Fifteen or twenty years ago, kombucha was something that most people had never heard of, and probably couldn’t pronounce correctly either! Fast forward to today, and this tasty drink known for promoting gut health has become a household word, and in many cases a household item.
In 2013 the Artisan Beverage Cooperative in Greenfield was formed and in the past ten years, they’ve seen their production and coverage area grow by leaps and bounds.
Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan visited their brewery in Greenfield to bring us the story.
Hear how brewer and partner David Kermaty got involved in the Artisan Beverage Co-Op in digital exclusive interview.
Read the Full Transcript:
Brian Sullivan, Connecting Point: The sounds of assembly line machinery permeate the air as upside down cans make their way along the conveyor belt, each noise seeming to be perfectly timed as this three man line crew puts together cases of their version of what has become one of the more popular drinks in the world within the past decade.
The labels on these barrels say Artisan Beverage Cooperative.
But what exactly does that mean?
Sandy Pearson, Artisan Beverage Cooperative: We’re a cooperative that’s made up of a Katalyst Kombucha, which is a drink that we make; Ginger Libation, which is an adult ginger beer that we make; and to a small extent Mead Wines, which are fermented honey.
So, we — years ago, those three businesses were three separate businesses and we wanted to put them all under one roof and we decided to form a co-op.
Sullivan: The co-op dynamic allows for an even playing field among the partners, each having a defined role.
For David Keramaty, that means running a tight ship out here on the production floor.
David Keramaty, Artisan Beverage Cooperative: Good day is all the equipment is working properly and, you know, not a lot of losses in product and yeah, just everything’s working according to plan.
Sullivan: And in the business of brewing, fermenting, and packaging, there’s always a plan to follow.
Keramaty: We’re kind of always processing.
We’re either making new product, brewing it, or we’re filtering, packaging the finished product.
So, today we’re making a small batch of a special kombucha for the tasting room, and that’s using carrots and beets from Winter Moon Farms in Hadley. And we’re also canning our Local Libation, which is just a fall/winter special.
So, it’s a mixture of packaging, brewing throughout the week.
Sullivan: The operation is located here in the same building that houses the Franklin County Career Development Corporation at 324 Well Street in Greenfield. But visitors to the site will realize that the co-op has a little something extra up their sleeves beyond just production.
Having the brewery tucked away in the same building that houses the food processing center here in Greenfield has allowed this company to kind of fly under the radar while also making a product for mass consumption.
And having this tasting room in the back end of the brewery gives some local fans a chance to get to enjoy the product in the very place that it’s made.
For me, it was a chance to get a taste of the Concord grape kombucha, which I had heard so much about.
Keramaty: I think it’s really helpful to have that connection with our customers.
Not a lot of people know where we are, and for the people that do come, they’re usually surprised at our tasting room and what we have set up here. And they may be familiar with only one of the brands, like the kombucha, and not know that we also make Ginger Libation or vice versa.
But…so, it really helps us make a connection with our customers.
Sullivan: And after all this time, this little engine that could is proving to be a formidable contender against some of the bigger producers by expanding their reach around the region, all the while staying true to their local roots.
Pearson: We consider ourselves a small crafted company that serves the we’ll call it a 90-mile circle. For the most part, our stuff is mostly found in western Massachusetts, but we do have a fairly good showing in Boston and Providence and Hartford, most of the surrounding cities — Worcester.
We use food distributors and somehow that makes it possible for our stuff to go all the way to the Canadian border and all the way down to Manhattan, but basically we’re Western mass business.
Keramaty: You know, we almost have a little bit of a cult following in the Pioneer Valley. So, it’s definitely nice to see.
And it’s even more of a point of pride when I’m traveling to Boston and, you know, seeing it getting out there even — even further away.