Hard Seltzer Is Now Outselling Craft Beer?

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by JackHorzempa, Jul 7, 2021.

  1. jasonmason

    jasonmason Aspirant (205) Oct 6, 2004 California

    Definitely agree on that point. It will be interesting as to where this trend leads.
    steveh likes this.

    WCKDVBZ Meyvn (1,453) May 9, 2014 South Carolina

    Yeah, but Ciders have their own shelf space. However, all the "craft" Hard Seltzers are on the same shelves as beer. That's a problem!

    I've tried one from Oskar Blues and hated it. And I don't plan on trying anymore. I definitely won't be buying any. Every time I browse through Untitled Art. selection, I have to double check, to make sure it doesn't say "Seltzer". The cans look exactly the same as their beer.
    #122 WCKDVBZ, Jul 9, 2021
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2021
    o29, sharpski, Shanex and 2 others like this.
  3. dennisthreeninefiveone

    dennisthreeninefiveone Initiate (151) Aug 11, 2020 New Jersey

    Thanks, I did that realize that. Still there is useful and interesting information there.
  4. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,907) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts


    This could explain why your distributor didn’t have it…Molson Coors is already killing their hard seltzer line.

    Same here. My local tap rooms are doing great now that the pandemic is over, and I can find all the same beers I used to love and then some on my local shelves.

    Has anyone noticed seltzers tangibly impacting their craft beer purchases? Is there some brand you can’t find now that you could previously?
    unlikelyspiderperson and steveh like this.
  5. UrbanCaveman

    UrbanCaveman Meyvn (1,109) Sep 30, 2014 Ohio
    Society Trader

    Not in Cincinnati. My import go-tos still have Tilquin, Aventinus, et al on the shelf, beside a slew of good domestic craft.
  6. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,474) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

  7. officerbill

    officerbill Savant (968) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Yeah, seeing a close relative drink Bud or Bud Light is depressing :cry:
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  8. officerbill

    officerbill Savant (968) Feb 9, 2019 New York
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    Which craft beer do you want to compete in this seltzer category?
  9. bluejacket74

    bluejacket74 Poo-Bah (6,517) Jul 4, 2005 Ohio

    Right, it depends where you do your beer shopping at. At most grocery stores (where I don't buy beer at to begin with) I see more and more seltzers. But at my local beer stores around Columbus where I usually buy beers at I still see and buy just as many craft beers as I have before. At least around here it hasn't affected my craft beer purchases at all.
  10. BallantineBurton

    BallantineBurton Initiate (97) Jan 22, 2012 Massachusetts

    Paul Simon summed it up over 50 years ago: “Architects may come and architects may go and never change a point of view.” Same goes for beer and malt beverages.
    Ale was once a popular American drink but by the time P. Ballantine closed its doors in 1971, ale was only a tiny spec on the American beer market. Ale has, of course, been revived with the craft beer movement.

    Let’s review the innovations in the beer/malt beverage market since the early 1960’s:

    Malt Liquor
    Super Premium Beer
    Draft Beer
    Light Beer
    Sub Premium Beer
    Dry Beer
    Extra Light Beer
    Low Carb Beer
    Black & Tan
    Ice Beer
    Low Alcohol Beer
    Non Alcohol Beer
    Flavored Malt Beverages
    Hard Lemonade (not a malt beverage)
    Hard Tea
    00 Alcohol Beer
    Alcoholic Seltzer (not a malt beverage)

    There may be more beer styles. Point is, with the exceptions of Light Beer, Sub Premium Beers (think Busch), and Low Carb Beer (think Michelob Ultra), most brewing fads have been just that, here today, forgotten tomorrow. A few of these live on as niche products but when was the last time you drank a Dry Beer? The beer drinkers’ jury is still out on the more recent innovations such as FMBs, Teas, Lemonade and 00 Beers, but sales numbers are encouraging.

    Which brings us to Seltzer. It’s the latest innovation brewers have devised to sell beer. Whether it lasts or not, that is for the beer buying public to determine. So far Seltzer is selling better than most any other beer innovation in the last 60 years. Last year Seltzer sales increased by 9,000,000 barrels! Craft sales decreased by over 2 million barrels, but many craft brewers introduced Alcoholic Seltzers which indicates that actual craft beer sales may have decreased even more. The big brewers/importers took quite a hit (except Constellation) in 2020, so American Light Lager sales may be even weaker than the large brewers/importers numbers indicate.

    So, consider Alcoholic Seltzers as just another bump in the road of the American beer market, time will tell. But remember, any brewer who wishes to remain competitive in the regional/national beer market will produce a Seltzer because it could be “the next big thing.”
    bluejacket74 likes this.
  11. pinballplayer

    pinballplayer Disciple (356) Jul 2, 2014 California

    My local craft brewery is Green Cheek owned by head brewer Evan Price formerly of Noble Ale Works and they make very high quality beer...and a delicious lavender lemonade seltzer made with edible lavender.

    Having read through this entire thread I'm surprised to not see a single mention of hard kambucha. Here in SoCal hard kambucha seems to be gaining share quickly, and at least in my anecdotal experience at the expense of hard seltzer. 0 carbs and 0 sugar. Sierra Nevada just launched their own line of hard kambucha Strainge Beast.
  12. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,076) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    Seems like those products have been doing fine for over a decade now. Its not like any single alcoholic beverage is going to rise up and overshadow all others as the sole beverage of choice. As long as we've got a functioning social structure we will likely have a wide diversity of alcohol delivery platforms, each with varying degrees of uptake in various regions.
  13. thebeeremptor

    thebeeremptor Disciple (341) Aug 12, 2018 California

    I've been tempted to try the seltzers more than once. I should just pull the trigger since everything else they produce is great.

    I have a feeling kombucha is the one that will stay and seltzer will eventually be made up almost entirely of the larger brands at distro while all the others shrink to taprooms and/or disappear entirely. There's more current and potential flavor variety in kombucha than seltzers, just in added flavors as well as levels of tartness, etc. It used to be almost exclusively the health conscious crowd but more and more people from all kinds of demos are trying and main-ing kombucha. It'll be interesting to see how things shape up.

    WCKDVBZ Meyvn (1,453) May 9, 2014 South Carolina

    Kombucha's been around for thousands of years. It's not going anywhere. I drink it every week, but I haven't tried any "Hard" Kombucha. Even though all Kombucha contains alcohol.
    ivegot3Dvision and Bitterbill like this.
  15. thebeeremptor

    thebeeremptor Disciple (341) Aug 12, 2018 California

    I probably should have clarified I meant that alcoholic kombucha will have more staying power than seltzers in terms of diversity of options. Apologies.
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  16. pinballplayer

    pinballplayer Disciple (356) Jul 2, 2014 California

    Have you not tried it because it's not easily available in your area or for other reasons?
  17. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,484) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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  18. ESHBG

    ESHBG Devotee (418) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    The Truly frozen pops are really good and beat the Lime A Rita stuff IMO, even though the LAR has more alcohol (8% vs 5%).

    I like Kambucha but don't love it and need to be in the mood so for me the hard ones are not something I drink frequently.
    officerbill likes this.
  19. Tucquan

    Tucquan Poo-Bah (3,338) Oct 11, 2007 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I'm 66 and drink 1-2 flavored seltzer waters a day. The 12oz can is handy for me to carry while hiking my normal, daily 7+ miles. I think the last time I had a hard seltzer was a Zima years ago and it didn't appeal to me. I've not had any modern hard seltzers but I suppose I should try one to re-investigate the medium. I've liked carbonated beverages my whole life for refreshment but figure the flavored seltzers are better for me than diet sodas, which I still have a couple times a week. For alcohol enjoyment, it's craft beer that gets me where I live.
  20. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,076) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    Was att a friends house a couple weeks ago and they've gotten really into the hard booch. I tried one (I think it was Booch Craft) and was very.pleasantly surprised. I've enjoyed lots.of kombuchas and used to make our own and agree.that the ability to produce an all natural product that easily incorporates all sorts of flavors including herbs/spices as well as fruits and can produce varying levels of tartness has a lot of potential. I could see revisiting hard booch waaaay before I considered trying out a hard seltzer.
    sharpski likes this.

    WCKDVBZ Meyvn (1,453) May 9, 2014 South Carolina

    It's available, but I always choose to buy beer instead.
    o29 and pinballplayer like this.
  22. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,380) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Light beer?
    AlcahueteJ, JackHorzempa, o29 and 2 others like this.
  23. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (165) Mar 16, 2018 Tennessee

    I’ve tried the Seltzer craze and shopped the flavors and brands, but honestly, I think they have a terrible aftertaste.
  24. TheRougeBastard

    TheRougeBastard Savant (942) Aug 22, 2011 North Carolina

    I have noticed the craft beer section at local big box grocery stores have shrunk while the hard seltzer's have grown considerably. FWIW, Mas Agave's seltzer's make great mixers with a shot of tequila added for good measure...
    ESHBG likes this.
  25. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,756) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    Well (kidding aside)... craft brewers have pushed the merging of dessert and beer to a point where it feels like a key component of their category... and people on BA have embraced it. The second most highly rated beer here has marshmallow in its name, and there's a thread right below this one promoting a craft beer/frozen dessert mashup product.

    What's striking about the marketing of that "icicle" product, is how it's like layers of an onion piled on... with each layer making the previous layer lose its real meaning. It's "Bud Light" (but it isn't) "Seltzer" (but it isn't) ice pops. "Bud Light Seltzer" never made literal sense beyond being a brand extension, and this product takes it an amazing step further. I saw a review of these that referred to "Bud Light" as the company... which is telling considering how far removed these ice pops are from Bud Light. Next summer we should see Bud Light Seltzer Frozen Icicle Energy Drinks (no need to even freeze them).
  26. jasonmason

    jasonmason Aspirant (205) Oct 6, 2004 California

    Great point. "Bud Light" has effectively become the brand, not a specific beverage. Really weird to see.

    I've tried ruminating on how the buyer of a product like this does the mental gymnastics of the branding here...but then realized I was overthinking it. They're buying alcoholic popsicles with familiar branding. That's it; there is nothing deeper going on here.

    In all fairness to AB on the BA side here - IMO this is no worse a transgression that the 'popsicle/fruited slushy' trend in craft beer. Both are just cold, sweet, alcohol-delivery products for consumers who are not interested in drinking (traditional) beer.
  27. eppCOS

    eppCOS Poo-Bah (2,001) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado

    This is how I feel about this seltzer fad...
    Bitterbill likes this.
  28. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,756) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    Yeah, but what's interesting is how that's now the case for "Bud Light Seltzer," and how quickly the word seltzer has become disassociated in meaning with actual seltzer since becoming a popular thing for alcohol. Craft brewers are producing packaged "hard seltzer smoothies." Would anyone have used the word seltzer to sell a fruit smoothie previously? People on BA talk about if something is really an IPA, or really a beer (despite the label on the packaging), but it took a longer time to get to that point. It feels like the foundation has been laid with things like that, and this morph-ability can now work at an accelerated pace.
  29. bret27

    bret27 Poo-Bah (1,988) Mar 10, 2009 California
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    White Claw sucks, but so does La Croix as well. I believe the appeal of La Croix among the yoga ladies is a diet beverage that’s supposedly (and likely) healthier than diet soda. It’s fizzy with a little flavor making it more fun than water.

    Smooj is delicious but I honestly don’t know how a “smoothie seltzer” is even defined anymore. In many ways beer drinkers just want to drink child-like beverages. (As evidenced by all the ads and products I see on a daily basis).
    lucius10 likes this.
  30. ESHBG

    ESHBG Devotee (418) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I really noticed this yesterday when I stopped at a place I haven't been to in quite some time that was once known for having a great craft beer selection. Some observations:
    • Hard Seltzer and the like have a large space now.
    • Many craft beer breweries just aren't being carried anymore e.g. I saw nothing from Great Lakes and no shelf tags for them even (and this place used to turn over their products quickly).
    • Tons of IPAs and this whacky beer and that whacky beer but many of the IPAs were old.
    • Prices for said novelty beers were quite expensive.
    I ended up with a cheap macro because I just wanted a nice Lager beer that tastes like beer but a little disappointed, as I would have preferred a nice craft Lager.

    And you get used to this stuff to the point that the regular sugary stuff is too much. I had a Coke recently for first time in a long time and I almost died (and I am only half joking here, my system was like WTF is this crap?!?).
    Bitterbill and Foyle like this.
  31. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,544) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Just to be clear that is a segment of the craft beer drinking market. The folks who like beers brewed with pastry ingredients, marshmallows, etc. It seems to be mostly younger folks but I lack market data here.

    In contrast I prefer to drink beer that tastes more like beer.

  32. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,544) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Ironically you and I posted similar comments at the same time.
    Have you visited Von C yet? I was there this past weekend I had:
    • Kolsch
    • Vienna Lager (served via a side-pull tap/faucet)
    • Schwarzbier
    I enjoyed every one of those beers.

    Bitterbill and ESHBG like this.
  33. officerbill

    officerbill Savant (968) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    It's been mentioned numerous times how today's younger drinkers want beer that reminds them of the juice boxes they drank as kids. The ones buying Bud Light seltzer pops are also chasing childhood memories.
  34. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,544) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    And the kids these days are spoiled with all of their flavor choices. When I was a kid we only had four flavors to pick from: orange, grape, cherry and blue.

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  35. bret27

    bret27 Poo-Bah (1,988) Mar 10, 2009 California
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    I’d be willing to bet that most of the people active on this site prefer beer that tastes like beer.
    I’m not referring to them or you in this case.
  36. ESHBG

    ESHBG Devotee (418) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Great minds think alike :wink: Not yet but this is good to hear and I definitely need to check them out one day.
  37. crazyspicychef

    crazyspicychef Disciple (374) Sep 27, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Goes to show how many people are sick and tired of IPA's and how many people don't like beer, or just looking for something a bit refreshing.
    EmperorBatman likes this.
  38. crazyspicychef

    crazyspicychef Disciple (374) Sep 27, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Has anyone noticed the spike in hard ciders and mead's as well?
    I'll take a cider b4 an IPA or seltzer any day!
    officerbill likes this.
  39. ilikebeer03

    ilikebeer03 Poo-Bah (1,827) Oct 17, 2012 Texas
    Society Trader

    Even without data, this is obvious to anyone who has been in the craft beer more than a year or two just by looking at the cold box section of any grocery store.

    Seltzer is big $$. And not going away any time soon.
    officerbill likes this.
  40. jageraholic

    jageraholic Disciple (349) Sep 16, 2009 Massachusetts

    I dont know many non craft beer drinkers so I dont have a large sample size, but I know three people that drink seltzers. one substituted most of their craft beer for seltzers due to lower calories, one substituted all day ipa for seltzers and the last substituted ciders for seltzers but that might just be a summer thing.

    My opinion is it's a wide mix and hard seltzers are grabbing sales from both craft and non-craft.