Kombucha comes to W’burg’s old Pfizer building

From drugs to drink: Kombucha, a fermented health drink, is being brewed in the old Pfizer plant, where drugs like Viagra and Claritin were once made.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Out with the Viagra, in with the kombucha!

The old Pfizer plant, where drugs like Viagra and Claritin were once produced, is being put to new use making the fermented health-drink kombucha, and brewer Brett Casper says there’s no better spot.

“It’s been here since 1849, but it’s super teched out. It’s awesome,” said kombucha brewer Brett Casper. “They have a million dollar water filtration system — they’re not playing around.”

Casper’s kombucha party operation isn’t the only food joint in the building — it’s not even the only kombucha brand being made there. Kombucha Brooklyn, Brooklyn Soda Works, McClure’s Pickles, Steve’s Ice Cream, and other culinary craftsmen make the old Pfizer building a veritable food factory.

Kombucha itself is a fizzy, tea-based drink, which is left to ferment under a thick layer of yeast and bacteria for two to six weeks. While the moldy bacterial culture under which the kombucha ferments is not particularly appetizing, the colorful, carbonated beverage it produces is said to be tasty and beneficial to your health.

“Kombucha’s been around since 212 BC, and it was known as the immortal elixir,” explained Casper. “It’s supposed to detox and eliminate toxins from your body, and the pro-biotics are said to center your chi, by creating a positive environment in your intestinal tract.”

Much of the evidence in regards to the drink’s health benefits are anecdotal, but Casper says it works for him.

“Since I’ve been drinking it I’ve felt much better,” he said. “It gives you a buzz and it’s definitely a mood enhancer.”

To advertise his kombucha party, and raise some funds to support his kombucha brewing, Casper is hosting a series of health-themed parties at the spa, Awakening New York, where patrons can enjoy $1-per-minute massages, and a mysterious form of sound therapy invented by Buddhist monks in Tibet.

“[The sound therapy] essentially shakes up the cells in your body, and it’s good for detoxing your emotions,” said Phillia Downs, who co-founded the spa. “It’s very meditative too, you just kind of zone out and let your mind rest.”

But if relaxing to the vibrations of exotic Tibetan gongs isn’t your thing, there’s always drinking — kombucha, when mixed with your liquor of choice, makes for an excellent cocktail, according to Casper.

“It’s very conducive to partying, because it contains glycolic acid and it’s just basically believed to make the liver more efficient, so drinking kombucha with cocktails is a smart idea.”

Awakening NY Wellness Center [607 Manhattan Ave. between Driggs and Nassau avenues in Williamsburg, (718) 349–1380, kombuchapartynyc.blogspot.com]. Aug. 7, 8 pm. $20.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

Tastes good, and good for you: Brett Casper has rented space in the old Pfizer plant, where he brews the fermented health drink, kombucha.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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