Taking a break from wine? Kombucha and kefir are great alternatives

John Wilson: Irish producers of fermented and unfermented drinks include King of Kefir, SynerChi, Green Beards and SiSú

If I am not drinking alcohol with my dinner, I generally drink water, kombucha, or water kefir if I can find it. Irish producers of kombucha and water kefir include King of Kefir, SynerChi, Allaboutkombucha, ProKulture, and KO Kombucha. As well as the Dunnes Stores version featured here, I also tried two other good milk kefirs – Blakes Always Organic from the Food Hub in Drumshanbo and Nomadic from Killygordon, Co Donegal. Kefirs and Kombuchas are potentially a source of gut bacteria.

Other healthy drinks are based on unfermented raw fruits and vegetables. Wild Irish Foragers in Co Offaly produce a great range of syrups, shrubs and pots, all made from handpicked locally grown berries, flowers and herbs. These are great when added to still or sparkling water.

The four featured drinks this week are more stand-alone items, to be consumed by themselves, sometimes as gut shots.

Kevin Johnstone and Ray O’Hara opened Green Beards on Dunville Avenue in Ranelagh in 2014, with Donnybrook following a few years later. As well as their own shops, they supply their cold-pressed juices, shots and smoothies to Avoca, Fallon & Byrne and various cafes. They also deliver packs citywide on Monday and Thursday, see greenbeards.ie for details.


Their best seller is Beet by Ray, Johnstone says. “Not everyone likes beetroot as a vegetable, but as a drink it really flies. It is great for your energy, with over a kilo of tasty vegetables in a 414ml bottle. We try to limit the fruit in our products, which keeps the sugar down, and put in the maximum amount of vegetables. Our ginger shots are also very popular. It’s like a healthy limoncello. It came about when we had leftover ginger one day. If you buy a coffee in-store, you get a free ginger shot. Green Beards also offer a 20-cent rinse and return on their containers.

Hayley Milthorpe runs The Cultured Food Company in West Cork. As well as the Kvass, she offers no less than five different sauerkraut juices, and various foods, including kimchi and five sauerkrauts. I bought my Kvass in my local SuperValu, where they were a food academy member, but all are available direct from theculturedfoodco.ie and from health food shops.

The Dunnes Stores Organic Irish Milk Kefir is sourced from Blake’s in Co Leitrim. It sits alongside an organic live yoghurt from Glenilen in west Cork, which also contains kefir cultures.

SiSú.ie is an Irish, family-owned multi-award-winning company producing wellness shots, organic kombucha and cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices in the Netherlands, Europe’s fruit and vegetable hub. They are partners with Sysco and also deliver direct to Dunnes, SuperValu and Tesco. Managing director Jennifer Mulvey says the 250ml Daily Green and 100ml orange juice are their best sellers. “People recognise the quality so we get lots of repeat purchases.”

SiSú Ginger cold-pressed shot

€2.95 for a 60ml shot

Ingredients include apple juice, ginger, lemons, antioxidant and ascorbic acid. Smells of fresh ginger and apple, then a big hit of spicy hot ginger that lingers for minutes, with some notes of apple.

SiSú.ie, Dunnes, SuperValu and Tesco

Green Beards The Boss

250ml for €4.50, 414ml for €6.95

Made from cucumber, spinach, lettuce, chard, kale and parsley. A vivid green colour; lots of cucumber and lettuce and subtle notes of parsley. Slightly grainy texture, tasty and fresh.

greenbeards.ie, Avoca, Fallon & Byrne and various cafes

The Cultured Food Company Organic Fermented Beet Kvass

€5 for a 500ml bottle

Made simply from filtered water, beetroot, ginger and salt, this was acidic and nicely saline, with a light touch of ginger and earthy beetroot. An attractive drink.

theculturedfoodco.ie, Supervalu and health food shops

Dunnes Stores Simply Better Irish Organic Kefir Milk


A creamy, smooth milky drink with a lovely tangy edge.

Dunnes Stores