On the Fence Brings Kombucha Taproom to Englewood, Colorado | Westword

On the Fence Brings Kombucha Taproom to Englewood

Lauren Wilson and her husband, Jed, began brewing kombucha in 2017, inspired by their daughter Reilly, who was born with severe reflux.
On the Fence has 22 fruit-forward flavors.
On the Fence has 22 fruit-forward flavors. On the Fence Kombucha

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Lauren and Jed Wilson's journey to starting On the Fence Kombucha began 25 years ago, when their daughter, Reilly, was born with severe gastroesophageal reflux and was put on a protein pump inhibitor. Reilly's stomach never really recovered; she has difficulty digesting food and a sensitivity to chemicals and artificial sweeteners.

"I hated that she had to be on medicine. It bothered me [that] it wasn’t helping her," says Lauren. "It was managing her condition, but everything she ate hurt her." So in 2011, Lauren decided to go back to school to become a holistic health practitioner.

During her studies, she was introduced to the benefits of fermented foods, including kombucha — a drink produced by fermenting sweet tea with a SCOBY, an acronym for "symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast."

When Reilly was thirteen, a diet Dr Pepper put her in the hospital, and Lauren resolved to eliminate soda and artificial sweeteners from the family's diet altogether.

In 2017, she attempted to home-brew kombucha. "The first batch was a one-gallon jar that was absolutely undrinkable," Lauren admits. Jed, who has an interest in science, stepped in to hone the chemistry responsible for the fermentation. Lauren began developing her own fruit-forward recipes, and slowly the batches became more drinkable — so much so that the Wilsons began giving it away to friends and family.

When people would ask what they were going to call their future kombucha business, the couple says they'd respond that they were "on the fence" about a name — a quip that eventually became the official moniker for the venture. It's fitting for the brick-and-mortar location as well, which is located "on the fence" between Englewood and Sheridan: The line between the two runs directly through the taproom.
Lauren and Jed Wilson started brewing kombucha together in 2017.
On the Fence Kombucha
"We balance each other because of how we think about things. I’m definitely creative, and he’s definitely a science mind," says Lauren. "What we’ve come up with and built over the past six years is a business that is evolving."

That evolution went from sharing with friends and family to selling kombucha at farmers' markets. In June, On the Fence added a storefront/brewery and soon-to-be taproom at 4388 South Federal Boulevard in Englewood. However, as Lauren sees it, sometimes evolution can lead to compromise.

"There are lots of wrong ways [to brew kombucha], but no right way," says Lauren. "There are different techniques, different chemistry, but flavor is affected by glass versus metal." Oftentimes, commercial-scale brewers use metal vessels, which is why she's committed to brewing the way they always have — in two-gallon glass jars — regardless of scale.

In order to keep up with demand, the Wilsons have 500 SCOBYs on rotation, which live in a custom-built fermentation cabinet at the brewery, where one sixteen-gallon batch at a time is produced. After ten days of fermentation, Lauren adds whole fruit and herbs and allows the kombucha to ferment for another two days.

Most of the sugar and yeast is consumed by the SCOBY, leaving behind a trace amount of alcohol in a bubbly beverage that's organic, vegan and gluten-free. They even bottle in-house, sometimes with the help of volunteers from the community at Friday night bottling parties.
click to enlarge a white room with a small, fence-lined table
On the Fence's brewery will soon have taps, but for now its products are available in bottles.
On the Fence Kombucha
"We are trying to be a sustainable company, so we don’t produce a lot of waste. We compost everything that comes out of our shop, only use whole fruit and organic herbs — no extracts — and we make fruit leather out of the by-product," says Lauren.

She's created 22 different fruit-forward recipes. There are five core flavors, including best-seller Four Thieves, made with blueberry and lavender, as well as an array of seasonal offerings that rotate, like OMG Squashbomb, which is Reilly's favorite and is made with pumpkin, apple and spices.

"Kombucha is the ultimate living foodm and in order to maintain that, buying local is best," says Lauren. "I want to sell it all over Colorado because it's good, but not to the expense of who we are and what we do."

In addition to finding their brews at the taproom, On the Fence is sold at places like Mango Tree Coffee, Turtle Boat and Brewability. Beginning in November, it will also be available at the Tony's Market locations in Littleton, Centennial and Castle Pines.

On the Fence Kombucha is located at 4388 South Federal Boulevard in Englewood and is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, including a full list of retail locations, visit onthefencekombucha.com.
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