Boulder kombucha brand in King Soopers, Rayback Collective

BOULDER — After a year of multiple expansions, Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha’s scaling up has paid off, with distribution into 50 King Soopers stores and a tasting room at Rayback Collective.

Rowdy Mermaid had been in talks with King Soopers for the past year, said chief executive Jamba Dunn. In that time, though, the store has built up a market for the probiotic drink, carrying a variety of brands from those made in Colorado to international brands like Oregon-based GT’s.

“They’ve tried them all out and built up consumers who go there to purchase kombucha,” Dunn told BizWest. “They knew what worked and what didn’t work. We make our kombucha different from the others on the shelf. It’s a perfect marriage and we’ll see how it flies.”

What makes Rowdy Mermaid different, Dunn said, is that it’s a nordic-style drink that is low-acid and low-sugar, made with Colorado snowmelt. The company also tries to use different flavors and ingredients than other drinks, focused on the health and wellness community.

To keep up with demand — in addition to launching in King Soopers, Rowdy Mermaid has plans to be in Natural Grocers, Whole Foods and a 110-store grocery chain Dunn could not yet name — the kombucha company expanded twice this year, first going from 900 square feet to 6,000 and then adding another 6,000 square feet in May.

“It’s been a very busy year,” Dunn said. “And it just keeps going.”

To add to that is Rowdy Mermaid’s opening of a tasting area inside Rayback Collective. Although the company had been providing about 20 kegs of kombucha a week to the beer and food truck space, they have now added a seating area with taps and servers to the left of the main bar.

Opening that space was part of a goal to recapture the Boulder of 15 years ago, Dunn said, when Pearl Street was made of more mom-and-pop shops and they had a tasting room that was as much local diversity as it was the kombucha itself. When Rowdy had to move to a new warehouse, it lost that tasting room, Dunn said.

But Rayback was a perfect spot for Rowdy, he added, given its convergence of many local businesses like various food trucks, many breweries, coffee and catering, among others.

“It’s very Boulder-centric,” Dunn said. “It’s a perfect marriage.”

Looking ahead, Rowdy is looking at adding more stores and expanding its reach. The company brought on John Icabone, co-founder of Justin’s nut butter, to come on as a director of special products to help Rowdy figure out its next steps. 

Dunn said he’s not sure if the brand will be as national as a product like GT’s, but that they are continuing to grow.

“It’s a long road to get to national distribution,” he said. “There’s a methodical roll out to do something like that. If we owned a cereal company or something, we could just crank up our volume on manufacturing. But we manufacture all our own products and source our own ingredients. We’re building out our own house lab to continue to understand our product better.”

Dunn added the company is also doing a deep dive into the Rowdy Mermaid brand itself and expects to roll out everything they’ve learned by December or January following their massive expansion.

“We’re excited to see what happens with it all,” he said. “The world is changing quickly as well. It’s going to be an interesting next 12 months.”

BOULDER — After a year of multiple expansions, Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha’s scaling up has paid off, with distribution into 50 King Soopers stores and a tasting room at Rayback Collective.

Rowdy Mermaid had been in talks with King Soopers for the past year, said chief executive Jamba Dunn. In that time, though, the store has built up a market for the probiotic drink, carrying a variety of brands from those made in Colorado to international brands like Oregon-based GT’s.

“They’ve tried them all out and built up consumers who go there to purchase kombucha,” Dunn told BizWest. “They knew what worked and what didn’t work. We make our kombucha different from the others on the shelf. It’s a perfect marriage and we’ll see how it flies.”

What makes Rowdy Mermaid different, Dunn said, is that it’s a nordic-style drink that is low-acid and low-sugar, made with Colorado snowmelt. The company also tries to use different flavors and ingredients than other drinks, focused on the health and wellness community.

To keep up with demand — in addition to launching in King Soopers, Rowdy Mermaid has plans to be in Natural Grocers, Whole Foods and a 110-store grocery chain Dunn could not yet name — the kombucha company expanded twice this year, first going from 900 square feet to 6,000 and then adding another 6,000 square feet in May.

“It’s been a very busy year,” Dunn said. “And it just keeps going.”

To add to that is Rowdy Mermaid’s opening of…