MEET THE NEXT GENERATION OF PROBIOTIC BEVERAGES: CHATTING WITH RYAN JOHNSTON OF BIOTIC BRANDS

"Our goal with Biotic is to offer a better probiotic beverage. We’re a flavor-first Company. When you’re in search of great flavors, you have to look for the best ingredients."


Photo courtesy of Biotic Brands


In this local feature, we chat with Ryan Johnston, CEO of Biotic Brands. Based in Petaluma, Biotic Brands is a family-owned company that creates bubbly probiotic beverages that help support your overall well-being with drinks that are healthy, refreshing, and full of flavor.



Tell us about Biotic and the inspiration behind it.

We’re a ‘food family’ of gardens, foragers, and cooks. Getting together to prepare and share creative meals is one of our most cherished activities in life -- we’re always playing with new ingredients and techniques in the kitchen. If prepared well, healthy eating choices become something that you look forward to -- they’re delicious and fun. That’s the inspiration for Biotic -- deliver products that create cravings which actually increase your wellbeing!



Photo courtesy of Biotic Brands


Tell us about the drinks. What are probiotics, and how do they support your health and your overall well-being?


For every cell in the human body, there are 10 nonhuman cells! This community of organisms is collectively known as the human microbiome and is contained largely in your digestive tract. The ecosystem of nonhuman life in your gut has an incredible impact on your overall vitality because it plays a major role in regulating your immune system, weight, digestion, energy levels, and mood. Simply put, you can’t be at your best if this system is out of balance.

Biotic Bubbly makes supporting the health of your gut a thirst-quenching pleasure. It’s fermented using 7 diverse species of scientifically-backed live probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that you want growing in your gut because they keep the system functioning properly. We also flavor our beverages with cold-pressed juices which are rich in plant polyphenols that serve as food (prebiotics) to further support probiotic populations. Many of our customers enjoy a bottle daily to feed the health of their microbiome.




How are the drinks made, and how do they differ

from kombucha?


Kombucha is fermented from refined sugar and tea and then flavored with all sorts of things. In contrast, Biotic is fermented from sliced carrots or beets and then flavored with cold-pressed juices. The result is light, lively, and refreshingly crisp.

Our goal with Biotic is to offer a better probiotic beverage. It’s common for kombucha to have 12 grams or more of sugar per bottle. Refined sugar is well understood to create dysbiosis (an imbalance in the gut microbiome), plus it has many other negative impacts on health. By using only organic whole-food ingredients, we’ve eliminated the use of refined sugar altogether, as well as overcome the funky vinegar flavors many don’t enjoy in kombucha.

Biotic has 0-4g of sugar per bottle, all of which comes from juices. Compared to kombucha, our Probiotic Bubbly also doesn’t have caffeine, alcohol, or yeast. This makes our products family-friendly as well as appropriate for ketogenic or paleo lifestyles, which most kombucha is not.




Photo courtesy of Biotic Brands



With a focus on clean, organic ingredients, how are these sourced? What are the current flavors available?


We’re a flavor-first company. When you’re in search of great flavors, you have to look for the best ingredients. To find the best ingredients, you have to look for good farmers, because how they are grown matters. Flavor starts in the soil.

We use 100% Certified Organic Ingredients. We’re committed to Organic because it eliminates the use of harmful chemicals like glyphosate (Round-Up), which not only has horrible impacts on farm communities and the environment, but it also wreaks havoc on the gut microbiome.

Approximately 85% of our ingredients by weight are grown in California. Most arrive fresh to our Petaluma fermentory, and we slice and press them ourselves. This level of quality control and integrity has become surprisingly rare in modern grocery stores and we believe that needs to change.

We have a growing number of direct sourcing relationships with farms practicing regenerative agriculture, which we’re really passionate about. By sourcing directly, we’re able to put more of every dollar spent in the farmers’ pockets. These farmers are going above and beyond the organic standards by using practices that actually increase the health of their soil through time. This is important because it yields more flavorful and nutrient-dense crops as well as addresses climate change by sequestering carbon into the soil.

Our fermentory also creates zero food waste. All of the food byproducts from our beverage production are cycled back to local farm soils as high-quality feed for the regeneratively grazed animals at Green Star Farm.

Check out our website for the full lineup of our current product offerings.




Photo courtesy of Biotic Brands




We know that Biotic is a Certified B Corp. Can you tell us more about that and why it is important to you?


If humans are going to sustain on this planet, business has to do more than make profit -- having a positive social, and environmental impact must become equally as important. Becoming a B Corp (short for Benefit Corporation) is the leading international third-party certification process for businesses that are meaningfully putting this idea into practice, which includes Patagonia, Dr. Bronner’s, and Guayaki, who we’ve always looked up to. It’s a rigorous and time-consuming process which looks at every facet of your business, but as a company that exists to elevate health, we knew it was important. We got certified early in the business’s life to incorporate this way of thinking into Biotic’s DNA.



Being based in Petaluma, what do you like best about being a part of that community?


Petaluma is a maker town! We love the vibrant community of food and beverage companies, breweries, wineries, and distilleries.



Photo courtesy of Biotic Brands



What retail stores can Biotic drinks be found in locally?


We’re really grateful to have a long list of great retail partners in the Bay Area, including Berkeley Bowl, Good Earth Natural Foods, Rainbow Grocery, Oliver’s Market, Community Market, Mollie Stones, and Nugget.

For a full list of stores that carry our products, check out the interactive map on our website.



What is the best part of what you do?

I have the incredibly good fortune of getting to work every day with my brother Adam and father Michael. Our family is really close, so I feel lucky to get to share this adventure together. We don’t have work-life balance; we have work-life integration -- we live and breathe what we do. Running a growing beverage

business is freaking hard, but we’re doing something that we’re deeply passionate about that makes a positive impact in the world, and that’s what keeps us going!



Photo courtesy of Biotic Brands


What are some of your favorite fresh local vibes?

We live in Sebastopol, so you can often find us downtown on a Friday night enjoying beverages at Seismic Brewery, Pax Wine, or Golden State Cider. For dinner, we’re headed to Ramen Gaijin, Acre Pizza, El Barrio, or Handline.



What's up next for Biotic Brands?

We’ve got some really exciting new flavors in the works for 2022 -- stay tuned!






Thanks for chatting with us! Visit BioticBrands.com to learn more about them and their lineup of probiotic drinks.