Beverage industry veteran, Bill Moses, knows a thing or two about industry disruption. His probiotic and kombucha brand KeVita sold to PepsiCo, for $250 million in 2017, inspiring him to take his vision one step further with Flying Embers, an organic hard kombucha beverage (4.5% Alcohol By Volume core line and 7% ABV premium line).
Fermented with an adaptogen and probiotic botanical base, Flying Embers delivers the holy trifecta of healthy, delicious and sexy. The brand has been on market for just over a year but is already holding its own in an increasingly competitive space, fearlessly converting health and environmentally conscious beer drinkers.
And the door couldn’t be open any wider. While perfect for social drinking and not too sweet, beer is both bloating and glutenous. And from an environmental standpoint, a few daily bottles of imported lager have the carbon footprint of about 50,000 cups of black tea. Speaking of which, Flying Embers is made from a sparkling fermented black tea kombucha culture with zero sugar, zero carbs, only 85 calories, natural, restorative properties, excellent for digestion, and is less damaging to the environment and the waistline.
Flying Embers might just be on the cusp of major cultural disruption that will change the way that consumer decisions are made around alcoholic beverages— allowing it to steal some market share from the beer industry.
It is a healthier alternative to light beer
“Most adult beverages are high in calories, high in sugar, high in carbs and high in gluten,” says Moses. “Light alcoholic beverages sell themselves on the basis that they are not as high in some or all of these areas. Flying Embers doesn’t just stand out because of what is not in our recipe— but because of what is within— our ingredients provide value from the perspective of both health and wellness.”
Many of Flying Embers’ ingredients, including live probiotics, ginger, turmeric, ashwagandha and astragalus, can be found in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal remedies. The beverage is adaptogenic, which means that it has natural, restorative properties that improve the body’s resistance to the effects of stress and help to regulate mood, energy and cognitive functions.
It’s all about the flavour
“Pineapple chilli is my favourite and it’s doing really well,” says Moses of the variety of flavours, including Ancient Berry, Ginger & Oak and Grapefruit Thyme.
Moses, who also owns an organic winery, speaks of the subtleties in flavour of his hard kombucha, with the air of a fine sommelier.
“When we ferment our scoby, we do it in a way that imparts a softer palate feel that has a long finish so that ultimately the flavour is like a dry wine. We ferment it in oak with turmeric and ginger, which really brings out those earthy notes.”
It is purpose driven
Experiencing the Thomas Fire in 2017 gave Moses an appreciation for life. That was when he decided on the name and purpose of his new beverage line. A percentage of Flying Embers’ revenues are channelled to fire fighting charities.
The company is also environmentally conscious. It tries to source its raw materials as close to home as possible, and is a strong promoter of regenerative farming.
“We care about the earth and the community,” says Moses of his purpose driven enterprise. “This is just one of the variety of reasons that our beverage has an edge over beer.”
According to QYR’s Global Hard Kombucha Industry Research Report, the global market for hard kombucha is expected to expand from $55.45 million in 2018 to $1175.16 million in 2026, with a CAGR of 42.35% from 2019 to 2026. Flying Embers is capitalising on the success of the North American market, which experienced $56.27 million in revenues in 2019.
By Spring 2020, the brand will be available across 40 states and in mainstream establishments such as Trader Joes, Whole Foods and Costco. There are also plans for international growth. The company has its sights set on Europe, Canada and Australia.
The team, operating out of Fermented Sciences, Moses’ innovation lab for fermented beverages, continues to focus on market share, distribution and of course— innovation.
“Our team really geeks out on bacteria,” he laughs. “After all, we are delivering a better for you revolution in alcohol.”