Oh, pears. Those bulbous little pyriforms.*
Monceau Pet Nat Pear Kombucha is the third arrival in our current trilogy of non-alc craft kombuchas that we offer (alongside our orange and apple kombuchas). It’s crisp, a little sweet, with a mellow and delicate flavour, along with a refreshing natural carbonation that comes from our bottle conditioning. It’s the favourite of some of our team. Just what makes it so special, then?
We love pears. But who doesn’t? Their intense juiciness, their bright flavour, their mellow texture—even their stunning little flowers, which blossom in early Spring. Beyond eating and cooking with pears, people have been making delicious fermented drinks with pears for centuries or longer. One example is perry: as cider is to apples, perry is to pears. At its most basic, it’s a beautifully simple drink: just pick the fruit, press the juice, then use the wild yeasts from the skin of the pears to ferment it to an ABV of about 5-8 percent. The resultant drink when done well is a lovely mix of acidity, sweetness, and floral and citrus aromas. (The Brits like it on the dry side of this balance; the French go for sweetness.)
We had both the ideal perry and a great kombucha in mind when we set out to make our Pet Nat pear kombucha, and envisioned a brewing process to match: keep it simple and all-natural, use great fresh (and local) pears for their juice, and aim for a perfect balance of sweetness, crispness, and flavour—all while keeping an ultra low alcohol level, way below a standard perry.
What pears do we use?
We use a careful blend of fresh pressed pure pear juices in our recipe, all sourced from the West Gippsland region an hour or two away from our brewery in Melbourne, Australia. The exact mixture depends on the season (and the capriciousness of our brewers) but often includes Packham pears.
The packham was developed in NSW about a hundred and thirty years ago, and is a pear really well suited to the southern hemisphere. It’s also known as Packham’s Triumph. What did Charles Packham triumph over? Bad, small pears presumably? A cholera epidemic? Who can say. In any case, he cultivated a really rich and reliable pear, and nicely juicely, which is perfect for our purposes. (Monceau’s Triumph!) One other nifty thing about packhams is they’re like nature’s mood ring: they’re green when unripe but turn a friendly yellow hue when ripe.
Along the packham we use a number of other pears, all of the so-called European varieties. (Sorry, Nashis, we love you as a straight-up snack, though!)
How do we make our pear kombucha?
Let’s talk about our brewing process. It starts, of course, with a prayer to the pear gods.
After that, it is not totally dissimilar to the way that we make our apple kombucha, given the similarities of the fruit. There are always little tweaks we make, however, between the different fruits, and even the different seasons of each fruit. (That’s the craft of craft kombucha.) We’ve honed a nice balance of fermented tea and juices for each style. We use a little less pear juice than blood orange juice in the respective batches, too, given the higher sugar levels of the pear, and allow the juice to clarify down before we add it to the batch. That way, the final drink is nicely clean and crisp, with minimal sedimentation.
By the time we add the pear juice, much of the original sugar of the tea base of the kombucha has fermented away, and then we leave the pear juice itself to ferment for a little while. As the sweetness of the sugars recedes, the delicate character of the pear emerges. Alongside this, the ferment itself gives Monceau Pear Kombucha some nice poiré/perry notes. We find this plays really nicely with some of the complexity of the kombucha culture. Take a sip, think of farmhouses, the pear blossoms drifting gently to the ground, the softening light at the end of a day’s till, and so forth.
What are some ideas for enjoying pear kombucha?
Straight up, like a sparkling wine or perry
We favour drinking our kombucha on a decent handful of ice in some nice stemware and think it’s perfectly delicious on its own. It’s complex and balanced in a way that’s reminiscent of the palate and texture of a sparkling white, except it’s non-alcoholic. It pairs well with seafood and light fish, autumnal fare like roast chicken or potatoes—we love it with Marcella Hazan’s chicken. If you’re feeling sassier, fried options are fun too, especially as starters, like these fried mushrooms.
Beyond that, here’s some other ideas:
Try it with ACV as a homestyle tonic
And if you do eat a bunch of deep-fried mushrooms, you might need this next idea. Drop a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar in our pear kombucha for a homestyle tonic that’s great for your gut health and digestion without tripping your gag reflex and spiking your taste buds. It’s very hydrating, and gives you two doses of acetic acid — both kombucha and apple cider vinegar are natural sources of it. Monceau’s a healthy option as a base for a tonic like this as it’s a raw live kombucha without any added preservatives or artificial sweeteners.
Make a Pear spritz
In warmer weather when we’re looking for something light and super-refreshing, we mix the pear kombucha with some soda water—about 60/40 kombucha water. It’s really quaffable (and also makes the bottle last longer… in theory)
Or if it’s a late spring evening, say, try adding a dash of Peychaud’s bitters and serve on ice with a slice or two or pear, along with the soda water—it’ll be a delicious non-alc aperitif. (Add a splash of white wine if you prefer it with a little alcohol.)
Add some ginger or clove syrup
At other times, we’re looking for a drink that’s more cozy and nourishing—or maybe even a bit festive. One can add steep some fresh ginger or add a syrup mixture of ginger and cloves to pear kombucha to give it a spicy mulled feeling—glögg, glögg, glögg! You could even add a little honey, the way ol’ Pliny the Elder was inclined to do with his pears. We haven’t gone so far as to heat it up like mulled wine. We’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. (Do email us and tell us if it’s a disaster or success either way.)
All this talk of pear kombucha, one way or another—it sounds refreshing, no? More refreshing than a lockdown, anyway. So if you’re feeling like your day’s going a little pear-shaped, why not crack a bottle of our pear kombucha this evening?
* Honestly, this just means ‘pear-shaped object’.