Brandon Turnage has his eyes set on growing a kombucha empire. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Move over beer, kombucha is here

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Brandon Turnage is fermenting a dream.

It is one that has taken four years to recognise but over the Christmas period the owner of Renegade Ferments and the CBD Depot could not ignore the numbers.

“We hit Christmas and our kombucha was in backorder by three weeks. It just exploded.”

Turnage started both companies on Achilles Ave, thinking that his craft beer bar would take the lead. But now with the kombucha side of the business looking increasingly viable with sales around the country. Now, he and his investors have made a decision.

“We are transitioning. We are not going anywhere but we need the space.”

That space will mean that Renegade Ferments will rebrand and the Kombucha Bros and expand into the CBD Depot’s backroom and bar area. That will make way for fermenting tanks and a canning line.

Then, Brandon says the hope is for world domination for a drink that only a few years ago was seen as an alternative option. Now the fermented green tea is huge business around the world.

“We definitely want to be a place in Nelson which people can be really proud of, and then export that.”

He says that the spike in kombucha consumption went along with the change in drink driving laws. It became an alternative that was low in sugar with some health benefits but was also an interesting beverage.

“It has stuff going on,” Brandon says. “It’s like an experience in a glass.”

However, he says CBD as people know it will remain open until the middle of the year when the canning line comes in. Then it will become more like a garden window bar and café serving kombucha, beer and wine – along with coffee and food.

They are also working on some special recipes for their kombucha – including using local hops as well as creating alcoholic kombucha using a special strain of yeast.

“We have always been a business that pioneers new ventures and projects and we now feel like it’s a great time to explore the kombucha market further, just like we did with craft beer when launching the CBD all those years ago,” Brandon says.

He says they are still trying to raise capital to get the canning line put in place and anyone interested in seeing a prospectus can email him at brandon@craftbeerdepot.nz