As much as we love a good cup of strong coffee to kickstart the day, we often find ourselves reaching into the Social Pantry fridge for a refreshing juice or tonic in the morning. One of the latest drinks to join the line-up is LA Brewery‘s delicious kombucha; made (in Suffolk!) from fermented sweetened tea, this ancient Chinese drink naturally contains a host of gut-boosting vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes. We caught up with LA Brewery founder Louise to discover more about this zingy super-drink…
For anyone that doesn’t know, what is L.A Brewery and what do you produce?
We brew kombucha, which is a naturally effervescent living tea full of friendly bacteria at our microbrewery in Woodbridge, Suffolk. L.A. Brewery uses my initials (Louise Avery) and is also a nod to the healthy California lifestyle!
What was the initial inspiration behind L.A Brewery?
I had been brewing kombucha at home for some time and 3 years ago started a tiny business (Lois & The Living Teas) which I ran as a one man band, brewing it in a tiny basement room in Hackney, with hand written labels, delivering to a small clutch of cafes in East London in my beat up car. One day would be foraging for hops or elderflower, the next would include a 12 hour shift of bottling and labelling. Romantic but also impossible commercially.
LA Brewery was born at the beginning of 2017, after meeting my business partners who helped me build a larger scale microbrewery in Suffolk. We have retained the ethos of a small business using only fresh, super high quality ingredients, using a continuous fermentation process, and finished it with a beautifully branded bottle. We all have a shared dream to create a kombucha that is celebrated for its wonderful taste whilst being good for you too.
What are the core values of L.A Brewery?
Mostly, we really wanted to create a genuinely delicious kombucha which had the complexity of flavour to be a viable and exciting alcohol alternative.
We are also very ingredients focussed, using high altitude, organic teas from small plantations and pure fresh juices and herbs with maximum traceability. We use a slow continuous wild fermentation process allowing optimum and diverse friendly bacteria to develop, keeping the kombucha true to its traditional roots.
What is the biggest challenge you face on a day-to-day business and how do you overcome this?
There are so many challenges when you are a startup, that it’s hard to pick one! I think our biggest challenge is that kombucha is still fairly unknown in the UK. Therefore we all spend a fair amount of time educating people and breaking down myths and misconceptions around fermentation and kombucha, and just encouraging people to taste something that they are unfamiliar with.
What has been L.A Brewery greatest achievement to date?
Partnering with Leon – the healthy restaurants chain – as part of their gut health campaign is a project we are all incredibly proud of. We are now stocked in 38 Leon stores I believe, and hope to be in all of them by the end of the year.
From one business to another, what advice would you give you other entrepreneurs wanting to start their own company?
It’s a cliché but I believe you must firstly be in love with your product (verging on obsession), to be able to convince others that its worth tasting, buying, investing in
Secondly, I would test it on as many people as you possibly can (who you do not know), to give an honest verdict on your creation.
Thirdly, I have found it most helpful to work with people who are much more experienced than myself, who know the food and drink business. They don’t know as much about kombucha as I do, but they are able to provide hands on business help in many other areas and we have quickly become a good team.
What does the future have in store for L.A Brewery?
We are currently thinking about how we can sensibly expand our brewing capacity. We are very excited by the visible growth of the non alcoholic drinks market so we hope to be in bars and more restaurants as a permanent fixture before long.
Have you noticed any exciting emerging food trends for the next year or so?
The fermented foods scene will only grow I imagine, but hopefully into more household foods like condiments, living ketchup, hummus etc. As mentioned already, I think there will be a huge surge in non-alcoholic drinks options. Seedlip have already done a great job, and fermented drinks such as kombucha and kefir are appearing more and more, but hopefully there will be some other exciting concoctions we have not yet heard of soon?
If we came to L.A Brewery HQ for lunch, what dish (or dishes!) would you serve?
Personally I love pasta, kimchi and oat milk lattes…. so some unusual combination of those three?