​Are Hard Seltzers A Good Growth Decision?

Finding something to make your brand unique, even if it’s outside the realm of craft beer, has become an ethos for some breweries.

The addition of a craft beverage like a hard seltzer is an option breweries like Oskar Blues, New Belgium and 3 Daughters have taken, just to name a few.

“The main reason we wanted to do a hard seltzer was that it was a new challenge,” said 3 Daughters’ Jonathan Truong in a recent story. “We’re always experimenting with new ways to innovate and stay at the front of the pack.”

But not jumping on a trend is also okay thinks Mike Benson of Peace Tree Brewing. He told Brewer that the management team for the Iowa brewery discussed the decision internally, but passed.

“Generally speaking, there seemed to be no market for draft hard seltzer [and] a crowded package market filled with big, national players throwing huge marketing budgets at it,” he explained. “Lastly, it would have been a massive distraction from our core product line.”

When 3 Daughters — located in St. Petersburg, Florida — went ahead with seltzer production, Truong said the lab did plenty of experimenting with different strains of yeast as well as fermenting time to find the perfect balance of ABV and calories while also finding the right flavors.

Speaking from experience with fruited sours, flavors tend to follow behind what’s popular in liquor, Benson noted.

“In many cases, the best sellers have been cherry, orange, grapefruit, raspberry, and etcetera,” he said. “Softer flavors like peach and mango always sound good, but [they] are incredibly hard to create a flavor burst while using real fruit.”

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