SANTA FE, N.M. — HoneyMoon Brewery, a Santa Fe startup that developed a new ‘kombucha beer,’ won the first place $200,000 prize this week at Miller Lite’s national “Tap the Future” competition in Chicago.
It was one of six finalists at the competition, which looks for new companies that can have a big impact on the brewing industry.
The competing companies presented their business plans in a closed session to a national panel of judges on Thursday.
HoneyMoon emerged as the winner, said Marie Longserre, president and CEO of the Santa Fe Business Incubator, where HoneyMoon is a client.
“We’re over the moon about HoneyMoon,” Longserre said in a statement. “We’re so proud of them.”
HoneyMoon originally faced15,000 entrants in the annual national competition, now in its fourth year. It was one of just 30 competitors nationwide to make the semi-final cut. Those companies then went on to compete in six regional events.
HoneyMoon won the regional in Houston in July, earning it a spot at the nationals in Chicago on Sept. 22 against five other regional winners from around the country.
HoneyMoon developed a process with help from Los Alamos National Laboratory that combines kombucha and beer fermentation to create a tasty new beer with potential health benefits.
It graduated from the ABQid’s business accelerator program in Santa Fe early this year.
Company CEO Ayla Bystrom-Williams told the Journal in August that if HoneyMoon won the nationals, it would use the $200,000 grand prize, plus $20,000 it won at the Houston regional, to put a fully equipped facility in place and then seek clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA process can’t begin until the facility is set up. Once that’s accomplished, HoneyMoon’s brew will face close FDA scrutiny because of the kombucha, a fermented tea made with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast that provide potential health benefits with antioxidants, probiotics, organic acids, minerals and enzymes.