By Carrie Schmeck
Fogline Brew Co.
Not everything good for you has to taste bad. Christie and Luke Patterson are out to prove it and are finding a string of believers in their wake.
Staunch evangelists for kombucha tea, the pair recently started producing and distributing kegs of the trending concoction under the name Fogline Brew Company, based in Tehama County. Kombucha tea is a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. The resulting liquid contains vinegar, B vitamins and a number of other chemical compounds.
“It’s a live culture drink,” explains Luke. “Scoby, the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, is a probiotic, the same as you’ll find in yogurt, sour cream and raw milk.” It is believed that where antibiotics indiscriminately kill bacteria, probiotics add good flora back into the intestinal tract, boosting the immune system. Holistic experts point to detoxification, joint care, digestion and gut health as likely benefits. The medical community isn’t convinced without scientific evidence.
Despite one’s belief, it may not matter for Fogline Brew fans. Their base flavors—lemon-ginger, lemon-mint, mandarin-berry and blueberry-ginger—are tasty enough to drink for the sake of enjoyment alone. Eli Leedy, owner of Sky’s Pure Food restaurant in Redding, says, “Hands down, it was the best tasting kombucha we’ve ever tried—and we tried a lot.” He serves it alongside his fresh, organic menu. “It was kind of a no-brainer,” he says, after he and wife, Sky, discovered it isn’t diluted with juices, but made with mostly local fresh fruits. He challenges anyone who has ever tasted a bottled, mass-produced and vinegar-tasting kombucha tea to try Fogline’s brew. “They come back,” he says.
The Pattersons’ story began in Maui. “They pour glasses there by the tap,” says Luke. “We fell in love with it and started drinking it by the gallon. We started feeling the benefits. We got less sick, had fewer colds.” They began to produce it themselves, for themselves. “We wanted to come up with something that tasted good because Maui kombucha wasn’t that good, I’d say,” says Luke.
When the pair moved to Tehama County, they discovered kombucha had not yet made a mark in the North State. No stranger to entrepreneurial adventures, the Pattersons knew they had a potential business when they offered a sample to a friend. “He liked it, told someone who told someone and it snowballed into a gigantic snowball. We were like, OK, obviously people want this stuff.”
Christie’s experience in the fitness industry offered a perfect channel for early distribution. So while Luke researched flavors and manufacturing best practices, she offered it to clients. Many had never heard of it but “once you tell them the good things it does for their body, they taste it and love it,” says Christie.
Fogline Brew now distributes its teas on tap at Orchard Nutrition Center in Redding. Customers can bring in their own bottles and purchase the tea by the ounce. Sky’s Pure Food, Madayne Eatery & Espresso, J Nicolay and Barista’s Roasting Company, also in Redding, sell the teas by the glass.
The couple continues to experiment with flavors based on seasonal fruits. During the holidays, they had pumpkin spice, sweet potato pie and apple-cider-cranberry flavors. “We’ve had some epic fails,” says Luke, “but we just keep trying stuff.”
As far as their future, they see the sky as the limit. “We want it manageable because we’re it,” says Christie, but they have plans to expand their distribution to Mount Shasta and beyond. Their name, Fogline, which also happens to be Luke’s nickname, is undefined enough to allow for expansion into additional products as they listen to customers and determine new market niches.
Is kombucha the new elixir for the fit or just a tasty tea? It could be either and it could be both. Either way, Fogline’s brew plans to be there.