Profile: Brew Loka, Manchester, England
Mark Young founded Brew Loka. Originally from the north of England, Mark had a successful career as a bass guitarist with the Southern California ‘Nu Metal’ band HED Planet Earth. It was while living in Newport Beach in the mid-1990s that he first tasted kombucha.
Fast-forward a couple of decades and a few thousand gigs later, and he found himself in Bend, Oregon, where he started Brew Loka. He scored his first SCOBY from a wise old man in the Cascade Mountains and bought some one-gallon brewing jars from Jamie and Michelle. At the time, they ran a small operation in a strip mall, one that grew into Humm Kombucha. Brew Loka was one of the first breweries in the United States to produce and sell Jun.
Two years ago, he returned to England with a SCOBY in his suitcase and set about brewing in the Manchester region.
The Growth in the Category
Mark is uniquely positioned to comment on the growing popularity of kombucha on both sides of the Atlantic. He drank his first bottle back when GT Dave was getting started. As a musician, he toured the continental United States and watched as ‘booch spread from small enclaves in California and Oregon to mainstream acceptance by Costco and Wal-Mart. His frustration at not being able to score a bottle of ‘booch while on the road in Iowa and Michigan was repeated when, as late as 2017, he was hard-pressed to find kombucha anywhere in England. By 2018 that was changing rapidly (something confirmed by our own informal research).
Believing in ‘Booch
The Brew Loka labels declare this is an ‘Ancient Elixir.’ Mark is a firm believer in the intrinsic value of kombucha:
It sells itself in a small but growing way. I believe in kombucha. I don’t just see it as a money-maker. Much like I didn’t start practicing yoga to make money out of it, even though I ended up running a couple of yoga studios. Kombucha is one of those things, like yoga, and like music, that’s pretty much as old as mankind. It’s been traced back to China thousands of years ago. So it’s not going anywhere, whether we try and commercialize it or not. Kombucha is going to be around, and I’m comfortable with that. I’ll sell it to whoever wants to buy it, but I’m going to brew it regardless.
- Original — made from organic black tea and organic cane sugar. A rich, hearty brew that pours like a beer.
- Green Tea — made from organic green tea and organic cane sugar to produce a light, refreshing beverage.
- Cannabucha — combines two Ancient Elixirs in one bottle – premium kombucha infused with Sacred Oil whole hemp plant extract.
- Jun — made from organic green tea and honey with a light color and bubbly effervescence.
The Brew Loka Instagram feed is a study in British humor and the English countryside. For HED PE fans, it’s also a source of flashbacks to past gigs, with bottles of Brew Loka ‘booch superimposed.
In addition to celebrating yoga, music, and the great outdoors of the north of England, Mark is fascinated by the legends that swirl around this ancient elixir. One story from the Far East says that ancient Japanese Samurai warriors carried wineskin flasks of kombucha to fortify them in battle. And in more recent times – 900 years or so ago – the armies of Genghis Khan were also said to have carried kombucha in their flasks when they conquered half the world.
His love of the esoteric extends to the name of his company. Loka is a Sanskrit word in various religious traditions meaning “world.”
To hear Mark tell his story, click on the podcast icon below. At over half-an-hour it’s longer than we usually post. But Mark has a rich and varied history that weaves together hot yoga, rock music, and kombucha. Fascinating!