Everything you need to know about hard kombucha

Can you get a buzz and boost your gut health at the same time? That’s the idea behind hard kombucha, which contains more alcohol than fizzy drinks on health food store shelves.

Kombucha naturally contains some alcohol, thanks to the SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) that works with sugar and tea to create the popular fermented drink. However, the alcohol content in regular kombucha is usually around 0.5% ABV – not enough to get you tipsy.

Hard kombucha, on the other hand, uses a different SCOBY that dramatically increases the alcohol content. “Instead of traditional strains of bacteria and yeast, hard kombucha uses wine yeast to ferment, creating a very strong alcoholic beverage,” said Cameron Fiorenza, BS-NDTR.

As a result, most strong kombuchas are around 5% to 10% ABV, meaning you have to be at least 21 to enjoy. But is there any benefit to drinking strong kombucha over any other cocktail? Here’s what you need to know.

Is hard kombucha considered healthy?

Hard kombucha overhead

Regular kombucha contains gut-friendly probiotics — helpful bacteria that can aid digestion — but there’s not a ton of research to back up all of its health benefits.

On the other hand, alcohol can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut. So does this mean the alcohol in strong kombucha will negate the potential benefits of drinking kombucha in the first place?

Not necessarily. The beneficial bacteria in hard kombucha should be able to tolerate higher alcohol content. “Kombucha fermented with a wine SCOBY will naturally include those probiotics that work in higher alcohol solutions—and therefore, in theory, won’t die when consumed,” says Fiorenza.

Is hard kombucha better than other types of alcohol?

It depends.

The number of calories and sugar content in solid kombucha can vary between brands. For example, Kyla Kombucha has 90 calories and zero sugar per 12 oz. can, while Bookcraft has 190 calories and 6 grams of sugar in a specified 12 oz. Flavor No matter which brand you choose, it’s important to keep an eye on your nutritional facts and serving sizes — and of course drink in moderation.

Strong kombucha generally has fewer calories than you’d find in sweetened mixed drinks like rum and coke (271 calories) or a daiquiri (252 calories). But compared to other carbonated drinks, it’s pretty similar — White Claw Spiked Seltzer, for example, has about 100 calories and 2 grams of sugar. Beer can range from about 100 calories for a light beer to about 200 calories for a strong porter.

“You don’t have to choose a better option here—they’re similar in calories and alcohol content,” says Fiorenza. “It depends on how you want to enjoy your drink, with or without probiotics.”

3 Hard Kombucha Brands to Try

Want to try hard kombucha? Here are a few companies with tempting flavors.

Chill Kombucha

Banana Strong Kombucha

KYLA Kombucha’s Hard Kombucha line comes in three formulations of increasing “with a kick”: Original (90 calories, zero sugar per 12 oz. can) 4.5% ABV, Sunbreak (170 calories, 1 gram sugar per 16 oz. can.) 6.5% in ABV, and Riviera, a collection of craft cocktails (140 calories, 1 gram of sugar per 12 oz can) at 7% ABV.


boochcraft hard kombucha

Not afraid to speak up in their mission statement, “high-alcohol” Buchcraft comes in five core flavors, including countless seasonal and limited-release varieties. They are usually at 7% ABV but vary nutritionally, with 1 to 13 grams of sugar and 160 to 230 calories per 12 oz. Worship.

Wild Tonic

Wild Tonic Strong Kombucha

With a similar emphasis on strength, Wild Tonic Hard June Kombucha comes in refreshing flavors like Blackberry Mint and Blueberry Basil. Depending on the flavor, ABVs register between 5.6% and 7.6% ABV, and calorie counts range from about 100 calories per serving. Just look at the sugar content — some flavors pack up to 25 grams per serving, and none have less than 11.

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