Humm Kombucha, the unassuming fermented-tea maker in the little building off NE Second Street is beginning to make its presence better known around town and beyond. Not in terms of new success—it's already got plenty of that, with flavors like Apple Sass and Blueberry Mint now available in grocery stores across not just Bend, but most U.S. states west of the Mississippi as well. No, their latest venture involves a new beer collaboration with Deschutes Brewery, one that could prove to be the ultimate thirst quencher for the rest of summer.
The Twilight Shandy, which made its debut last week at Humm's taproom and the Deschutes brewpubs in Bend and Portland, is the first time the two companies have worked together. That doesn't mean they're wholly strangers, though.
"Gary Fish, the founder of Deschutes, is also a member of the board at Humm," says head brewer Mackenzie Stabler, "so this is something we've been wanting to try to work on together for quite a while now."
A shandy, as discussed in this column a few months back, is any combination of beer and a soft drink like cola or lemonade. The Stiegl Radler grapefruit shandy in tallboy cans is undoubtedly the best-selling one in the Northwest, although you can make your own just as easily. Kombucha-oriented mixes are rarer on the market, although Four Corners Brewing in Dallas, Texas, released a 2.8% ABV beer/prickly-pear kombucha mix that hit it huge down there.
Twilight Shandy is a bit more robust than that, clocking in at 4.25% alcohol and 32 IBUs, but the combination works to excellent effect.
"We created a new grapefruit kombucha for this shandy, something that we haven't released before," Stabler noted. "We wanted something that would work well with the Twilight summer ale base while adding its own fun citrus notes to the mix."
Does it work? Yes. It's certainly not like your typical shandy, not super-sweet like Stiegl and not as boozy as the ABV might suggest. What it offers instead is a pleasant funkiness and grapefruit flavor to what was already a great summer ale in Twilight. It's chuggable, but at the same time complex enough to be worth savoring.
Humm and Deschutes have high expectations for Twilight Shandy, and rightly so—the first batch sold out from Deschutes' Bond Street. brewpub in just a couple days. Don't fear, though: Discussions are underway for a much wider bottle-based distribution next spring, just in time for the hot weather.