Rogue Ales recently sent Eugene Weekly a press release about its new, slightly strange-sounding beer, Kulture Clash — a combination of beer and kombucha. On the strength that both are fermented beverages, the combo isn’t that weird, but it also sounded like something that could go very, very wrong.
Then again, we are (mostly) a newsroom of avid kombucha drinkers, so we leapt at Rogue’s offer of a free sample.
According to the press materials, Kulture Clash (6.8 percent alcohol by volume) is “Rogue blonde ale specifically brewed to complement” a custom-brewed kombucha. Two of us, staff writer Meerah and editor Camilla, are less than fond of beer, but love kombucha.
Meanwhile, calendar editor Henry and arts editor Bob like beer.
Henry was a non-kombucha person until his recent conversion to the fermented tea side of things, thanks to an ever-present supply of ad-trade supplied Brew Dr. in the EW fridge. We figured all this made for a decent cross section of beer-samplers.
Bob is an older guy who can’t imagine why you’d adulterate beer with rotten tea.
When the spring-green bottle arrived with the Townshends’s Brew Dr. Otis Sisgood sloth on the label, we stared at it, suspiciously.
To be honest, part of our caution was because no one remembered where the bottle opener was. Luckily our newest staffer, Henry, demonstrated his ability at opening beers with a fork. We poured, we drank.
Here are our thoughts.
Kulture Clash is a perfect drink for warm, sunny days of summer. The beer is light and crisp, given the combination of kombucha and ale. The characteristics do clash, but they have an odd resolution. It’s not quite a sour beer, though tartness is present at first, followed by a sweet hoppy aftertaste. The downside to the beer is that its richness tends to linger on, making it a great beer to share with others. In other words, it’s like cake: You really shouldn’t have the whole thing in one sitting. — Henry Houston
I’m a Brew Dr. fan, but I have to be honest, my least favorite kind is the Citrus Hops because I just don’t like hops (I do like cilantro though, for what that’s worth). My hop aversion made me a little wary of Kulture Clash, but the sweetness and crispness of the first cold sip was reassuring. I later went and cracked open a Citrus Hops to compare, and aside from a strong hoppy aftertaste to Kulture Clash, the two are similar — so apparently my hop aversion is more tolerant of beverages higher in alcohol content than kombucha. I admit, I’m a stout or fruity beer person, so I don’t think I’m going to buy a bottle of Kulture Clash. But if someone hands it to me, I’m going to drink it, and the cool bottle means I’d definitely buy it for a beer-loving friend. — Camilla Mortensen
I’m an avid kombucha drinker and lover, but a neophyte beer fan. Pretty much I’m OK with anything that isn’t too hoppy and bitter (so I generally think IPAs are pretty disgusting). That said, I really enjoyed Kulture Clash. It’s a refreshing summertime beer that I could see myself sipping by the river or on an outdoor patio in the Eugene heat. It’s an easily drinkable beer without being too kombucha-y for people who aren’t into that. — Meerah Powell
If I hadn’t been told in advance what this was — other than, “Hey, try this stuff, it’s interesting!” — I might have liked it more. The fermented flavors of beer and kombucha are both slightly edgy and slightly composty, meaning they actually play kind of well together. But I’ve never been a real fan of kombucha and have probably consumed less than a cup of it in my entire life. Setting is everything for flavor, and all I could think as I sipped a half a glass was, “What happened to my beer?” — Bob Keefer
Kulture Clash is available at Safeway, Albertson’s and The Bier Stein as well as other beer dispensing facilities around town.