Published on 20 April 2021
After 12 months of lockdown boozing we may all need a few more alcohol-free-days in our week. Low- or no-alcohol options are plentiful right now, meaning you can still enjoy a grown-up drink without feeling like you’re missing out. Monceau has a range of pét-nat kombucha brewed using only organic ingredients. Using an ancestral method borrowed from pét-nat winemaking, this kombucha is fermented in the bottle, yielding natural carbonation and ever-changing flavour profiles. Evolving with the seasons and local produce, each batch is slightly different much like wine vintages. We talk to founder Alan Caras about Monceau and why you might like to try it – if you haven't already.
Give us the elevator pitch, what's Monceau all about?
At its core, Monceau is all about new approaches to fermentation. Kombucha cultures ferment sugars in the same way as wine and beer yeasts. So we’re applying the same techniques from wine, beer and cider to create equally complex and delicious drinks with kombucha cultures. People often say that Monceau tastes just like a sparkling wine or a cider, and that’s because, in essence, it is. We’re fermenting juice.
A big difference between wine yeast and kombucha cultures is that the interaction of the yeast and bacteria in kombucha produces very low levels of alcohol, so we’re able to ferment rich flavour profiles without it becoming boozy. More and more people are finding occasions where a low or non-alcohol alternative is preferred, and we see Monceau filling that role perfectly.
What excites you most about this project?
So many things – running a brewery is a constantly evolving challenge, particularly as demand for Monceau has grown and we’ve had to scale up. It’s challenging, fulfilling and always exciting. I also remain as excited and passionate as ever about our product. I developed it purely for fun in our home kitchen, and it’s amazing to now see our professional version in some of Australia’s best venues and stores. It’s always exciting to see someone sipping Monceau out in the wild.
Explain like I’m five, how do you make it?
Well, there are many intricate steps along the way, and of course there’s sterilising and cleaning of equipment at every stage, but to boil it down to some broad brushstrokes:
Step one: We make an organic sweet black tea, just like your folks make at home, but instead of making it in a cup, we brew our tea in giant stainless steel tanks.
Step two: We mix in kombucha from our previous batch. The kombucha contains microscopic yeast and bacteria. The yeast and bacteria eat the sugar and caffeine in the black tea and produce acids and a small amount of alcohol.
Step three: We mix in juice from fruit sourced in West Gippsland and the South Australian Riverland. Currently, we are using blood orange, pear and apple juice. Then we pour the liquid into glass bottles and cap them.
Step four: The bottles sit in a temperature-controlled room so the yeast and bacteria can work their magic. This time, they eat the sugars in the juice and produce more acid, alcohol and carbon dioxide. The CO2 dissolves into the liquid and makes it naturally bubbly (or, in French, pétillant naturel - what we call pét-nat) for a delicious, sparkling end-product.
Step five: At just the right moment, when the product is perfectly balanced, we cool each bottle down in our huge refrigerator to halt the fermentation.
What are the perfect conditions to enjoy it?
Monceau is versatile – I’m partial to a glass on ice at the end of the day. It’s just as good poured at a fine dining table, across a bar, at a dinner party or for lunch at a restaurant.
Do you have some left-of-centre serving suggestions?
The team over at Glou in Collingwood use our blood orange pét-nat in their cocktail Gin and Booch, which is 250ml of Monceau with a shot of Applewood gin, served over ice. A good friend of Monceau also swears that our blood orange variant pairs well with Amaro Montenegro. The jury is still out!
Is it here for a good time or a long time?
Both, we hope. We’re having fun with Monceau, but it also continues to grow, and the feedback we get from people suggests it may be something that’s here to stay. We’re also seeing consumption habits that are gradually changing; it’s easy to imagine a much bigger low and non-alcohol space in a few years’ time. Lastly, we’re always at work on something new, so we hope Monceau will have a few more strings to its bow in a few years.
Who's pouring it?
Monceau is being poured at a diverse range of venues around Australia; City Wine Shop, Attica Summer Camp, Glou, Babajan and Good Days.
Where can I buy it?
Blackhearts & Sparrows, McCoppins, Wine Republic, Bottle House, Swords Wines, Mr. West, Notwasted and many more; a full list is available on our website.
Monceau pét-nat kombucha, $12, monceau.com.au
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