Mailer McGuire makes kombucha for grown-ups.
About six years ago, British ex-pat Rosie Morison was cycling from Vancouver to Mexico when she noticed a trend: kombucha was seriously everywhere. “Kombucha was this huge, thriving scene on the west coast at the time,” she says. “The shelves of wholefoods were stocked with it, cafes were brewing their own, and all the ones I picked up tasted slightly different.”
By the time she got back to Australia, Rosie knew what she wanted to do. She wanted to make kombucha full-time. A pretty bold move for someone with no drink-making or hospitality experience.
These are the humble origins of Mailer McGuire, one of Australia’s more boutique, high-end kombucha labels. You won’t find Mailer McGuire on the shelves at your local supermarket, at least not yet. It’s more likely to be stocked by your favourite wine bar, indie bottle shop, or forward-thinking non-alcoholic online store (hello there).
What makes Mailer McGuire special, different from the typical, Remedy-type ‘buchas out there, is the process. This is handmade kombucha. The real, wild stuff, which is as varied and interesting as any drink you’ll find anywhere.
“There are lots of different kombucha brands now,” says Rosie, “and they’re all positioned slightly differently. The classic supermarket kombucha is usually what we’d call a flavoured kombucha. They often contain artificial sweeteners and stevia. I’m a member of the International Kombucha Brewers association, and there’s a big focus on live cultures and real, organic sugar. I always tell people, kombucha should be alive.”
Mailer McGuire isn’t really trying to be your mid-morning, low-calorie kombucha snack. They’re pitched more as an alternative to natural wine. Rosie says she was inspired by the coffee roasting scene, where every detail, every tweak in the manufacturing process, affects the final taste in the cup. “With specialty coffee, every single part of what happens matters: how it’s picked matters, how it’s roasted matters, how the barista makes it matters. And I started thinking about that in terms of kombucha, which is what brought me to Mailer McGuire.”
Kombucha is technically a tea drink, which opens up literally hundreds of varietals and flavour-profiles for the skilled home brewer. One of Mailer McGuire’s first bottles was a delicate Japanese oolong kombucha, with base notes of apricot and nectarine, caramel sweetness and lingering funk. Then came Jasmine green kombucha, with floral, bouncy, green apple notes (Rosie compares that one to a Riesling or Chablis).
“We’re currently working on a golden peony kombucha,” she says, “which is this incredible white tea, with all these lime cordial, rock melon kind of flavours.”
All Mailer McGuire’s kombucha flavours are made the old-fashioned way: with live cultures and raw, organic sugar. In the beginning, Rosie was making kombucha at home, tinkering with recipes, and selling the results at local produce markets in Sydney. Now she’s stocked by some of the city’s best restaurants, cocktail bars and liquor stores.
Part of this success is down to the general popularity of kombucha, which has gone from niche fermentation technique to billion-dollar global wellness trend; but mostly it’s down to education. Rosie says people are becoming more ‘bucha savvy these days, and they’re suspicious of big drinks brands hi-jacking the product.
“A lot of people come up to us at the markets and say they know the stuff in the supermarkets isn’t the real deal,” she says. “I always tell people, if you look at the label and it’s got a couple of ingredients, and one of those is organic sugar, you’re probably holding a good kombucha.”
You can follow Mailer McGuire to their Instagram and grab a bottle from us with your next order!