Humble Beginnings - The Story of Laurentian Brew
We are Laurentian Brew Kombucha; a kombucha microbrewery located in Deep River, Ontario, proudly pioneering a gut health revolution in the Ottawa Valley and beyond.
Born from years of fermentation love (we’ve fermented just about EVERYTHING from beer, wine, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, hot sauce...the list goes on), Laurentian Brew Kombucha began with a simple trade of kefir grains for a kombucha SCOBY (the culture). As our SCOBYs grew, so did our love of the brew. We enjoyed introducing kombucha to friends and family and soon had more mason jars of booch than we knew what to do with. We moved to a larger vessel for continuous kombucha brewing in our kitchen and somehow that still wasn't enough.
Matt's passion for becoming a true kombucha brewing master continued and one day he said to Nat, "When we retire, I want to open a kombucha brewery". Well the very next day, Nat said, "Why wait? Let's do this now!". Within days, we registered our business name, started a website (with the help of some awesome friends!) and decided to head to the Deep River Farmers’ Market in May 2016 to start bringing our freshly brewed booch to the area.
We started Laurentian Brew Kombucha Co. to bring a healthy, gut-friendly, alternative beverage to our area. We recognized the lack of selection for a non-alcoholic, low sugar drink when dining out and thought we ought to amp up the options. Plus, we really did fall in head over brew in love with the fermented tea.
Unsure of how kombucha would be received but hoping to surprise everyone with a healthy alternative, we packed up almost every last drop into 1L flip-top bottles. Much to our surprise, Laurentian Brew Kombucha was such a hit at the market that we sold out within the first 40 minutes and almost every market thereafter. Expansion needed to happen! We were brewing in a room in our house and quickly running out of space. We took the plunge and renovated a commercial space over the Summer and Fall (hello walk-in cooler!), purchased equipment, and opened our brewery in November 2016, ensuring an abundance of kombucha was available to our area.
We were able to offer our kombucha on tap over the Winter months at The Olive Tree in Deep River, our first retail location. Once we picked out new bottles, completed lab testing, and designed labels, we launched "The Great Eight" in April 2017. That was the game-changer. Within the first week we had 8 retail locations contact us to carry our booch. We went from one on-tap location to 25 retailers by Summer 2017. Our dream was becoming a reality!
Now with over 20 flavours, including two special blends made by our herbalist friend Katie Wolk, and local ingredient collaborations (such as Hugli's Blueberry, Maple Rose, and Engine House Coffee) we have a variety of tasty kombuchas and enjoy working with local businesses to showcase what they have to offer. We love coming up with new products and will continue to bring our love of ferments to the public.
We keep our kombucha happy and healthy, still brewing in small batches using traditional methods, just the same as you would at home (only on a bit larger scale ;). Our kombucha is made with 100% organic ingredients, is always raw, never pasteurized, and our 500 ml bottles carbonate naturally. We chose our ingredients carefully, and use whole fruit to infuse our kombucha, lending a more natural, robust flavour unique to our brew.
Laurentian Brew is still a true "Ma and Pa" business, with Matt at the helm of the booch brewing, and Nat conducting sales and marketing. We also have the wonderful help of an employee for bottling. We still work our daytime jobs and run the business after hours and on weekends, attending events and markets in the area. We are so grateful for the support the Ottawa Valley has shown us, and hope to continue to grow and spread the booch love far and wide.
A little about the team...
Founded by Matt and Nat, a husband and wife team with a passion for kombucha, food, good company, and the great outdoors, enjoyed alongside their 4 children; Simon, Cheyenne, Faye, and Leah.
Matt was born a foodie.
His folks will tell you he would eat anything anyone put in front of him. There is not a food he doesn't like, and he certainly has an appreciation for excellent cuisine. His fascination with food evolved as he got older, with a love of home cooking, an enjoyment of pairing beverages, and a taste for new meal ideas.
Matt wasn't always healthy in his choices however, and in a busy life eating an abundance of food he enjoyed, he became overweight. At his heaviest a few years ago, Matt had a turning point.
He decided it was time to put his health first.
He began exercising regularly, making healthier meals, and doing a ton of research. With a weight loss of over 70 pounds, Matt surpassed his goal and continues to maintain a healthy weight.
Along with moving towards optimal health, Matt began exploring the various ways in which to better his digestion.
Through his journey of fermentation,
Matt discovered kombucha.
He very quickly fell in love with making his own brew and developed grandiose ideas of starting a kombucha microbrewery and becoming the Booch Baron. With the encouragement of his wife, plans were set in motion to open the Ottawa Valley’s first kombucha microbrewery, Laurentian Brew Kombucha Company. As an engineer, Matt still works his full-time job during the day, brews kombucha after hours, and still finds time to spend with family and friends.
Natalie has always been interested in food and health.
As a child she suffered from several food allergies forcing her and her family to make big changes to their eating habits. She quickly experienced and understood the correlation between healthy food, healing and energy. Fortunately she grew out of the majority of her allergies in time for high school when she was known to eat just about anything. Today, much the wiser, she knows to stay away from performance-robbing foods.
Natalie has a way with food. She started in the kitchen at a very early age. She would make recipe "inventions" some of which were only good to her, and some a tasty success. Her Mother will tell you how she never knew what she was up to in the kitchen but to expect nothing short of creative.
These days she still rarely follows a recipe but her creations turn out delicious, nutritious and visually appealing. There's plenty of proof because she snaps many photos to feast your eyes on and posts them to her instagram, @foods.with.benefits. As a matter fact it's her job.
She's a photographer (see her work at Natalie Surette Photography) and a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and former Personal Trainer Specialist with her company, Foods With Benefits. So as far as a flavour consultant, taste tester extraordinaire for Laurentian Brew Kombucha, and photographer for the website, we can't ask for more. You'll find Natalie behind the scenes of all Laurentian Brew social media, organizing events, sales and marketing, and delivering delicious kombucha to the Ottawa Valley and beyond.
Ericka has been in the Laurentian Brew family since January 2018. A fan of our brew since our early days, she has been a great supporter of the biz.
An integral part of our team, Ericka is LBKC's expert bottler. Chances are if you've had our bottled kombucha, it was labelled, washed, sanitized, filled, and capped by Ericka.
When she's not at the brewery, you may find her at the Baila Studio, working in the school district, or pursuing her E.C.E. studies.
We're fortunate to have Ericka on our team! Plus we like her taste in music. ;)