Kombucha making inroads into pubs

L-R: The Bucha founders Paul Tansley (and son), Cam MacFarlane and James Mackinnon

The kombucha brand brewed in partnership with Stone & Wood aims to satisfy growing demand for low-sugar soft drink alternatives.

Founded by drinks industry professionals Cam MacFarlane, James Mackinnon and Paul Tansley, The Bucha of Byron is part-owned by Fermentum, the Stone & Wood parent company, and brewed at its Byron Bay brewery.

The product was designed to look and feel like a beer, giving it broader relevance than the health foods store channel that is otherwise the mainstay for kombucha, a sparkling probiotic drink made from fermented tea.

“We have identified this opportunity in pubs as a space that we want to own. It’s amazing how the younger generations are coming through that are happy to go out and not drink,” MacFarlane told Brews News.

“Really there just aren’t that many other options apart from the high sugar coke or lemon lime and bitters or something along those lines.

“We think we’ve got a really good opportunity to work with pubs and bars around the country to develop this whole space.

“We don’t expect people to only drink kombucha every day or for the whole night out, but rather as a way to find a little balance, swapping it out every second or third alcoholic drink, or having one when you’re hungover on a Sunday,” he said.

The new Lemon Myrtle flavour

Pouring ritual
MacFarlane, formerly of Foster’s Group, says the team’s experience in marketing premium imported beer has informed The Bucha’s strategy of targeting cafes and licensed venues.

“We know that all the best brands are built on-premise first and so that’s what our focus has been on. The category needs to get considerable more awareness and penetration before people are buying a slab to take home,” he said.

“If you remember 15 years ago in the beer space, it was Carlton Draught or VB or Tooheys New on tap and all of a sudden along came a couple of international brews that kind of changed the game,” he said.

“The one I was involved with was Stella Artois, it had the pouring ritual… from our perspective, the whole on-tap thing hadn’t really been done in cafes, no one really brought any of that theatre to the café space.”

The Bucha is now pouring on kegerators installed by the company at 30 cafes in Byron Bay, Gold Coast and Melbourne.

“To do it justice and keep it fresh you need to be turning over a couple of kegs a week… you have to be in a really great café to do that,” MacFarlane said.

The product is also on tap at pubs including Garden State Hotel in Melbourne and the Beach Hotel in Byron Bay, and the team has collaborated with bartender Kevin Peters on a range of kombucha cocktails.

“If you want to fit in with the crowd and you’re not drinking, you can have a bottle of our kombucha and feel like you’re a part of it, or you can spruce it up with a bit of alcohol and still be doing something healthy for yourself,” MacFarlane said.

A Lemon Myrtle flavour was recently released as the second product in The Bucha’s range.

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