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FLOWER OF LIFE

FOLK brings flavorful kombucha to the Sierra.

WRITTEN BY HEIDI BETHEL
PHOTO BY SHAUN HUNTER

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It’s aliiiiiive!

No need to insert a terrifying Frankenstein scream here. But really, it is, and some believe it has immense healing properties due to its high concentration of amino acids and probiotics. It’s kombucha, and the folks at FOLK Brewing Co. in Stateline, Nev., near the shore of Lake Tahoe, are mastering the art of making this bubbly elixir.

A little more than four years ago, Brett Kendall, Doug Baehr, and Jennie Fairchild were chatting over breakfast, and the idea of bringing Kendall’s own kombucha to the Tahoe culinary scene came up. They all agreed it was a great idea.

“We decided to call ourselves Flower of Life Kombucha,” Fairchild says. “Our goal was to create a living, high-vibration kombucha in harmony with nature using organic, non-GMO, and whole-food ingredients.”

And FOLK was born.

Mastering the brew

“We started experimenting with flavors,” Kendall says, “a little ginger root here, some lemongrass there. We had the crisp Lake Tahoe water on our side, which made all the difference.”

Fast forward to today, and FOLK now offers eight flavors that always are available as well as an additional 10 seasonal concoctions that rotate by season, from its brewery on Kingsbury Grade.

Effervescent delight

The science behind kombucha’s natural carbonation is complex, but according to Kendall, kombucha essentially is a sparkling, naturally fermented tea.

“On a basic level, we use a tea and add culture to it once it’s cooled,” he says. “The culture digests some of the caffeine and sugar molecules, creating a fizzy product without adding carbon dioxide.”

By taking their time, Kendall and the team are able to bring out crisp flavor profiles.

“We brew authentic, slow-brewed, single-batch kombucha,” Fairchild says. “It’s an artisan, handcrafted product that allows the culture to digest the majority of the sugar, leaving a very low residual and a dry, crisp beverage … It’s the Champagne of kombuchas.”

Pouring over bubbles

You’ll find FOLK flavors — ranging from Original Jedi Oolong and Jasmine Flower to Berry Hops — in places such as Great Full Gardens in Reno and Alibi Ale Works in Incline Village, with bartenders at both establishments pairing the kombucha with beer for a tasty, lower-alcohol alternative drink.

It also is great as an ingredient in many food dishes and is becoming more commonplace on menus. Kendall suggests using kombucha as a poaching liquid with fish, as a meat marinade, or in place of vinegar in salad dressing and condiments.

“Kombucha became a popular trend and then a conscious alternative to totally dead beverages,” Kendall says. “Now you have this live drink [with good, active bacteria] that you can have by itself, in a cocktail, and mixed in the recipe for a great meal on the table.”

Heidi Bethel enjoys the probiotic aspects of kombucha and recently used FOLK’s Meyer Lemon Rosemary brew to deglaze a pan for a beurre blanc served atop a halibut steak. It was delicious!

RECIPES

Evil Jungle Jamboree

(courtesy of Brett Kendall, co-owner, FOLK Brewing Co. in Stateline. Serves 1)

1 wedge Meyer lemon

3 sprigs fresh cilantro

1 ounce St.-Germain elderflower liqueur

2 ounces Botanist gin

FOLK Evil Jungle Prince kombucha

Combine all ingredients except kombucha in cocktail glass and muddle thoroughly. Add ice and stir. Top with FOLK kombucha. Garnish with cilantro sprig and Meyer lemon twist.

Jazzy Pineapple Basil Martini

(courtesy of Brett Kendall, co-owner, FOLK Brewing Company in Stateline. Serves 1)

2 2-inch pieces pineapple, cubed

2 basil leaves

2 ounces Chopin Potato Vodka

FOLK Jasmine Flower kombucha

Dry vermouth, to taste

Coat inside of martini glass with vermouth. In shaker, muddle pineapple, basil, and vodka. Fill shaker with ice and shake aggressively. Strain into martini glass and top with FOLK kombucha. Garnish with basil-wrapped cube of pineapple on skewer. 

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