In September, at a hard-seltzer festival in Denver attended by more than 2,000 people, Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing of Cherry Hill finished second in a judged tasting of nearly 30 brewed hard seltzers from around the country. Another Jersey hard seltzer, from Hamilton-based Crook & Marker, finished second in the popular vote.
Two takeaways: Forgotten Boardwalk co-founder Jamie Queli and C&M founder Ben Weiss (who sold off his first creation, Bai Antioxidant Beverages) are making waves beyond Jersey. Second, as a category, hard seltzer is rising faster than bubbles in a glass. Industry giants are all in, with Bon & Viv from Anheuser-Busch and Henry’s Hard Sparkling from Molson Coors, to name just two. Hard seltzer sales reached nearly $488 million in 2018; industry projections suggest sales could exceed $2 billion in 2021.
The appeal is threefold:
1) At or under 5 percent ABV, hard seltzers are as low in alcohol as most of the lowest-ABV beers.
2) At about 100 calories or less per 375 ml serving, they are relatively easy on the waistband.
3) They come in a host of natural flavors, such as Forgotten Boardwalk’s second place Tangerine Rose with hibiscus and white tea, or Crook & Marker’s coconut-pineapple No. 16.
“People want the look and feel of a cocktail, but they don’t want to consume a lot of alcohol,” says Jeff Thistle, GM of ChopHouse Grille in Exton, Pennsylvania, which began offering infused hard seltzers last July, three months ahead of its sister restaurant in Gibbsboro.Click here to leave a comment