Noli South—Brewer Q&A

Based in: Panama City Beach, FL
Founded: 2016
Distribution: Panama City Beach, FL

For such a young company, Noli South has an impressively well-developed identity—starting with their striking packaging. We love the matte black label with the bright splashes of color and the wave graphic. It's classy and fun—like the kombucha itself.

Started by the husband-and-wife team of Stephen and Summer Kole, Noli is also Panama City Beach, FL's first commercial kombucha brand, and the care and thought they put into their brand is obvious. It's a clean, perfectly fizzy booch with fun, creative flavors. There's just enough sweet to balance the tart, and each flavor has two dominant notes (i.e. Carrot + Ginger; Grape + Hibiscus; Blueberry + Lemon), with little nuanced notes that linger after you take a gulp. We chatted with the Koles about their journey and what makes their booch so special.

Kombucha Hunter: Can you tell us about the name and its significance?
Noli South: We came up with the name after our daughter Magnolia, Noli for short. She is our little southern magnolia, which led us to the name Noli South.

KH: We love the packaging. Can you tell us a bit about how you developed the look? 
Noli South:
We are all about clean and low profile packaging, we experimented with different color labels and bottles before falling in love with the matte black on the amber glass. Our favorite shape is a triangle and the lines in it represent when there is surf in the gulf, when it is choppy, and when it is flat. We thought it would make a good addition, because we brew our kombucha on a peninsula which is completely surrounded by water. With our concept and the creative mind of graphic designer Kevin Tudball, we now have our rad logo.

KH: What led you to brewing your own kombucha?
Noli South: We started to brew kombucha as a hobby around 3 years ago after trying some of the local brew on a vacation to Louisiana. When we got back home, we came into realization that our kombucha selection was lacking small-batched brews, so we began our brewing journey.

KH: When and why did you decide to go commercial?
Noli South: What led us to start sharing our brew was an eye-opening experience with giving our daughter Magnolia kombucha. Even though she was exclusively breastfed, she had food sensitivities and Summer had to really monitor what she ate. When Magnolia reached 6 months, we had the idea of introducing a small amount of our kombucha to her. After a few weeks of a daily dose of kombucha, we began to reintroduce foods to Summer’s diet and miraculously Magnolia was no longer reacting. We were amazed and had fallen even more in love with kombucha, so we began to share it with our friends and family. Eventually, we decided to become certified so we would be able share with our community.

KH: Do you still brew your kombucha at Finn’s Barista Bar, the coffee shop you manage? Any plans for a coffee booch?
Noli South: We are still brewing at the Barista Bar, but have plans in the near future to move into our own spot. We are still a very young business, and the tiny space that we have there is all that we needed to get started. As an added plus, we are able to experiment with different flavors on tap and ask for feedback from our consumers. We are both very passionate about coffee as well as kombucha, so we’ve discussed the idea of coffee booch, as well as many other experimental ideas. We think for now it is best for us to concentrate on our kombucha until we are able to support our family off of Noli South alone, and then we will be able to start experimenting.

KH: There are quite a few different kombucha brands around Florida; what do you feel sets your kombucha apart?
Noli South: We will always stand by the quality of our brew; compromising for a larger production will never be something we do. Because we brew our kombucha is super small batches, we are able to better control the flavor and essence of it. We are also super proud to say that every step in our production is done by us, as a couple. We have plans with growth to give back to our community as much as possible and on the small scale that we are able to we recycle and reuse everything we can.

KH: What advice would you give to home-brewers who are aspiring to take their brews commercial?
Noli South: Be sure it is something you really want to put a lot of heart and soul into. It took us about 6 months to get certified and, to be honest, we had already perfected our brew before making the decision. We believe that with brewing kombucha it should be something you are very passionate about if you want to commercially brew, because it’s far from just a business. We are driven by connecting with our community, educating them, opening up their minds, and bettering their lifestyles. Kombucha is such a spiritual beverage—it truly is amazing, the power it holds. We know that Mother Nature is the one that creates and controls the brew, we just set it up for her and let her work her magic.

If you're at the start of your kombucha brewing journey, be sure to check out one of our private sessions!

Stacy Gueraseva