During the Prohibition Era, a stuffed tiger would be placed on the windowsill of a business, signaling that locals could expect a speakeasy that would turn a “blind” eye to illegal drinking. When walking down Blake Street and confronted by a sign of a tiger rocking some shades, Denverites can now expect to be greeted with a groovy interior, smiling staff and eye-catching cans of delicious hard kombucha. The beloved team behind Hooch Booch — known for their buzz and benefit-filled cans — has expanded the brand in the form of a comfortable and beautiful new taproom named Blind Tiger.
Founder and CEO of Hooch Booch, Anna Zesbaugh, moved to Colorado in 2014 to attend the University of Denver and study hospitality management. When the pandemic struck, her time spent working at corporate events suddenly became nonexistent, and her career did as well. To stop the spread of COVID-19, the mayor of Denver labeled liquor stores as “non-essential businesses” in March 2020 and ordered their closure. People were terrified, engaging in alternative forms of social interaction and drinking privately at home. Zesbaugh thought to herself, this is just like the days of prohibition all over again.
With this 1920s influence in mind, Zesbaugh fell in love with giving people a buzz with all the necessary rewards. “Hooch” and “Booch” kept popping into her head — Hooch referring to what alcohol was often called in the ’20s and Booch referring to kombucha. Finally, the hard kombucha brand was born and later expanded to open its new taproom.
“The reason for kombucha is that we were looking at consumer trends and saw that people are now searching for a ‘better for you’ option, a healthier option. And of course, there are already healthier options since some could say seltzers or a vodka soda would be ‘better for you,’ but all that really means is low-calorie,” Zesbaugh explained. “We say that we like our buzz with added benefits. It goes beyond low-calorie and gives consumers actual health benefits they can feel good about. Plus, it tastes good, too.”
Kombucha has become popular over the past few years as more people discover the perks of this super juice. It is known to give the body healthy probiotics, reduce inflammation and even reduce the risk of heart disease in some cases. Beyond the usual effects of kombucha, Hooch Booch is brewed in Colorado with Rocky Mountain spring water. All beverages are made with natural ingredients that customers can feel good about. Combining this health-first substance with alcohol is the perfect way to fuel your body and your Friday night itinerary.
Not only is Blind Tiger by Hooch Booch favored by others for its unique selection of beverages, but the team takes pride in being the first and only hard kombucha taproom in Denver. Beyond this, it is among the few female-owned businesses in the hard kombucha market. “There’s only one other female-founded and woman-owned hard kombucha company, so I would say, at large, it’s a very male-dominated industry. So it’s also forging a new path for other women beverage owners and gaining more support for them, especially in the beer category,” she said.
Regarding future plans for Hooch Booch and the new taproom, the brand has a new non-alcoholic line of beverages coming soon. Zesbaugh emphasized the importance of non-alcoholic options for those in the community who want to try her kombucha but are not interested in the “hard” aspect of the product. She also hopes for great success with Blind Tiger so the team can continue to grow the reach of this product, and we expect the same.
Blind Tiger by Hooch Booch is located at 3040 Blake St #131, Denver. It is open Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and closed Monday through Wednesday. More information on Hooch Booch products and flavors is available on its website.