FERM stands for different things. It comes from “Fermentation” but also has a Dutch link meaning ‘good’ and ‘strong’. The company was founded by Wouter who had long been a restaurant manager and chef. Since the early teens, customers were increasingly asking for low sugar alternatives and alcohol free options.
Fermentation became a fad a decade ago. Sauerkraut, which has a thousand year history in the Northern hemisphere, was revived. Kimchi, the Korean fermented cabbage, ginger beers and water kefirs, they all resurfaced. Merits go to a very large part to American fermentation enthousiast Sandor Katz. His “The Art of Fermentation” is already a classic in culinary circles.
Wouter took a deep dive in the world of fermentation. A few years later he resurfaced. With a lightly effervescent and mildly sour bottle. It smelled like lambic beer, though tasted like nothing other. Kombucha wasn’t invented in the West. It probably originated thousands of years ago in a forgotten jar of sweet tea. Airborne yeasts and bacteria colonised the batch and transformed it into something completely different, sour, vinegary.
For the longest time that’s also what kombucha was, vinegar’s smelly cousin. Until a young man called GT Dave from Bel Air decided to start some experiments in the late 90’s.
We can’t know for sure of course. But it’s definitely possible that we wouldn’t have the current billion dollar kombucha industry without GT Dave. He took the ancient drink and transformed it the delicious drink you now find in many restaurants and shops around the world.
It took a while for popular kombucha flavours to cross the Atlantic. In 2016 we finally launched our first drinks in the Belgian market. Wouter, armed with a flavour development background took the brewing activities out of his home kitchen to a full scale brewery. Pascal, joined the team and went from restaurant to bars and anyone brave enough to try this new old thing out. And Kester, he made sure they didn’t go bankrupt!
At the time of writing, FERM Kombucha is one of the fastest growing kombucha businesses in Europe and there’s no end in sight!