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
Topo Chico Hard Seltzer has arrived.
While the mineral water from Monterrey, Mexico has been around for more than a century, the national obsession with it seems more recent. Bartenders love it for cocktail making (think Gin Fizz or Palomas), other folks swear it cures hangovers.
Topo Chico was always popular in border states like Texas, but distribution was unfortunately limited. All that changed in 2017, when soda giant Coca-Cola acquired Topo for $220 million. The rest of the United States finally got a taste of what the “extra bubbly” water was all about.
For those who love Topo Chico, but thought it lacked alcohol, your prayers have been answered.
Molson Coors Beverage Company has the production contract for Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, brewed under the “TC Hard Seltzer Company” out of Tempe, Arizona. Topo Chico states the hard seltzer is created with the same Monterrey water that has made the beverage so famous.
Four flavors are available on the official launch date of March 29th – Exotic Pineapple, Strawberry Guava, Tangy Lemon Lime, and Tropical Mango. Each 12-ounce can contains 2 grams of sugar and is 4.7% alcohol by volume. Additionally, 24-ounce cans will also be available at launch (which jacks your sugar content to a whopping 4 grams.)
When it comes to Topo Chico the flavor and bubbles it what sets it apart. The hard seltzer is no different. The flavor is bold and flavorful, finishing almost creamy. At times you almost forget it’s hard seltzer. Topo entering the seltzer market could have simply been a money-maker by putting the Topo name on the can, but as we’ve found – you get Topo and great flavors.
Topo Chico Hard Seltzer will be available in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas, plus six cities, including Boston, Chicago, New York City, Northern New Jersey, Seattle, Washington, the District of Columbia and Vancouver, Canada.
Colorado’s Great Divide Brewing Co. is expanding its business model this week to include hard seltzer. Introducing Whitewater Craft Hard Seltzer.
It’s no secret that hard seltzer continues its sales domination into 2020. As major brewing companies jump in the game, America’s craft breweries continue to expand the portfolio. Great Divide has decided it was time.
Within the week, 12 packs of Whitewater will start hitting shelves everywhere Great Divide is sold. Initially, four flavors are available at launch – Mango + Ginger, Pomegranate + Lime, Ruby Red Grapefruit, and Wild Berry.
After months of in-house ingredient mixology, Great Divide Innovation brewer and team found the perfect blend of crispness and fruit.
“The timeline to dial in the production side of Whitewater, from fermentation through flavorings, was a meticulous process that our teams deliberated over. With it being such a neutral product like a pilsner, there is nothing to mask any unwanted flavors and no room for error. The end result speaks for itself: an incredibly clean and smooth beverage with potent, natural flavors shining,” says Rau.
Great Divide Whitewater Craft Hard Seltzer will be available year-round in 12-ounce cans. Additionally, Mango + Ginger in 19.2 ounces in late March.
Style: Hard Seltzer (w/ various fruit flavors)
Availability: 12oz Cans, 19.2oz Cans, Draft. Year-Round.
Debut: Late March 2020
Atlanta’s Monday Night Brewing is officially in the hard seltzer game as of this week, with the launch of Narwater Hard Seltzer.
The creation is pretty self-explanatory. The “spiked” carbonated hard water comes in an array of fruited additions. The case of Monday Night’s Narwater Craft Hard Seltzer, the launch brings three – Mango Guava!, Grapefruit Pineapple! and Blueberry Raspberry! Each 12-ounce serving is 95 calories, 2 grams of sugar, 4.7% alcohol by volume, and gluten-free.
We are assuming the “Narwater” name is a play on Narwhal, a horned sea creature that Monday Night has doted on in the past. (Like Bryan Adams and Dinosaurs.)
Each seltzer is made with real fruit, using natural fermentation, not ethanol diluted with water.
Narwater Craft Selter is available in 12-ounce cans and draft year-round starting late February 2020.
Style: Hard Seltzer
Availability: 12oz Cans, Draft. Year-Round
Distribution: GA, AL, TN
Debut: Late February 2020
SweetWater Brewing Company, Georgia’s largest craft brewery made changes over the past few years. After the laws in Georgia changed to allow for the direct sale of beer to customers, the brewery ripped out their current taproom and added an in-house restaurant.
Additionally, SweetWater all-stars 420 Extra Pale Ale and IPA were joined by massively successful “420 Strain” series of beers filled with marijuana flavored organic terpenes. The 420 Strain “G13” IPA jumped to SweetWater’s second best-selling beer in their year-round lineup.
2020 at SweetWater is already revealing even more additions to the brewery operations, most notably a distillery. According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, SweetWater has acquired a distillery license with the state of Georgia. Currently, the brewery is located across the street from another distillery, American Spirit Whiskey on Ottley Drive.
At least two other breweries in Georgia hold distilling licenses, including Dry County Brewing in Kennesaw, and Wild Leap Brewing in LaGrange.
Also this month, SweetWater will be debuting fruited, terpene heavy hard seltzers. The marijuana-themed series of releases inspired by legacy weed strains have been extremely successful for the brewery, and with massive growth in the hard seltzer category, the brewery is marrying the two into one new product line.
Test batches of “Hydroponics” Terpene Infused Hard & Heady Seltzer have been available on tap in the brewery’s taproom over the past few weeks. Flavors include Black Cherry, Forbidden Fruit, and Lime Haze. The seltzers are 5% alcohol by volume – no confirmation of the calorie content. Category leaders White Claw and Truly are around 100 calories per serving.
SweetWater Hydroponics Hard Seltzer will be available in both cans and draft by the end of January.
Artwork subject to change.
The hard seltzer industry is on fire, and about to get crowded at the top. Bud Light Seltzer launches Monday.
Hard seltzer was the clear winner in the beverage industry last year. The beverage segment, now worth in excess of $1 billion, saw historic and unparalleled growth from coast to coast. While mega-brewery Anheuser Busch already has two seltzers in the market now – Natty Light Hard Seltzer and Bon & Viv, a Bud Light branded hard seltzer headed to market absolutely predictable.
We expected an official release and marketing blitz leading up to summer 2020, but Bud has opted to debut Bud Light Seltzer ahead of the Super Bowl. ABI has already spent millions on 4 minutes of commercials during the game, dedicated to both Bud Light and the new seltzer line as well as Michelob Ultra and Michelob Ultra Pure Gold.
Four flavors will be available on Monday – Black Cherry, Lemon Lime, Strawberry, and Mango. Each can is 100 calories and 5% alcohol by volume, but unlike Truly Hard Seltzer, Bud Light’s release has 2 grams of carbohydrates per serving. All four flavors will be available in 12-ounce cans, in a 12 can variety pack, as well as 25-ounce cans. (Think convenience store purchases.)
The category leaders at the start of 2020 are White Claw, largely own by Mark Anthony Brands, and Truly Hard Seltzer (Boston Beer Company). Pabst Blue Ribbon announced its own seltzer last year at 6% ABV, as well as Four Loko which is a whopping 12% ABV.
The hard seltzer segment grew 210% over the past year, according to Nielsen data. America’s craft brewers are releasing hard seltzers at a brisk pace too, including Avery Brewing, Schlafly Brewing, NoDa Brewing, Sockeye Brewing, and Atlanta’s Scofflaw Brewing.
All four flavors of Bud Light Seltzer should be on shelves nationally by mid-January. Now we wait to see what the Seltzer Knight looks like #FizzyFizzy.
Boston Beer Company’s Truly Hard Seltzer debuted in 2016 and has been on fire ever since. The flavored seltzers are one of the top 3 selling brands in the category in America. Building off that success, Boston Beer has announced their next creation in an already explosive category – Truly Lemonade.
Keeping with Truly’s “healthier” approach, Truly’s new Lemonade and family of flavors boast 100 calorie, 1 gram of sugar, and 5% alcohol by volume.
According to Casey O’Neill, Senior Manager of Product Development at Boston Beer says the Lemonade series has more flavor than the traditional hard seltzer.
“It really is the best of both worlds and brings together flavor and refreshment in a way that nothing else in the category does right now. Drinkers will have to taste it to believe it, but we’re confident they’ll love Truly Lemonade as much as we do.”
Truly Lemonade is available in Original Lemonade, Black Cherry Lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade, and Mango Lemonade in 12oz/12ct variety packs, 16 & 24-ounce single-serve cans, nationally starting in January.
Style: Hard Seltzer/Hard Lemonade Hybrid
Availability: 12oz, 16oz, 24oz Cans. Nationally
Debut: January 2020
PIC: Beer Street Journal