Microbrewery Black Dragon breathes life into ancient kombucha

A brewery does not always need beer to brew, because at the Ghent DOK encouraged Yannick Claerman and Erlinde Cornelis last summer their Black Dragon Kombucha. Knack Weekend went on a visit in the brewery of the pioneers.


© Michiel Devijver, photographer DOK

Three years ago, withdrew Yannick and Erlinde to the US. While Erlinde there university, did research, made Yannick acquainted with a very popular drink: kombucha. “Erlinde worked there, but I had that first time, still not much to do,” says Yannick. “So I often went drinking with a friend. The kombucha from a local koffiezaak proved to be not only the perfect katerdrank, but also simply brilliant. Via Via I was occasionally able to go help in breweries and so am I inside rolled.”

In what is rolled, you ask? In the innovative, organic and sustainable Black Dragon Kombucha, their own brand that Yannick and Erlinde last summer suggested on the Ghent evenementensite DOCK. Already on the first verkoopsdag were the two completely sold-out and even when they make their production opdreven, that was later, not otherwise. On the day that we can come, remains still a dozen bottles. “And that is only because we are at a certain moment during our previous sale day have stopped selling. We want people prefer to choose between the various flavours, but we had only this.”

© Michiel Devijver, photographer DOK

Black Dragon Kombucha is more than just a very tasty drink: kombucha contains probiotics, live organisms that are very beneficial for your intestines. If that’s still not healthy enough sounds: brouwer Yannick sets the kruidenmengelingen for his concoctions not only on taste, but also medicinal effects. In addition, the final product is low in sugar and no preservatives: “We have no bewaarstoffen necessary, because kombucha saves himself. Just as the beer changes the taste if you store it: it is dryer because the scoby (“symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”) sugar continues to eat it.”

The what to eat sugar?

“Okay, let me explain to you how kombucha makes. Everything starts with a sugared tea. That I make with everything in a vat of wasp can be healthy and that I can combine with medicinal herbs. This is a scoby, or a kind of gistbacterie. Who puts the sugar in the theemengsel to carbon dioxide , complex acids, (a bit of) alcohol and probiotics. Then, we give the mixture a second fermentation.”

I heard that there alcohol in kombucha?

“Yes, the yeast that we use, convert sugar into alcohol, similar to the process of making beer or champagne. But the scoby also contains bacteria, and the alcohol in a second fermentation, converting into acids. An average kombucha contains a little bit restalcohol. That is around 0.5 to 1 percent , depending on how long you fermented, how much sugar you add and or with juices works. But, in general, is the amount of alcohol is negligible: children and pregnant women can use it without problems drink.

In the US there is now a brewery , Boochcraft, that high alcohol kombucha makes. There is the alcohol content increased to finally come out at 7 to 8 percent. But that drink you also, of course, not more for the health effect.” (laughs)

The minibrouwerij, where the magic happens. © Michiel Devijver, photographer DOK

What makes you now just as innovative with Black Dragon?

“At this moment, you will find in the shops two kinds of kombucha. The first kind you find in dusty corners in health food shops. The marketing is not particularly well thought out and also the taste is a little attention: this product is the really pure to the health effect. At the other extreme you find in supermarkets. That ‘kombucha’ is fully pasteurized, so there is not living, and healthy organisms more and more soft drinks can be called. Between those two extremes, there was still nothing. With Black Dragon, we have a drink that is healthy and delicious.”

Why are those last drinks than pasteurized, if they are actually all the good to lose?

“That has to do with the fact that the bottles in Belgium – unlike in the US, where kombucha is not pasteurized, is not to be stored in the refrigerator. Our kombucha remains doorgisten in the bottle when he is in a warm environment is preserved. The risk is that the pressure in an unrefrigerated preserved bottle is so large that the bottle cap off shoot, or even that the bottle explodes.”


“Black Dragon is a train that does not stop”

“Pasteurization kills all living organisms in food or in drink, so that the fermentation stops, and that explosion is neutralized. That makes the product a longer shelf life, but unfortunately also that the health benefits disappear.”

How does the future look like?

Next steps: investors search , a crowdfundingcampagne start, moving to a fixed location, more contacts with the Gent catering , our production increase and begin supplying. It would also be nice to have partnerships to be able to engage with local fruitboeren or growers of herbs. We find also three non-profit organizations to work together. We would like to be a part of our profit to invest back in the community, which according to us every company should do.

All exciting things, because we are not born entrepreneurs. But we try and we’ll see where this ends up. One thing we know for certain: our kombucha was until now always been well received by those who tasted. Black Dragon is a train that does not stop.”

© Michiel Devijver, photographer DOK

Do you want to stay informed of the future plans and the crowdfunding campaign of Black Dragon? Follow them on Facebook, Instagram or dispose of frequently a look on their website. The drink taste until the end of september at the DOCK.

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