Summer 2020 Hop Art

Sierra Nevada’s Strainge Beast Hard Kombucha

Sierra Nevada and its founder, Ken Grossman caused a bit of a stir earlier this year when they announced their first ever non-beer release: Strainge Beast Hard Kombucha. “Ken has long been interested in kombucha,” says Sierra’s Robin Gregory. “So, we knew we had to do it right.”

For the uninitiated, kombucha is a fermented, lightly effervescent, sweet, organic tea that has come into fashion because of its health benefits. Kombucha is rich in probiotics that are great for your digestive system and it’s been suggested that it can even improve your immune system. Once considered a niche product, Grossman and his Sierra Nevada team think it’s time for this beverage to go mainstream.

Strainge Beast will launch this fall in three distinct flavors, each clocking in at 7% ABV: Ginger, Lemon & Hibiscus; Passion Fruit, Hops & Blood Orange and Blueberry, Acai & Sweet Basil. Because these flavors are wildly different from anything we’ve seen from Sierra Nevada before, it was important to Gregory and the rest of Sierra’s team to make sure Strainge Beast was its own distinct brand – from the name, all the way down to the label’s artwork.

But this job wasn’t easy. “Developing these hard kombuchas proved to be so complex that it earned itself a nickname in the brewhouse: The Beast,” smiles Gregory. “When it came to naming it, we knew which way to go.”

When the folks at Sierra sat down, tossing around ideas as to what Strainge Beasts’ label artwork might look like, they knew it had to be something unique. “When we committed to The Beast, our creativity really opened up,” says Gregory. “We knew we wanted to feature the ingredients and lean hard into the Strainge Beast personality. Thus, The Beasts were born.”

Those “Beasts” turned out to be grinning plant-like monsters, somewhere be- tween the iconic puppet from Little Shop of Horrors and the more modern sci-fi foe from Stranger Things. “We wanted to create a simple canvas that would let The Beast do the talking. It’s an invitation for drinkers to experience The Beast and get strainge with us.”

For each new flavor of Strainge Beast, Gregory and the artistic team came up with a distinct beast to represent the clean and bright flavors of the kombucha. “We wanted to highlight the ingredients, but in a way that was very different.” So, reach for the Ginger, Lemon & Hibiscus kombucha and you’ll see a lemon-headed beast that evokes the ginger heat, tart lemon and floral hibiscus flavors in the liquid. Pop the can, pour it into a glass and you’ll find the kombu- cha’s brilliant pink color. It’s a drinking experience unlike any other.

“We needed to approach this beverage with the same integrity and genuine curiosity that’s at the heart of our brewery.” And the label for these wildly innovative new offerings evoke just that. They also show just how much fun this team had in dreaming up these beverages. “After all,” says Gregory, “we’re building a beast – a strainge one – so we had to be creative in the way we expressed that!”

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Draught Lines is a seasonal magazine dedicated to the craft beer experience.