There may be no other beverage in recent memory that's skyrocketed from relative obscurity to the mainstream faster than kombucha. Natural food co-ops have been selling this fizzy, fermented tea beverage for years now, and many a home brewer has a covered crock of sweet tea on their counter, slowly transforming into this probiotic-rich concoction. But thanks to the rising trends of all things health and wellness, the public's understanding of the benefits of fermentation, and larger retailers getting on board (Whole Foods, etc.), it looks like kombucha has arrived.
Here at HubBub, we've been looking for a top notch kombucha to add to our cold case, and we're thrilled to connect with Inspired Brews. This Philly-based company was founded in 2014 by friends Jessa Stevens and Jennifer Snow, and makes kombucha that's creatively flavored, beautifully packaged, and most importantly, very delicious. In addition to being a local, independent company (which we dig), Inspired Brews is doing something unique in the production/retail space that we're really psyched on: their Fermentary on North 3rd Street in Old City, open since November 2015, is a thoughtfully renovated space where they both brew and sell their tasty booch. On a cold, rainy day last week, we stopped by the Fermentary to check out their digs and meet with co-owner Jessa, who was kind enough to tell us more about the Inspired Brews story.
HubBub: How did you and Jennifer originally meet?
Jesssa: When we both lived in Dallas, we met through a small group through our church. Jennifer introduced me to home brewing kombucha and we experimented with teas and flavor combinations. She's really been my mentor and encouraged me to try many other types of ferments, giving me milk kefir grains and emboldening me with her own excitement on the subject. I began fermenting kefir, water kefir, kraut, oatmeal, you name it... My husband jokes, but in a very serious manner, about how much of our counter tops are consumed by glass jars of fermenting food. I sometimes move them out of our kitchen when guests come over so I don't overwhelm them with the amount of hippie displayed.
HubBub: What were you doing for work before this, or is this still a side gig along with your "day" jobs?
Jessa: I grew up in Texas and landed in Philadelphia in 2013, when my husband got a job here. I was previously hustling the wedding scene as a graphic designer and letterpress printer creating wedding suites for brides and grooms. We began the company in 2014, focusing on providing kombucha to the city through it's amazing coffee shops, juice bars, and local grocery stores. We reached a point where we'd outgrown our production space and wanted a physical location where our 'brewlievers' could come and interact with us, see how we brew, and offer the city something that's not been done - a kombucha bar! In the fall of 2014, I made Inspired Brews my full-time gig.
HubBub: How does it work with Jennifer still living in Dallas?
Jessa: Jennifer and I communicate weekly and support each other as we both brew and distribute across our own communities. Moral support, flavor brainstorming, and just being friends allows us to have fun and grow with each other.
HubBub: We've been loving your kombucha at HubBub, especially the New Leaf flavor. Is there a reigning customer favorite?
Jessa: Our best selling booch is definitely our Immunity Elixir. It's made with elderberry, hibiscus, and raw local honey. All kombucha is immunity building, but with the elderberry and hibiscus this one has an extra boost of Vitamin C.
HubBub: So, do you drink kombucha all the time?
Jessa: I do! I drink about 16 ounces a day. I really crave it daily.
HubBub: Are you a coffee drinker? If so, what's your preferred preparation?
Jessa: (said in her best manly Dos XX voice) I don't drink too much coffee, but when I do I drink cappuccino.
HubBub: What's the toughest part of running Inspired Brews?
Jessa: Resting! One of my employees says my spirit animal is a hummingbird :)
HubBub: And what's the best part of your day?
Jessa: It's the best to watch something you make be enjoyed - watching people drink, post about, and enjoy our kombucha is tops!
Thanks so much to Inspired Brews for taking the time to show us around their space and answer our questions. We highly recommend taking a trip down to Old City to visit their Fermentary (just check their hours), or grabbing a bottle next time you're in one of our shops!