A new kombucha business in the Northland — called Uffda Kombucha — is bringing more of the fermented drink to the region.
The Superior-based business is bringing growlers of the bubbly drink to the region, with hopes to open a storefront in Duluth’s Lincoln Park Craft District in the next few years.
"We’re just really excited for people to try it and fall in love with it as much as we love it,” said Mckenna Dagger, one of the co-owners.
They’ve seen growing interest in kombucha, as it’s a good alternative to beer and pop, said co-owner Rachael Murphy.
“You know how popular and microbreweries are around here. So it's (that) — just without alcohol,” Colin Zervas, a co-owner, said.
While it’s considered a non-alcoholic beverage, there are trace amounts of alcohol in the drink — less than 0.05%.
Kombucha is a fermented product, like sauerkraut or yogurt, made by combining a bacteria and yeast culture to a tea and sugar mix. The beverage naturally carbonates after the fermentation process, where the culture metabolizes the tea and sugar.
It’s an industry that’s grown by 3.41% year-over-year, worth around $1.2 billion, according to Kombucha Brewers International.
Uffda Kombucha, which currently operates out of the Superior Business Center, has been in the works since last summer, Dagger said. Its soft launch was at a Duluth Chamber of Commerce event last week.
Obtaining a license to sell kombucha was challenging, Zervas said, as licensors initially didn’t understand kombucha’s fermentation process.
Although kombucha is a relatively new product in the Midwest, he said they've seen demand for it.
“(We're) getting people acclimated to that new flavor. ... It does have kind of a vinegary kick to it. And we try to minimize that as much as possible to allow people's taste buds to kind of transition into that more vinegary flavor,” Zervas said. “But for the most part, we get a really warm reception of it, and people really enjoy it.”
Their goal is to someday have a storefront, preferably in Duluth’s Lincoln Park Craft District, Zervas said.
As for the name, Uffda? It reflects not only a popular phrase said in the Northland, it’s also simply fun to say, Dagger said.
“We wanted to do something that was like up north (and) kind of represents where we live and what we love about Minnesota,” Dagger said "So (we were) just shooting names around, and 'uff da' is part of my everyday language."
It’s not the only kombucha business in town: Duluth Kombucha started over three years ago and is now located in the Duluth Folk School.
Growlers of Uffda Kombucha’s three flavors — honey-ginger, cherry and raspberry — are available to order on its website, and then pick up at the Superior Business Center. They hope to partner with local restaurants and shops to get Uffda on their menus.