Kombucha Town looks to Kickstarter, canning and new variety

Changes are in store for one of Bellingham’s most unique microbreweries.

Looking to expand its wholesale distribution, Kombucha Town has announced plans to launch a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a larger-scale canning operation.

Chris McCoy, the brewery’s owner and general manager, said that expanding Kombucha Town’s canned products will make it easier to stock wholesale orders and provide more convenience to customers. The Kickstarter campaign should launch within the next week, he said.

Since McCoy first opened Kombucha Town in early 2013 on the top floor of the Herald Building in downtown Bellingham, his kombucha has been available in either 16-ounce or 32-ounce glass bottles, which can be returned, then washed and put back into circulation. But while the bottles have been popular with customers, particularly those who embrace the brewery’s sustainable ethic, when it comes to wholesale, aluminum cans just make better sense, McCoy said.

“It’s been something we’ve been thinking about for a while,” he said.

As its name implies, Kombucha Town brews and sells kombucha, a fermented beverage made from tea leaves that contains cultures of bacteria and yeast. The drink has caught on commercially in recent years due to its fans’ claims that it aids the body’s digestive process and possesses other beneficial qualities.

Kombucha Town produces a raw, black tea kombucha that carries enough alcohol by volume—around 1.5 percent, or about one-third the alcohol contained in a can of light beer—that it must be licensed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

Within the next few weeks, McCoy plans to expand production and sale of a ginger-infused variety, Kombucha Town Gold. He also expects to release a nonalcoholic version, Kombucha Town Light, later on, he said.

The glass bottle re-use system will continue, even if the brewery raises enough money to begin canning, McCoy said. Kombucha Town will also continue operating its small tasting room in the Herald Building, which has been used mainly for educational events centered around the brewing process, he said.

McCoy said the brewery has seen steady growth and expansion since opening.

Kombucha Town has acquired additional storage space, necessary to increase brewing capacity, in the basement of the Herald Building. The brewery works with Dickerson Distributors in Bellingham, and its products are now found in more than a dozen stores and restaurants in Bellingham, as well as retailers in Port Townsend, Whidbey Island, Anacortes, Everett and Seattle.

McCoy hopes the new product initiatives will boost Kombucha Town even more.

“The rolling out of these new products and the new canning line is going to have a big impact,” he said.

Evan Marczynski, staff reporter for The Bellingham Business Journal, can be reached at 360-647-8805, Ext. 5052, or evan@bbjtoday.com.

Update: Nov. 19, 2013:

Kombucha Town has launched its Kickstarter campaign. More information is available here

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