Skip to content Skip to footer


About us

Gerhard and I joyfully welcome you to the pack! In case you might be interested we thought we’d tell you a little bit about how the pack first began. It’s a story that started back in 2003 in Buffalo NY and Blood River South Africa. I’m the Buffalo Girl and he’s the exotic one from Africa. As we are about to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary it seems like a fitting time to remember and tell the story once again…

Juli Claassen 

I had earned a second master’s degree (I was possibly a little lost and floundering, lol) and working at the school where I studied when I decided to spend the weekend at a friend’s home in the Green Mountains of Vermont. She pastored 3 little country churches in the area and it was always special to head North and stay with Lise. When I arrived she was busy in her home study. Surrounded by impressively large scholarly books behind her equally impressive cherry desk, I assumed she was working on a sermon. This time she was not. My friend and her 3 sisters had joined a Christian meeting site on the web and were meeting guys online. I know that doesn’t sound shocking now but almost 20 years ago it truly was shocking. Throw in there that my friend was a pastor and I was, well, shocked!

Before the weekend ended she had taken my picture, uploaded it to the site, and gotten me to fill out an online profile.

About that same time in Vryheid South Africa, Gerhard had purchased his first home computer. He had one at work but most people in Africa didn’t have one in their homes. In typical Gerhard Style he unboxed his new machine with zeal and ran it through its paces. Gerhard was a new Christian back then and lived in rural South Africa. The son of farmers, he had gone to law school and started his career in Pretoria, South Africa when his father became critically ill so Gerhard returned to help farm. He stayed on the farm after his beloved father passed away 6 months later. Gerhard, at this time, only 25 years old.

But back to the new computer… He loves being with people and with none of his friends sharing his faith at the time, he decided to try out the new internet thing he’d heard about, “chat rooms”. Specifically christian chat rooms. As he describes it, dial-up connections in rural Africa were veeeeeery slow at the time and it took forever to load each new window. So, what he did was open new windows and then minimize them so they could load while he spent the time filling out the “profile” that every chat room had for new participants. In the midst of this flurry of activity a window pops up that says, “We have found your 3 perfect matches!” What? Wow! Amused by this unusual notification Gerhard responds to the “perfect matches” found by his brand spanking new computer.

Gerhard light heartedly fired off a quick hi to his three “perfect matches” but only one replied. Me

When I opened his message and saw that he lived in AFRICA, of all places, I wrote back and said you live there and I live here so don’t waste your time. Literally, that was my reply. One line. Not even a greeting. Gerhard wrote back and said, “My best friends, the Wright Brothers (you may have heard of them), have this new fangled invention called the airplane and I can come and see you if I want.” Well that line grabbed my attention so went I to his profile to locate his picture. No picture. Little did I know he brought the machine that same day! I thought to myself, “There’s obviously a reason the guy doesn’t post his picture. (Insert sound of dog howling at the moon here.)” My reply was simply, “Send me your picture.” He wasn’t exactly sure how he would do that but in the time it took him to figure it out (hours), I went and read his profile. Something magical happened. For the first time ever I was attracted to someone sight unseen. And then the picture came! What a handsome man I had just encountered with the wit of a razor and the smile of a prince.

Over the next 6 months there would be 3 transatlantic visits. The first when Gerhard came to meet me and my family and then the two that I made to visit him and his family. On my second visit there we said, “I do”. Then we came to America the next day and said it again with my family and friends. It was and is the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me. A whirlwind romance with a true love. There have been many twists and turns, hardships and joys, since then. We have two beautiful children together. Our daughter is in high school and our son is in middle school. There have been many pets along the way too but none compare to Marny. Her likeness is the one you see on our logo. She belongs to our daughter and she is the shiniest and most lovable Great Dane you will ever meet. In fact, I hope you do meet her at the brewery! She has been known to make many appearances there and does so with 100% delight. Thank you for reading my little ditty and now we will end as we began and wholeheartedly say that Big Dog Kombucha welcomes YOU to the pack.

Juli Claassen
Merritt Island FL
September 15th, 2021

Click here to watch our Grand Opening Interview Video.
Big Dog Kombucha © 2022. All Rights Reserved.