Why the sudden demand for alcohol-spiked water?
Hard seltzer quickly appealed to the health-conscious. The drinks are frequently sugar- and gluten-free, with around 100 calories or less. It’s made White Claw and Truly the go-to for many drinkers who prioritize well-being, but don’t want to stop drinking altogether. They want to have their Pamplemousse and drink it too.
Moreover, big beer has broken down the door, allowing for rapid growth. Many of the seltzers that were early to market are made by big beer companies or were purchased by big beer. Anheuser-Busch bought Spiked Seltzer and rebranded it Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer. MillerCoors has Henry’s Hard Sparkling Water. Boston Beer, makers of Sam Adams, have Truly Spiked & Sparkling. Smirnoff has Smirnoff Spiked Seltzer. White Claw is made by Mark Anthony Brands, the same folks behind Mike’s Hard Lemonade.
“The national plays have already been made,” says Christian McMahan, president of Wachusett Brewing Company, which makes Nauti seltzers. They lay claim to being the second hard seltzer to be released. “They help, right? They get chain authorizations. They’re doing national advertising. They’re creating a halo effect on the category. As long as you have a good product, it’s one of those situations where a rising tide can lift all boats.”
Westminster, Massachusetts-based Wachusett was early to the game, but it took a while for craft breweries to follow in their footsteps. However, it’s happening in a big way this year. Craft breweries are releasing hard water en masse, whether that’s in taprooms or Colorado powerhouse Oskar Blues releasing the first nationally distributed hard seltzer from a craft brand.
In Minnesota, for instance, you would have been hard-pressed to dig up a locally made seltzer a year ago. Now, you have cans available or soon to be available from Lift Bridge, Fair State, and Fulton, and others have confirmed to Thrillist off the record that they’re exploring it as an option already. Brad Glynn, vice president of marketing and co-founder of Lift Bridge, even said the brewery has had to delay the release of cans because the demand for the familiar tall thin cans has been so great that their order has been delayed for months.