, and we have a few retail accounts in the Spearfish area and in Rapid City, S.D. So the plan is to expand in the Black Hills area; and for us, this is always connected with a lot of educational work, because a lot of people in the Midwest don’t know about kombucha.
Of course, that is also our opportunity, because there is so much potential. In California, for example, there is kombucha everywhere. We have driven around California, and it’s wild; even gas stations have kombucha advertised. “We have kombucha on tap here,” the signs say.
So it’s becoming more and more mainstream, and as you know, the trends on the coasts tend to creep in to the central part of the country.
When we were doing all of our market research, Bianca and I were thinking this is perfect timing for us, because kombucha is on the rise.
Bianca: And especially in the Black Hills, where we found that booch is a good fit because people are so outdoorsy and living very active lifestyles. In the past few years, we’ve seen two more yoga studios open up in Spearfish, for example.
Clearly, it’s a trend that people are becoming more aware of their health, and it’s great to be in a business that we are passionate about ourselves and to be making a product that we drink ourselves and we love.