Fermented Drinks Are Trending, But Are They Good For You?

Paul L. Underwood
by Paul L. Underwood
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Fermented Drinks Are Trending, But Are They Good For You?

As it turns out, eating fermented food — food that has already begun breaking down naturally, as in the case of kimchi or most Greek yogurt — tends to be pretty good for your gut. It’s just science.

Now, if you’re wondering whether you get those same probiotic benefits when the fermentation is happening inside your favorite beer, well, the answer is … not exactly, but don’t let that stop you from trying.

Bartenders, mixologists and other fermentation-forward beverage makers across the globe are definitely experimenting with this trend; however, for them, enjoyment probably comes before health benefits. Combining new-school ways of making drinks (like barrel-aging them in batches) with the fundamentally old-world process of fermentation, they’re introducing some pretty tasty beverages to the world.

So while you might not experience the same benefits from drinking a fermented beverage at a bar as eating, say, kimchi, when’s the last time you poured yourself a nice, tall glass of … kimchi after a hard day’s work?

Here are a few spots specializing in fermentation-forward imbibing:

SHED

Healdsburg, California

At this Northern California outpost, the (non-alcoholic) drinks are made with house-made kombucha or kefir water at the Fermentation Bar. You’ll want to try one of the house’s shrubs, crafted with vinegars (also made in-house), herbs and whatever fruit is in season. For a true DIY experience, get one of the Shed’s home-brewing kits, and start brewing your own kombucha.

GYST

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Founded by a pair of sisters and named for the Old English word for yeast, this pioneering bar/restaurant serves a variety of fermented or fermenting foods, including cider and beer. Check out the bloody mary, made with fermented tomato juice. This place also spreads the gospel of fermentation: You can sign up for one of its monthly fermenting workshops.

GRANT GRILL

San Diego, California

This esteemed bar has embraced the fermented cocktail movement via its barrel-aging program, where drinks are often made with fruits and herbs grown on site. They use something they call the “champagne method,” where drinks are aged over a three-month process that includes an injection of champagne yeast. The final products include fizzy takes on the Moscow Mule, the Cosmo (yes, the Cosmo) and others.

A BREWER NEAR YOU

The sour brewing trend shows no signs of abating, so chances are you can find one in your local beer aisle. To recap: Essentially, all fresh, locally produced beer is still fermenting to some extent, but sour beers and lambics tend to lean into that fermentation as part of creating the flavor.

Will any of the above help your gut? Maybe. But don’t let that be the only, or even main, reason to enjoy one of these beverages. The good news, they taste so good you’ll want to drink them in moderation regardless of any health benefits. As the saying goes, trust your gut.

About the Author

Paul L. Underwood
Paul L. Underwood

Paul is a writer based in Austin, Texas. He tweets here, he Instagrams there and he posts the occasional deep thought at plunderwood.com. He’s probably working on a run mix as you read this.

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