The Roles Hard Seltzer Plays for 3 Sheeps

Craft breweries that Brewer Magazine recently spoke to about adding hard seltzer to their portfolios gave a variety of reasons for doing so. 

While all who have continued to keep the product in their portfolios listed ways it helped complement their other offerings, 3 Sheeps Brewing Company said it literally helped them stay open following the onset of the pandemic.

“It frankly saved our bacon during COVID,” 3 Sheeps founder Grant Pauly said of the company’s Cloudless Hard Seltzer. “We launched it in February, 2020, and thanks to all of the great relationships we had with grocery stores and liquor stores, it was in most establishments in March. 

“Walmart brought it in right away. Festival Foods and Kroger followed.”

After COVID brought traffic in bars, taprooms and restaurants to a screeching halt, Pauly said 3 Sheeps lost all of its keg sales. Thanks to the success of the new product and the increase in alcohol sales at retailers all over Wisconsin, 3 Sheeps was able to keep its crew employed and busy.

“I don’t think we sold a keg for three months, but we were putting out a lot of cans of Cloudless, so it kind of helped balance it,” Pauly said. “We were able to keep everyone working through COVID.”

The brand is here to stay, Pauly said. He said on-premise sales had been favorable, with many preferring Cloudless to White Claw, which he said had seen a lot of price increases.

Whether or not they compare favorably to the large, well-known national brand, Pauly said being present as a seltzer option for gluten-intolerant consumers or those who aren’t beer fans had contributed to the brand’s sustained growth.

“There aren’t a lot of people loyal to one hard seltzer, they just want a hard seltzer when they are out,” Pauly said. “We’re a great option for that. Cloudless will always be a part of what we do, but it’s not our focus.”

That’s not to say it hasn’t been fun for the brew crew to make, and certainly not to say that they don’t take the product seriously.

“Creating those flavors is such a different way to geek out on an ingredient. We didn’t pick one company to make all the extracts,” he said. “I couldn’t find one that we liked for all of our things because they all do something a little different. Some have better flavors and some a better aroma. Some have that mouthfeel that you just need. 

“Even in our most simple flavors, there’s probably always at least five different natural extracts making up those flavors from five different extract companies to get these and we only have five different cans. So it’s a lot of blending across the board for each of these things. But it’s worth it. I think it tastes very authentic and good.”

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