Timeless Taste

Local Kombucha Artisans Soul Fixx Brew Up Sentimental Flavors

Occasionally, out of the blue, a particular scent or flavor will spark a memory from one’s past, like the madeleine dipped in tea in Proust’s classic In Search of Lost Time. As for Sonoma County-based Soul Fixx Elixirs, their diverse and unusual kombucha flavors are likewise fondly influenced by the nostalgic memories of their creators.

“We’re just trying to incorporate flavors and spices that recall our travels or family background,” says John Lodge, Soul Fixx’s master brewer. “You know when you have something to eat that kind of brings you back?”

Soul Fixx Elixirs in Sonoma County is part of the expanding market of alternatives to soft drinks and beer, creating their own specialty versions of both kombucha and its alcohol-containing older sibling, hard kombucha.

Soul Fixx’s kombucha flavors include Guava Cardamom, Strawberry Lemonade, and Blackberry Chamomile with Lemon. They’re bold, vivid, high-note, and bright. The Blackberry Chamomile with Lemon is fruity without being too sweet, and light on the caffeine, making it attractive to today’s clean and healthy customer. And for a walk on the wilder side, their hard kombucha flavors include Guava/Cardamom, Tangerine/Lemon Verbena with Szechuan Peppercorns, and Strawberry/Lemonade—tasty and original alternatives to other alcoholic drinks. Keep an eye out for a forthcoming re-release of a popular favorite: Tepache, a pineapple, cinnamon and clove fermentation.

“We love to bring that flavor or memory of something that we enjoyed with family or friends that is healthy and tasty,” says Soul Fixx founder and beverage visionary Erik Fritz.

Kombucha is produced by fermenting sweetened tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). It’s a tangy, effervescent drink with potential health benefits due to the presence of probiotics and other bioactive compounds. Hard kombucha is all this but takes it up a notch with extra yeast for that added kick, also making it alcoholic.

Lodge began working at Soul Fixx in August 2021 and was quickly promoted to master brewer in April 2022. Like Fritz, tapping into the nostalgia of childhood and travel is his secret ingredient, and he’s been instrumental in the creation of Soul Fixx’s distinctive kombucha flavors.

“My favorite is Guava Cardamom,” he says. “It’s just a unique combination, reminiscent of southern Mexico. My mother’s side is from Mexico and it triggers a memory of the little candies my grandmother would give me.”

Keeping it Fresh with Co-Manufacturing

Besides brewing up their own tasty beverages, Soul Fixx also launched their co-manufacturing and consulting program in June 2023. Under the mentorship of French vintner Jean-Charles Boisset, they have begun to work with local and San Francisco-based companies who want to launch their own beverage offerings, from brand and flavor development to licensing and co-packing. Co-packing means that they make their facility available to can beverage products for other brands.

Soul Fixx Elixers founder, Erik Fritz

“We’re lucky to have the facility that we have,” says Fritz. “It gives us the ability to teach other people what we’ve learned. We’re like a little hub, helping other small startups grow to the next level. We’ve been fortunate to be in the position to help other people.”

Soul Fixx also does white labeling, which is rebranding their own flavors under another company, which they currently do for Oakville Grocery. For Soul Fixx business-wise, co-manufacturing, co-packing and white labeling have not only been a proven boost but also a chance to experiment and work with different production methods.

“Producing for clients gives me an opportunity to do projects that are based in fermentation outside of our normal processes,” says Lodge enthusiastically. “We love to explore and create for other businesses and see them succeed. If they are successful, we are successful.”

Keeping it fresh and sharing what they know is part of why they’re in this business. And kombucha is just the beginning. One of their newest clients, K&B Elixirs, owned and operated by Brandi Blevins and Kameel Tabsharani, will be working with Soul Fixx to launch their botanical-based mocktails.

Fritz worked several years at The French Laundry restaurant in Yountville and earned an MBA at Sonoma State University before starting Soul Fixx in 2017. He appreciates the community aspect of working in the local kombucha ecosystem, and he’s passionate about sharing what they have learned with other brands.

“I followed my passion and desire to learn from the best at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone,” he says. “Our other shareholder, Ruben Moreno, graduated from The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park. We met at The French Laundry and began working on our business. Our families come from different parts of Mexico, and we have both traveled extensively. With the addition of John, our team is even stronger with his knowledge of production and fermentation.”

Locals can try Soul Fixx Kombucha at Sebastopol’s Fern Bar, or pick it up at Raley’s, Oliver’s Market, Pacific Market, Petaluma Market, Sonoma Cheese Factory, and Shelton’s Market. Or order on the Soul Fixx website with free shipping in Sonoma County or pickup at their Healdsburg facility. Those who get hooked can even subscribe to receive a case (or more) per month at a discount.

Soul Fixx Elixirs 36 Mill St Ste A, Healdsburg soulfixxelixirs.com

Reporting contributed by Kary Hess and Michael Giotis.

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