From Beer to Hard Seltzer: A Cultural Pivot Finds a New Market

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by CervezaNY, May 20, 2020.

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  1. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,621) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    I am replying to you but it really is more of a general audience question: what will White Claw use this new facility for when the Hard Seltzer trend is no longer 'the thing'?

    Cheers!
     
  2. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,114) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I'd guess general.brewing, either of other flavored malt beverages (mikes hard lemonade, not your dads rootbeer, those types.of.things) or contract brewing for crafty startups, or whatever the next fad in malternatives is going to be. For my money though, I'd bet that hard seltzer is going to be around for a while
     
  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,621) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    I would not expect that Hard Seltzer will 'go away' overnight. As a point of example Zima was on the market for over a decade. Having stated that it was a bit surprising to me how quickly Hard Root Beer faded.

    Oh well, I suppose collectively we will know more over the next 5, 10,... years.

    I feel confident in predicting that over the next few decades beer will still be available for sale.

    Cheers!
     
  4. matthewp

    matthewp Aspirant (234) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts
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    Not all Hard Seltzer has sugar, Night Shift's Hoot has zero sugar. They described their process in one of threads on here once. They use wine yeast or something. Did you find Hoot sweet? I haven't tried it but have been interested in giving it a go (for scientific purposes only :slight_smile: )

    I tend to believe Hard Seltzers will stick around for long time, perhaps not as big as they are now but I don't see them just dropping off the radar abruptly. Low calorie, varied flavors, and not as sweet as previous options (hard lemonade, wine coolers, hard root beer, etc.). Perhaps they'll be more like ciders, they rise and fall in popularity every few years but they are always there in some capacity. I guess we will see. Outside of one or two per year (probably closer to zero) I don't see myself ever drinking them but I can't get the overall hate of them.
     
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  5. Sheppard

    Sheppard Poo-Bah (2,266) Mar 16, 2013 Massachusetts
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    From talking to a retailer in the Boston area, they hypothesize that seltzer is taking sales away from wine/cider/Bud Light, not craft. I would love to hear more data across the country. I know not everyone talks to the people at the stores they buy their alcohol, but if you do, I'd love to hear what they say in terms of where seltzer sales are coming from.
     
  6. 1009

    1009 Zealot (527) Jan 20, 2019 Massachusetts
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    Makes sense seeing seltzer is a lighter option and craft beers generally aim for full flavor not the market of crushing a 30 rack in a sitting. Just don't want to see the trend eliminate beer drinking in general!
     
  7. meefmoff

    meefmoff Zealot (504) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts
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    We throw the word "fad" around here rather loosely at times, but that brief root beer mania would sure seem to fit the spirit of the definition to a T.
     
  8. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Poo-Bah (1,852) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois
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    Looked at 2019 distribution data across all retailers and top brands, craft flat, AALs declined. Seltzer and Michelob Ultra the only year over year growth (Seltzer substantial, Ultra nominal) across the top brands sold in Chicago / Illinois.

    White Claw, Truly primary sales, Michelob Ultra the only beer scan which jumped in 2019 among either the top 50 or 100 individual offerings tracked (package off premise sales).

    I expect the trend to continue this year and possibly beyond before sales stabilize (Bud Light Seltzers should take a share of the existing Seltzer sales). Low cal / session beers will be the primary growth point among all beer / craft sales this year. AALs and large regional / national brands should see an uptick primarily due to on premise Rona closures, at the expense of on premise sales (primarily hurting small / micro breweries the most).
     
    #88 ChicagoJ, Jun 9, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
  9. eppCOS

    eppCOS Poo-Bah (2,029) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado
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    Pretenders come and go, but beer is here to stay.
     
  10. 1009

    1009 Zealot (527) Jan 20, 2019 Massachusetts
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    Legends never die
     
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  11. Hoos78

    Hoos78 Disciple (303) Mar 3, 2015 Ohio

    [​IMG]

    This display wall (a local Kroger) used to be filled entirely with a decent beer selection. Now, 100% seltzer.
     
  12. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,114) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    The root beer blip was super weird to me, don't think I ever even tried one. But I'm continually shocked by the staying power of Mike's Hard brand stuff. They are everywhere around here and seem to sell well. Mostly the Mike's Harder flavors
     
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  13. Sheppard

    Sheppard Poo-Bah (2,266) Mar 16, 2013 Massachusetts
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    Well, that's scary.
    I did not understand root beer at all. I too never had one. Maybe that was part of it?
     
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  14. ESHBG

    ESHBG Devotee (431) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I think that the root beer blip was what opened the door for seltzer to take off, as it was the soda alternative for people who didn't really like beer. I have had a few and it wasn't bad, if you were already a root beer fan it was an easy transition. But seltzer took over because of carbs/calories.
     
  15. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,944) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    My sugar comment was just a general comment on how even a couple grams of sugar can make a huge difference in terms of sweetness in a beverage. It wasn't necessarily a comment on all hard seltzers.

    Haven't had a Hoot in awhile, but I remember liking it better than other hard seltzers. I like my seltzers on the sweeter side for what it's worth.

    Nightshift explains what they did when developing Hoot in this article, see the snippet pasted below in bold:

    https://www.boston.com/food/restaurants/2019/10/16/night-shift-hoot-hard-seltzer

    Batch after batch went down the drain, recalls Oxton, until in early 2019, the brewery started producing hard seltzer that they could get behind. One of the biggest breakthroughs came when Night Shift started using wine yeast in the fermentation process instead of a more traditional distillers yeast. Despite being a slower, more expensive tactic, Oxton said that using wine yeast resulted in a seltzer that was crisp instead of cloying — and, coming in at 4% ABV and 90 calories, was slightly less alcoholic and caloric than some of the other big seltzers at the market, which generally fall around 5% ABV and 100 calories. Hoot seltzers are also gluten-free, a bonus that Oxton said helps solve the problem of previously not being able to accommodate gluten-free customers.

    Good, it's all on a warm shelf. Let the seltzer go there and the craft beer in the fridge. :wink:
     
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  16. pudgym29

    pudgym29 Initiate (162) Mar 14, 2009 Illinois

    One needs to remember that in several states, grocery store shelf space is treated like a commodity; it is bought and sold.:grimacing: I would be pretty certain some corporation (distributor, marketing) spent the money to get the seltzers stocked here. Is an independent craft brewery going to allocate money to buying shelf space?:rolling_eyes:
     
  17. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,412) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    Didn't the BATF ban slotting fees for alcoholic beverages?
     
  18. John123will

    John123will Initiate (0) Jun 27, 2018 Indiana

    I agree that beer trends follow consumer preferences and that can mean producing offerings with less “beer” taste but I don’t think hazy IPAs are trying to deceive the drinker into thinking it is not beer. There will always be the traditional beer styles that are delicious on their own but newer styles like hazy IPAs are experimental and push the boundaries of what we perceive as beer. At the end of the day beer is an art and people will always be trying new things.
     
  19. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,114) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I feel like this conversation benefits from remembering that changes in business model mean that grocery store shelves are usually serving the general local drinker and the beer lovers have largely been turned over to the care of the myriad local breweries and specialty beer shops. So while you may see egregious displays like those posted here cutting into your convenience, a wall of seltzer that used to be beer at a grocer isn't really a sign of the end times. More a sign of changing markets
     
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  20. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,621) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    So, where do beer consumers who do not live in areas which have no "specialty beer shops" buy their preferred craft beer?

    Cheers!
     
  21. ilikebeer03

    ilikebeer03 Poo-Bah (1,871) Oct 17, 2012 Texas
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    I like LaCroix. I don't drink soda...I think a lot of people who don't enjoy LaCroix are soda drinkers and the lack of sweetness throws them. ANYWAY - While IMO the hard seltzers don't taste bad I would never choose it over a beer.
     
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  22. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,114) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    Local breweries. Weirdly that was edited out of your quote of me. If you don't have decent local breweries or bottle shops then you might just have to acknowledge that you don't live in a great beer spot. And if living in a place with great beer is important to you then you should consider moving
     
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  23. Lulah

    Lulah Initiate (0) Jun 6, 2020 Idaho

    Seltzer is not awful - I'd frankly rather have it than some nonsense like Leinie's or Shock Top. It's not beer and it doesn't pretend to be IMO. It may not be what I want 99% of the time (it has no hops, after all), but it's one of those 90F+ days and I wanna get boozed up, it's definitely an option. It doesn't hurt that it's cheaper than anything I'd prefer to drink.
     
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  24. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,517) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Do you (or anyone) know where in NJ this facility is going to be located? I read about a few months back and articles discussed the possible location of the "western" one, none specificied town or greenfield/brownfield location of the NJ one.

    I don't know about "general" or "crafty" contracting, the way I understand it - even though the recipes for the leading large brewers "seltzers" do vary in ingredients - some of them can be brewed... well, "created" without the necessity of the "hot side" of a standard brewhouse.

    I know when Diageo, owned the Allentown, PA area Schaefer plant (between Pabst closing it and BBC buying it 2001-2008) which used it for their various malternative lines, BBC's VP at the time, David Grinnell, when asked what Diageo had done to the brewery was quoted (MBA 2/10):
    I think the same is true of the Plainfield, IL plant owned by Diageo where a lot of the their malternatives (Smirnoff, etc) are made and bottled.
     
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  25. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,412) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    -- Dear Patsy: What Even Is Hard Seltzer?
     
  26. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,114) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    To craft one of these without "brewing" it would they just be purchasing dextrose alcohol and blending it? Somebody has to make the alcohol and I'm under the impression that that's a tricky thing to do without heat
     
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  27. John123will

    John123will Initiate (0) Jun 27, 2018 Indiana

    It is my understanding that seltzers are heated with sugar added to the water and then left to be fermented. The length of the boil obviously doesn't need to be as long since there are no hops but there definitely is heat involved in the process.
     
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  28. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,517) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Yup, our friends, the yeast. (Who don't care for heat over a certain degree).

    Vintners use no heat.

    A mixture of sugar and water is just as fermentable, maybe even more so, as the finest wort (the final products, we all can agree, do differ :wink:).

    Heating water to allow full and quick blending of sugar is not what most would consider "brewing". Nor does it require the equipment or the several steps involved in the "hot side" of a brewhouse.
     
  29. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,114) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    Well, I never really thought about this before but the fact that seltzer can be made by just mixing sugar and water makes it much more obvious why brewers are happy to provide it
     
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  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,621) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    That is true if the only source of fermentables is sugar (e.g., cane sugar). Below is from the above linked Paste Magazine article:

    “In others, as in market leader White Claw, it’s the fermentation of sugars derived from gluten-free malted barley.” For the case of White Claw they will need a mashing vessel and lauter tun to obtain their fermentables.

    Cheers!
     
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  31. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,517) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Yup, as I noted in my initial post:
    Not sure if it's still a "thing" but there were "no boil" homebrew recipes using hop-flavored malt syrup, using water heated up only enough to mix the syrup with the water.

    Here's a 'snip' from a 1970s recipe card:
    [​IMG]
     
    #111 jesskidden, Jun 15, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
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  32. eppCOS

    eppCOS Poo-Bah (2,029) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado
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    ....and Jesus wept.
     
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  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,621) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Those pre-hopped cans are still available for sale. The 'issue' with brewing via the no-boil technique is that the only aspect of hopping that exists is bitterness. If you want a batch of beer that has hop flavor a boil needs to be done with that canned product with the hops added anywhere from 15 - 0 minutes remaining in the boil; with multiple additions via the way I brew.

    Cheers!
     
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  34. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,114) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    Now I'm just wondering how that Lithuanian no boil beer is made...
     
  35. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,621) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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  36. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,114) Mar 12, 2013 California
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  37. Speedy1985

    Speedy1985 Initiate (34) May 1, 2017 New Jersey

    Hillside
     
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  38. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (2,360) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
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    These aren’t going anywhere folks. There is a huge market for easy to drink, low calorie/carb, approachable, alcoholic beverages. These are not wine coolers nor are they Zima. I doubt hard seltzer’s will touch much of the craft market, but I think they have the potential to eat into the AAL market for many years to come.

    Also, some of them are pretty good. I hate to say it, but a Lime White Claw is 1000x better than say, a Miller Lite which essentially tastes like stale cat urine.
     
  39. nomisugitai

    nomisugitai Devotee (435) Mar 11, 2006 New Jersey
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    The Spiked Arnold Palmer has cut into my consumption of non-alcoholic Arnold Palmer. The alcoholic energy drinks cut into my consumption of energy drinks when they were around. The hard seltzers may cut into my purchases of seltzer. All of the above are from convenience stores in a quantity of one. I wouldn't buy any of them in a real beer store.
     
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  40. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,114) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I definitely agree with your sentiment, the one big impact I see.these having on the craft market is in syphoning off potential customers early. Either by displays like the ones posted, and general shelf space consumption, keeping young consumers from seeing craft beer as easily. Or by becoming the beverage of choice for a generation of high schoolers that might then be much less likely to explore beer.

    By that token though the.seltzers made.by brewers could be the introduction to the world of small breweries for that generation of high schoolers. We have a local brewery that is pushing up on 30 years old and recently (4ish years ago) hired a new brewer to help with an effort to revamp their image and line up. Seltzers have been their big winner, along with a rotating series of hazy ipas that have been hit and miss, and a light lager they sell for $3-$4 a pint at the brewery and will probably can this summer.
     
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