If you’ve had trouble getting your kombucha fix lately, help is on the way.

Urban Farm Fermentory, a Portland company that makes the popular fizzy drink, has been experiencing a shortage of product this summer, thanks to a perfect storm of events. Eli Cayer, owner of the business, said he stopped selling kombucha out of state about a month ago to try to ease the shortage in Maine. He’s also adding about 40 percent more brewing capacity and expects store shelves to be completely stocked again in about two weeks.

Meanwhile, customers are asking: “Where’s the ’booch?”

“Fermentation is not an overnight thing,” Cayer said. “It takes time. And in that time, essentially we’ve sold out everywhere. There’s no overstock with our distributor anymore. They pick it up on Wednesday and it’s sold out before Friday. And then it’s gone until the following week.”

Kombucha is a green or black tea that is fermented with bacteria and yeast and often flavored with various fruits, herbs and spices. Many fans drink it for its purported health benefits, while others just get mildly addicted to the slightly tart flavor and fizziness.

Urban Farm Fermentory, located at 200 Anderson St., usually brews about 400 gallons of kombucha a week, and typically uses locally sourced ingredients to flavor it. Some of their current flavors, for example, are strawberry and sweetfern. Cayer said the fermentory’s troubles began when its head brewer, Reid Emmerich, left the business at the beginning of summer, the company’s busiest season.

Then, a couple of batches were unusable, “which put us in a really tight spot in the heat of the summer,” he said.

On top of that, Cayer just opened a new tasting room that has four more taps than the old tasting room, for a total of 16 taps, so more product is being sold there. When Cayer realized how bad the shortage was, he stopped selling out of state and started adding production capacity – 20 percent last week, which will be followed by another 20 percent next week.

Yvette Schussler, who had been making cider and mead for the company, is now the head kombucha brewer.

“I think we’re just about there,” Cayer said. “Probably in the next two weeks we’ll be back to a place where everything will be restocked.”

Meanwhile, if you just can’t wait for your kombucha fix, there are up to eight flavors on draft right now in the Urban Farm Fermentory tasting room.

 


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