San Diego

Why San Diego Is a Destination for Better-for-You Brews

Hard kombucha is just one of your options.

Kové Hard Yerba Mate
Kové Hard Yerba Mate
Kové Hard Yerba Mate

San Diego craft beer culture is second to none and yet, we can’t help but notice new trends creeping onto tap lists and beverage menus, the most intriguing being the so-called “mindful”, or wellness brews like hard kombucha, hard Jun, and hard yerba mate.

You’ve likely heard of hard kombucha by now, a fizzy, sweet-and-sour drink that’s fermented with black or green tea, sugar, and an active culture of yeast and bacteria. Unlike virgin kombucha (which often has a negligible amount of alcohol due to fermentation), hard kombucha is fermented longer, which allows more of the sugar to convert into alcohol for a higher ABV.

In a similar category are hard Jun kombuchas. Emma Hughes, Customer Experience Manager at JuneShine Hard Kombucha in Scripps Ranch explains, “Traditional kombucha is brewed with black tea and sugar, while Jun kombucha is brewed with green tea and honey. There are no other differences between the two, by definition. But as far as taste, Jun kombucha has a reputation as ‚Äėthe champagne of kombuchas’ because it’s much smoother and far less acidic than kombucha with a base of black tea and sugar.”

The latest entry to the mindful hard beverage scene in San Diego is the world’s first hard yerba mate. Chief Operations Officer Josh Makler of Barrio Logan’s Kov√© Hard Yerba Mate gave us the lowdown on the tea-like beverage that’s slowly becoming a staple in mainstream grocers. “Yerba mate comes from naturally caffeinated leaves of a species of holly tree that grows in South American rainforests…the culture of mate is strong, hailing from Indigenous communities in Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. It is known as a symbol of friendship and the traditions have been passed down for generations.”

Whatever beverage you choose, keep in mind that despite any purported health benefits, it’s still an alcoholic drink. As Bambucha Kombucha CEO Michael ZonFrilli points out, “From a “better for you” perspective, kombucha is gluten-free, usually organic, and has lower sugar and calories than most alcoholic beverages. Consumers are going crazy for hard seltzers for similar reasons, but those drinks don’t offer the bonus of functional health benefits found naturally in raw kombucha, and rarely use whole food ingredients. Being an alcoholic beverage, we are not stating that drinking hard kombucha will make you healthier, but it is possibly a healthier choice in moderation.”

Given so many options, what’s the best way to dip your toe into the mindful beverage world? It’s easy; head to a tasting room and talk to a boochtender-they’re happy to guide you towards something you’ll enjoy. We’ve got six solid places to start right here:

Kové Hard Yerba Mate
Kové Hard Yerba Mate
Kové Hard Yerba Mate

Kové Hard Yerba Mate

Barrio Logan
Kov√© Hard Yerba Mate serves up the world’s first hard version of the popular South American tea-like brew in their beautiful outdoor venue, sharing space with Thorn Brewing (KHYM uses Thorn’s brewing equipment), at the Acre of Awesome. Classified as a hard tea seltzer, sweet yerba mate tea undergoes a single fermentation by yeast rather than kombucha’s bacteria/yeast combo, which, according to Josh Makler, makes hard yerba mate “a more approachable, crushable hard tea seltzer alternative that you can enjoy without the acidity of hard kombuchas, and the fake flavouring of hard seltzers”. At a moderate 5% ABV, Kov√©’s version is organic, vegan, and gluten-free, and comes in four flavours (so far); Mojito, Lemonade Iced Tea, Mango Colada, and Passion Berry, plus the occasional limited edition available only at the tap room. They occasionally have n/a versions at the taproom as well.
How to book: Seating is on a first-come basis. You can also purchase KHYM in cans online or at locations throughout San Diego County.

Nova Easy Kombucha
Nova Easy Kombucha
Nova Easy Kombucha

Nova Easy Kombucha

Ocean Beach
Owner and founder of Nova Easy Kombucha, Tiago Carniero, never expected to end up brewing hard kombucha in Southern California, but after opening a successful brewery in Brazil in 1999, he and his brother set their sights northward to San Diego. First launching Novo Brazil Brewing in Chula Vista, they followed up with Nova Easy Kombucha, a tasting room for both beer and booch in the heart of hippieville, Ocean Beach. Bursting with ripe tropical flavours, herbs and spices, the runaway house favourite is Sexy Pina Colada, a light, frothy take on the classic beach cocktail, or Sexy Mojito, with plenty of fragrant mint to balance the tangy lime; both push into the 8% ABV range. Other flavours are equally enticing, like Watermelon Mint, Cactus Fruit, Agave and Jalape√Īo and this season’s limited edition Peachy Lychee evoke visions of surf, palm trees, and endless summers. There’s always a few non-alcoholic (n/a) varieties to try, as well as new n/a performance kombuchas boosted with guarana and electrolytes.
How to book: Seating is on a first-come basis. You can also purchase NEK in cans online or at locations throughout San Diego County.

Photo courtesy of Guava Hard Kombucha
Photo courtesy of Guava Hard Kombucha
Photo courtesy of Guava Hard Kombucha

Bambucha Kombucha

Vista
Bambucha Kombucha doesn’t have their own tasting room, but their chef-crafted, artisanal hard kombucha is worth seeking out at area tap rooms and restaurants. Inspired flavors are developed by chefs, offering global culinary tastes using 100% organic, whole food ingredients from local farms and specialty produce companies, such whole root ginger and turmeric jet-fresh from Fiji and rosewater that’s shipped directly from a producer in Morocco. Prior to flavouring their brews, Bambucha ethically sources fair-trade teas from around the world, and usually minimally processed, organic cane sugar to feed their cultures. Three juicy hard flavours include blueberry vanilla, tropical guava, and Hawaiian hibiscus, along with five n/a choices.
How to book: Find Bambucha Kombucha at these restaurants and tasting rooms: Belching Beaver, Surf Center Bar, San Elijo Vine & Tap, Crack Shack, The Hop Stop, and Tony’s Sports Bar and Grill. You can also purchase BK in cans at locations throughout San Diego County.

Photo courtesy of Boochcraft
Photo courtesy of Boochcraft
Photo courtesy of Boochcraft

Boochcraft Organic Hard Kombucha

Del Mar
Founded by three friends from San Diego who wanted to make healthier alcoholic beverages, Boochcraft, the largest and best-known hard kombucha producer in the city, takes a “farm to tank” approach, sourcing ingredients directly from local small-scale farms whenever possible and juicing whole fruits in-house. Their first taproom, in the stunning Del Mar Highlands Brewers Deck, features six core flavours, rotating seasonals, their heirloom series, and limited-release “Liquid-Art-Lab” combos that push boundaries with flavors like Blueberry Juniper and Mayan Spiced Coffee. Each product has a unique or problem-solving sourcing story, like Watermelon Chili, which is made from too large to carry watermelons that would otherwise go to waste.
How to book: Seating is on a first-come basis. You can also purchase BOHK in cans and bottles online or at locations throughout the United States.

Photo courtesy of Local Roots
Photo courtesy of Local Roots
Photo courtesy of Local Roots

Local Roots

Vista
Local Roots’ tap room, known as The Boochyard, has 16 rotating flavours of sparkling hard kombucha on tap, making it the perfect stop when you’re not quite sure what you want. A core lineup riffs on popular old school and modern cocktails, like Booch on the Beach, Cali Mule and Strawberry Mojito, plus a couple of hopped up choices, such as Citra Hops Pear and Hoppy Habanero. Everything is raw, organic, vegan, and gluten-free and available in cans, crowlers, and growlers to-go as well.
How to book: Seating at The Boochyard is on a first-come basis. You can also purchase LR in cans online for delivery or pickup, or at locations throughout San Diego County.

Photo courtesy of JuneShine
Photo courtesy of JuneShine
Photo courtesy of JuneShine

JuneShine

Scripps Ranch
JuneShine’s light, refreshing hard Jun kombucha is a perfect entry-level choice in the wellness beverage arena, with a smooth, less acidic base made from green tea and honey, flavoured with seasonal fruits and herbs. Their popular fruity combos come from what’s freshest in the local marketplace, as well as the creative genius of the brewers.

“Inspiration is everything!” Emma Hughes said. She explained that, “Recently, our team has been inspired by our favourite, iconic cocktails-including Grapefruit Paloma, Iced Tea Lemonade, and Spicy Pineapple Marg. All of our small-batch specialities available in our SoCal tasting rooms are heavily influenced by seasonality-like our summer Strawberry Fields and fall peach flavours.”

The huge tasting room in the former Ballast Point production facility is family and pet-friendly and open seven days a week. A second San Diego tasting room in The Jackson, a new multi-use facility in North Park, was temporarily sidelined during the pandemic shutdown and plans to open later this year.
How to book: Seating is on a first-come basis. You can also purchase JuneShine in cans online for delivery, or at locations throughout the United States.

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Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting stuff, reading cookbooks and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.

San Diego

How to Celebrate Women’s History Month in San Diego

Check out female-led dance programs, pop up markets, beer dinners, and more events this March.

Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona

Women have played a huge part shaping San Diego into the city it is today. In celebration of Women’s History Month, there are a variety of events across the city that commemorate women’s contributions to our community and culture. Home to the Women’s Museum of California, which hosts events throughout the year, be sure to check out all the ways to support and honor women this month. From art exhibits to dance performances, pop-up markets and yoga, check out the best events to celebrate Women’s History Month in San Diego:

Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art

Discover works from overlooked women artists

Ongoing through November 7, 2023
Balboa Park
The San Diego Museum of Art currently has 20 modern and contemporary works of art on display from women who unjustly didn’t receive the same amount of fame as their male contemporaries. The museum’s Modern Women exhibit is your chance to see work from artists like Elaine de Kooning and Lee Krasner, who were overshadowed by artist husbands Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock but whose work has long deserved its own moment in the spotlight. The collection showcases pieces that range from acrylic paintings to photography, inviting us into an untapped artistic sphere.
Cost: $20

Practice Sun Salutations while supporting a good cause

Saturday, March 4, 10 am to 11 am
Pacific Beach
Make a difference in the lives of teen girls of colour while taking a yoga class at Kate Sessions Park. Organized by local nonprofit One Love Movement, all donations for the event go towards college scholarships for girls of the DETOUR F.A.N.C.Y. Expo & Leadership Academy, a mentorship program that promotes equity and inclusion in higher education for girls of colour. All while enjoying stunning views of Mission Bay.
Cost: Donation-based

Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona

Shop local women-owned businesses

Sunday, March 5, 1 pm to 5 pm
Middletown
What better way to celebrate the women in your community than by supporting their local businesses? The Women’s History Month Market, located in the FEMX Quarters venue, is a pop up market you don’t want to miss. The market will feature over 35 vendors from women artisans and you’ll find uniquely crafted sunglasses, jewellery, clothing, and more. The family-friendly (and pet-friendly) event will also include food and music.
Cost: Free

Drink beer crafted by female brewers on International Women’s Day

Wednesday, March 8, 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm
Escondido
Women were the original brewers of ale, after all, so it only makes sense to honour our past and present beer connoisseurs with dinner and brews. Located at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Stone International Women’s Day Beer Dinner features three courses, each paired with a tasty beer specially brewed by a team of women at Stone Brewery. The event is part of a larger global celebration for International Women’s Day, where brewers all over the world brew a speciality beer that supports The Pink Boots Society, a non profit that empowers women and non-binary people in the beer industry through scholarships and education. Grab your tickets while you can! 21+
Cost: $50-$70

Attend an exhibition celebrating female and non-binary artists

Saturday, March 11, 5:00 pm
Barrio Logan
Head over to the entertainment and community venue Corazon del Barrio and show your support to female and non-binary artists, whose art and music will be featured in the Diosa Art Show. Around 40 artists are on the bill at this all-ages event.
Cost: Free

Drink some pints for the pups

Saturday, March 11, 12 pm to 4 pm
Carmel Mountain
If you need another excuse to down some brews, Second Chance Beer Company is hosting its first ever Ladies & Pups Market for Women’s History Month. The brewery, which holds various events throughout the year, donates a percentage of its sales to animal rescue organizations in California and Arizona. The dog-friendly market will include pop ups from women-owned businesses such as Bold Bouquet, Wet Nose Pottery, and No, You Sit! Treats. For the occasion, Second Chance will serve Fistful of Gummies – Berry Edition, a rendition of their fruited sour beer created in collaboration with Pink Boots Society, an organization that supports women and non-binary individuals in the beer industry.
Cost: Free

Photo courtesy of Women's Museum of California
Photo courtesy of Women’s Museum of California
Photo courtesy of Women’s Museum of California

Attend a ceremony at the Women’s Museum of California

Saturday, March 18, 11 am to 1 pm
Rolando
Perhaps San Diego’s largest Women’s History Month event, the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes local women for their achievements in the community. The annual event, which takes place at Joan B. Kroc Theatre, is a project of the Women’s Museum of California, a museum dedicated to educating the public about women’s contributions through history with exhibits, programs, and events. Over 100 women have been inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame since the program was founded in 2001, and this year’s class includes notable women like activist Norma Ch√°vez-Peterson and Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas. The event includes a VIP brunch followed by the Induction Ceremony. Be sure to purchase tickets early to secure your spot.
Cost: $20-$150

Join a community of local women and get inspired

Monday, March 20, 5 pm to 7:30 pm
Miramar
The Women’s Speaker Series at Alesmith Brewing Company is a monthly community gathering where local women come together to support one another in achieving professional and personal goals. The event includes a social hour followed by a selected speaker. For this month, the Women’s Speaker Series features career coach and small business owner Laura Bashore, who will share her insight on how you can advance your career or business. Make sure to reserve your spot before attending!
Cost: Free

Come hear about the roles San Diego women played during World War II

Tuesday, March 21, 1 pm to 3 pm
Mission Valley
In the early 20th century, many women were not allowed or expected to be the breadwinners for their households, but things suddenly changed with the United States’ entry into World War II. Here’s your chance to learn about the real experiences of women who lived through WWll and how they navigated through it all. Presented by Oasis San Diego, head over to Mission Valley Library to attend this in-person event.
Cost: Free

Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project
Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project
Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project

Attend a ballet program choreographed entirely by women

Thursday, March 23 ‚Äď Saturday, March 25 & Monday, March 27, 7:30 pm
Liberty Station
Experience not one but three world premiere ballet performances at The Rosin Box Project, a contemporary ballet company that works to redefine the concept of dance and how it’s experienced for both artists and audiences. To coincide with Women’s History Month, TRBP is kicking off its 2023 season with Empower, a female-led ballet program choreographed by TRBO Residents Lauren Flower, Bethany Green, and Carly Topazio. The program, which takes place at Light Box Theater, offers a fresh take on dance by pushing the boundaries of traditional ballet. Your ticket includes a post-show reception.
Cost: $45

Hear music by a little-known female early 20th-century composer

Friday, March 24, 6:30 pm to 7:45 pm
Balboa Park
While you may not be familiar with composer Alice Barnett Stevenson, she played an integral part in San Diego’s music scene during the early 1900s. Stevenson was an active member of various music organizations at the time, and she composed art songs for voice and piano and performed at schools all over the country. Her home became a hub for local recitals from visiting musicians, and was also where the San Diego Symphony was founded. This month, you can hear her compositions performed live for the first time in nearly 100 years at the San Diego History Center. Selected works by Stevenson will be performed by musical scholar Katina Mitchell and pianist Yewon Lee. Be sure to reserve tickets ahead of time.
Cost: $25-$40

Listen to Black San Diego women discuss important community issues

Saturday, March 25, 12 pm to 4 pm
Valencia Park
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Friends of Malcolm X Library are hosting Ain’t I a Woman, an event featuring Black women who will be speaking about their professions and discussing the challenges faced within the workplace and the community while offering suggestions on how to further enhance and embrace equality. The event includes a Q&A panel discussion, door prizes, free raffles, as well as music, poetry, and dance. Seating is limited so be sure to reserve your spot early.
Cost: Free event. Lunch purchase is $15.

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Michelle Harris¬†is an Editorial Assistant at Thrillist. Over the years her writing has also appeared in¬†Atlas Obscura,¬†Mental Floss, and¬†Audubon Magazine. When she’s not busy typing, she enjoys hiking, road trips, and cooking vegan food.

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