Face it, hard seltzer is here to stay. We almost dismissed it as an odd summer trend a few years ago, and now the seltzer industry is valued over $4 billion dollars. Alpha Water is one of the newest boozy water brands hitting the market and it’s worth checking out.
Atlanta-based New Realm Brewing opened in early 2018 with a state record-breaking 20,000 barrel annual capacity. That same year, New Realm purchased Green Flash Brewing’s Virginia Beach location, renovating as New Realm Virginia Beach early that fall. Within the first year, the brewery was operating at near capacity across the board.
Taking tanks away from beer to make anything else would have seemed like a bad business move, but you can’t ignore hard seltzer anymore.
“I didn’t know what the heck I was doing,” Mitch Steele, brewmaster & co-founder says, mid-chuckle.
That’s pretty much the response we’d expect from Mitch. His brewing has had such an impact on craft brewing in America and the last thing we thought we’d be asking him about is fermenting fruity dextrose water. The man literally wrote the book on brewing IPA.
New Realm Brewing’s foray into hard seltzer wasn’t just done because it’s a hot new trend.
“Demand for something that wasn’t beer was in high demand in the restaurant, but Georgia law prevented us from selling anything else but what we make,” Mitch says. Ultimately that means you have to make a cider or a seltzer.
So how do you switch gears from IPAs and pilsners to hard seltzers? Well, when Google didn’t help, Steele asked around. “One of our suppliers had an employee that worked in hard beverages in Wisconsin for years,” he tells us. “After a 2+ hour phone conversation with him, I had enough direction to get started.”
From there, it was test batch after test batch, trying to get the yeast right and the flavoring on point. Plus, figuring out what flavors to run with. All in all, New Realm tested over 15 different hard seltzer flavors. The most popular, which was the first chosen to be packaged, is Acai & Blueberry, along with Citrus Punch, Cucumber and Lime, and Black Cherry.
Lemon Hopburst, while loved by the brewers- apparently failed to impress amongst taproom attendees.
Unlike some seltzers, these flavors are quite memorable. The cucumber doesn’t walk a fine line with tasting like pickles, the blueberry aroma is fresh and bright, and the Citrus Punch over ice is simply a win. Honestly, that flavor could and should be in its own 12-pack.
Hard seltzers were a weird notion from the start, but as we have come to find out, are here to stay. Just like IPAs, hard the seltzer world is becoming the “wild west” of flavors.
Alpha Water gets it right.
Oh yeah, we took it to Vegas too. PICS: Beer Street Journal